Beard: Sith happens in new “Star Wars” novelWritten by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
There have been original “Star Wars” prose novels since 1978, but perhaps never one quite like James Luceno’s “Star Wars: Darth Plagueis.” The new book tackles a story that, until now, had yet to be told in any medium, that of the life and motivations of Palpatine, once Senator from the planet Naboo and later the big villain of “Star Wars,” the galactic emperor.
Though the title indicates a character only referenced once, in a short scene in “Revenge of the Sith,” the real revelations here center squarely on Palpatine. The book follows him for roughly 50 years of his life, from a 17-year-old with a chip on his shoulder to the moment he becomes supreme chancellor of the republic, as seen in “The Phantom Menace.” In fact, this novel would make an excellent companion to that film, now back in theaters in 3-D, as it explains in great detail the political and philosophical manipulations of Palpatine and his Sith Master Plagueis as they work on the “Great Plan,” the return and revenge of the evil Sith cult. Though, of course, there are action scenes in the book, sometimes graphically so, the delicious, intricate nature of the duo’s Machiavellian schemes is worth the price of admission alone.
Luceno has taken great pains in “Darth Plagueis” to set the stage for almost everything you see in “The Phantom Menace” and, indeed, the rest of the film series. Palpatine’s origins once seemed to be something that Lucasfilm wanted to keep obscured, but in their relenting, we’re gifted with this multilayered, epic story. And one of the best things of all here is that the author does not attempt to “humanize” Palpatine and water down his villainy; the character actually comes off as even more evil, more self-centered.
Too many “Star Wars” novels of the past have failed in one important aspect: imparting the feel of the films. “Star Wars: Darth Plagueis” succeeds on that score with a galactic scope, myriad planets and alien races, brisk battles and dialogue you will swear you can hear the film’s actors speaking. Every “Star Wars” fan needs to read this book; it’s that good.