Cloak of Deception

April 6, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

deceptionCloak of Deception by James Luceno

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Like Darth Plagueis, this book takes a broader look at the events that occurred before The Phantom Menace, but not quite as broadly as that book did. Cloak of Deception instead reveals how the Neimoidian Trade Federation, with the help of Darth Sidious and an outside terrorist group whose target is the federation, managed to take control of the outer rim of the galaxy, and how they became a military force as well as a monopoly on the outer trade routes.

Luceno’s style still fails to impress me, though I found this book to be somewhat more readable than Darth Plagueis. It helps that Luceno reins in his scope, and as was the case with his previous book in the series, the details he includes go a long way toward marking him as the most knowledgeable of the authors who have written for the Extended Universe. I just wish that his narrative matched his knowledge.

Luceno does more telling than showing, relying on adverbs to convey people’s moods instead of showing us through their actions. He does show on occasion, but there was enough telling going on to make it stand out to me. This was the case with Darth Plagueis, as well, and like that novel, Cloak of Deception is also lacking in characterization. Even with characters who have already been established in the movies, they were hard to care about because they’re so flat. There are a few scenes that should have been more shocking, more affecting to the reader, but they lack any real emotion to them because their characters aren’t developed properly.

The other odd thing about the book is how Luceno plays coy with the Senator Palpatine / Darth Sidious connection, like he’s teasing some great revelation out of his story. Anyone reading the book is likely already a Star Wars fan, and has seen The Phantom Menace, so they would already know the two characters are one and the same. Why treat the reader as if he doesn’t already know this about the story? It’s always fun to go back and look at how a writer set up a twist like that, but that depends on the author being responsible for that twist. With this novel, it’s like Lueceno’s trying to be clever without having reaped the benefit of being the clever one.

I rate Cloak of Deception the same as I do Darth Plagueis, but I liked this one marginally better. It felt more contained, and had a better overall story, even though I don’t think much of Luceno as a writer. I’m glad that the next book in the series is written by another author.

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