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An e-book novella by James Luceno (2001, Del Rey)
Included with the Shadow Hunter softcover
33 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Darth Maul accelerates a fatal feud between two mining companies.



3+ stars+

Read on July 21st, 2002  
    An enjoyable story, and very exciting. I only wish Darth Maul had played a greater part.

No wonder Maul was so anxious to go out and do a job against Black Sun in the comics, and then as a hunter in Shadow Hunter. He didn't really get to do anything here. I think Darth Sidious would have been a more logical candidate for the sort of job that Maul had here. I see Maul as a fighter, with no other skills. But it appears that I was wrong. He can be cunning, as well.

I was completely surprised at the depth this author gave to the character. Considering he wrote what I consider to be the two worst New Jedi Order novels, and the below average Cloak of Deception, I didn't think he could create such a well-written story.

For the story is very well written, introducing us to the character of Bruit (French for noise!), head of operations for Lomite Limited, one of two competing mining companies on the planet Dorvalla. Dorvalla, of course, will reappear in Cloak of Deception. This author never misses an opportunity to put in references to past and future work.

Lomite Limited is having sabotage problems, because of clan warfare between the two companies. After two shuttles careen into a mine, he is ordered to take action. And so he takes a contract out to sabotage some of their competitor's ships.

Into this struggle, Sidious sends Darth Maul. I don't know if Maul's presence actually accomplished anything that wouldn't have happened anyway. The two companies were on the verge of destroying each other. Maul's interference simply accelerated their demise. And perhaps he made it a little more controllable.

His job is made easy because of the lax security he finds all over Dorvalla. It's no wonder sabotage was so easy. He records a few conversations, eavesdrops on security men, and finds out that Bruit has hired the Toom clan, a small criminal organization, to sabotage the ore ships. Maul then re-samples the recordings and has the competitor hire the same clan to sabotage the Lomite Limited ships.

In a competition for a contract with Eriadu (another place that this author will venture into in Cloak of Deception), the two sets of freighters collide spectacularly. I don't really understand why the Toom clan would agree to carry out this assignment, which jeopardized the clan's existence. To give up such a profitable arrangement as they had, forcing them to move their base of operations and go into hiding, doesn't sound all that profitable, even if they were being well paid for this one job.

Maul makes sure that Bruit and his competitors know that the Tooms double-crossed them, and secretly helps them to slaughter that clan. He then kills Bruit, leaving no witnesses.

The author got Maul's character down perfectly. He evoked the strong emotions of hatred, and of a lack of empathy for the weak, feeling the need to weed them out. I liked the way he thought about the need to stay hidden, that he couldn't even leave a lightsaber strike as evidence. That's more common sense than he displays in Shadow Hunter, where he uses his lightsaber with impunity. But I guess he had the authorization of Sidious by then.

Unfortunately, the author peters out by the end of the story. His description of the action between Bruit's forces and those of the Toom clan are very lackluster. Fortunately, they don't last very long. And since when has Maul felt the need to kill only those who attack him? He could have easily killed all the survivors. He should have no problem killing in cold blood.  He didn't need to goad them on.

Ah, well. I seem to remember Maul thinking about using the insect-as-a-listening-device trick in a future story, too. That was neat continuity. And it was neat to see how all of these stories are somewhat connected. All three Maul stories have a definite connection, especially in the character of the Nemoidian Hath Monchar. And the contract that Nute Gunray achieves because of Maul's actions get him promoted, giving the Trade Federation exclusive access to Dorvalla, as well.

I liked the character of Bruit. I think it was a good idea to make most of the story from his point of view. But it is unfortunate that Maul didn't have to do much at all in order to complete his mission. Still, this is another great Darth Maul story.


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