322 PAGES · £17.99
Extending the Star Wars prequels storyline directly from when Revenge of the Sith left off, James Luceno serves up a bitty but serviceable book that’s strong on Vader but doesn’t put him as centre-stage as fans might have hoped. Maybe Luceno had similar reservations to the film executives in the Orange ad campaign, where Darth demands, “Three hours of me and the dark side!”
As it is, the book juggles too many planets and characters, including an excess number of “star” cameos, though at least these are handled well enough to not seem too much like fanwank. And the Darth stuff is cracking: you get a real sense of his torture, shock, devastation and above all humiliation following his mutilation by Kenobi and Frankenstein rebirth, as well as his newfound bitterness towards his master Palpatine, who hasn’t exactly survived unscathed himself. “Look at us… Are these the faces of victory?” Darth asks angrily at one point, a turn of phrase it’s hard to imagine coming from Hayden Christensen.
It’s a shame that the plot, which concerns a small group of Jedi survivors, is on the insubstantial side, as are the Jedi themselves, though they raise an interesting question about whether heroes can ever accept that they have lost the day. There are many bombastic set-pieces, including more carnage on the Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk, although Luceno’s efforts to describe the action are sometimes awkward. The end sets up any number of prequel-sequel books to come.