January 06, 2006

Dark Lord

Dark Lord is James Luceno's sequel to Matt Stover's Episode III novelization. The events here occur in the weeks and months following Episode III and address some important times following that story. How does the relationship between Palpatine and Vader evolve? What happens to Luke and Leia? How many Jedi survive and what do they do? What happens politically after the end of the war, and how is everything explained to the Senate?

This book starts to answer many of those questions, and it includes conversations between Vader and Palpatine, Bail Organa and Vader, Organa and the other disgruntled senators who will form the core of the the Rebellion, interactions between the clones and the Jedi they are ordered to kill. Yoda and Obi-Wan are pretty much left out. Still, this is definitely an important book in the Star Wars canon. In that sense, it is a must read (for me).

Is it good? Eh.

Much of the action revolves around a group of Jedi who escape "order 66" and try to link up with other Jedi and wonder what the hell happened. None of these Jedi have much of a distinct or memorable personality, and the sheer number of characters is too many. I would've preferred this book focus on just one or two fleshed-out renegade Jedi instead of a group of them. None of the supporting characters in the book makes an impression.

The scenes involving Vader are the highlight of the book, and they are fairly satisfying. They only make up about 10-20% of the book, though. I like seeing Palpatine discuss the ways of the Sith with Vader. Luceno does a decent job of cleaning up some of the poorly done plot points of Episode III, trying to justify why, after his whole life as a Jedi, Anakin was so quickly and easily turned to the dark side just because of some dreams about his wife.

It also clarifies (I think) that Anakin was not conceived by mitichlorians directed by Palpatine, as events in Episodes I and III seemed to imply (remember Anakin had no father, and Palpatine claimed in the Senate balcony scene with Anakin that Sith powers enabled him to cause the mitichlorians to spontaneously create life), so that becomes a mystery again and I still don't understand that plot point (why couldn't Anakin have a regular father like everyone else who just simply died in an accident or something).

I also liked the (brief) parts that contain Organa and the original players in the Rebellion. And I liked the overall description of the state of affairs in the Empire shortly after Palpatine takes control, including progress on the Death Star, etc. All of that stuff is well-done, fits with the "aura" of Episode IV, but the main plot of the on-the-run Jedi doesn't really live up to the rest of the book. So this is an important book but just not that great.

I suppose it is a little difficult to develop a major new good guy character who influences things, because this character isn't mentioned in Episodes IV through VI (or any of the expanded universe books beyond that which are now canon) and would therefore have to be killed off at some point before Episode IV. I would really like to see this whole series of books focus on Bail Organa or Mon Mothma or some leader of the Rebellion (at least when not following Vader around). That's preferable to anonymous interchangeable Jedi who are really nothing special. There's so much potential in this era between episodes III and IV. I'm sure an author will come along soon who will take better advantage.

Posted by Observer at January 6, 2006 07:31 PM
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Luceno did not write the Episode III novelization. He wrote the novel "Labyrinth of Evil" set right before Episode III but the actual Episode III novelization was by Matthew Stover.

Posted by: on January 6, 2006 09:10 PM

Oops, thanks. I fixed the first paragraph text to reflect this correctly.

Posted by: Observer on January 6, 2006 09:32 PM