Eight Geeks

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Book Review - Dark Lord by James Luceno

Dark Lord, the most recent Star Wars novel by James Luceno, tells us of the happenings immediately after Episode III, and details how the hunt for the few remaining Jedi got started. Interestingly enough, that hunt doesn't start with the Emperor. That was a pretty shocking surprise, but the best part of the book, as a whole, was the way Luceno made a bid to create a madness within Anakin/Vader.

Throughout the book, it is emphasized that the memories of Anakin Skywalker were fading away. This suppression of the Anakin persona in favor of Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith is slow but inexorable, and by the end of the book, Anakin is truly gone.

The thing that bothers me about this book, though, is this amnesia/suppression concept. It seems to me that it's going to turn out to be a huge cop-out for every little inconsistancy. For example, many people have brought up the fact that Vader should have recognized C-3PO on Bespin at some point, yet he never shows the least glimmer of recognition. It could be explained away by his cool demeanor, I suppose, or rationalized in any number of ways, but apparently Lucas and company have decided to go with this psychodrama bit that's going to piss off fans everywhere.

Why is it going to piss off fans? Simple. Because it doesn't hold. By the end of Episode V, Vader is revealing that he is Skywalker, so why bother with the suppression thing? I just don't understand it.

The other subplots in the book, Organa trying to protect Leia and the escaped Jedi getting their hopes crushed, and trying to make new lives for themselves, those are okay, but almost seem to fall by the wayside. As they should, I suppose. After all, the book is subtitled "The Rise Of Darth Vader". But I still have a serious problem with this transformation of hot-headed Anakin Skywalker into the cold cypher that is Darth Vader. Even in Dark Lord, few people are aware of the fact that Vader is the former Chosen One. He just acts that much differently. I don't see it. Maybe with more follow-on books, it will described this evolution of character, but it's going to have to be one kick-ass explanation.

All in all, I can't say you shouldn't read the book. It's a good little story, and the details of Vader's physical condition are enough to break your heart, until he slices someone open with a thrown lightsaber, that is.


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