||Well written, and great character
work, but I'm not sure what the point really was. Without a real
conclusion, the book ends on a rather unsatisfying note.
This book could be considered the first
of a trilogy, continuing with Revenge of the Sith, and concluding with
Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. Most trilogies contain an overall
story arc, divided up into three stories. Each of the three stories,
however, has its own conclusion. This is not necessary, but it helps.
The book feels more like a string chase, from one point to the next, and
it doesn't have enough of a buildup to be bereft of a conclusion. It ends on a cliff-hanger, which can be exciting, but the
continuation, Revenge of the Sith, doesn't carry on its main storyline,
which is the hunt for Sidious.
The plot for this novel is rather
simple, despite the title, and it is thoroughly enjoyable. While chasing
Nute Gunray back to his home planet of Cato Nemoidia, Anakin and Obi-Wan
discover that Gunray has left behind the walking chair with the
holoprojector that contains a message from Darth Sidious. Previously,
the Jedi thought Sidious was a lie manifested by Dooku in
Attack of the Clones. Now they have to
face the truth. Of course, not all the Jedi believed that Dooku was the
only Sith -Quinlan Vos spend a lot of time searching for the second
Sith, through Light and Dark to
The Last Siege, the Final Truth.
Obi-Wan and Anakin follow a trail that
leads them to the Xi Charan designer of the chair, from whom they learn
about the Bith who designed the hyperspace relay that allowed private
communications. He actually built two of them (shouldn't there have been
one for each Separatist leader?), one of which ended up on
Sith Infiltrator. They get the name of the Twi'lek pilot who flew the
ship to Coruscant, from which they discover the building that Maul and
Sidious, then Dooku and Sidious in Attack of the Clones, secretly met
in, was owned by a company that also owned and ecologically destroyed a
planet before disappearing.
Each of those stops along the trail to
Sidious is met with action and adventure. From a diplomatic incident by
chasing the designer through the roof of his workshop, to a jailbreak
when they allow themselves to get captured in order to rescue the Bith,
to a trap they have to escape through ice tunnels and ice fields, the
action is a lot of fun, but the characters are very much in character.
Along the way, they also learn of Grievous' plans to take a world by
force for the Separatist leaders, so they take part in that battle as
well, harassing Grievous until he flees. I do find it strange, however,
that Grievous decides to take the leaders to Utapau without a fight. If
he had a planet like that already, why did he try to invade another one? It
makes it seem like a battle for a battle's sake.
Most of the fun in this book is trying
to figure out where all the references to other stories come from. This
author must have a database of information from the other books, or must
be a fantastic fanatical fan. He has come a long way from his poor start
in the New Jedi Order stories Hero's Trial and
Jedi Eclipse. I have been
impressed with his book since then. Here he references often Dooku's
meeting with Yoda in Dark Rendezvous, as well as Vos' murder of a
Senator in Light and Dark, the
Battle of Jabiim, the events of
Trial, a Medstar frigate, and several other stories I didn't even
recognize, some of which undoubtedly come from the Clone Wars animated
micro series, which I haven't watched, yet. Intelligence director Isard
(Ysanne Isard's father) and advisor Sate Pestage (who outlasted
Palpatine, all the way to Mandatory Retirement) also make appearances.
My favorite line in the whole book,
though, goes to Obi-Wan. He declares, "not a skill I expect to use
again," after being shown how to disable a tractor beam to allow them to
escape with the Bith!
The character work extends to Dooku and
Grievous, who wonder about things and explain things that were
inconsistencies when isolated in the movies. We get a backstory on
Grievous, from a living being, through a shuttle "accident" (unknown to
him, caused by Dooku), and his resurrection by the Geonosians into a
hybrid man/machine. He trains with the lightsabers of the Jedi he has
killed, and teaches his elite droids with those shock-sticks we saw in
Revenge of the Sith. Did the author not know about Grievous' coughing
fits at the time of writing? There is no sign of a health problem at
Obi-Wan gets to wonder if they would
have a clone army at all if he hadn't been so quick to find Kamino. This
is a question I've been asking ever since
Attack of the Clones. As Yoda
says, the war would have been bloodier and more one-sided, but the cloners would have come to see them eventually. Incidentally, who built
all the hardware the clone troopers used in Attack of the Clones? That
seems to be the only question unanswered in this book.
At their final stop on Tythe, Obi-Wan
and Anakin set about to capture Dooku, who sends an army of droids
against them. His only purpose is to keep them away from Coruscant while
the last act of the war begins. Grievous attacks Coruscant. Even at
nearly a hundred pages, the attack on the Republic's government world
and the capture of Palpatine seemed overly complicated, and not nearly
as exciting as the invasion of Coruscant in
Star by Star, which I admit
is colored by memory only -and a great one at that.
Palpatine, of course, doesn't flee to
his shelter, but remains in his stateroom, as that would be the easiest
way to get captured. The flight to the train and subsequent battle
between Mace, Kit Fisto and Grievous was entertaining, but too long. I
wondered how Grievous was to set off the beacon broadcast to Anakin if
the man/machine had captured Palpatine before he arrived? But I think it
was fitting that Shaak Ti was one of the Jedi guarding Palpatine, seeing
as she ends up on Grievous' ship in Revenge of the Sith.
Padmé gets a few scenes in this book.
It is hinted at that she is pregnant, but I wonder how nobody can
notice, as she's quite visible in Revenge of the Sith. She is part of
the Loyalist party, with Bail Organa and Mon Mothma. They visit
Palpatine once, and worry what will happen if he is killed by Grievous.
There is a funny line by C3PO, who sees Nute Gunray's protocol droid and
gets a sense that doom is coming -accept a memory wipe, indeed. At
first, I thought it was the droid from Medstar, but unless TC-16 was
actually destroyed by Sidious in the communication chamber, I think it
The trail to Sidious was undertaken by
Mace Windu on Coruscant, after they find out about the building in The
Works that the Sith used to train. Droid scanners, more sophisticated
than we've seen before, actually trace out Sidious's footprints (amazing
that they couldn't get hair samples or fingerprints) to the basement,
into a subway tunnel, and all the way to 500 Republica, where the trail
disappeared. The invasion occurred exactly at that moment, because
Sidious thought they were getting too close. With Mace gone, the
intelligence agent was free to discover Sidious' lair, because he didn't
have to make it into the next movie. Sidious departs, and Palpatine
arrives in his quarters (though rather quickly, since his advisors
didn't issue an alert when he wasn't around as the invasion started).
Funny how Palpatine was much too busy to see the Loyalist Committee at
the start of the book, but had no appointments the day of the invasion.
There was a lot to like about this
book, but I wish the author had chosen a story that he could conclude
properly, even while leaving the invasion and capture as a cliff-hanger.
Still, the ending was exciting, and made me want to read
Revenge of the
Sith immediately, rather than another book I had in mind. That's
definitely a good recommendation.