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Darth Sidious has expertly hidden his existence from the Jedi for many years. In Labyrinth of Evil, his elusiveness shines towards the end of the Clone Wars as his identity is being chased by Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
While Anakin and Obi Wan are occupied with their intense mission, Count Dooku and General Grievous work on setting their master's next plans into motion. Author James Luceno uses this opportunity to offer us the backstories of these two villains before foreshadowing Anakin's fall to the dark side.
The war that erupted in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones is nearing its boiling point, as the dauntless Separatist forces continue their assault on the teetering Republic–and the diabolical triumvirate of Count Dooku, General Grievous, and their Master, Darth Sidious, fine-tune their strategy for conquest. In Episode III Revenge of the Sith the fates of key players on both sides of the conflict will be sealed. But first, crucial events that pave the way to that time of reckoning unfold in a labyrinth of evil. . . .
Capturing Trade Federation Viceroy–and Separatist Councilmember–Nute Gunray is the mission that brings Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, with a squad of clones in tow, to Neimoidia. But the treacherous ally of the Sith proves as slippery as ever, evading his Jedi pursuers even as they narrowly avoid deadly disaster. Still, their daring efforts yield an unexpected prize: a unique holotransceiver that bears intelligence capable of leading the Republic forces to their ultimate quarry, the ever-elusive Darth Sidious.
Swiftly taking up the chase, Anakin and Obi-Wan follow clues from the droid factories of Charros IV to the far-flung worlds of the Outer Rim . . . every step bringing them closer to pinpointing the location of the Sith Lord–whom they suspect has been manipulating every aspect of the Separatist rebellion. Yet somehow, in the escalating galaxy-wide chess game of strikes, counterstrikes, ambushes, sabotage, and retaliations, Sidious stays constantly 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.
Labyrinth of Evil essentially bridges part of the gap between Episodes II and III. It follows Anakin, Obi Wan, and several other prominent Jedi such as Mace Windu and Shaak Ti as they attempt to find the Sith Master who they suspect is responsible for orchestrating the galactic chaos of the Clone Wars. This book is wildly entertaining. It's a high speed chase that proves the Jedi weren't as blind-sided by the events of Revenge of the Sith as you might expect. They were hot on the trail of Palpatine and his machinations. You'll have to read this book to see just how close they get as well as just how Palpatine manages to wriggle out of things once again.
I can't believe it took me this long to read the precursor to one of the best Star Wars books of all time. If you love the Revenge of the Sith novelization - as many of us here at Youtini do - you won't want to miss out on the story that takes place just before it. James Luceno has always been a top-tier Star Wars author, but he absolutely nailed this one in just about every way possible. It's suspenseful, it's action-packed, it's heartbreaking ... it makes you want to rewatch the prequels again. And all of The Clone Wars. Which, why you wouldn't already want to do that anyway, who knows. But it's a book you won't be able to put down once you start reading. You have been warned!
If you ask me, Luceno should write every tie-in novel. Between this, Catalyst, and Cloack of Deception, he just seems to have a real knack for writing stories that not only enhance the associated movie, but also stand tall on their own merits. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of this one, and felt by the end of it that I had a new appreciation for Revenge of the Sith.
The opening moments of Revenge of the Sith are regarded by many, myself included, as one of the most entertaining scenes in all of Star Wars. We find ourselves at the end of an action-packed story known as the Clone Wars, and yet in 2005 we hadn't yet seen the Clone Wars take place beyond its opening battle on the planet Geonosis. Since the writing of this book, many of those gaps have been filled. This book enhances my appreciation tremendously (in much the same way as Darth Plagueis did for the Phantom Menace). It's an essential prequel novel to Episode III. In addition to offering a compelling story that adds crucial connective drama to the Clone Wars, Labyrinth of Evil is expertly written. Luceno specializes in political subtlety, especially if working with villains. Wondering whether or not to pick this one up? Read it if you want to dive deeper with the Prequels, if you like the Clone Wars animated series, if you like reading about the dark machinations of the Sith, or if you like political thrillers. When finished, you might just find yourself immediately opening up a copy of Matthew Stover’s novelization of Revenge of the Sith.
Throughout the galaxy, it was believed that Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker–the Chosen One–had died on Coruscant during the siege of the Jedi Temple. And, to some extent, that was true. Anakin was dead.
From the site of Anakin Skywalker’s last stand–on the molten surface of the planet Mustafar, where he sought to destroy his friend and former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi–a fearsome specter in black has risen. Once the most powerful Knight ever known to the Jedi Order, he is now a disciple of the dark side, a lord of the dreaded Sith, and the avenging right hand of the galaxy’s ruthless new Emperor. Seduced, deranged, and destroyed by the machinations of the Dark Lord Sidious, Anakin Skywalker is dead . . . and Darth Vader lives.
Word of the events that created him–the Jedi Council’s failed mutiny against Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, the self-crowned Emperor’s retaliatory command to exterminate the Jedi Order, and Anakin’s massacre of his comrades and Masters in the Jedi Temple–has yet to reach all quarters. On the Outer Rim world of Murkhana, Jedi Masters Roan Shryne and Bol Chatak and Padawan Olee Starstone are leading a charge on a Separatist stronghold, unaware that the tide, red with Jedi blood, has turned suddenly against them.
When the three narrowly elude execution–and become the desperate prey in a hunt across space–it’s neither clone soldiers, nor the newly deployed stormtroopers, nor even the wrath of the power-hungry Emperor himself they must fear most. The deadliest threat rests in the hideously swift and lethal crimson lightsaber of Darth Vader–behind whose brooding mask lies a shattered heart, a poisoned soul, and a cunning, twisted mind hell-bent on vengeance.
For the handful of scattered Jedi, survival is imperative if the light side of the Force is to be protected and the galaxy somehow, someday reclaimed. Yet more important still is the well-being of the twin infants, Leia and Luke Skywalker, the children of Anakin and his doomed bride, Padmé Amidala. Separated after Padmé’s death, they must be made safe at all costs, lest the hope they represent for the future be turned to horror by the new Sith regime–and the unspeakable power of the dark side.
The turning point for the entire Star Wars saga is at hand
After years of civil war, the Separatists have battered the already faltering Republic nearly to the point of collapse. On Coruscant, the Senate watches anxiously as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine aggressively strips away more and more constitutional liberties in the name of safeguarding the Republic. Yoda, Mace Windu, and their fellow Masters grapple with the Chancellor’ s disturbing move to assume control of the Jedi Council. And Anakin Skywalker, the prophesied Chosen One, destined to bring balance to the Force, is increasingly consumed by his fear that his secret love, Senator Padmé Amidala, will die.
As the combat escalates across the galaxy, the stage is set for an explosive endgame: Obi-Wan undertakes a perilous mission to destroy the dreaded Separatist military leader General Grievous. Palpatine, eager to secure even greater control, subtly influences public opinion to turn against the Jedi. And a conflicted Anakin–tormented by unspeakable visions– edges dangerously closer to the brink of a galaxy-shaping decision. It remains only for Darth Sidious, whose shadow looms ever larger, to strike the final staggering blow against the Republic . . . and to ordain a fearsome new Sith Lord: Darth Vader.