Tosche Station Reviews - Star Wars: Cloak of Deception by James Luceno.

Discussion in 'Calgary, AB' started by StacyD, Jan 11, 2007.

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  1. StacyD Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 6, 2006
    star 2
    After a thousand generations of peace, the
    Galactic Republic is crumbling. On Coruscant,
    at the center of civilized space, greed and
    corruption riddle the Senate, beyond even
    the abilities of Supreme Chancellor Valorum
    to remedy. And in the outlying systems, the
    Trade Federation dominates the hyperlanes
    with its gargantuan vessels.


    But now even the Trade Federation finds
    itself assailed from all quarters, preyed
    upon by pirates and raiders, and victimized
    by terrorists, who demand an end to the
    Federation's tyrannical practices.


    It is a time that tests the mettle of all
    those who strive to hold the Republic
    together?none more than the Jedi
    Knights, who have long been the
    Republic's best hope for preserving peace
    and justice. . .



    I make no bones about the fact that I take issue with aspects of the prequels. Still, in the new year I've made vows to be more charitable in my opinion of the first three films in the Saga, and in the spirit of that newfound hope and charity I submit the first in what I hope will be a series of reviews of various Star Wars paperbacks out on the market.

    Set during the Rise of the Empire era (32-19 years before Episode IV), Cloak of Deception depicts a Republic sliding quickly into the mire of graft and red tape that leads to the Blockade of Naboo and the events of Episode I. Here, we see the foundations of Empire being laid by a deft, hooded hand. This novel in many ways is the true debut of Darth Sidious and his masterful manipulation of all parties; Trade Federation, Republic, and Jedi, into the exact positions he needs them in to execute his plot for galactic supremacy.

    The terrorist actions of a radical group in the Outer Rim Territories, the Nebula Front, have the Trade Federation panicking. The Front oppose their brutal activities in dealing with 'trade' partners outside the Republic's borders and have taken matters into their own hands in increasingly brutal attacks. The Trade Federation entreats the Galactic Republic to allow them greater access to weaponry and droids that will allow them to defend themselves. Supreme Chancellor Valorum seeks to put forth a proposal for greater legislation and taxation of the trade routes in an effort to curtail the Trade Federation's domination of the worlds along the outer rim. Meanwhile, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn conducts an intensive investigation to find Captain Arwhen Cohl, a hardened mercenary in league with the Nebula Front. Events conspire to lead all parties to a summit on the remote world of Eriadu, where everything proceeds as the Dark Lord has forseen. . .

    James Luceno is a writer you can trust when it comes to space opera. Years ago he and fellow Star Wars authorial alumni Brian Daley (author of the Han Solo adventures) wrote the incredibly fun Robotech paperback series together under the pen name of Jack MckKinney. He's an old hand at this, so coming to a Star Wars novel penned by him is comfortingly enjoyable. He balances the politics of the prequels with the action of the original trilogy adeptly enough, and provides us with a series of events that allow us to view the Phantom Menace with a more appraising eye.

    Characterization is key in a Star Wars novel, and nowhere is it more evident in Luceno's handling of Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. There were times in the reading of the book that I felt I could actually hear Liam Neeson and Ewan MacGregor's voices, which is a tricky skill to master. Other old friends are found peppered through the book; the Jedi Council remains as hidebound and dusty as ever, though Yoda still rules the roost as the gentle trickster. We gain the oppurtunity to get to know Supreme Chancellor Zod. . .er, Valorum. . .a great deal better than we did from his brief appearance in Episode I. And we get to know Palpatine. . .as much as Palpatine will allow us anyway.

    It's with the characterization of Palpatine that Luceno really shines. What's wonderful about the charactization of Palpatine in the novel is that, if you never knew, never suspected the truth
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