Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader

October 10, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

vaderDark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno

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Another sticking point I had from watching the prequel trilogy was why Anakin chose to follow Palpatine, even after Padmé’s death. It seemed like the whole reason he fell to the Dark Side at all was to protect her, and once that left the equation, why stay with him? Surely he would eventually discover that Palpatine had manipulated him as much as he had the rest of the Jedi, so what drove him to stay and serve?

Luceno does a decent job of explaining exactly that. The events of Dark Lord take place about a month after the events of Revenge of the Sith, and even then, Vader is questioning his loyalty. He’s also sitting atop a lot of resentment toward the Jedi, as he’s convinced himself that the Jedi could have prevented his fall had they been more open to other methods of the Force. It’s not the most reasonable explanation, but it fits well with the character of Anakin. Later in the book, after Vader has pursued what surviving Jedi he has been able to find, he convinces himself that some day he will be able to become Palpatine’s equal in the Force and overthrow him to become a Sith master, which is another reason for him to stick around. Together, the motivations work, though I still have some trouble with Vader’s character here.

As mentioned, this story takes place a month after Anakin became Vader, and already he’s showing a great deal of cunning in battle. I know Anakin was a general in the GAR, but he still seemed more impulsive and reactionary in that role than anything else. The books presented him as more skilled, but the movies show him as something else, and I can’t help but fall back to the movie’s presentation of the character when I think of who the character is. I can accept that Vader would learn enough over time to become the cunning Lord, but at this point in the timeline, it’s harder to accept.

The book succeeds well enough with what it sets out to do, but it’s not wrapped up in the best story. The opening chapters are hard to follow, and the characterization here is so slim that it’s hard to even call it one-dimensional. Luceno’s books tend to be better as sources of information than stories, though, so I can accept it. I just don’t see this book being among the essential EU reads like other people do; one could read a summary of the events here and get the same thing out of it.

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