Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (Star Wars) Review

Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (Star Wars) is a 2005 science fiction space opera novel written by James Luceno, published by Del Rey Books.   The story is set in the immediate aftermath of Revenge of the Sith and focuses on Darth Vader and his rise to prominence in the newly formed Galactic Empire.


Positives:

  • Vader is badass
  • Great characters
  • Intense action
  • Strong developing arcs
  • Complex story
  • Compelling writing

Negatives:

  • Story can be slow here and there

Plot:  When a contingent of clone troopers on the planet Murkhana refuses to open fire on Jedi Masters Roan Shryne and Bol Chatak, along with Padawan Olee Starstone, the Jedi with whom it has fought alongside during the war, Emperor Palpatine orders Vader to investigate the matter. Vader’s query soon becomes a hunt for the fugitive Jedi.  Great, compelling story that has many twists and turns that concludes to a very satisfying ending.  One of the main plots follows Vader’s transition from Anakin to Vader.  The decisions he makes, his views of the universe, his “loyalty” to Palpatine is told in a very realistic, complex light that lead to a strong developing arc.  He isn’t the only person with a developing arc.  Also, there is the hunt for the Jedi that remains relentless.  There are also, the various subplots that keep the things going outside of the main story, such as the effects of the Empire’s hold of the galaxy.  A great, fantastic read. (4 out of 5)

Characters:  The main protagonists are Jedi Masters Roan Shryne, Bol Chatak, and Jedi padawan Olee Starstone.  Would’ve like to have seen more from Chalak but unfortunately she gets beheaded by Vader early on.  Now, the one character who shows major development is Shryne.  After Order 66 and the Jedi are hunted down, Shryne does lose his faith in the Force and the Jedi way, but does come around by the end of the book.  Olee is a pretty good character.  She’s ready to take the fight to the Empire and avenge the death of Chatak.  Like how Shryne and Olee’s differing ideals conflict, especially when Shryne throws his hands up.  But make no mistake, the highlight of the story is Vader.  He’s the ultimate badass and even though he’s doing a lot of terrible things he believes he’s doing the right thing.  There’s the focus of Palpatine and Vader’s master/disciple relationship.  We get a good look at this in Rule of Two, but for standout characters Palpatine and Vader, it feels more significant.  Even though Palpatine is eager to train Vader it’s pretty evident that Vader is just as eager to kill him and take his place.  There are other interesting characters that provide depth to the story. Hell, Grand Moff Tarkin and Obi-Wan Kenobi make an appearance. A great cast of well-written characters. (5 out of 5)

Writing:  Gotta give a thumbs up to James Luceno for just taking the writing into an effective and entertaining direction.  Reading this I was proud at the exposition of Vader’s character, both mentally and physically.  Despite the events of Revenge of the Sith, he’s still developing into the badass we all know and love (and fear).  Love how Luceno handles Vader’s transition pretty well.  By the end of the book, nearly all traces of Anakin have dissipated.  One thing I loved about Revenge of the Sith is how Palpatine manipulates Anakin throughout the story (done much better in the book than the movie) and despite wanting to train Vader it’s clear that he’s still manipulating him.  And that Vader isn’t under Palpatine’s wing out of loyalty, merely a means to become more powerful so that he can later kill him.  The action sequences are handled pretty well, especially the Jedi/Sith fights which can be really intense.  All-in-all, a great complex writing. (4 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (Star Wars) is great read for fans of Darth Vader and a great addition to the Star Wars mythos.  Yeah, at times it can get a little slow, but the great characters, awesome writing, great action, complex writing, great story, strong developing arcs, and a badass Darth Vader.  Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (Star Wars) gets 4 out of 5.

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