on 26 September 2013
Over the last decade I have had a love/hate relationship with James Luceno's writing. At times I have found his work to be brilliant, and at other times I have found his writing to be uninspired and muddled. Upon reading the beginning of this book I was quite taken by just how well written an imaginative the story surrounding Plagueis was. I was surprised how well Luceno had laid out the character and how well the story had worked in a linear telling, something Luceno rarely does in his books. But as the story progressed, and after Palpatine was introduced, I was shocked on just how quickly the books solid story turned into sand and flowed through my fingers.
After Plagueis found Palpatine, a telling that was thin at best, Luceno parts from Plagueis's story to focus on the larger plan, a larger plan that centers around Palpatine. Little time is spent as to how Palpatine learns the Force from Plaqueis, and even less time is spent on grasping the connection the two men have to each other. In my opinion Luceno fails in bringing light to the wisdom and experience that Plagueis has to offer as both a Master and a teacher. Instead, we as readers, are exposed to a more simplistic telling of Palpatine's rise to political power.
The main bulk of this book focuses on the study of how Palpatine fits into the world around him. Every once and a great while we are exposed to scenes that ring familiar to what we know of other Sith stories but, for the most part neither Sidious nor Plagueis are great examples of the Sith we know and love. Darth Bane, and the teachings left by his reign, are spoken too often, however, neither of our Sith Lords completely fall into the Sith mold. As I read this book I often thought of both Lords as book smart but never street smart. Rarely are we exposed to either of them being mad or even taken by the power of the dark side. Rarely do either lash out when failure rises. Rarely do either bathe in the power of the dark side.
In the end the book's true purpose is to wrap up threads left from stories past. Scenes read like cliff notes as grand story arcs from other books and comics are horribly skipped over without either a brief description of events that happened, or the impact those stories had.
With all this considered the book reads as a long winded diatribe of internal analysis and shallow plotting. The characters, formed by experiences that are not addressed in this book, read like paper tigers as their power seems convenient and contrived. With scenes missing only Star Wars fans that have a vast understanding of the larger EU library will be able to follow the scenes skipped over. New fans, or those who haven't read that many books or comics, will be lost and confused. I, myself, have a good understanding of stories past and was able to process most of the plot points addressed, but even I still walked away from this book bitterly disappointed.
In conclusion, I feel that this book was overly hyped and under delivered. The classic feel gained by the Darth Bane chronicles was left void after the first fifteen percent of this book. Characters were left dangling in the wind blown by stories long since past. And after three-hundred pages the main characters of the book were left void of any real lasting impact.
Perhaps this book's only silver lining as that the audiobook's narrator has enough talent to deliver a better telling. But in the end the book lacks entertainment, enjoyment, and a competent ability to stand on its own.
on 20 January 2012
So after the disaster that was Revan, we get Plagueius and what vast vast improvement. This Story captivates you immerses you in a period of the star wars history that has always held an interest in that it delves so deeply into the man that trained Palpatine and Palpatine himself answering some long asked questions.
This Book is a fantastic story it is everything that can be when a star wars author gets it right, and is a stark contrast to Revan, yes the book still has preview chapters of other novels but unlike in Revan where the story cam to an abrupt end there is no feeling of being cheated but the rather a one of satisfaction.
The Author of course wrote the fantastic sequel to Revenge of the Sith which was also a great book, and he does not disappoint here as gets Palpatine so right to the point you the reader can not sometimes see Palpatine manipiulations or rather you don't realize until later that Palpatine has engineered what is taking place. This book is highly recommendable to all star wars fan but especially those let down by the Revan novel. Just brillant
on 27 January 2012
Wow! Once again James Luceno has confirmed my belief that he is the best Star Wars author. I loved how the plot synced with other novels e.g Cloak of Deception, where an event that is taking place in another novel is being referenced at the same time in this one. Loose ends, such as Sifo-Dyas and the clone army, and character expansions, such as Darth Maul and King Veruna, will greatly interest Star Wars fans.
It was refreshing to read from the point of view of the Sith for a change. Darth Plagueis was a most intriguing character. The machinations of the Sith were complex and how they turned out was riveting to read.
Definitely one of my favourite Star Wars books, if not THE favourite.
on 30 August 2014
How many times has a science-fiction or fantasy series failed utterly and completely to paint a good portrayal of a characters backstory, let alone that of a major hero or antagonist? Any reader will have encountered disappointing backstories of these sort in one book or another, and it is the sort of thing that can completely break a book. When James Luceno’s ‘Darth Plagueis’ was announced, despite the expectation it created by what it would be based on, there was a definite sense of fear that it would suffer from this. After all, it could paint Darth Sidious and Darth Plagueis in a too-humanising light, or perhaps worse, in the traditional two dimensional way in which antagonist are depicted.
Does James Luceno’s ‘Darth Plagueis’ fall in this trap? Definitely not. On the contrary, it excels on it without falling into any of the traps other similar works have fallen in. It paints a beautiful picture of the characters, depicting them accurately and effectively bringing them to life, excelling in its way of revealing the story and avoiding a false sense of suspense.
Without giving away most of the plot, ‘Star Wars: Darth Plagueis’ is not just the story of Palpatine’s master, but also the story of the rise to power of his apprentice, Darth Sidious. The plot is mainly composed of a political thriller and serves as a backstory for the movies. Despite what one might expect from other titles, it doesn’t just throw in blaster and lightsabers, and instead it focuses on the machinations of Plagueis and Sidious to carry out the Sith grand plan. Of the action scenes it throws in, they are emotionally intense and bloodcurdling, and reveal a lot about the characters. Outright amazing. In a way, it is reminiscent of The Count of Monte Christo in how it develops.
Something I would like to note is how Luceno’s writing is how he adds and plays with all of the Star Wars history that the reader might now without creating a false sense of suspense. We know from the events of the movies that Plagueis was killed in the end as well as by who; so instead of making the reader falsely wonder what will happen, the question is rather how and when events take place. It fills many of the holes made by the movies and shines light on a lot of other events and Star Wars history that weren’t that well developed or depicted in other titles, and shows magnificently just the amount of planning and care the Sith put behind these events (I finally understand the events behind Episodes I and II, which is a welcome feeling).
The narrative develops well despite the changes in location and of characters, making it seem completely natural and avoiding to intrude in other storylines which don’t belong. The writing style fits perfectly with the plot of the novel, and just makes it all the better. It isn’t often that one encounters a novel written with this amount of care, and the tone suits the book really well. The narrator provides a lot of physical details which help to envision the characters and scene without this seeming overbearing, and it just makes the book delightful to read.
The characters were well built and developed, and I thurroughly enjoyed reading this book. So much, in fact, that the fact that I had to continue and finish it was both a blessing and a curse. Darth Plagueis and Sidious are wonderfully constructed, compelling, and three-dimensional. Their psychology and reasons for being how they are fit perfectly with both later events and those taking place in the book. I can only say concerning the characters just how good of a job Luceno has done, not only as someone interested in them and the Sith, but also as a great Star Wars fan. I have no complaints in this section.
Perhaps, what I liked most of all about this book was how well it read and how it fitted in perfectly with its plot the way of being of the Sith. Luceno does a great job at depicting these, and it is slightly had to put exactly into words just how much I enjoyed Star Wars: Darth Plagueis. The fact that Plagueis is a Muun is also handled really well, without falling into any unnecessary stereotyping that the Star Wars universe has tended to have in the past. The way he manipulates and trains Sidious is fascinating, as is Sidious’ development throughout the years. The way it also links with pre-Episode events, Episode events, and other works is also amazing. Luceno takes all of the Star Wars canon and handles it in the best of ways.
As such, what could I possibly conclude about ‘Star Wars: Darth Plagueis’? Putting into words just how much I enjoyed reading this book is quite hard. It isn’t often that I encounter such a well-crafted work which is such a pleasure to read. It certainly has become one of my favourite books, and I can’t wait to read it again. Luceno draws the reader in and doesn’t let go. Star Wars: Darth Plagueis is a wonderful addition to the Star Wars extended universe, and definitely a must-read for all fans of it and the movies, along with any other science-fiction fan. It is, by all means, awesometacular, and definitely one of the great works of this genre. I give it the highest rating, with a very strong recommendation. It will not let you down, and is a more than worthy addition to any library and collection.
on 21 January 2013
This book had a tendency to go from amazing to really boring within chapters. The lengthy political aspects, which were necessary in some parts, needed to be heavily reduced. The book did however manage to link gaps of the prequel trilogy films nicely and fill in some interesting details. I would have also liked to have seen less of Palpatine and more of Plagueis towards the end of the book, after all the book is named after him. All in all I enjoyed most of this book but wouldn't recommend it to readers who don't enjoy the political star wars plots.
As a fan of the Star Wars Universe perhaps one of the most wanted titles is the story behind the master of the Emperor, Darth Sideous. So when you have such a pivotal book for a series you really have to make sure that it hits not only the right notes but also helps to demonstrate how the pupil became the master and what attracted him to the Dark side originally.
This title does all of this, adds some cracking detail with top notch prose alongside pace. In addition to this, James also adds flesh to Palpatine's background as well as demonstrating the manipulations that he would become famous for. All in, this story will have you gripped from start to finish and for me, is my favourite story for the series. Cracking.
on 16 October 2015
As December rapidly approaches with the release of the new Star Wars movie, I have been getting seriously hyped for the new chapter in the franchise’s saga! This excitement has led me into all things Star Wars as I’ve been playing some of the old video games, watching the old movies and for a long time I’ve wanted to read a Star Wars novel.
However, reading a SW novel has always made me a bit dubious, as many of the books and literature are always released as companions to the movies and have left me doubting the time and originality put into the stories. After doing some research, I found quite a few ‘top ten’ lists of the best SW novels, with quite a few respectable bloggers and journalists backing up these books. One book I noticed in most of these lists was Darth Plagueis by James Luceno.
As some of the more dedicated SW fans will know, Darth Plagueis was the Sith Palpatine tells Anakin of in Revenge of the Sith, when trying to turn him to the Dark Side.
“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
Darth Plagueis was Palpatine’s Master and this book tells of how he persuaded Palpatine to become his apprentice and how they forged a partnership which helped the youmg Naboo (Aka Darth Sidious) becoming the Galactic Emperor. A partnership which took decades to manoeuvre Palpatine to the summit of the Senate through betrayal and murder. But even longer for Plagueis to control the Force and have sway over life and death.
I have to say that I was really disappointed with this book! It never really grabbed me and made me want to read more and at times it could be quite tiresome and confusing. Since I first watched Revenge of the Sith, I’d always wanted to know more about Plagueis. Finding this book had me dreaming of lightsaber battles, deceit and an extension to the SW universe that I’d never known about before. However, it was mostly filled with confusing (but I guess important) events about companies, politicians and gangs whose names were hard to pronounce; never mind remember later in the book! These facts about the SW universe do make the plot seems more believable and explain Palatine’s rise down to every minute, boring detail. However, I wanted big, brash action packed SW which we all know and love from the films.
Take for instance the death of Plagueis. Right at the start of the novel we read about Sidious standing over his master’s corpse as a crack is sent through the Force, confirming Plagueis’s death. So I thought, ‘WOW, I cannot wait to get to the end and read about the epic fight that must happen’. As I said, the book is dense with details about the Outer Rim and the workings of the Republic but you think, ‘ah it’s worth it to get to the end and read about the fight’. However, you read about Plagueis’s death and think, ‘is this a joke?’ It’s almost done as an afterthought and takes up about two pages which you rub together with your fingers, believing there must be more- the pages must have all stuck together! But they haven’t and it left me feeling extremely frustrated!
However, the book was not all bad. I did enjoy reading about the infamous Darth Maul and his rise to power as you don’t learn that much about him in Episode I, in which I’m pretty sure he only has about two lines. The book also gives a great context to the start of Episode I and explains for example; why a 13 year old girl is the Queen of an entire planet, and why the Trade Federation is blockading Naboo.
I think if this book had been a history book and was named something like: ‘the Secret History of the Collapse of the Republic’ I would have enjoyed it more. I would have found it really interesting but I wouldn’t have been expecting too much from it and therefore could come away disappointed, instead coming away satisfied that I’d read it and would want to read more history like it. Which to be fair, is kinda how I feel. I do want to read other SW novels so in some ways the book has done a good job.
I would suggest this book to anyone who is looking to learn more about the wider SW universe but I’d suggest you don’t get too excited about it.
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on 20 May 2012
I always enjoy James Luceno's work, but he's reached a new level with this book. Dark, menacing, plotting, twisted, this book exposes Sidious and Plagues as manipulators extraordinaire and discloses some pre-episode one info beautifully. A really excellent read and exceeded every expectation I had.
on 7 February 2015
In a universe filled with aliens and humans alike, with the ability to move objects without touching them,spout powerful lightning from their fingers and are proud owners of lightsabers and with star wars originally being the perfect story about good vs evil, James Luceno in his infinite wisdom decides to write about...politics. the only reason this book gets its two stars is because of the two sections that involves sith like behavior and actual sith training, other than that, this is possibly the most boring book I have ever read, I am passionate about Star wars, and this is NOT how it should be written.
on 4 August 2013
For readers hoping to understand more about the life of Darth Plagueis you will be a little disappointed. Really this book should have been called "Palpatine". Don't, however, let this stop you from reading this book as it deserves the 4 star rating.
For the fan of Star Wars (new or old) this is a really cool book providing the usual in-fill / back ground to the main film timeline, whilst offering tantilising glimpses of possible answers to some of the "big" questions.
As a stand alone novel to the SW virgin? Well it is easy to read with a mix of action and intrigue. However, if you've not watched the films (particularly episodes 1-3), do so first to help deepen your understanding.
Age range? Well I'm just south of 40 and enjoyed reading it on holiday; my son is 11 and stole it straight off me the minute I finished! Basically it's an easy read for any age but contains enough info, intrigue and insights to keep "grown ups" hooked whilst not boring the living daylights out of a padawan or your young apprentice...
It should change your understanding of the Phantom Menance...