Waru Express: The Phantom Menace

I finally gained a better grip on my sanity and decided to break these reviews into slightly smaller chunks so next up are the Phantom Menace related books!   The good news is that not only did I not hate any of them but I actually loved one of them.

Darth Plagueis
I have Sith Fatigue and apparently the only cure is more Sith!  (They’re like cowbell.)  Seriously though, I loved this book!  Granted, I’m a bit of a political junkie but there really wasn’t anything I disliked about this book except that I wanted another hundred pages of it.  (Editor’s Note: Much like that business on Cato Neimoidia, that doesn’t count.)  I positively loved how James Luceno took everything that happened in the Prequel Trilogy and wove together a background that not only made sense but helped flesh out the story.  It’s the Long Con, folks, and it pays off so gosh darn beautifully.  After reading this book, all of the questions I had about how Palpatine worked both sides of the Clone Wars were answered.

It wasn’t just the story line and the writing that I liked.  I was also rather intrigued by getting to see the characters we know from different angles.  In particular, I enjoyed the parts with Dooku and how his departure from the Jedi Order came about.  Palpatine himself was another character that I enjoyed getting to know better, much to my surprise.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for a good descent into darkness tale.  (Editor’s Note: Sheeeeeeeeeeeeev!) 

Applause must also be given to James Luceno for handling the midi-chlorian situation well because those parts of the book easily could have come off as ridiculous.  On top of that, I’m pleased that Anakin was NOT the result of Palpatine doing creepy things with the Force to Shmi.

Finally, I’m now left desperately wanting a political intrigue book about either Padmé or Leia more than ever.  Come on, Del Rey.  Let’s do this.  Episode VII shouldn’t effect a book like that too much.  Pleeeeease?  I know at least a dozen people off the top of my head who would throw their money at you for such a book.  (I’m pretty sure that includes the entirety of the Tosche Station Staff so… please?)  (Editor’s Note: I’m going to claim responsibility for the existence of Bloodline since I wrote this about three years before the book was announced.)

Cloak of Deception

They may be by the same author but I’ll admit it was hard shifting from the perfection that was Darth Plagueis to Cloak of Deception.  That’s not to say it was a bad book but, well, everything else was going to pale in comparison for a little while.  Actually, I think that reading the two in rapid succession actually helped me enjoy Cloak of Deception more than I had previously.  The first time I read it about ten years ago, it made such an impression on me that I couldn’t remember any of the plot details.  This time, I enjoyed getting to see the specific focus on the political intrigue along with some more of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan as a Master/Padawan team.

I also liked how it sets up the political events in The Phantom Menace in a way that helps them make more sense.  For example, I always thought the vote of no confidence in Valorum passed a little too easily but seeing the political mess that led up to it made it seem more logical.

I’d also like to mention that after reading two books in a row where he’s mentioned, this whole Bail Antilles and Bail Organa thing is ridiculous.  Can we just retcon all mentions of Bail Antilles and make him Bail Organa instead?  Bail Organa is much handsomer anyways.

The Phantom Menace

First things first… Jar Jar Binks is JUST as annoying in print as he is on the screen.  I’m writing this note only 100 pages into the novelization and I already want to strangle him so he’ll stop assaulting my eyes with his weird accent/dialect.  Pathetic life form indeed.

As for the book itself, I think it’s a pretty decent adaptation of the film.  It doesn’t follow the film word for word which I think adds something to it.  Plus, you get a chance to go inside Qui-Gon’s head and see that he definitely had suspicions about Amidala’s ruse from quite early on.  Speaking of the decoy queen, I’m just going to pause here and say how much I LOVE the Handmaidens.  Seriously.  These ladies are the BEST.  Of course, I can’t read this book without wondering how things would’ve turned out if Qui-Gon had survived.  There’s probably some alternate universe where he, Obi-Wan, and Anakin are one big happy family, right?

I’m not going to turn this part of the review into an essay defending the prequels because Bryan Young has you covered there but I will take a moment and talk about how I actually rather liked how Anakin was portrayed here.  He’s a kid who acts like a kid but has amazing abilities when it comes to both the Force and piloting.  Let me emphasize again… HE IS A KID.  This is just an early chapter in the story of Anakin Skywalker’s life and it’s the chapter that shows that no one is born evil which is another story type that I am apparently a sucker for.  And I’m sorry but if the part where Anakin has to leave Shmi doesn’t tug at your heartstrings at least a bit, then I really don’t know what will.  Either that or you’re somehow immune to John Williams’ music (if we’re talking about the film.)

Rant over now.  I promise.  In short, I think all three books are decent reads especially if the Prequel Era is what interests you and I think that Darth Plagueis is worth the read no matter what.  Next up are the books that lead up to the Clone Wars!

Originally posted November 21, 2012

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