Friday, March 13, 2015

James Review -- Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil

This week I decided to review Star Wars:  Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno. The story takes place just before Star Wars: Episode III and opens with Anakin Skywalker and Obiwan Kenobi leading an attack on Cato Neimoidia in hopes of capturing Nute Gunray. After a series of mishaps, including the creatures they are using as cover panicking due to a minefield, and Obiwan being forced to do battle while disoriented by the effects of some spores native to the world, Gunray gets away but leaves behind a mechno-chair with a direct comm line to his master Darth Sidious and General Grievious. An attempt to trigger the chair’s self-destruct is blocked by Skywalker triggering a recording of Gunray and Sidious talking. In response to this Anakin and Obiwan are ordered to hunt down Sidious. First they travel to meet a Xi’Carran who engraved some of the decorative markings on the chair. At first the engraver flees, but when cornered, he reveals where the transceiver was built: in a Commerce Guild mining facility. But, meanwhile, an encrypted message to the captured transceiver is intercepted and deciphered, revealing that Grievious is planning to attack the Republic world of Belderone. While intercepting the attack will reveal that Separatist communications have been compromised, the Jedi decide to set up an ambush over the world with Anakin and Obiwan being summoned to the defense, In the end, Grievious flees but not before dozens of Jedi and thousands of civilians are killed. The hunt for the transceiver resumes, but the two Jedi are arrested after reaching the mining center. Their arresting officer is a Republic intelligence agent, however, and locks them in a cell with the designer of the transceiver. This blows his cover, though, and soon he is arrested as well, leading to a jailbreak. Next, the Jedi duo moves to find the pilot who delivered Darth Maul’s ship, the Scimitar, to him. After a little barhopping, they find her just in time to be ambushed. The pilot is injured but survives, and she tells them that the ship was delivered to the Works on Coruscant. While Mace Windu leads a team into the Works in search of evidence of the identity of Sidious, Anakin and Obiwan lead an assault on the planet Tythe in an attempt to capture Count Dooku. After a furious space battle, in which all of Red Squadron except for Anakin and Obiwan are lost, they land on the world. But while they battle Dooku, Sidious has decided to accelerate his endgame for the war and an assault on Coruscant begins…

I give this book a 9.5 out of 10. It is by far may favorite of the Star Wars novels set before the era of the original movies by far. It had a great balance of space combat and mystery, some comic bits, and more importantly it didn’t involve mention of the Force every other line like many modern Star Wars novels do. The small portions from viewpoints other than the two main characters were a lot of fun as well. And even though I knew the basics of how it had to end from the beginning, there were still enough surprises and grey areas that I was kept interested.  

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