Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
Picking up where the last Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith, ended, Dark Lord chronicles Anakin Skywalker's emotional transition from angry young Jedi to cold, ruthless Darth Vader. The novel opens on the planet Murkhana, hours before the clone troopers are given the order to turn on the Jedi and slaughter them. Jedi Master Roan Shryne and Padawan Olee Starstone escape death and manage to get off the planet, but not before getting a glimpse of the deadly Darth Vader, the new Sith lord who is the emperor's new right-hand man. But the former Anakin Skywalker is still filled with anger and resentment over what he perceives as the betrayal of his wife and his former mentor. As Sidious and Vader work to destroy the remains of the republic, Shryne and Starstone set out to rescue the remaining Jedi, who are spread out throughout the galaxy.
Kathryn: It took me a few months after the release of Dark Lord: The Rise
of Darth Vader for me to actually read the book. Frankly, I hadnít
enjoyed either The Unifying Force or Labyrinth of Evil as much as Iíd
hoped. I am, however, a self-proclaimed Vader-phile and have an
unhealthy fascination with Palpatine. With those two personality
quirks, I decided to look forward to the day when one of my friends
sent me a copy.
And, in true Kathryn fashion, I plowed through it in less than a day.
That is not to say that I skimmed it. I simply get certain books and
canít wait to see where the story takes itself. If it is all that I
hoped for, I will then go back and reread my favorite scenes or
commit certain lines to memory.
I was, on the whole, thrilled. It had all of the classic thrills
of Star Wars that we have come to expect both on-screen and off.
There were imaginative saber-fights. There was an abundance of
long-awaited name-dropping. There was even an element of my personal
favoriteódramatic irony out the wazoo.
With that in mind, let me express what pleased me about the book
first. The plot, by and large, was an imaginative yet realistic
assessment of the early Empire. On the one hand, original characters
were Jedi struggling to decide where the Force will take them after
the obliteration of everything they have known. Luceno introduced
the credible conflict of code vs. conscience with the introduction of
one Jediís mother. There was the further complication of a Jedi
Padawan forming a possible Attachment to a fellow traveler.
Additionally, we finally experienced first-hand the early
frustrations of the Chosen One recognizing his limitations and coming
to terms with a spiritual and physical imprisonment. We saw the
skeleton crew of the Rebel Alliance recognizing the need for
political and moral audacity in the face of a Galaxy ruled by a
supreme evil. In classic Luceno style, the two central plots met
each other in a delightfully unexpected manner on Alderaan and then
came to a breathtaking climax on Kashyyyk.
Now, those of you who know my English-major propensity to dislike
something about everything may be arching an eyebrow and waiting for
the other shoe to drop. Donít worry. I do have one major Ďbeefí
about this book and itís a fairly crucial one in my mind. This
concern has to do with things that I have noted in others of Lucenoís
books. To whit, I have issues with the credibility of some of his
characterizations. This is not to say that he is consistently
lacking in that area, only that it seems to be a habit.
Let me take the example of Bail and Breha Organa. Bail was
characterized fantastically as a man who has to strike a balance
between his duties to his family and his duty to the ideals of the
fallen Republic. His characterization answers as many questions as
it raises. Conversely, the Queen of Alderaan, a potentially
formative and formidable character, does almost nothing in the book
but show up in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was bad enough
that we only saw Leiaís mother for ten seconds in Revenge of the
Sith, but to trivialize her as a foolish figure was simply
In short, if you are looking for a good read that will provide you
with thrilling combat sequences, thrilling political intrigue and
empathetic interpretations of a difficult time, read this. It is,
for the most part, worth it!