Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Labyrinth of Evil

Labyrinth of Evil
by James Luceno

On the planet Neimoidia, Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker set out to capture a treacherous ally of the Sith. Though they come up empty, their daring efforts yield an unexpected prize: intelligence capable of leading the Republic forces to their ultimate quarry, the ever elusive Darth Sidious, whom they suspect has been manipulating every aspect of the Separatist rebellion. In the escalating galaxy-wide chess game of sabotage and retaliations, Sidious stays one move ahead. Then the trail takes a shocking turn. For Sidious and his minions have set in motion a ruthlessly orchestrated campaign to divide and overwhelm the Jedi forces – and bring the Republic to its knees.

I am always surprised by how much I like books that take place during the Star Wars prequels. I mean, I’m a huge Star Wars nerd. Star Wars is my thing. But the majority of the prequel movies were not my cup of tea. (And by the majority, I mean about one-third of The Phantom Menace and pretty much all of the next two movies.)

The thing that immediately struck me with this book is that it was information that the audience should have known going in to the Revenge of the Sith. Labyrinth of Evil takes place immediately before that movie and sets up most of the situations that are crucial to the main plot. It’s all the politics and war and behind the scenes stuff that make the events in Revenge of the Sith interesting and meaningful.

It explains things that you might not have even known you were wondering about. You get to learn who Grievous is and why he becomes such a ruthless killing machine. You get to learn Dooku’s background and what tempted him to become an apprentice of Sidious’. There’s information about the battle tactics of both sides of the war and how the trap for the Jedi was laid out over the course of many years across the galaxies. And I think the most interesting thing is that you get to know other Jedi members like Mace Windu and Shaak Ti better, so they become characters you actually care about when Revenge of the Sith rolls around.

I’ll admit it. Reading this book made me want to watch the prequels again to gain some perspective on what was going on exactly and the culminating moment of Revenge of the Sith made so much more sense and meant so much more with this book behind it. You really get to see how exhausted and frustrated the Jedi Knights are and how clouded everyone’s judgment is by the influence of the Sith on the events taking place. You get to see exactly how close some characters came finding out the truth.

After reading this book, I can honestly say that I don’t know how I managed to get through the Return of the Sith movie before. I definitely recommend it if you are a Star Wars fan. It’s compelling and intriguing and fills in a lot of the holes in the last prequel movie. I have a new appreciation for the story being told there.

And I’m still excited about having read this book because it’s meant to be the first book in a trilogy along with the Revenge of the Sith novelization and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. I will be reading and reviewing both of those books as well, so we shall see if these prequel supplements continue to amaze me.

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