Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader Review by Dan Tres OMi
It's very easy to assume that after the events of Episode III that Anakin Skywalker had no qualms about being Darth Vader. After betraying the only real family you had after the death of your mother, leaving your wife for dead, and killing babies, Anakin fought to suppress the demons that were consuming him. It's also easy to assume that for 18 years after those events in Episode III, that Anakin Skywalker simply forgot those things.
James Luceno does a wonderful job describing the torment within Darth Vader. For those of you familiar with his work on The Unifying Force and The Labrinyth of Evil (a Episode III prequel that is a must read), will understand that Luceno provides a vivid background before giving the reader the meat of the story. He does the same in Dark Lord...
The first 50 or so pages takes us to the outer Rim world of Murkhana, moments before Order No. 66 where we meet Jedi Master Roan Shyrne, a Jedi who lost a padawan and has become disenchanted with the Clone Wars and the Jedi Order. He questions his committment the Republic and approaches his situation from a pessimistic fashion. He is working with Jedi Master Bol Chatak and her padawan Olee Starstone. Once Order No. 66 is given, all three Jedi must make a decision that will change their lives forever.
Darth Vader realizes that he has made some bad decisions. He continues to blame Obi Wan Kenobi and the Jedi Order for his predicament but he realizes that Palpatine has not come through on several of his promises. He realizes that he is just a lap dog that Palpatine sics on his enemies. Palpatine has not taught him any Sith secrets. Vader also realizes that his suit hinders him and that the raw power he once wielded is spent just keeping himself alive.
What makes the book work so well is the confusion that is sown after Order No. 66. No one except Vader and Palpatine seem to know what's going on. Many Jedi (more are introduced throughout the book) assume that Darth Vader was the Sith Lord who manipulated Palpatine and the Senate. No one knows that Vader is Anakin. The Jedi also have no clue that the Jedi Council has been wiped out. They get the transmission to return to the temple and while enroute are told to escape and hide (as shown in Episode III). The confusion created by Palpatine demonstrates the genius of his plan.
Luceno offers the reader more surprises throughout the book as more background information is provided to fill in the holes left by Episode III. We learn that there are clone troopers that refuse to carry out Order No. 66. This brings more realism to the story. Several clone troopers grow to respect the Jedi and refuse to kill them.
To be honest, the only beef with Dark Lord is the fact that Vader realizes he is being used but does not act on it. Instead, he chooses to assume the Darth Vader persona and completely forget about Anakin. Luceno provides several reasons for that but one would think that with all that anger, he would immediately turn on Palpatine (which happens 21 years later in ROTJ Ep VI).
Overall, the book is a must have.