Max takes a retrospective look at James Luceno‘s superb exploration of the Sith
One of the best books in Star Wars Legends; believe it or not came very close to the end of Legends anyway. In 2012, Darth Plagueis was published by James Luceno, a Star Wars veteran and one of the few writers who transitioned into canon.
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis stars the eponymous character, Darth Plagueis as the boom chronicles the Sith Lords rise and fall and the dominos he set in motion for the entire Star Wars story. It’s a shame it’s no longer canon, as the slate was wiped clean in 2014 and Queens Peril (which came out in 2020) heavily implied that Plagueis was dead long before the events of The Phantom Menace which both books immediately predate. This is very sad to me to have this book “not count” and I lament that it could not be added into canon. The book is just so magnificent in its structure, writing and nuances. Plagueis is like an evil Leonardo da Vinci as he looks for ways to extend his lifespan indefinitely. He plots in the shadows for decades; putting all the pieces in motion for the Sith’s Grand Plan.
I am a huge sucker for stories published later that go “behind the scenes” of an already established work. The thought that Plagueis was watching from afar, Anakin talking to Qui Gon about midichlorians to be super titillating. I honestly don’t know where to begin with my love for this novel. I could write for hours but I will try and make a more concise list. I loved how Palpatine started as a normal-looking Naboo kid with a thirst for racing. Most sociopaths enjoy high thrill activities so it fits perfectly. Palpatine is completely amoral at the beginning of his training.
After killing his entire family, Plagueis invites him to join the Sith and this boy has the gall to question that he should not become a Sith, since they are evil. Wow. Even Plagueis found this crazy. You just murdered your family and you don’t think it’s evil? Insane. What I loved most about the novel is Plagueis’s outlook on many different things. He is a genius with an IQ probably higher than most humans and is very philosophical and scientific. He remakes that humans are romantics and strangely love to do business and events around serving food. This is common practice with humans here as well and it’s fascinating to see Plagueis find it so alien.
He also breaks into a bit of quantum existential physics which I love so much. When looking at the crew of a ship he planned to infiltrate, he noted that the midi-chlorins in them had already started to migrate back into the Force. In a sense, they were dead as soon as he looked at them as it was set in stone that he would soon kill them. So artistic and amazing. I also like how Qui Gon makes a brief appearance and tells Plagueis that they are looking for the same things but have different methods. This is a meta-reference to how both men wanted to discover the secret of immortality, yet they are so different in their technique.
Lastly, this book teaches you a valuable lesson. No matter who you are or how powerful you become, your negative actions will always come back to spite you. The Force does have a form of karma. Plagueis is almost killed by a band of non-Force using assassins and very early on in the book when Plagueis was on a mission with his master Darth Tenebrous; something occurred that chills my spine. Chills in a good way. Somebody sabotaged the mining droid that the two were using and it explodes, injuring Tenebrous and allowing Plagueis to kill him and take his place as reigning Lord of the Sith. Whoever Tenebrous ticked off enough to plant that bomb; is truly the Legends galaxies greatest hero; more so than Luke Skywalker or Han. Why? If he didn’t sabotage the droid, Tenebrous wouldn’t have died; Plagueis wouldn’t have trained Palpatine and Palpatine wouldn’t have destroyed the Republic.
Everything in the universe matters and care is very real. Anyway, go out and buy or borrow this book. It is a thumping good read and in my opinion tied for Best Legends novel with Shadows of the Empire. It may not be canon; but it still happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.
Max Nocerino is a new addition to the Future of the Force roster. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter @MaxN2100 where he channels his passion frequently!