Pat; We'll never quite see eye to eye on the subject of the book 'Cloak of Deception', but I really want to say this --- in that story, the Trade Federation Directorate is assassinated. Every one of them, except Nute Gunray - who immediately becomes Viceroy. It is strongly suggested in the story that Sidious/Palpatine is the hand that puppeteers this chain of events. Is it important to the casual viewer? I don't think so. Is it useful for basket cases like us who endlessly debate the most minor things? Yeah, I think so. From this point on, Gunray controls the TF. The building of an army is actually sanctioned by the Senate. They grant the TF permission to build an army for defense against pirates and terrorists in the Outer Regions. At the same time they open up for taxation of the trade routes, something the TF accepts at the time because their Sith advisor convinces them that the most important thing is gaining an army for protection. Just as soon as that goal is reached, he does a bit of an about face and convinces them that it's time to take actions against the taxation. Gunray does not question Sidious, but merely goes along with anything that seems to be in the TF's best interest from time to time. Of course, Gunray doesn't have any clue about what is really in the TF's best interest at this point. And the tax issue would easily have gone the TF's way, had it not been for the extraordinary efforts of Senator Palpatine. He actually engineered the passing of that bill, but without ever making it seem like he was all for it, of course. He helped Valorum see it through, but gave the impression to everybody else that he was against it because of Naboo's interests. And of course, he needed the taxation to happen in order to make the TF blockade Naboo and set more events in motion that would eventually lead to Valorum's fall. Witness the look of utter betrayal on Valorum's face as Amidala calls for a vote of no confidence. Is anyone going to believe him if he claims that his own successor to the chair set him up? Not likely. Patrick, I do not disagree with all your points about how the plot is difficult to understand sometimes, but we come from different places. I'm trying to make sense of it, maybe too hard, and I'm willing to let 'Cloak of Deception' do some talking for Lucas. You are trying a bit too hard, imo, to see problems with it. No offense, of course! I do wish you'd at least let your distaste for EU stand aside for enough time to let you enjoy a bleeding great book, for whatever it's worth.