The Muun, the myth, the Legend, but not the Supreme Leader. Darth Plagueis is known for a great many things, but leading the First Order is not one of them. I encounter of the most enigmatic figures in Legends history in the first step into the Prequel Trilogy realm of Star Wars Legends!
As I said in my previous recap of The Old Republic era, Legends becomes really interconnected as we move toward The Phantom Menace. Darth Plagueis spans a longer era, starting at the beginning of Sidious’ training and overlapping a bit with the first film. The next few books, Cloak of Deception and Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter deal specifically with the Trade Federation’s invasion and blockade of Naboo and how Sidious manipulated everything to become the new Supreme Chancellor. Darth Maul: Lockdown, a one-off focusing on Darth Maul, ties into events in Darth Plagueis. As such, these posts may be less of a review and more of a discussion on the interconnectivity of the era.
In true Luceno fashion, this novel bridges an incredible amount of time. 35 years before the Crisis on Naboo, Darth Plagueis and his Master, Tenebrous, are trying to take advantage of a cortosis mine. Cortosis was a Legends material that shorted out lightsabers, which would give the Sith a huge advantage in taking down the Jedi. Plagueis sabotages the excavation, causing an explosion which weakens Tenebrous enough to kill him. Plagueis uses this opportunity to declare his plans to end the Rule of Two and create a Sith army. He also wants to find the secret to eternal life, being the immortal leader of this Empire.
Here’s where we, as Legendary Adventurers, notice two big overlaps with the Old Republic era. First, the previous books in the expedition were the Darth Bane trilogy, detailing the Rule of Two. We have the advantage of comparing the Sith Order of Bane’s time to Plagueis’s imagination for a Rule of Two-less Order. Secondly, Plagueis’ hunt for eternal life sounds a lot like the Sith Empire. Actually, just as Vitiate takes Revan hostage to leech on his life, Plagueis takes another of Tenebrous’ apprentices, Darth Venamis, and holds him to steal secrets for eternal life from him.
Like Sidious, Plagueis also lived a double life. His “civilian identity,” Hego Damask, was largely responsible for bringing Naboo into the public eye. Damask supports Bon Tapalo as king of Naboo, who will open Naboo up to intergalactic trade and open the flow of plasma sales. While on Naboo, he is inclined toward the Palpatine family, especially young Sheev. Sheev, feeling called by Damask, kills his entire family and begins his tutelage under Plagueis. As Palpatine grows in power and esteem, he meets a familiar cast which will make up the Emperor’s retinue in the Original Trilogy. One of his travels brings him to Dathomir, where Mother Talzin presents Maul to Sidious to be trained.
The rest of the book is a Legendary Adventurers dream – the novel intersects with the novels mentioned above, and at least two Dark Horse comic series (Darth Maul and Jedi Council: Acts of War). These intersections cover the gap between the beginning of Sidious’ training and the Crisis on Naboo. Here, a few more plot points are covered: Plagueis influences Sifo-Dyas into commissioning the clone army while killing the king of Naboo, making the path easy for Padme to be elected after careful prodding by Palpatine.
Darth Sidious makes his final move, killing Plagueis in his sleep. He feels uneasy, as Plagueis is killed at the same time as Maul is supposedly killed on Naboo. Thus, the events of the films are set in motion after an entire galaxy wide book.
While covering such a wide breadth of material, Darth Plagueis rarely feels as slow as you might guess it would. Yes, Luceno’s prose is incredibly dense, and it takes a while to slog through some of the aristocratic dialogue and grandiose descriptors, but the plot rarely feels slow. Every plot point is, mostly explicitly, connected to a plot point from the films, which helped everything seem exciting. Even discussions about monarchies and trade routes felt more weighty when it gave context to The Phantom Menace’s admittedly context-less opening.
This book is strange to me. Part of the Legendary Adventures was about re-contextualizing individual novels, but also, it would recontextualize the movies. This novel really took a lot of agency away from Palpatine, as if he mostly coasted on Plagueis’s coat tails as he rose to power. Sure, he regained some agency while Plagueis was dead, meaning most of his work post-TPM was his own, but I felt like this took away a lot from the films. This might just be me, though! I know this was a popular book when it was released.
All in all, I had fun reading this book and it laid a lot of groundwork for the rest of this era leading up to Episode I. Even without the following books, I recommend reading this anyway for a greater understanding of the Prequels and for a mostly intriguing story!
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) | Tales of Hope and 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