Yesterday I discovered that Lucas Books has finally decided to put out their long awaited Darth Plagueis novel! Check out the news and a brief outline of the novel at The Force.net.
The cover art for Star Wars: Darth Plagueis by James Luceno
This novel was originally announced shortly after the debut of Revenge of the Sith where we heard the first tantalizing mentions of this Sith lord who trained the Emperor and his brief biography. At the time I was incredibly excited by this news, I’m a sucker for the bad guys, they’re always so much more interesting then the good guys. Especially when it comes to the Jedi and the Sith. Don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of the Jedi, Yoda, Mace Windu, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan, and all things Lightside are great! But we’ve seen it all before, you know? We all know how a Jedi should act. Selflessness, virtue, peace, knowledge, defense, one with nature, etc. etc. We get it. There are plenty of Jedi in the Star Wars universe and over the course of the 6 movies we get a good look at their structure, teachings, and individuals.
When it comes to the Sith however, they remain something of a mystery to us, at least in the movie universe. In the books there is quite an expanded knowledgebase about the Sith and their history, but even with that there are extensive gaps leading up to the time of the movies. The Sith are figures in Star Wars that leave something to the imagination, they are the element we don’t know enough about. When you think about it, most of the knowledge we do have about the Sith in the films is given to us by the Jedi, sworn enemies of the Sith who have spent a good portion of their history trying to erase the memory of them from the galaxy. We can assume their interpretation of the Sith is slightly skewed.
Darth Plagueis the Wise
To make a few comparisons, the Sith are the Apocrypha to the Jedi’s Bible. The heretics and Cathars to the Jedi catholic church. A feud that started as an ideological difference erupts into a full out war which results in the victor being known as “right” and the loser being known as “wrong.” From there the Jedi go on to establish themselves as philosophers and peacekeepers working with the Galactic Republic to maintain an order of light. While on the other hand the Sith, who are believed to be vanquished, must alter their strategy, work in secret and pass their teachings on in a more clandestine manner with a new motivation of total revenge against those who had tried to destroy them.
Of course I could go back and forth about this history of the Jedi and Sith but what I’m getting at is the allure of the Sith.
What draws more curiosity, an object sitting openly under a lamp, or an object hidden in shadow just out of sight? Clearly you can tell what there is with the object under the lamp, you can observe it and know something about it just by looking at it whether it interests you or not. But that hidden object has so much more appeal because you just can’t know exactly what it is until you investigate. It’s the whole idea of wrapping a present as opposed to just handing someone a gift. That element of the unknown, the mystery, it’s what gets our attention.
Long analogy, short I like the Sith because there’s just comparatively so little information about them in Star Wars lure.
The Darth Bane trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn was a good Sithy read, detailing the middle history of the Sith and how the order was reduced from an army similar to the Jedi, to the master and apprentice system we see in the movies. As interesting as that was I was still more excited about the talk of a Darth Plagueis book. Unfortunately after Revenge of the Sith the Plagueis book was delayed in favor of several other books including a Darth Vader novel and a story about the construction of the first Death Star. Topics that had already seen several novelizations over the years. I read those books however and enjoyed them, but still anticipated the Plagueis read. Unfortunately it was eventually cancelled with no further word.
Finally yesterday, years later, I find out that it is back on! There is even a cover and a brief summary indicating that this time they mean it.
Why am I so excited for this book? Well as I said before I’m a fan of the bad guys in general and the Sith in particular. Perhaps my favorite Sith is Darth Sidious, Emperor Palpatine. And why shouldn’t he be? If you like the Sith than you’d have to love the Master who orchestrated the final destruction of the Jedi order, subverted the government that pandered to those same Jedi, and who put the Sith in sole control of the largest imperial rule the galaxy had ever seen. Sidious is the Sith Lord who brought about the endgame of a thousand years of Sith patience and planning. This is the man who worked openly among the Jedi undetected, who trained Darth Maul, and who bested Yoda in one of the most epic lightsaber duels of all time.
But who trained Darth Sidious?
Darth Plagueis the wise. If Sidious turned out to be such an evil badass, the guy who instructed him must have been fairly impressive himself. Finally we will get the chance to learn more about this mysterious penultimate Sith Master in James Luceno’s next book simply titled Darth Plagueis.
Darth Plagueis and a young Sidious
Actually James Luceno himself is another reason I’m really looking forward to this book. I love his Star Wars novels especially Cloak of Deception, Labyrinth of Evil, and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. Luceno is a skilled and subtle author who writes the Sith and the Darkside well, not simply portraying them as evil villains who do bad purely for the sake of being evil, but actually portrays them with some depth as to why they do what they do, how they are different from the Jedi, and why they use the Force in the manner they do. Aside from that, in my opinion Luceno is one of the few Star Wars authors who really captures the feel and scope of the Star Wars universe that we are used to in the films. He has a deep understanding of the characters, history, and setting of the Star Wars universe that really takes his books to the next level. He blends well the elements of action, politics, and philosophy that are found in Star Wars making his works more than simply “typical” sci-fi books in the guise of Star Wars novels.
I haven’t been keeping up with most of the new Star Wars novels, I believe the last one I read was 2009’s Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber, but with this book finally being released I again have a Star Wars novel that I’m really looking forward to.
That is all!