Joe Schreiber specialises in writing horror (personally I hate horror stories), Star Wars is rich of species right out of horror stories and you have them locked in in a fight club you cannot get more of a personification of a horror than Darth Maul. Horns, red skin covered in tattoos, yellow eyed, ferocious, and completely devoid of compassion. All that and he is Sith. Could you possible get a better character for a story like this? However I think Joe went a bit out of his comfort zone and add more mystery and complicate the plot more then it needed to be.
Maul goes undercover into a prison called Hive 7, the prison is famous for 2 things and infamous for another. It is famous for hosting death matches between the inmates which are broadcast throughout the galaxy, and no one ever escaping. It is infamous for a legendary arms dealer using it as their base of operations. A mauls mission is to find this arms dealer and purchase a nuclear device from him. There are 2 catches one going into prison he will be unarmed so no lightsaber staff. Also he is not allowed to use the force in anyway as it might compromise his identity as Sith. There is a bit of manoeuvring between Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious in the background. The usual of the apprentice preparing to become the master.
If I was judging the book by the first chapter it would have been brilliant. Maul’s first fight is with the prison’s current champion. A captured but unidentified species (Yuuzhan Vong). The fight is short, gory and most of all brutal. This is the theme for 80% of the book. If he left out the overly complications in plot the book would have been perfect. I fully appreciate Maul using all of his skillset, especially things he learned in the assassin’s academy, but I don’t think this was right book for some of them.
The violence of this is as stated brutal. There is a lot of neck snapping, stabbing, biting, clawing, deboning and even cannibalism. The fights themselves are technically incorrect (if you are martial arts fan or practitioner you will notice many of these), but I think they were hoping to hide this by under the brutality of it. The other let down for me was the ending the final fight was a bit confusing, but the ending just seem out of Maul’s character and conditioning. I am not going to give it away here.
The book is in short chapters of varying length, in some case they a chapter will just be 2 pages at most 10 pages. I quite like this format as it fed information in easy chunks. I think the book would have been better with less twists, and more fights but that is just me as that is what I was expecting from the book as soon as I saw it. I would have given the book 3 1/2 stars but I thought it deserved a round up then a round down.