EU Retrospective: The Phantom Menace

I finally gained a better grip on my sanity and decided to break these reviews up into slightly smaller chunks so next up are the Phantom Menace related books!   The good news is that not only did I not hate any of them but I actually loved one of them.

Darth Plagueis

I have Sith Fatigue and apparently the only cure is more Sith!  (They’re like cowbell.)  Seriously though, I loved this book!  Granted, I’m a bit of a political junkie but there really wasn’t anything I disliked about this book except that I would’ve loved another one hundred pages of it which really doesn’t count.  I positively loved how James Luceno takes everything that happened in the Prequel Trilogy and weaves together a background for it that not only makes sense but helps flesh out the story.  It’s the Long Con, folks, and it pays off so gosh darn beautifully.  After reading this book, all of the questions I had about Palpatine working both sides of the Clone War were answered.

It’s not just the storyline and the writing that I liked.  I was also rather intrigued by getting to see the characters we know from different angles.  In particular, I enjoyed the parts with Dooku and how his departure from the Jedi Order came about.  Palpatine himself was another character that I enjoyed getting to know better, much to my surprise.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for a good descent into darkness tale.

Applause must also be given to James Luceno for handling the midi-chlorian situation well because those parts of the book had the potential to easily come off as ridiculous.  On top of that, I’m pleased that Anakin was NOT the result of Palpatine doing creepy things with the Force to Shmi.

Finally, I’m now left desperately wanting a political intrigue book about either Padme or Leia more than ever.  Come on, Del Rey.  Let’s do this.  Episode VII shouldn’t effect a book like that too much.  Pleeeeease?  I know at least a dozen people off the top of my head who would throw their money at you for such a book.  (I’m pretty sure that includes the entirety of the Tosche Station Staff so… please?)

Cloak of Deception

They may be by the same author but I’ll admit it was hard shifting from the perfection that was Darth Plagueis to Cloak of Deception.  That’s not to say it was a bad book but, well, everything else was going to pale in comparison for a little while.  Actually, I think that reading the two in rapid succession actually helped me enjoy Cloak of Deception more than I had previously.  The first time I read it about ten years ago, it made such an impression on me that I couldn’t remember any of the plot details.  This time, I enjoyed getting to see this specific focus of the political intrigue along with some more of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan as a Master/Padawan team.

I also like how it sets up the political events in The Phantom Menace in a way that helps them make more sense.  For example, I always found that the vote of no confidence in Valorum was passed a little too easily but seeing the political mess that leads up to it helps seem more logical

I’d also like to mention that after reading two books in a row where he’s mentioned, this whole Bail Antilles and Bail Organa thing is ridiculous.  Can we just retcon all mentions of Bail Antilles and make him Bail Organa instead?  Bail Organa is much handsomer anyways.

The Phantom Menace

First things first… Jar Jar Binks is JUST as annoying in print as he is on the screen.  I’m writing this note only 100 pages into the novelization and I already want to strangle him so he’ll stop assaulting my eyes with his weird accent/dialect.  Pathetic life form indeed.

As for the book itself, I think it’s a pretty decent adaptation of the film.  It doesn’t follow the film word for word which I think adds something to it.  Plus, you get a chance to go inside Qui-Gon’s head and see that he definitely had suspicions about Amidala’s ruse from quite early on.  Speaking of the decoy queen, I’m just going to pause here and say how much I LOVE the Handmaidens.  Seriously.  These ladies are the BEST.  Of course, I can’t read this book without wondering how things would’ve turned out if Qui-Gon had survived.  There’s probably some alternate universe where he, Obi-Wan, and Anakin are one big happy family, right?

I’m not going to turn this part of the review into an essay defending the prequels because Bryan Young has you covered there but I am going to take a moment and talk about how I actually rather liked how Anakin was portrayed here.  He’s a kid who acts like a kid but has amazing abilities with both the Force and piloting.  Let me emphasize again… HE IS A KID.  This is chapter one in the story of Anakin Skywalker’s life and it’s the chapter that shows that no one is born evil which is another story type that I am apparently a sucker for.  And I’m sorry but if the part where Anakin has to leave Shmi doesn’t tug at your heartstrings at least a bit, then I really don’t know what might make you emotional.  Either that or you’re somehow immune to John William’s music (if we’re talking about the film.)

Rant over now.  I promise.  In short, I think all three books are decent reads especially if the Prequel Era is what interests you and I think that Darth Plagueis is worth the read no matter what.  Next up are the books that lead up to the Clone War!  As always, if you’d like to keep a real time eye on my progress, you can follow me on Twitter @chaosbria or the hashtag #WaruExpress.

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3 thoughts on “EU Retrospective: The Phantom Menace

  1. Pingback: Look at your life, look at your choices: Bria’s Rereading the Expanded Universe | Tosche Station

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  3. Hi, just found your retrospective blog.
    I had the same feelings about Darth Plagueis, it was pure genius. Than I found out that Cloak is also Lucenos (inferior but still great) and now I find myself doing exactly what you did... reading the EU in almost chronological order (But I am skipping some stuff in order to go faster, as a young father I cannot devote that much time to this little side project)..
    I will go revisit the very old republic some day... but for now I go forward. But on topic, both Lucenos books from this post are really worth reading, even if Cloak is now just an extension to Darth Plagueis (as is Darth Maul Shadow Hunter and Jedi Council Acts of War, they both are very heavily mentioned in DP).

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