Review by Dan Tres OMi (your friendly neighborhood Afro Latino Jedi... go figure!)
Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno was released earlier this year (2005) as a hardcover. It was sold in book stores months before the final installment of SW hit the theatres. Del Rey finally published it in the paperback edition. For those of us who are fans of the SW universe but have to watch our pennies during the Bush II regime (I had to throw that in there, huh?), the paperback came at the right time.
Luceno is no stranger to the EU. He has written a few New Jedi Order books and is slated to pen the upcoming Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader . Lucas was in his right mind in booking Luceno to author this prequel.
The story starts a few weeks before the events in Ep III and end right before Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker fly into the battle over Coruscant. It flows well and leaves the reader waiting and wanting for the movie. Luceno reveals so many things that were a mystery to SW EU fans. He really sets us up for the movie.
We learn more about General Grievious and his hatred of the Jedi. We also learn about Sifo Dyas and his relationship to Count Dooku. Palpatine's plot continues to unravel as the Jedi start catching up to him. Before they can finally get the drop on him, Palpatine makes his move. This provides us the backdrop to why the Separatists played their big card and tried to invade Coruscant. When Palpatine realizes that his cover is about to be blown, he convinces Dooku to launch an attack (something not explained in the Clone Wars cartoon series).
We also learn that the Separatists were really on the run during the entire war. It is true that many systems rallied to their cause and they did invade several others, the Separatists never really had a chance of winning. Dooku had hoped that the Republic would split with several factions fighting against one another. It did not work that way. This shows how clever Palpatine's plot really was. It truly was a Labyrinth of evil.
The book also demonstrates the growing resentment and suspicion that people have of the Jedi. While Anakin soaks up all of the publicity, the other Jedi are either kept out of the holonet news or someone is railing against them. By the time Palpatine has the Senate in the palm of his hands. Despite this, he plays the innocent executive power who is forced to do some unethical things.
The highlights are the fight between Mace and General Grievious and Kenobi and Skywalker fighting some murderous bounty hunters on a snow covered planet. We see some real martial arts in those scenes. Unfortunately, some of the scenes were done in the Clone wars cartoon and seem to conflict. The book loses some continuity. It leaves the reader wondering who is right and who is wrong. Overall the book gets 3.5 out of 5 stars. It is a must read since it connects a few dots.