Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Teen review: Star Wars Legends

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis
by James Luceno
379 Pages
Science Fiction/Fantasy
Part of the Star Wars: Legends continuity

Reviewed by Michael Zhang, grade 12

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis is a science fiction and fantasy novel set in the Star Wars: Legends continuity of novels and books. Fleshing out the backstory and life of one of the most pivotal characters in the Star Wars canon, Darth Plagueis is an essential read for any die-hard Star Wars fan.

Darth Plagueis is set during and before the Prequel Trilogy of the Star Wars movies. Fans familiar with the lore of Star Wars will know beforehand that the book tracks the rise and fall of Darth Plagueis, a legendary Sith Lord to whom Emperor Palpatine alludes in Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. In the movie, Palpatine tempts Anakin Skywalker with Plagueis’s mythical ability to use the Force to control life itself, and in this novel we get to learn for ourselves what truly is the scope of Plagueis’ powers. The book follows Darth Plagueis 35 years before Episode I with the end of Plagueis’s own Sith training, up until his inevitable death, to which Palpatine refers in Episode III. It faithfully details the rise to power of Plagueis, as well as the recruitment of his apprentice, the future Emperor.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book, since part of what annoyed me about the Prequel Trilogy of Star Wars movies is due to the pure inevitability of everything; the audience had already known what would happen due to the Original Trilogy, at least to a certain degree. While that still exists in Darth Plagueis, it’s surprisingly not a problem. James Luceno deftly wields what should be an encumbering universe, drawing from rich source material and utilizing vivid prose. Plagues and Palpatine are well drawn and vicious characters, and the ability to see the events of the movies from the eyes of the villains, rather than the heroes, was an interesting twist, and one that kept me glued to the words. I also enjoyed many of the storytelling techniques, including an interesting use of in medias res.

I also absolutely adore the cover, as it’s mysterious, dark, shady, and arcane, all in one. It leaves an impression on the reader as one of mystery and intrigue, and it did really well at accentuating the individual characters of Plagueis and Palpatine.

I’d rate Darth Plagueis 5/5 stars. It’s perfect, everything you’d want from a Star Wars novel. It has the rich prose, the integration with the preexisting lore, compelling characters, mysticism and Force Powers, and you get to watch the rise and fall of a legendary character from Star Wars history. For me personally, it also did surprisingly good work at redeeming some of the mishaps from the prequels, movies that I personally did not enjoy.

Editor's note: Ah, there's nothing like the scorn of a Star Wars purist! Please note that Burbank Public Library also offers this as an audio book, which could be an interesting experience, depending on whether they found a narrator as ominous as James Earl Jones!

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