Darth Plagueis’ biggest strength is also the novel’s biggest weakness.
Anyone who is going to read this is going to know how it ends, as it’s based on a key part of the mythology of the Star Wars universe, the prequels in particular.
Luceno’s book opens with that key moment as Sith apprentice Palpatine takes the life of his master Darth Plagueis.
We’re immediately thrown back in time to a scene that’s almost a mirror image of the prologue, with Plagueis claiming the life of his master.
From here on in, we’re shown how Plagueis begins to exert his influence on the movers and shakers of the galaxy, until he comes across a suitable new apprentice in Palpatine.
The book’s main problem is that the early sections feel like the literary equivalent of treading water. It feels unnecessarily slow as we wait for the introduction of said apprentice.
But the second half of the book picks up the pace and is a much more satisfying tale, even though at times there is a feeling of box ticking to please the fans.
Novels about the Expanded Universe are on a hiding to nothing from the start so it’s to Luceno’s credit that he’s given us a tale that stands up on its own two feet.
Fans of the prequels will certainly lap up this book as the events leading up to, and including, The Phantom Menace are featured, creating a much richer mythology than before.
Non fans shouldn’t dismiss it though as Luceno’s story telling is strong enough on its own merits to warrant a read.