Star Wars: Darth Plagueis
Author: James Luceno
Published By: The Ballentine Publishing Company
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Ever since he was introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, I've always wanted to know more about Emperor Palpatine. The more I learned about the Emperor/Darth Sidious, the more I wanted to know. Was he always this evil...this twisted...or did someone mold him into what he had become by the time we got to witness his actions in the movies and television series? That's what made reading Star Wars: Darth Plagueis by James Luceno so exciting. Finally we were going to learn about the Sith Lord that trained Palpatine. Finally, we would get a glimpse into the past of Darth Sidious, prior to his meeting Anakin Skywalker.
We are introduced to Darth Plagueis (AKA: Hego Damask, leader of the Banking Clan) while he is still apprenticed to his Master, the Bith Sith Lord known as Darth Tenebrous. For all of his abilities, Tenebrous focuses more on science than on what Plagueis believes to be the mission of the Sith - world domination. Though Plagueis does dabble in science and believes that mastering and manipulating midichlorians has something to do with controlling the Force, he doesn't believe that the Sith path lies entirely in that vein.
When the opportunity presents itself, Plagueis takes full advantage, cutting down his Master and striking out on his own. Plagueis soon learns that his mentor was attempting to groom others either not completely believing in Darth Bane's Rule of Two, or just believing Plagueis not a worthy successor. Plagueis decides to hunt down these Force powerful rivals and use them in his own experiments with midichlorians.
During his search, Plagueis comes across someone with great strength in the Force - a member of a wealthy and powerful family from Naboo. Palpatine is a politically active youth with no love for his father's brand of politics. Struggling against his father's constraints and seething with anger, Palpatine appears to be just what Plagueis has been looking for in his modified view of the Rule of Two - a partner he can mold in his image to help take over the Republic and eventually rule the galaxy.
Posing as a friend and mentor to Palpatine, Hego Damask goads him into resisting his father's wishes. This eventually leads to a confrontation against his family in which Palpatine uses Dark Side power to destroy every last member. Hego Damask aids him in deceiving the authorities, revealing his true identity and offering to not only help Palpatine control the Force, but to use it to their gain. Palpatine accepts his offer and forms an alliance with Plagueis, becoming Darth Sidious. The two pave a path of political intrigue and deception, forging the world in their own vision and placing Palpatine in line to rule the Republic while engineering a war that will destroy the galaxy and make it bow to the Sith.
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis reveals much regarding the manipulation of various entities to cause the events we see in The Phantom Menace, including Darth Maul and how he came to be under Palpatine's guidance, Dooku's defection from the Jedi, Sifo Dyas' complicity in creating a Clone Army, midichlorian manipulation which make have possibly created Anakin Skywalker, where the lab in which Darth Vader was "repaired" came from and more. Unfortunately, while a great deal about the Star Wars galaxy prior to and during Palpatine's rise to Chancellor is revealed, a great deal of the story centers around political intrigue which can be tedious and make for quite the boring read. Unlike Darth Bane, there isn't much about Darth Plagueis to like. He wasn't abused as a child or wronged as an adult. There is really no redeeming quality about this character. And unlike Bane's eventual demise, Plagueis' comes too easy...not at all what I expected.
All-in-all, I found the story of Star Wars: Darth Plagueis to be too drawn out. The spurts of action were way too short and followed by lengthy political and scientific discussion that often put me to sleep. It's not that I have a problem with political intrigue or science - just when the discussions are so long and drawn out as to be monotonous. Yes, revelations abound in this novel and thus it is a must read for Star Wars fans, but no one says you are going to love it, especially not me, a surprising discovery coming from a fan of James Luceno's Star Wars novels.