Novel Review – Star Wars : Darth Plagueis
“Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.” —Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
That line didn’t really mean much when I saw Revenge of the Sith back when it was released in theaters. I always took it for a throwaway line meant to illustrate Palpatine’s ability to manipulate Anakin Skywalker by probing what he most wanted to hear. I didn’t really expect it to ever be explored in depth. I guess I should have known otherwise as every other aspect of the Star Wars timeline has been mined by the expanded universe over the years. What is particularly intriguing about this particular novel is how widely it deviates from what I expected in my mind. The above quote that inspired the novel seems to imply that Plagueis was an ancient figure, a “legend” as Palpatine says. However, we will come to find out over the course of the book that Plagueis was the sith lord who annointed Palpatine as Sideous and the events of his lifetime intersect with Anakin Skywalker’s youth. I don’t know about you, but the term “legend” doesn’t seem to apply much to guys whose major exploits only happened ten years ago. But I suppose I’m just projecting my own feelings on how they chose to retcon Plagueis into the events leading up to and during The Phantom Menace.
Viewed for what it is, the book is one of the better expanded universe entries I’ve read in a while. The timeline seems carefully constructed so that all the pieces fit together without conflicting all too terribly and the parts that get explained, such as Palpatine’s introduction to the world of the sith as well as the details of the rise of the Trade Federation all make for a better understanding of the Star Wars universe during the prequel era. I think that I would have enjoyed the book far more if they would have given it a different title. Plagueis at times feels like an afterthought to the story. This book is really about Palpatine, and because he is such an interesting character that can’t be viewed as a bad thing. The only negative is that while you get so invested in his narrative it is easy to be disappointed when the story breaks in other directions and seems to lose focus. But make no mistake, fans of the Star Wars universe will be able to overlook the small flaws and find an enjoyable read.
It takes a while to find its footing and every once in a while it will lose narrative focus, but overall it is something worth looking into. I will say that author James Lucerno does have a tendency to utilize some groan inducing references but his writing style is suited to the voices of these characters and this universe, so those minor grievances can also be overlooked.