James Lucano ventures to an unknown area of the Star Wars mythos in Darth Plagueis. It’s a piece of Star Wars lore very few can say they are familiar with, as it was only alluded to in one of the better sequences of Revenge Of The Sith. However upon reading this novel I can not only say that the mysterious Sith Lord is not only one of the most interesting characters in the Star Wars mythos, but the narrative around him is one of the most compelling stories I’ve read in a novel for a long time.
The character of Darth Plagueis is typically overlooked or unheard of among casual Star Wars fans due to the lack of information provided about him in the films. But anyone who has read this novel should shutter at the mention of his name. Readers follow Darth Plagueis throughout vast portions of his life and learn about how he was raised, became a powerful political figure in the galaxy, and eventually a Sith Lord. What makes Plagueis’ character work is self confidence. He thinks he’s too big to fail, and even when he encounters a flaw in the plan, he goes to desperate measures to mediate the situation.
Another great aspect to Plagueis’ character is how he explains The Force in relation to both the Sith and the Jedi. The Jedi are never at any point perceived as a good thing in this novel, and readers are convinced that perhaps the light side isn’t such a good idea in and of itself. Plagueis does this by showing that not allowing emotion to play a factor in one’s use of The Force doesn’t allow the user to achieve its full potential. Anyone who has watched the films gets the gist of this concept, but the way Plagueis handles the situation makes me want to turn to the dark side. I never want to be a Jedi after reading this book, and I can only question the reasoning behind staple characters such as Obi Wan and Qui Gon Jinn, and how they would willingly submit to an organization such as the Jedi Order. The book perceives Jedi training in a negative light, and for a good reason too. Why would anyone want their emotions suppressed for the sake of good? The dark side wins in this regard.
One of the best things about Darth Plagueis is the way it sets up the events of the prequel trilogy, and the finale actually occurs during the events of The Phantom Menace. We get to see Darth Maul’s origins, the formation of the clone army, and how different aspects of the so-called "Grand Plan" were funded through Plagueis’ political power. The best part? Palpatine’s training. We witness Plagueis’ acquaintance with Palpatine from his youth, and the imagination is challenged to somehow find a look for a young version of the lovable Sith Lord. I don’t think any two perceptions of him will be similar. We see how the dark side works through Palpatine’s training as he is driven to such desperation by Plagueis he has no choice but to submit to him. As a Sith Lord, we see how Palpatine formulated his rise to power as the Supreme Chancellor, and the novel wraps this in a clever way by making the laughable events from The Phantom Menace not only understandable, but serious.
Darth Plagueis, though it has some lull spots, is one of the best books I’ve read in awhile. It manages to take a character the Star Wars fanbase knew little about and make him one of the most interesting characters in the Star Wars mythos. It utilizes the Star Wars galaxy to its fullest potential and isn’t afraid to harp on issues that publicly defaced the saga in the prequels. If anything, this guy deserves a solo film, and I wish that Disney would consider making this novel canon again, as right now it’s considered to be in the "Legends" lineup of novels. Though for now it remains non-canon, any diehard Star Wars fan should give Darth Plagueis a read. It’s fun, compelling, and will give readers a better appreciation for being Star Wars fans.
-David Brashier; Huntsville, Alabama; July 2016