Author: James Luceno
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: January 10, 2012
Era: Old Republic / Rise of the Empire
Let me start by saying that, never before have I placed such high hopes into a Star Wars novel as I had with Star Wars: Darth Plagueis. Darth Plagueis is a novel that almost wasn’t. In fact on March 27th, 2007, then Editor at Large Sue Rostoni revealed that the novel had been canceled in a publishing schedule post on her blog. http://blogs.starwars.com/eeusuestornii/9
”I’m sure you’ve noticed that the Plagueis novel is not listed. It’s true. The novel has been cancelled. We decided that this was not the right time to delve into Palpatine’s back story and Plagueis’s beginnings.” ―Sue Rostoni
At this time the only things we had discovered about Darth Plagueis was that he was a Muun, and that a part of Fandom was divided on learning about Palpatine’s back story. While some wanted to leave it a mystery, others were salivating for more. As luck would have it, Darth Bane: Rule of Two replaced Darth Plagueis, and continued what would later be a trilogy of novels chronicling the rise of the Sith Lord who founded the Rule of Two.
Later though the Force would again be with Darth Plagueis, July 27th 2010 following the shocking revelation that Imperial Commando 2 had been canceled Rostoni announced that Plagueis would indeed see his time on paper, again the dark side flourishes.
As a long time reader of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, I have found that Darth Bane provided a point of view unlike any other Star Wars novel I’d read before it. We saw the rise of Bane, through to the end where the mantle of Dark Lord passes on. So going into Darth Plagueis I had a lot of preconceived notions of what I thought would be coming. And on so many levels, I’ve never been more pleasantly wrong! James Luceno brought forth one of the best stories I have ever read in the Star Wars mythos. Yes. One-of-THE-BEST. This book delivered on so many levels I actually became giddy about it. Multiple times throughout the book I would recognize events, either mentioned, or directly happening that occurred in other books, or comics. From Star Wars: Republic #64, Ronhar Kim, and how he first meet Palpatine, and how their relationship was founded, to even the story K’kruhk first appears, Jedi Council: Acts of War, and the events with the Yincorri, and some events from that event that were retold in Star Wars: Republic: The Devaronian Version, just to name a few.
Right off the book brings us death. Darth Sidious becomes the anointed one of the dark side in the after math of Plagueis’ death. In a prologue that brought a certain philosophical depth I’ve not seen since Traitor, we see the world through Palpatine’s eyes as he sets forth the sole Sith Lord. Then we jump back in time to a time when Darth Plagueis was but the learner and he and his Bith Master Darth Tenebrous were seeking ways to bring the Sith “Grand Plan” to fruition. But owing to a betrayal on the business end of Tenebrous’s alter ego Rugess Nome, Plagueis is able to seize his moment and claims the mantle of Dark Lord. And as his Master lay dying, we discover one of the most fascination sides of this character. Plagueis is a fascinated himself on the Will of the Force, as well as midi-chlorians. The joy here is the amount of Sith History and knowledge Plagueis brings to the table. Plagueis quickly sets out with Trenebrous’s resources as well as his own as his alter ego Magister Hego Damask, to lay the last few seeds of the Revenge of the Sith.
One of the first additions to his ‘pieces’ is the droid 11-4D. This was a cool droid for a Sith Lord like Plagueis to have; he served as a research and surgical droid at a medical facility on Obroa-skai specializing in diverse species, as well as a pilot and diagnostician. All and all a handy little Igor if you ask me. He sets the droid to work researching the History of the Sith and the many other libraries he had through Sith connections over the many who ruled before him, seeking ways to extend life. Apparently somewhere down the line Darth Gravid lost some crucial knowledge… This didn’t stop Tenebrous’s Twi’lek Master from opening a small rend in the fabric of the Force, which allowed the dark side to be felt by the Jedi Order for the first time in some 800 years. Trust me; it was all pretty deep Sith. A lot of the book was played out in the Force, as this rend in the fabric of the Force is enlarged into a wound that would draw the Republic and the Jedi Order into its doom. The book on multiple occasions discussed midi-chlorins from Plagueis’s point of view, as well as his personal philosophies.
The scary thing about Plagueis is not his power as a Sith, sure that helps, but it is his life as Magister Hego Damask. Damask is a POWERFUL Muun. A powerful birth orchestrated by Darth Tenebrous himself to create the powerful Force user Hego would grow up to be. Powerful enough even to set Gardulla the Hutt up on Tatooine with podraces, and the underground cartels. But even then, while aiding the Hutt he was doing everything for the Sith; in a wheel within a wheel kind of mastermind-manipulations, the likes of which I’d not seen since Emperor Palpatine himself.
Later on the Hunters’ Moon, Sojourn, Darth Plagueis encounters Darth Venamis. Whom he mistakes as Darth Tenebrous at first, as both are Bith. Tenebrous had trained Venamis to replace Plagueis, and Venamis was prepared to claim his Darth title by killing Plagueis per Tenebrous’s orders. But Plagueis bests him, and makes Venamis a lab rat for his personal midi-chlorian experiments aimed at extending life. Plagueis wasn’t surprised that Tenebrous sent Venamis to kill him; he and Tenebrous had come to an impasse long before, Tenebrous was convinced the way to victory was “achieved through a mating of the powers of the dark side and expert Bith science.” I’ll say this; Bith science isn’t something to sneeze at. But Plagueis didn’t see much sense in the Rule of Two, for he saw himself as the culmination of the Sith imperative. And why not? For over 500 years the Bane line had avoided taking children on as Apprentices, preferring beings already scarred by life, and it would seem only Plagueis was the exception. Tenebrous had engineered Plagueis’s birth for Sith sake. Through Bith science he was able to crunch the numbers, if you will, and manipulated Hego’s mother and father together. Hego’s mother was his father’s second wife, and she was a dark side adept of Tenebrous’s sent to study his every action for her master, awaiting the signs that Hego was Force sensitive. When that day came, they openly handed him to Tenebrous.
Not knowing if Venamis too was born out of Tenebrous’s manipulations, Plagueis scours Venamis’s ship data banks and discovers that Venamis himself had been seeking out Forceful candidates to possibly train. Continuing to cover up all traces of the Sith’s presence, Plagueis seeks out these candidates to make sure they were not threats to the Sith Grand Plan. The first of these potentials was a shape-shifting Shi’ido gambler. Plagueis only threatened to expose the Shi’ido to the Gaming Authority and it was enough to keep the Shi’ido from being a problem. The second potential was a female Iktotchi, and she used her connection to the Force to see into the future, where she saw a very Imperial galaxy. She on the other hand was too much of a threat to leave alive. In a Sith assassin style Plagueis came to her, took her hand, then pumped her full of Sith lightning. The last potential was a Nautolan, who Venamis had aided in escaping from a facility. Convincing him that Plagueis was Venamis’ Master, Plagueis ordered the Nautolan to kill two Jedi who were looking for him. The Nautolan never had a chance.
Afterwards Darth Plagueis in his personae Damask sets his sights on Naboo, more importantly the planets huge plasma reserves. How Naboo factors into the Sith Grand Plan blew my mind in more ways than I can count. It not only altered my opinion of the Saga, but a large part of how I looked at the EU. Mainly Darth Sidious. Turns out young Palpatine was a firebrand all along. While we learn nothing of what his first name is, Luceno found a clever way to cover that by him using his last name only. Naboo’s politics factored in the story enough to give you a good idea of how the planet operates, and give you new insight into the Royalty and even Padme’s backgrounds. But Palpatine’s is the most troubling. In an act of rebellion against his influential father Cosinga Palpatine, young Palpatine manages to come to the eye of Plagueis.
Once Sidious enters the story, things really take off. I was glad in fact that the novel is set in three parts. It keeps the action well-paced and each part reads like a part of a trilogy. Not only do we witness the seduction of Palpatine to the dark side, but we also get great insight on the Sith point of view of the galaxy from several of the Lords, as well as how the galaxy has come to a place where the Sith are able to strike such a blow against the Jedi of the likes we later see in the prequel films. To a large part Naboo is the major key. Recall in The Phantom Menace those columns of energy we saw in the generator rooms?
Well this is the plasma energy that factors strongly into Naboo’s economy, as well as Naboo’s up and coming role in the galaxy, as well as in the senate. Between Hego Damask’s deals with Gardulla the Hutt and later with Naboo, he manages to anger the Gran Pax Teem for his apparent side-stepping of Malastare. This becomes a thorn in Plagueis’s side later. Palpatine, as Damask’s personal spy against his own father Cosinga, supplies Damask with information that helps put Bon Tapalo on the throne. And later reveals enough of himself to convince Plagueis he’s found his worthy Apprentice. Once the choice is made he goes to work sowing seeds of evil to young Palpatine. He tells Palpatine of his past, and a little of Muun society and culture, and paints a picture only a Sith Lord could. The timing proves perfect. Cosinga Palpatine did not approve of the relationship between Hego Damask and his son. Cosinga arranged for Palpatine’s change in study venues in an attempt to keep him free of Damask. The way the scene plays out still chills me. You almost get a sense throughout this book that the dark side has a sentient side. As father and son’s anger grows Palpatine performs an act of darkness so dark it makes Anakin Skywalker’s butchering of Sand People seem pale in comparison. But unlike Anakin, Palpatine had Damask as a mentor. And with Damask Holdings wealth, making the situation disappears was easy for Plagueis.
The tragic accident that claims Palpatine’s family also leaves him more in Plagueis’s grip them ever before. And this is where Damask reveals his Force alignment to Palpatine. The beautiful thing Luceno does throughout the book is make small little scenes explode on the page. The act of Palpatine killing his family pulled down Force barriers Plagueis figured Palpatine had put up since birth, barriers that hide his Force potential. Palpatine now blazes with the dark side, and Plagueis sees it as a sign to make him his ally in the Grand Plan. I found myself enjoying how Sidious’s christening was similar to Anakin’s and yet very different. I would find myself throughout the book even rooting for the bad guys. I wanted to see the Sith win.
Early in Palpatine’s training, Plagueis takes his Apprentice to Mygeeto to open his eyes to the deeper mysteries of the Force. He makes his pupil repeat his actions when he murdered his family. Over and over again in what to me was a way for Sidious to understand how the Sith under the Rule of Two operated. All so he can reason a way out of it. To achieve the Sith’s ultimate desire they must go against many of Bane’s strictures. He explains to Sidious how the Master-Apprentice relationship works. How the Master has all the power and the apprentice craves it, and through that craving become motived to eliminate his Master and claim it all for himself. But Plagueis also insists that when Sidious has been trained to Mastership they would end the Rule of Two; that they would need each other to complete their goals. During this Plagueis continues to explain the complexities of the Force, with his back turned to Sidious, helping Sidious hone his skills in the realm of the Force. Perfecting that technique would be the biggest tool all the Banite Sith have been utilizing against the Jedi. The ability to mask ones Force presence. The interesting thing about this- is it’s much like the technique Luke, Jacen and Ben all learn later on post New Jedi Order. But more importantly it is a different outlook on it. And once Palpatine masters it, his hiding in front of the Jedi makes sense, and takes on a Sithly perversion for me when reading those scenes. You start to root for the Sith. Or at least I did. Sidious asks his Master how long it will take for him to achieve this Mastery and Plagueis replies no sooner than a decade.
Part Two jumps forward ten years and spans about 2 years itself. It is tough to say which part of the book I most enjoyed, but Part Two is the one I lean closest to saying was it. Chapter Thirteen starts with our Sith heroes hunting prey. Running with the herd with vibroblades in hand Sidious would get inside the creatures he would kill, and as they died, he would draw the Force energy departing from the creature into himself, absorbing the power. Scary right? Suddenly the Sith felt very Vampire like. Plagueis keeps telling Sidious more.
Plagueis mentions the ancients, as well as Ashla and Bogan, perhaps these will be explored more in the upcoming Dawn of the Jedi comics, either way I was immediately excited about the references. He even has knowledge of the Rakata, and the Celestials; all things that I’ve been curious about for a long time. He dismisses the Potentium Theory- that light and dark depend on the users intentions- as an attempt to keep Force users shackled to the Force, instead of forcing their will on the Force as a Sith should. He also discusses Sith Lightning, and the Jedi equivalent. He mentions how true Sith lightning not only incapacitates and kills, but can physically transform. Let that fuel the Sidious’s Mask debate. Luceno adds a little depth to it all by having Plagueis tell Sidious he will be on the receiving end of Sith Lightning one day to take the energy into himself. I loved that the first thing Sidious asks his Master is if he’ll become physically transformed someday. Plagueis fires back with some historical Sith references like Darth Sion, King Ommin of Onderon, and Darth Nihilus. And he says something so “Sith” I think every Sith Master should say it to their Apprentice as part of their mantra; “The power of the dark side is an illness no true Sith would wish to be cured of.”
On the world of Hypori, a world that’s been seen in multiple EU sources, we learn that Hego Damask is able to secure Hypori as a training ground for his Echani Sun Guard, as well as for his and Sidious’s continued training. Plagueis explains a cruel truth of being a Sith Lord when telling him that by being one alone has made him marked for death. For no Jedi would suffer a living Sith Lord, right? This is why when a Sith strikes it must be instant and final; there is no room for error. Plagueis and Sidious engage in a deep conversation about the subtle difference between the Sith and the Jedi, as perceived by the galaxy at large. How their power has the ability to leave a residue in the form of tainted places and vergences. When Sidious asks why they weren’t going straight to those worlds, worlds like Korriban, or Dromund Kaas. Plagueis chides his Apprentice for wanting to take the fast route to power, and explains that by going to places the Sith once held power would only guarantee Jedi discovery, or treasure hunters, or flat out Legends but nothing more. That all the places of power have been robbed of all value to their cause, and that if he wanted to become an academic Plagueis could bore him with plenty of tales about past Sith exploits. His whole purpose being that Sidious must establish his own relationship with the dark side before he dwells into the realm of Sith Holocrons and such. Sidious mentions Darth Guile and his liking the Sith to rogue cells in a body, undetectable until too late. And how once gone malignant they spread silently and lethally until the victim rolls over and die. Sounds familiar right? It should, we’ve been seeing the Sith Grand Plan all along- we just didn’t realize it wasn’t just Sidious’ plan. Sidious, it turns out, was the right Sith, at the right time.
Speaking of time, one of my favorite scenes was on a backwater world no one’s heard of before called Kursid. The planet was scrubbed from Republic record sometime in the distant past. The planet’s indigenous species turns out had come to see the Sith of Bane’s line as some beings from the sky that would return every so many years. Their best warriors would engage the Sith Master and Apprentice in duels. These duels were a way for the Sith to hone their skills, and it also formed an interesting society that felt very Klingon in a sense in the way they seemed to worship the battles with the Sith, and the mysterious Sith themselves. I could easily see this reference turn into a threat for someone later…
While training his apprentice, Plagueis discusses the galaxy’s need for the Sith, that the beings of the galaxy owed their salvation to the Sith and thus the Sith were the only ones to end the Jedi’s reign. He explains the Jedi Order’s failings and how the Sith need to rebuild the Republic from the ground up. He also informs Palpatine that a one cunning politician is capable of creating more mayhem then two Sith Lords could in a direct assault. He tells him this is what he must become as Palpatine with Hego advising from the background. Or as Plagueis put it:
“There are dark times ahead for many of them, Sidious. An era of warfare necessary to purge the galaxy of those who have allowed it to decay. For decay has no cure; it has to be eradicated by the flames of a cleansing fire. And the Jedi are mostly to blame. Crippled by empathy, shackled to obedience—to their Masters, their Council, their cherished Republic—they perpetuate a myth of equality, serving the Force as if it were a belief system that had been programed into them. With the Republic they are like indulgent parents, allowing their offspring to experiment with choices without consequence, and supporting wrong-headedness merely for the sake of maintaining family unity. Tripping over their own robes in a rush to uphold a galactic government that has been deteriorating for centuries. When instead they should be proclaiming: We know what’s best for you.
“The galaxy can’t be set on the proper course until the Jedi Order and the corrupt Republic have been brought down. Only then can the Sith begin the process of rebuilding from the ground up. This is why we encourage star system rivalries and the goals of any group that aims to foment chaos and anarchy. Because destruction of any sort furthers our own goals.”
By the time Palpatine was twenty-eight, he had eleven years of Sith apprenticeship under his belt, and he held the position of Naboo’s Ambassador. It was also surprising to note that he was just as much the ladies’ man as hinted at in books like Star Wars: Children of the Jedi, or New Jedi Order: Rebel Stand, when Roganda Ismaren made claims to Palpatine’s womanizing ways. Seeing this subtle side of Palpatine play out before my eyes, was fitting too, of many of his other characteristics we’ve seen described in later novels. Luceno fits many such similar references in throughout the book. So much so that most get missed on first read.
By this point in the book Palpatine himself starts to take the focus more. We start to see his outlook on the things Plagueis has said to him, most notably that the Rule of Two had ended with their partnership. Despite still being the one who was denied knowledge as the Apprentice under the old rule, Palpatine was grateful in the regards that the Force had not only shaped him into a powerful being, it also granted him a second identity. He saw his past-self; the head of noble House Palpatine as his mask. This should sound familiar to anyone who happened to read Mathew Stover’s Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, when Palpatine was Force shocked with his own Sith lightning, as it was deflected back at him off of Mace’s blade. Sidious also honed his Force skills; he would dwell in the realm of the Force, much like Plagueis, but wouldn’t obsess over Midi Chlorins as his Master had. I often found myself enjoying this concept of the “realm of the Force” as Luceno explored it more throughout the book. The realm of the Force in this case being the world of the Force, how Force users would use it, perceive it, and detect is, and how the regular humans and aliens of the galaxy were completely ignorant to it. And how in this realm, the Jedi could be “blind” to the Sith’s presence in it. This owing mainly to Darth Tenebrous’s Master rending a hole in the fabric of the Force. The same hole that caused the Jedi to not be able to see the future in the Force due to the dark side clouding everything. With practice in this realm they learned to hide in plain sight. Palpatine was building his power in the dark side so he would, as his Master put it, later be able to gain power over himself as a step to gaining power over another, then a group of individuals, an order, a world, whole species, all as part of the Sith Grand Plan to one day have power over the Republic itself.
Palpatine’s mentor in the Senate was a man named Vidar Kim, who we last saw in Star Wars: Republic—Bloodlines, along with his son Ronhar Kim. We learn that Plagueis himself encouraged Palpatine’s friendship with Kim, suggesting Palpatine allow it to deepen due to the fact that Vidar had a son who was admitted to the Jedi Order. Plagueis figured sooner or later Vidar’s son Ronhar would cross paths with Palpatine. Once more Plagueis had a plot within a plot, all to further the Sith Grand Plan. The Muun was a mastermind. If it wasn’t for the fact that most of the things Sidious was doing was at Plagueis’s request, one could almost be able to say that the novel starts to become more about Palpatine and how he became a Senator and later Chancellor, then it did about Plagueis himself. But then the novel kept reminding us all who the real mastermind behind everything was. And it wasn’t Sidious.
That’s not to say Sidious himself wasn’t up to his own no-good-in-the-name-of-the-Sith-Grand-Plan activities. On one trip to Malastare as a member of Senator Kim’s party to a gala being held there for the winners of the Vinta Harvest Classic (a reference to Star Wars: Republic—Emissaries to Malastare), Sidious runs across a lot of members of Hego Damask’s gatherings on Sojorn. The Sith Lord’s own little “who’s who” of the underworld in a sense. It’s here on Malastare that Palpatine runs into a lot of beings that Plagueis as Hego Damask, has seriously angered. The group eventually discusses the Trade Federation, and how it’s growing too powerful, and what political means that can be taken to prevent their rise. By scene end, Senator Kim receives an urgent message that his family was killed in a tragic “accident” leaving him only his estranged son, Jedi Knight Ronhar. This event would play into things later in the story, almost everything Luceno gave us did. Something subtle brought up would later be part of the grand plan unfolding before the readers eyes. The politics even flowed well in the book. Normally I would grow bored when politics enter the arena, but Luceno found a way to keep things interesting, and well-paced. The whole double play going on between the Sith, and their alter egos was great. Not only was it insightful, it was very entertaining to read.
Plagueis, in many ways was like his Master. Science was something he was obsessed over. Plagueis’s science was the study of Midi Chlorins. And after the recent release of The Tenebrous Way in Star Wars Insider, I find myself wondering just what Plagueis would have thought if he had known his Masters true obsessions, and his creation of Maxi Chlorins. When Yinchorr became a member world in the Senate the Council of Elders awarded Plagueis a convicted murderer for his experiments. The murderer provided Plagueis with a great deal of insight into the Yinchorr’s ability to project a Force bubble similar in a sense to the ysalimiri of Myrkkr, and the Vornskr who hunted them. Plagueis was indeed well schooled in Midi Chlorins. As will any reader of this story. If you ever wondered how these things work, the Sith provide a very reasonable answer.
Its during one of Plagueis’ introspectives that we discover his personal views on “Balancing the Force.” He believed that they had created a Force bubble similar to the ysalmiri, but on a galactic scale. A bubble which bathed the galaxy in the light side and prevented the dark side from infiltrating. That was until Tenebrous’s Master burst the bubble, as it were. Apparently generations of Sith thought similar to this and were mystified that they Jedi considered this balancing the Force. The Sith believe in the Force’s ability to self-regulate itself. You almost get the feeling that they consider it a partner, a sentient being who will aide them in their plan if they proved worthy. Plagueis had a wide assortment of specimens, like Venamis, who had been a prisoner for eleven years. He experimented with telepathy, regeneration, healing, and most importantly extending life. With the help of his droid 11-4D Plagueis was able to break many barriers with regards to the Force. While toppling the Jedi and the Republic was key to the Sith’s plan, the main goal was in the realm of the Force, they planned to topple the Force and become “the embodiment of the galaxy’s animating principle.” These two were playing for keeps. And the Jedi didn’t even know they were playing for their lives in a rigged game of Sabacc.
Another theory entertained by Darth Plagueis and indeed both Jedi and Sith was that the balance between light and dark was under the guidance of the Celestials. The Celestials having merged themselves with the Force thousands of years prior, and had been guiding the Force ever since. I have to admit, the theory has merit. There always was that feeling of a cosmic ying yang at play within Star Wars after all. This could explain it. But that is not to say all entertained this theory. Many Sith out right spurned the idea.
The only aspect of this story that didn’t sit right with me was the side trip Darth Sidious makes to Dathomir. In a sense Palpatine was rebelling against the reality of his being the apprentice. Plagueis had all but forbid him to seek out worlds strong with the dark side. His reasons were sound enough, but this alone is the only reason we’re given for Palpatine’s journey to the home of the Nightsisters. Ok, I can follow this. Sure it’s enough to be plausible. But when he suddenly felt a pulse in the Force which came from a hooded Human Nightsister who had selected him to receive “a gift,” and not just any gift, but a Zabrak. It was a cleaver little addition to the Maul retcon to add that Palpatine notice he wasn’t of the Irodian sort, but the Dathomirian stock. I think I’m being sarcastic here. This chapter bothered me a lot. Obviously this is going to be addressed in either the upcoming Darth Maul biography, or in the Clone Wars television show. I hope. Because in the book it felt shoe horned in, as if it was something that had to happen but had no added depth. Palpatine asks her if she stole the child, and she replied it was her own. So either this explains the difference between Dathomiri Zabraks and Iridonian ones is that in this case Maul’s mother is human? But with no clarity here we have to figure she’s telling the truth, right? When Sidious calls her out, and drops the ruse of Palpatine, she was smart enough to note that he wasn’t a Jedi, and explains that she’s doing it to save him, he was “Half a clan pair” which I’m guessing means a twin. She planned to send him off to safety, since one of the twins would have to remain and become Mother Talzin’s. She informs him the infant has a name; Maul. The funny part to this scene was after taking possession of young Maul Sidious tries to mind wipe the Nightsister, he tells her she’ll forget their meeting and she replies “I will try.” Luceno finds ways to interject humor into the action at least. But the whole chapter of Dathomir made me stop for a moment and think about the ramifications of what I had just read. Maul had a twin. My first instinct was to say it was Savage. But then I thought about it some more and I’m not so convinced. Savage as we see him in the Clone Wars looks to be the age Maul is in Episode 1 which happens almost a decade later. What this leaves me thinking is that we might not see Maul in the Clone Wars after all, but perhaps his TWIN… So that being said, even though I felt this part of Mauls introduction was shoehorned into the book. It’s at least later addressed in a way that buries my complaints.
As the Sith Lords plans come nearer to events of Episode 1, Plagueis and Sidious discuss how to take the final steps in their plan. While doing so Plagueis tells Palpatine that he will be the one to become Supreme Chancellor, with Plagueis himself guiding from the shadows. Palpatine tells him that the Sith annals will regard him as Plagueis the Wise, and that he felt his Master should hold the title. Plagueis then informs him that he plans on it. By having Sidious appoint him as co-chancellor.
As if the lengths Plagueis went to, to mastermind the Revenge of the Sith it wasn’t too surprising to discover that he himself, as Hego Damask, was the first to contact the cloners of Kamino. But he was trying to create a clone army of Yinchorri, unfortunately the Yinchorri proved to violent a species to be cloned in the manner Plagueis was hoping for. But other species still were hopeful options, chiefly on Plagueis’ mind; Humans. Even despite the limitations Plagueis still had the Kaminoans move forward with cloning and testing, and provided all the funding necessary to set the Kaminoans up to create what would later be the training center for the Grand Army of the Republic.
“In concealing yourself, you will not be able to rely on your dark gifts. Instead you must be yourself, submerged in the unified pattern to which the Jedi are attuned; visible in the Force, but not as a Sith. Since you cannot allow yourself to be seen, you must make certain that you are taken for granted. Disguised in the profane; camouflaged in the routine—in those same realms from which you can attack without warning when necessary.” –Darth Plagueis
Later after the assassination of his mentor Senator Kim, an assassination ordered by Sidious himself, Palpatine uses the situation to bring Ronhar Kim into his confidence. Kim had to die to make way for Palpatine’s rise to Senator, but he was able to capitalize on the death, as seen in Republic: Bloodlines. From here on out things start moving fast. The plot thickens and suddenly we’re on Serenno, with Jedi Masters Jocasta Nu, Dooku, and Sifo-Dyas, and young Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn. Plagueis quickly engages the group of Jedi, since he rarely passed up opportunities to interact with Jedi. The great part about this scene is that Plagueis immediately sees Dooku as a being who might make a good insurance policy in case something were to happen to Sidious. Sounds familiar, right? What can we say, apparently Plagueis taught his student well. Plagueis even ponders just luring Dooku to the dark side to further the cause of chaos and nothing more, as past Jedi have been lured. Since Plagueis was at the meeting in his capacity of Magister Hego Damask, he ends up getting into an economic/ political debate with Qui-Gon, which leads to his grilling Sifo-Dyas about a war the likes of which we see during the Clone Wars. He presses that the Jedi are all but becoming an army, even though they are all but capable of becoming one, but if there were ever disenfranchised systems that did raise an army, would the Jedi be obligated to do something about it in the name of the Republic? He ends the discussion with a very direct question, one that I’m sure had been on his mind for decades; “If attacked, would you counterattack?” As the conversation progresses, Plagueis manages to place the seed into Sifo-Dyas’ ear that he needed. He mentions a group near Subterrel who grew laborers for mining. I’m pretty sure most will recall that Kamino is near Subterrel.
Not long after Palpatine, meets up with Jedi Ronhar and is introduced to Masters Dooku and Sifo-Dyas himself before addressing the Senate over the subject of the Trade Federation. While being introduced, Hego Damask publicly greets the group as well. With the two Sith Lords standing before the Jedi I couldn’t help but feel pride in the Sith’s abilities to fool the Jedi. When Palpatine addresses the Senate he tells them that due to previous Senator Kim’s assassination, Naboo’s King had instructed him to abstain from the vote, which resulted in a victory for the Trade Federation, and the entering of member worlds into the Senate. All as part of a larger plan to sow discontentment among the Outer and Mid Rim worlds.
After achieving the next step in the plan, things go haywire. Palpatine ends up getting kidnaped as a means of hurting Hego Damask; Senator Pax Teem had sent hit men to kill Sidious for not voting how Teem had wanted. Teem knows that Hego is Palpatine’s Master, though unaware of their roles as Sith Lords. Just as Sidious is about to cut loose and end all their miserable existences, Hego’s Echani Sun Guards burst in and rescue him from revealing his true self. The guard activates a holo of Plagueis who explains that all of this was part of his plan, that his meeting Sidious in public had been purposeful to anger Teem enough to get Teem to do something so foolish, as well as test Sidious. One more test to push Sidious to be all that he can be. With the signal on the holo traced, the Sith plan to root out Teem and show him why you don’t get in the way of the Sith Grand Plan. Unfortunately for Plagueis, Teem managed to outmaneuver him.
While Plagueis was on Coruscant overseeing the ceremony of the Canted Circle, where Larsh Hill was about to be inducted into the Order of the Canted Circle. Teem’s assassins struck. After returning from his discussion with Sidious, Plagueis was marveling at his handiwork, not just in the way events were unfolding, but his training of Sidious. Sidious had earned his place. Plagueis planned to show him the deeper mysteries of the Sith, as well as bring him up to speed with his experiments. Lost in thought, Plagueis only felt alarm as he saw his droid 11-4D rotate his head in his sign of alarm. As Plagueis feel into the Force, he knew he couldn’t act out too quickly for fear of revealing his abilities. The delay would hurt him. As Muun all around him were meticulously killed, Plagueis himself received a neck wound that could easily turn mortal, and 11-4D too was hit multiple times. If it hadn’t been for Sate Pestage’s contacts getting word of an assassination attempt against Damask Holdings, Sidious might have found himself without a Master. As it turned out, Sidious was able to arrive just in time to with Pestage by his side. The two finished off the assassins and take Hego to safety. In fact, Pestage is the first to learn of the inner workings of the Sith. Knowing the Jedi will soon arrive; Sidious takes his Master and vows to get revenge, and that this time it won’t be business as usual. After retrieving his Master’s saber from his ship, he seeks out his enemies and dispatches them in a furious rage.
Once more we leap forward in time. And a month has passed since the assassination attempt on Hego Damask. Plagueis summons Sidious to Muunilinist; to his private little island so powerful in the dark side it made Sidious take notice. It’s clear that Plagueis is Batman and Sidious is a Batman Beyond kind of relationship built up after Plagueis is injured by Teem’s assassins. When Sidious arrives at Plagueis’s library it totally has that Batcave feel. Like Darth Bane, Plagueis has gathered texts, scrolls, ancient Holocrons, and more. Palpatine can’t wait to play in all the lore contained in the library. 11-4D escorts Sidious through the library and past a section he tells Sidious are the Magister’s pregnancies. When questioned, 11-4D explains that the master’s success rate has gotten better. Suddenly I took a keen interest in everything spoken. Would the origin of the Chosen One be explained? Had Plagueis already succeeded and created Anakin inside Shmi Skywalker?
Nope. Not yet.
“To say that the Force works in mysterious ways is to admit one’s ignorance, for any mystery can be solved through the application of knowledge and unrelenting effort. As we had our way with the Senate, and as we will soon have our way with the Republic and the Jedi, we will have our way with the Force.” – Darth Plagueis
Sidious is taken deeper into the library into a section more laboratories then the rest, and floating in a bacta tank hung Darth Venamis. Plagueis is revealed now anew. His injuries suffered by the assassins left him in a breath mask that covered mouth to neck. Despite his injuries, Plagueis was just as strong as ever in the Force. Plagueis calls out Sidious in the classic “Your thoughts betray you” and goes on to ask if Malak’s power was weakened when Revan cut off his jaw, or when Bane was consumed with the Orblisks, or the apprentice of Darth Gravid who was forced to wear prosthesis after her duel to prevent her mad Master from destroying all the Sith Lore that the Banite Sith had gathered over the years. He then tells Sidious “Soon I will be stronger than you can possibly imagine.” In a cleaver nod to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s line in Episode 4: A New Hope. He then opens up to Sidious, telling him he’s earned the right to know his secrets, that the time had come for him to become a full Master before they could complete the Sith Grand Plan. Sidious questions his master about 11-4D’s comment about pregnancies, and Plagueis tells him that he used to Force to do it, but in a rush didn’t use caution. He felt that his attempts to discover the secret to extending life in their attempts to tip the balance, that the Force was resisting them. In a sense, the Force stuck back.
Plagueis is convinced that the Jedi have failed because they have lost the allegiance of the Force. And that all the Sith needed to do was to coax it into aligning with them, and strike at those precise moments when the Force opens as it had against him with the assassins. It reminds me that saying of Yoda’s “Always in motion the Future is.” And that these openings are the moments one cannot see, the ones that are the game changers. Sure one adept enough can see multiple futures, but these moments still come by and create the opening where futures diverge. And it would appear that to Plagueis at least, this is a good example of the Force’s Will at work.
The time had come for the Sith to make war, Plagueis moves from his library on Aborah, to Sojorn, as well as lets Damask Holdings stay disassembled. He plans to tutor San Hill and prepare him for his role as chairman of the Banking Clan. He tells Sidious that they must focus on the systems already full of strife and petty conflicts, to make the Outer Rim worlds suffer while the Core prospers, all so playing the beings of the galaxy will be easier. Plagueis intends to use the IBC to fund the coming war, which makes sense since he practically controls the whole clan. Plagueis sells the plan to Sidious by appealing to his vanity; “For now, Sidious, know that you are the blade we will drive through the heart of the Senate, the Republic, and the Jedi Order, and I, your guide to reshaping the galaxy.”
The proclamation relieves Sidious, who was worried about reprisal from his Master for the Jedi discovering the battle between the Sith and Teem’s assassins back on Coruscant. Still though, Sidious has concerns about being discovered by the Jedi. He proposes to his Master that they train someone in the Sith arts to use as a weapon for their missions instead of hiring assassins. He suggests not as a true Sith Lord, but in the skills of combat and stealth, someone who was expendable and easily exterminated when of no more use. He informs his master of the infant Maul, and that he has him secured on Mustafar, ahh good old Mustafar; home of an infant Maul and Vader. Plagueis not only approves of the training of Maul, but also supplies Sidious with a facility on Orsis that if Maul proves worthy he will be transferred there to train under a Falleen combat specialist by the name of Trezza. He would later give Sidious his ship to give to Maul. You know the one. When Sidious praises his master for breaking from tradition by saying the following Sith Lords would pay tribute to his wisdom, Plagueis simply replies that won’t be the case for they are the end of the line….
Some twenty five years later the story picks up again after Sidious has become a Master of the dark side. As the third part of the book starts I found myself not wanting to set the book down. Even on the re read, I would find myself stopping to dwell on parts of the story that I had not contemplated before. Right out the gate Luceno makes another nod to an EU work, this time Star Wars: Republic: The Devaronian Version which was a behind the scenes retelling of Jedi Council: Acts of War, as told by Vilmarh Grahrk, the Devarion smuggler who loved to pester Quinlan Vos in the Republic line. I find books that cover a long span in short bursts like this to be very entertaining. And as the book jumps forward, it keeps finding ways to look back, too, on the life of Hego Damask. Part three had the most going on, and after spoiling the first two parts so heavily I will now cut back to leave some new surprises for you when you get your copy. For you WILL get your copy. *Waves hand*
The third part plays heavily into the events leading into The Phantom Menace. Stages are set, and the Dejarik pieces begin to play out their parts. We also learn some very shocking truths during this part as well, not just for the story’s plot, but for the Saga as told by George Lucas. First among those was that Plagueis is still alive and well during almost the entire film, we just never saw him. Secondly, Maul has been being lied to by Sidious. Apparently we’ve all been lied to. Maul was never the apprentice…
Lord Sidious was.
While Sidious pretends to be the Master and allows Maul to believe he is an apprentice, the reality is that Sidious is just following orders. All the way into The Phantom Menace Plagueis is not only alive, despite many people’s mistaken beliefs that the assassins had succeeded, but he was still secretly calling the shots. More like Malak or Vader in his appearance, Plagueis has still overcome any obstacles his injuries may have once caused, and he is more powerful than ever before. The addition of Maul in this novel, it would turn out would be nothing more than a tool shoehorned into the plot to cause a shift in perception, and some cleaver nods. Who knows maybe even a set up to the Maul Biography? Even so, Maul still remains Sidious’s tool. But the ramifications of this book now echo across my knowledge of the events of the film. In part three we also see Palpatine claw his way to the front of the story. He ends up playing an integral part in Padme getting elected Queen, with the help of Plagueis the Wise, advising him from the shadows of course. We do see behind the scenes of Maul’s different books/ comic appearances. This makes me hope that the Darth Maul autobiography will use this book to its own benefit. It seems to me that this book should be a must read for anyone wanting to write Darth Sidious’s character. We see him step into the role we watch on screen and with the new insights from the earlier parts of the story, can’t help but unlearn what we have learned. Luceno took his notes Mr. Lucas, I enjoyed the ride. We had the Hutts; Gardulla, and Jabba, as well as the True Mandalorians as seen in Star Wars Jango Fett: Open Seasons, C3PX, Dooku and Palpatine’s first coded talks about bringing down the Republic, the set-up of the foundries of Genosis, and much more.
We discover that Hego Damask is the one responsible for not only convincing Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas to place the order for the clone army, but personally funded the whole operation. I told you he was one wealthy Sith. Later in one of Sidious and Dooku’s meetings at The Works, Dooku mentions Qui-Gon had discovered the Chosen One, but also encountered a Sith warrior. Sidious contacts his Master, and it was clear to me that Plagueis’s reactions to learning of the vergence in the Force that Anakin was. Plagueis immediately thought the Force had struck back at him nine years earlier by creating a being to restore balance to the galaxy; he went straight to Palpatine’s quarters, because apparently that’s where Anakin had been staying. Who knew? By the time Plagueis arrived Anakin had already left with Jinn to go to the Jedi Temple. Plagueis ends up following Anakin as he boards Queen Amidala’s ship. After having a vision of the future, he knew that Qui-Gon had to die. Anakin must not be trained. Maul HAD to kill Jinn. Well we all know how that turned out.
The book climaxes with Palpatine being elected Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, and Hego Damask arranging a communication with what would later be the leaders of the Separatist Army’s leadership, telling them to get ready for a fight. Maul is dueling his duel of fates, while Sidious and Plagueis are celebrating at the Galaxies Opera house, and later in Damask’s penthouse. Spending the night preparing the speech Palpatine would give that would result in Damask becoming co-Chancellor. As Plagueis continued to drink, he becomes groggy and slips into sleep…
Sure, Sidious kills him. We knew this in the Prologue, but when we get there, after all Luceno’s work, Sidious doesn’t kill him; he goes to slip out and leave his Master to slumber. Only as he reaches the door and he turns around to taken in the room does he see Plagueis’s droid 11-4D, the droid that was always with Plagueis or studying Plagueis’s library, the droid stars at him curious like. This causes something to snap in Palpatine, a sinister look comes over him and he hears the whisper of the dark side “Your election assured, the Sun Guard absent, Plagueis unsuspecting and asleep…”
“One day the Republic will fall and the Jedi will be wiped out. But that will not happened until we are ready to seize that power for ourselves.” –Darth Bane
Sidious strikes. Not only strikes, but unleashes his pent up hater for his Master in a new version of the speech he was rehearsing all night. Striking with blue lightning at Plagueis’s respirator, when Plagueis fought back, Sidious called on the dark side of the Force deeper than ever before. His moment had come and he would not miss his chance. When Plagueis starts to respond, Sidious pours even more dark energy into his Master, letting his hatred flow.
“No doubt the texts I’ve provided contain references to the so-called Potentium theory—that light and dark depend on the intention of the user. This is yet another perversion of the truth perpetrated by those who would keep us shackled to the Force. The power of water and the power of fire are entirely different. Glaciers and volcanoes both have the potential to transform landscapes, but one does so by burying what lies beneath, where the other spews forth new terrain. The Sith are not placid stars but singularities. Rather than burn with muted purpose, we warp space and time to twist the galaxy to our own design.” –Darth Plagueis to Darth Sidious.
Sidious takes the time to enjoy his victory, giving Plagueis a new speech. One where Sidious lays everything out for Plagueis, just how much he succeeded in training his apprentice. For his apprentice harbored a hatred bigger than anything we were given to believe during the story. My favorite part of the speech was when he tells his master that he was never really his master. “You lost the game on the very first day you chose to train me to rule by your side—or better still under your thumb. Teacher, yes, and for that I will be eternally grateful. But Master—never.” This one line gives you the sense that Palpatine had long ago determined that his Master would have to be dealt with at some point. That there was some merit to Bane’s Rule after all. And we learn what many of us suspected all along; that the writer of the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise was none other than Lord Sidious. He coins the tale there on the spot as he mocks his Master for all his experimenting with Midi Chlorins. For even that can’t help you if one strikes at the right moment. But the most interesting part of Plagueis’s death was that we discover that Lord Sidious sees himself as the Sith’ari, he tells his former master that he clouded his mind just as the two of them had clouded the minds of the Jedi. Sidious never intended sharing the chancellorship, and that all he really wanted was his master’s secrets. Sidious then flips the script on not just Darth Plagueis, but even us the reader. We learn that since his rise to Mastery, most of, if not all of, the ideas that Plagueis had for the Sith Grand Plan had come from Palpatine all along. Sidious cleverly suggested them in ways that Plagueis never even realized he was repeating Sidious’s ideas right back to him. He then tells us a very key part of life as a Sith, and the heart of Sith philosophy; “No true Sith can ever really care for another. This has always been known. There is no way but my way.” As his former Master lies dead, I immediately flipped back to the prologue and re read the chapter since it perfectly fits right after Plagueis slumps to the floor. And after succeeding, Palpatine still can’t shake a sense of some vague feeling that was eclipsing his sense of triumph. While Sidious was busy changing the direction of events with Plagueis’s death, young Kenobi was changing Sidious’s future by killing Maul. And while Maul might not have been a true Sith Apprentice to Plagueis, Sidious and the Jedi would probably argue the point. Sidious takes Plagueis’s droid 11-4D as his own, telling it that he’d find it both a new body and home.
The novel ends with Palpatine and Dooku meeting up, Sidious now needs to find Mauls replacement, and is starting to work on Dooku. We also learn that Qui-Gon Jinn’s death; coupled with Dooku learning his other former padawan Komari Vosa was alive had cemented his decision to leave the Order. Dooku and Palpatine discuss the Jedi’s knowledge of the Sith, and when discussing which was killed Master or Apprentice, Dooku tells him that he suspects the apprentice, and more, that he wants to ally with this Sith to bring down the Republic. Palpatine resists his urges to confess he is the Master, but he hints to Dooku that maybe this Sith will find him in time. The final scene of the book is when Anakin and his new Master Kenobi come to visit the new Supreme Chancellor. And as the book ended, I found myself seeing the book not so much the story of Darth Plagueis, but more a prequel to Sidious’s story. Granted it’s still too early to even think about a second novel, but this one ends perfectly to jump into a Darth Sidious novel. This is something that strikes me as different then Jedi stories. With the Jedi we get tales, and adventure. But with the Sith we get their life stories. I really enjoy this approach to the story telling. And as I was in this novel, it ends with the reader wanting more. I look back and think the same of Darth Bane- when it too ended I wanted to continue the Line and read about Zannah. Now we know that there were 30 Sith Lords that came before Plagueis, imagine all that Sithy goodness. While this book may have slowed down at times due to the politics involved, they were integral to the side story; the Dejarik game that was the Revenge of the Sith. You see the Sith Grand Plan come to fruition, and we get one heck of a story in the process. I’ve said in the spoiler free review that this book is a must have, and I stand by it. Every Star Wars fan should get a copy of this book and read it! It’s obvious that Del Rey and the author intended for this book to be a jumping in point to the EU, and they did the project right. Anyone jumping into the EU would love this book, and could even come back to it years later and read it with the knowledge of the EU in their mind and read it with a new understanding. I’ve read it twice now and still find new things. I will be talking about this novel for a long time to come, not just on the podcasts I host; EUCast, The Star Wars Report, and Star Wars Beyond the Films, but also on our Forums here at EUCantina.net. This book was a pleasure to read, and a fun ride. I was rooting for evil by the time it was all said and done. Clearly the dark side is with this novel. Darth Maul’s usage while good, it wasn’t all it could have been to me. This reason is the only reason I lowered the score .5 and rated the novel a 4.5. A good strong 4.5. Maul could have been used better. Granted he was still used very well, but I felt that his inclusion into the story was shoehorned, and could have been explored more. Things still didn’t add up. Now if this is to lead into Mauls bio, I can easily forgive that. But it was enough to lower the score on a prefect book. So while this reviewer’s score remains that of 4.5, that in no way means that this book is not a perfect 5.0. I fought with myself on the score. But at the end of the day, for me, I felt the 4.5 was just. Read the book and tell me I’m wrong. Go ahead. I’ll be right here waiting.