Cloak of Deception - James Luceno The Trade Federation monopolizes trade to outer systems, a situation the Nebula Front doesn't like. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are out to hunt down Arwen Cohl, one such leader of the Nebula Front, as Palpatine rises to power, and Valorum sees his status crumble.
NOTE: Based on listening to the audiobook and previous reading of the novel

I Liked:
If there is one thing Luceno is good at, it's integrating all of Star Wars Expanded Universe. He makes references to characters like Tarkin (yay!) and Vergere (yay!), to organizations like the Commerce Guild, and fleshes out situations only referred indirectly to (such as King Veruna's reign). Luceno is a master and does it very well.
This novel is unique as it is one of the few in EU that is more of a political thriller than a typical adventure. This was a good move, as this era was filled with political tension. I loved seeing Valorum's fall from grace, seeing Bail Antilles, and learning how great a chessplayer Palpatine is (who is such a two-face!). To have a typical Star Wars adventure would feel out of place in this era and not answer half the questions this book does.
Luceno wasn't afraid to pull the plug on some of his characters, which was very poignant, very tearful. I won't say who, as it might be a spoiler, but when the characters die, it really pulled at my heart-strings.

I Didn't Like:
I felt very sad listening to this because I had remembered the book being better than what I heard. Luceno tends to write in a very "heavy" manner. For instance, the first action scene, with the Trade Federation craft over Dorvalla, was bogged down in over-describing. Luceno felt the need to describe the spacecraft, the Neimoidian captain (Daultay Dofine), Arwen Cohl, and on, and on, and on. In fact, in nearly every scene, he stops to describe the characters. Now, for new characters, like Cohl and Rella, this isn't too bad. But when he is describing Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Yaddle, Depa Bilaba, Adi Gallia, Mace Windu, Valorum, Palpatine, Neimoidians, is too much. Star Wars fans will know what the characters look like and you don't need to describe them (unless you say something like "Yoda's ear twitched at Qui-Gon's words" or some other incidental descriptions). This is even more unnecessary for aliens. I don't want or need a description of the Neimoidians, Rodians, and everything in between. And having the descriptions in the middle of an otherwise intense scene makes it boring, loses the pace. In fact, this is the only audiobook that I grew bored with and had to set aside for a time, just for this reason.
Secondly, I love seeing recurring characters, but Luceno name-drops one too many times. Palpatine, Valorum, and Antilles are okay, but it's the Jedi I had a problem with. Three High Council members go with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan on a mission, which seems really stupid. I could see one, but no, there were three: Depa Bilaba, Yaddle, and Saesee Tiin. Couldn't Luceno have made three of his own Jedi, Masters if he wanted, so it wasn't so odd why three Council members left the capital to go on a relatively unimportant mission?
None of the characters come off as very colorful. Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Cohl, Palpatine...they felt more like cardboard characters, cutouts, than real people with feelings and emotions. And it's sad, because I was so excited to read from Qui-Gon (this is probably the only non-novelization novel that stars him), but he could have been any character with the way that Luceno wrote him.
I have got to put this in here, but why did Luceno name Cohl "Arwen"? When I found that out, I was like, "Uh, he's a female ELF?!"
Lastly, while the plot was interesting, it was highly confusing. This might have been Luceno trying to make sense of George Lucas' story in The Phantom Menace, but still, was there no way to make it a little more...understandable?

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Rella and Cohl are lovers. Orn Free Taa is fond of lithe Twi'Lek females.
Cohl attacks a Trade Federation craft and steals aurodium ingots. There are lightsaber battles, Valorum is injured in an attack on his life, on Eriadu, there is a plot to kill Valorum and the Trade Federation delegations.

As I mentioned, I remembered this being better than I found it. It's not bad, though I wish an editor had lined out many of the description passages. It just was so...boring... If you want to understand The Phantom Menace better, want to see Qui-Gon Jinn, like political thrillers, or have to read all the Star Wars books, this is your book. Otherwise, you can skip.