My first Star Wars Cannon novel that was not simply a movie novelization. I enjoyed learning more of the background of Governor Tarkin as the movies don't quite let you know why he is so revered and respected in the Star Wars Universe. As a standalone novel, I was not really that impressed. I appreciated the interactions with Tarkin and Vader, but overall the story did not have me turning pages.
On the one hand, this book is an excellent companion to the prequel trilogy of films and I’m a little sad it’s no longer canon. On the other hand, this novel is so bloated with Extended Universe references that it’s a perfect example of why The Powers That Be decided wiping that particular slate clean was for the best. Still, I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of how the Republic was so thoroughly corrupted. Most of that aspect is still canon. Just be prepared for more intergalactic politicking than you can shake a lightsaber at (yay!) as well as scads of scientific and philosophical discussions of midi-chlorians (boo). I would rate it higher, but I kind of hated the ending for reasons I’ll put under a spoiler tag:
Holy bantha poodoo, that climax was a letdown. I get it. I do. There was a lesson to be learned here. Plagueis got complacent. He truly felt the Rule of Two was obsolete and trusted that his apprentice felt the same. He thought he’d achieved immortality through his control over the midi-chlorians and was above such mortal concerns as assassination anyway. He rather thoroughly set himself up for a fall. And I wanted that fall to be spectacular. I imagined all these epic showdowns between Sidious and Plagueis, and what happens instead? Plagueis is defeated because he lets his guard down on the eve of victory and takes A NAP. And then Sidious just breaks his breathing mask with a little Force lightning and basically proceeds to monologue him to death while a vaguely described “force storm” knocks over some furniture. Are you kidding me with this? THIS is what the whole book was building up to? Bah! I’m going to listen to Duel of the Fates on repeat until I feel better.
"Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice." ~Yoda, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
I haven't read any of the Legends stuff involving Darth Bane, so I'm going to make up my own head canon in which he started this "Rule of Two" rumor to throw off the Jedi. The REAL rule that the Sith actually follow goes more like this:
"Always at least two there are. A master and an apprentice. And a spare apprentice or two in the wings in case the first one doesn't work out. And the apprentices' apprentices. And probably a bunch of Force sensitive younglings kept hidden from the Jedi just in case it all goes pear-shaped."
Not as catchy, I know. My alternate head canon is that Yoda is a lying liar who lies. From a certain point of view, that is. ;)
Who can resist the inside scoop on the mysterious Darth Plagueis whose story is used to help tip Anikan toward the dark side? Well, not me. I was eager to learn more about this Sith who had supposedly controlled life and death though had not been able to avoid his own.
I must agree with other reviewers on two points. First, this novel is misleadingly titled. It becomes more and more about Darth Sidious and less about Plagueis from the moment Palpatine steps into the picture. Second, it does read differently than other Star Wars novels. There is less action and more plotting & politics. Neither of these points make it a bad story, but it was also not quite what I expected.
The history given in this book ties so many events and people to the Sith Grand Plan that it almost becomes too much. Forget Sidious tricking the rebels into ambushes, Plagueis has been ordering the entire damn universe for decades before Luke & Leia are born. It's interesting, maybe a bit unbelievable, but, hey, this is Star Wars. I was intrigued at how the author brought it all together.
Plagueis is an interesting character, brilliant and always a step ahead of everyone, which makes it all the more confounding when he doesn't see that Sidious will not share power with him for the long run. I mean, really, co-chancellors? That was the plan? How did he not see that failing? Ah well, that disappointment aside, this book was a great addition to the Star Wars EU.