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Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader    by James Luceno order for
Dark Lord
by James Luceno
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

On the planet of Mustafar a vicious battle between Skywalker and Kenobi brought forth a partial truism - that 'Anakin Skywalker is dead ... and Darth Vader lives.' Former Senator Palpatine, now Dark Lord Sidious and self-proclaimed Emperor has anointed his apprentice and disciple, saying 'The deadliest threat rests in the hideously swift and lethal crimson lightsaber of Darth Vader - behind whose brooding mask lies a shattered heart, a poisoned soul, and a cunning, twisted mind hell-bent on vengeance.'

James Luceno penned Dark Lord to take readers from the aftermath of Episode III Revenge of the Sith through a growth in the identity and power of Darth Vader as he plummets further into the Dark Side. The 'Emperor's Emissary' is encased in a bodysuit and armor 'that both camouflaged the evidence of his transformation and sustained his life.' His gloved, artificial right hand is clamped on the hilt of a new lightsaber. 'With the loss of my limbs, have I also lost strength in the Force?' is one of many questions in Vader's mind. He thinks, 'this is not walking ... this is not seeing ... this is not hearing ... this is not breathing ... and this is not living.' Increasing Vader's torment are haunting memories, and dormant suspicions of whether Dark Lord Sidious can truly be trusted. And in Senate headquarters, the Emperor is very careful to cover his disfigured face with his hood, as he drops his bombshell, 'My decrees will be issued simultaneously to our constituent worlds, and they well take effect immediately.'

News of the defeat of the Republic has not reached all quarters of the cosmos. On the Outer Rim World of Murkhana, Jedi Masters Roan Shryne and Bol Chatok, and her Padawan Olee Starstone know nothing of the 'turning of the tide' - yet. They learn of the order to avoid Coruscant, and that the remaining Jedi have scattered to escape, but do not know why. They are forced to leave Murkhana. Kashyyyk is the next place thought safe for them, and for other Jedi who have come forward. But here the Emperor's minions have set out to destroy the Wookies, slaughtering many, and imprisoning thousands of their men, women, and children. Alderaan has always been a pacifist state, admitting refugees during the war, and even now admitting beings who want to defend and preserve the Republic. One of Senator Bail Organa's main objectives is to protect his adopted daughter Leia. But the safety of his people is threatened as a ship carrying Darth Vader lands.

Luceno builds the beginning of a bridge, to fill in the gaps immediately following Episode III. He writes with sensitivity of Skywalker's mental torture as he fills the role of Lord Vader, emphatically declaring that 'The Jedi will never die.' Along with this emotional element are exceptional action scenes, especially of the attack on Kashyyyk. I have decided that if I were to have the opportunity to choose a place to live from Star Wars locations, I would choose Kashyyyk. Wookie Land' appeals - 'Kashyyyk's aromatic atmosphere, three-hundred meter tall wroshyr trees', enhanced by the Wookie's caring personalities and their protective fighters. I highly recommend Dark Lord and eagerly await the extension of Luceno's bridge in continuing episodes.

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