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review 2018-06-12 05:31
Darth Plagueis
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis - James Luceno

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.

(spoiler show)
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text 2018-06-05 03:52
Reading progress update: I've read 92 out of 481 pages.
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis - James Luceno

"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. ;)

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review 2017-06-23 15:55
Darth Plagueis by James Luceno
Darth Plagueis - James Luceno

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.

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review 2016-12-15 21:56
Catalyst: A Rogue One Story
Catalyst (Star Wars): A Rogue One Story - James Luceno

How did people convince themselves to act against their nature; to do something entirely out of keeping with who they imagined themselves to be?

 

If you’ve ever asked yourself this selfsame question, Catalyst is the book for you. Billed as a lead-up to the Rogue One movie, it’s a comprehensive how-to in manipulating a peace-loving scientific genius into aiding research and development of planet-killing super weapons. It’s a well written, thoughtful book, and yet I didn’t find it very engaging. I was in the mood for some good ol’ Star Wars pew pew, but good ol’ Star Wars political commentary took center stage here. When I’m in the mood for pew pew, quieter books like this can seem a bit boring, so take my mild disappointment with a grain of salt.

 

Edit: Reading back over my review, it feels a bit too lukewarm. Though I was a little bored, this book is still worth reading and has a lot to offer. It starts out I think a year after Ep. II and encompasses the Clone Wars and the shift from Republic to Empire. It ties together elements from the prequels, introduces some great new characters, and I think my Rogue One experience will be enriched for having read it. Knowing the background of the Erso family and what they went through together and the friends and enemies they made along the way probably isn’t essential to enjoying the movie, but it certainly can’t hurt.

 

Edit 2: After seeing the movie, I heartily recommend reading this book first. It's not necessary to get what's going on in the story, but it adds layers upon layers to the Ersos' plight and to the interplay between Tarkin and Krennic.

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review 2016-11-17 18:03
Rogue One: Catalyst by James Luceno

 

Lauded Star Wars author James Luceno returns to pen an intense tale of ambition and betrayal that sets the stage for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war.

 

As a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic’s, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key.

Galen’s energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic’s debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal.

 

While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor’s tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic’s web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself.

 

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