The revamped Legendary Adventures speed to our first film milestone, The Phantom Menace, as the Trade Federation poses a threat to Darth Sidious’s plan for galactic take over!
If you are following the Legendary Adventures, this will be our second book focusing on Darth Maul. Maul: Lockdown did not use Maul very strategically: he was a violent plot device. I am happy to report that Michael Reeves, in this novel, has a far deeper understanding of Darth Maul, what makes him tick, and why he works so well as a foil to our heroes in the novel. In general, I’ve noticed that the Legendary Adventures make any of the books even more enjoyable. Shadow Hunter was a good book that became great in the chronological order. Find out why!
Darth Sidious and Darth Plagueis’s plan to rule the galaxy is threatened by… a runaway Nemoidian? Hath Monchar, Trade Federation employee under the newly appointed Viceroy Nute Gunray, escapes the Trade Federation with the knowledge of Darth Sidious’s plan to force a treaty in order to invade Naboo, taking advantage of growing tension between the Federation and the Republic. Darth Sidious sends Darth Maul to track down Monchar in order to protect Sidious’s plan for galactic domination. At the same time, Jedi Padawan Darsha Assant goes on a mission to find a Black Sun operative, where she fails spectacularly. She and Master Anoon Bondara go to retrieve the body, only to run into information broker Lorn Pavan and his droid, I-5YQ. The two have come across Monchar’s information and are racing to put the info in the proper hands. The four come into deadly contact with Darth Maul, who is determined to stop the info leak at all costs.
I remember having read this novel once when it came out and I was rather impressed with it. The pacing was well done, and the prose was good, and the story was engaging. I liked most of the characters, with Lorn and I-5 leaving lasting impressions on me over the past few years. But reading it again in the Legendary Adventures? This book took on a whole new turn, and it was all the better for it. In the context of Darth Plagueis and Cloak of Deception, this book becomes tense as all get out.
First of all, the tension between the Trade Federation and Republic becomes palpable in this book. The Republic is applying pressure to the Trade Federation after their recent, and disastrous, summit on Eriadu. Remember, the Trade Federation recently pushed for more allowances for a greater droid army in response to terrorist attacks. Now the Republic is watching the Federation more closely, even enough to start considering sending Jedi as ambassadors (as we see at the beginning of The Phantom Menace.) Now, as the eyes of the Republic look directly on Sidious’s greatest ally, the seams in his plan threaten to burst open as the Federation buckles under the pressure. The Federation may be a superpower in the Senate, but it wouldn’t take much for them to lose their seat – or for Sidious to lose precious pieces of his grand scheme. Because of the weakness of individual members of the Federation, we start to see Sidious in a somewhat panic mode. He immediately dispatches Maul to find Monchar and the leaked info, pressing him harder and harder to reign in the loose ends.
We also continue to see the growing rift between the general populace and the Jedi Order. Lorn Pavan was once an employee of the Jedi Temple, but he resigned when his son was taken in to be a Jedi. With anti-Jedi sentiments festering even before the Crisis on Naboo, it is easy to see how the tide could turn so easily against the Jedi in the Clone War. Lorn’s opinion on the Jedi don’t change, even when he interacts with two Jedi and they end up sacrificing themselves for him. Usually, in literature, when two opposing groups come together in a dangerous situation, we expect them to find some common ground. The Jedi never apologize for wronging Pavan (even as a proxy for those who actually hurt him), so Pavan is offered no form of closure with his son. It is oddly satisfying to see a lack of unearned reconciliation here.
The book also unwittingly sets up the mastermind-version of Darth Maul that we would come to see in the later Clone Wars. The Jedi, Pavan, I-5, and Darth Maul come across a taozin. The taozin appears mostly as a shadow in the Force, rendering Force users unable to find them. (This is merely a shadow of the future Yuuzhan Vong invasion or the ysalamari, aspects of which I am happy to see left behind in Legends, so far.) Their exoskeletons are also lightsaber-resistant, meaning that Maul could not simply slash his way through the beast. This was the first time we’ve seen Maul, usually treated like a weapon, have to use his mind to overcome a foe when his usual tricks wouldn’t work. In the films, the beasts are a minor obstacle to overcome, but never used to challenge the characters in any impactful way. Here, the beast lets us see Maul transform from a lackey to a serious strategist in his own right.
The book ends with one of the most fun twists I’ve experienced in a Legends book, maybe even in a Star Wars book in general. The twist ties into the way this book deftly handles Palpatine’s double life as both Senator and Sith Lord, coming to a head in the climax, which I would hate to reveal here. The finale alone is worth buying the novel, but the characters and plot don’t hurt, either.
Legendary Travel Tips:
-In 2001, when the novel was released, most writers/creators were restrained in overtly linking Darth Sidious and Palpatine. This book made the closest connection in the twist, four years before Revenge of the Sith would explicitly draw the connection.
-Lorn Pavan’s son, Jax, is the star of the Dark Times-era trilogy Coruscant Nights.
-I-5YQ will return in the Medstar duology.
-The Legends edition features Restraint, a short story starring a young Darth Maul, which chronicles the first time his brother Savage Oppress is mentioned, and features the Witches of Dathomir.
-The book is immediately preceded by Cloak of Deception, and the next event in the Legends timeline is The Phantom Menace.
All in all, Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter pulls a lot of weight setting the atmosphere for future stories. Even if it didn’t, the book is a fun chase ending with a perfectly done twist. Add this book to your Adventure soon!
The Last Jedi
The Old Republic Era: Dawn of the Jedi: Into The Void | Lost Tribe of the Sith | The Old Republic: Revan | The Old Republic: Deceived | Red Harvest | The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance | The Old Republic: Annihilation | Knight Errant | Darth Bane: Path of Destruction | Darth Bane: Rule of Two | Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil
The New Jedi Order Era: Scourge
Canon Novel Reviews:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars Young Reader Reviews:
Adventures in Wild Space: The Escape (Prelude)
So You Want to be a Jedi?
Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
Poe Dameron: Flight Log
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel (Backstories)
Darth Vader: Sith Lord (Backstories)
The Force Awakens: Finn’s Story
Forces of Destiny:
Daring Adventures vol 1 | Daring Adventures vol 2 | Tales of Hope & Courage
LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Reviews:
“A Hero Discovered” 1×01 | “The Mines of Gabralla” 1×02 | “Zander’s Joyride” 1×03 | “The Lost Treasure of Cloud City” 1×04 | “Peril on Kashyyyk” 1×05 | “Crossing Paths” 1×06