Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Darth Plagueis, by James Luceno

Today I'm looking at another Star Wars book because apparently I'm a glutton for punishment. Of course this book is part of the Legends canon so it doesn't count as canon anymore within the new Disney canon. (Yes, Star Wars is confusing.) I think this was one of the last books written before the Disney takeover, though, so it kind of shows how complicated the canon had gotten. If you've had the misfortune to sit through Revenge of the Sith you probably remember Palpatine's speech about the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wiiiiiiiise. After the movie a lot of fan theories floated around about who exactly Darth Plagueis was with the favorite being that Darth Plagueis was Palpatine's own former teacher. This book confirmed that theory and expanded on both Plagueis and Palpatine. But I feel that this book in an attempt to answer questions just ends up raising more questions.

This book establishes that Darth Plagueis is a Muun. Now if you don't remember what the heck a Muun is, I certainly don't blame you. Basically they were these tall aliens and they were behind the Intergalactic Banking Clan, the major economic power in the galaxy. Darth Plagueis, like so many Muuns, is a major financial broker in his own right. Now on one level this makes a lot of sense because someone with massive financial power would be able to set the conflict of the Clone Wars into motion, both through political manipulation as well as underwriting the manufacture of armaments for each respective faction. In a way this makes a lot of sense. But the trouble with this book is that it just creates a disconnect between Darth Plagueis the manipulator and Darth Plagueis the immortality-obsessed maniac. Of the two, the chasing immortality plotline seems to have been almost forgotten at times, like Luceno was like, ''Oh right, the immortality and the midichlorians. Right. Got to include that.'' Plagueis's ultimate goal is to rule the galaxy for forever, but based on where the book spent its focus it felt like Plagueis's main goal was galactic domination and immortality was just a sweet bonus.

This book also focuses a lot on midichlorians (when Plagueis is actually working on the immortality project) and then all the financial and political debates that were in the prequels. Now I think it's pretty safe to say that there were a lot of people who didn't like the tedious political debates that were in the prequels, so having a whole book with a lot of those debates is probably not going to be appealing to the average Star Wars fan. Not to say that political intrigue and Star Wars couldn't potentially be an interesting story like Song of Ice and Fire, but in this case it's a more of the prequel variety which isn't that great.

The canon problems also start getting confusing. This book includes a reference to the Heir to the Empire with Jorus C'baoth making a cameo and I'm pretty sure that there's an inclusion of a plotline about Darth Maul taking out leaders of the Black Sun criminal organization.And I'm pretty sure I read a comic with that exact same plot back when I was a teenager. (It's called Star Wars: Darth Maul published by Dark Horse, if anyone's interested) And those are the only two references I was able to catch, I'm sure there were more that I missed as well. But this just made me think of the of the fact that Jorus C'baoth was cloned and his clone suffered from clone madness, all of which got forgotten with the new Clone Wars. So now I'm mixing canons that contradict each other in my head.

I feel like this book tries to answer some other questions such as ''What the heck were all those giant bottomless shafts in Naboo that the lightsaber fight was in? And for that matter why is the Trade Federation blockading Naboo? What space supplies could this lush, verdant planet need that would cause them to surrender?'' Well this book actually answers those questions that we had. It turns out that Naboo's entire economy is based around mining plasma and then the Trade Federation has a contract to ship it off world. So the blockade by the Federation is over a disagreement involving shipping rates and it brings Naboo's economy to a standstill because their economy is based on a single export. And those bottomless shafts are just plasma mines.

...except that plasma is an ionized gas either found in either the upper atmosphere or more commonly what stars are made out of. So...you...shouldn't be mining it from a planet's core. I...it just doesn't make sense. I'm sorry, I know I'm making a big deal about this but it bugs me on some level. And this is just the biggest thing that bothers me, there are a lot of other questions that I'm left asking about this book. It just raises more questions.

Overall I think this book is worth skipping. While it explains more of how the Clone Wars were set up, it does it in such a dry manner that I don't think most fans are going to want to read this entire book just for that.

- Kalpar

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