Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown
Ever since reading the Star Wars Insider short story, The Syrox Redemption, featuring a monster living inside the walls of the prison known as Cog Hive Seven, I've wanted to read Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown. Not only does it offer up a new Darth Maul adventure, but it contains that bit of horror that Joe Schreiber first introduced to the Star Wars universe with Death Troopers and Red Harvest.
Set before the events of The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown finds Darth Maul entering Cog Hive Seven under the guise of a prisoner. Darth Sidious has tasked Maul to locate Radique, the elusive arms dealer said to be running his business from within the prison. Maul's mission is to find Radique, get hold of a nuclear weapon he has in his possession and get it to the Bando Gora. Sidious has plans for this particular weapon, one that will further his mission as a Sith...and rid him of his master.
But Darth Maul's mission will be far from simple. All of Cog Hive Seven's inmates have explosive charges embedded in their hearts, as much to prevent escape as to prevent uprisings. And Cog Hive Seven is not simply a prison...it's a gaming station where Warden Sidiki Blirr and her brother Dakarai pit prisoners against each other in matches to the death. Thus, the prison population is frequently culled and gamers get an opportunity to bet on the outcome of each battle. The walls of the prison rearrange themselves to bring various inmates cells together and that, in addition to the charges in their hearts, prevents inmates from backing out of fights and heightens the action for the viewers.
As if these issues weren't enough to impede Maul's mission, there is a monster living within the walls of Cog Hive Seven - a semi-sentient worm traveling within the walls searching for fresh meat. And then there are the competitors who are also looking for Radique, like Jabba the Hutt and Darth Plagueis. Plus, there is that nagging restraint that Darth Sidious has placed on Maul - he must not reveal that he is a Force user or he will have failed.
So how is Darth Maul supposed to find a man who no one is really sure exists in a prison full of cutthroat criminals while fighting Death Matches and fending off monsters without using the Force? You'll have to read the book!
I have mixed emotions about Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown. First, I loved the fact that Darth Maul was not allowed to use his Force abilities. Thus, we learn just how innovative Maul can be, finding new ways to beat his opponents and ways to flush out the arms dealer, using his brain and his brawn, but not his more mystical abilities. Readers will learn just how resilient Maul can be...and how loyal to his master. I loved the fact that there was always that hidden danger of the Syrox, waiting to pounce at any time. I liked reading about various side characters and their reasons for being in Cog Hive Seven as well.
What I didn't like was the end. In fact, I remember saying, "That's it?! Are you kidding?" The book ends rather abruptly. Without giving too much away, we last see Maul wondering how his actions and the outcome of his mission will have affected his relationship with his master. Now, yes, we know that Sidious still keeps Maul on as his apprentice and believes in him enough to give him further missions, but there is something about the unfinished quality of that ending that annoys me. It's like the ending of Moby Dick...and then the whale ate them, the end. It's just to abrupt. What happens to the weapon? What happens with Jabba? What happens to Eogan and Komari?
And yet, I must admit that Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown had my undivided attention from start to finish, entertaining me all the way until the very end. Schreiber has a way of reeling in his readers and keeping them hooked. The action and suspense in this novel are terrific...so great that I can almost forgive the ending...almost. Maybe Schreiber can come out with another novel...a sequel to Lockdown that will explain it all. In any case, I have no regrets reading this book and would definitely recommend it to other Star Wars fans, especially fans of the mysterious Darth Maul.