The Wrath of Darth Maul

November 15, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads)

maulThe Wrath of Darth Maul by Ryder Windham

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Darth Maul is one of my least favorite characters in the Expanded Universe. He looks cool, and his skills make for some exciting action sequences, but he doesn’t have a whole lot to make him sympathetic. Part of it is he lacks a backstory, and even the novels set in the Legends universe do little to correct that fact.

The Wrath of Darth Maul changes that. Windham goes back to when Maul was three years old, already a ward of Palpatine’s, already in brutal training to become the character he will become in The Phantom Menace. Maul start out as any young boy does, but after year of cruel training by Palpatine, he’s grown paranoid, untrusting, and malicious. If nothing else, Windham takes an unlikable character with no background and tells us exactly what happened to him to make him that person.

At least, he sort of does. In his afterword, Windham writes about how he used other sources as inspiration, including not just the movie and novelization of The Phantom Menace, but also events from Darth Plagueis and “Restraint” by James Luceno. He also notes that he borrowed heavily from Jude Watson’s entry for Darth Maul in the Star Wars Journals series, and having not read those books, I don’t know where the history actually comes from. If it’s from Watson, then Windham does a good job creating his own version of events, but the ideas ultimately aren’t his; if they’re his, then he does an even better job by creating them from scratch.

When I set out to read the juvenile books in the EU, I excluded the books that seemed to be for early readers, which included those Journals. I don’t plan to go back and read them now (they’re mostly retellings of the stories from the movies anyway), but it’s a little discouraging to see how much Windham may have borrowed from that book. Still, Windham is the second-most prolific author in the juvenile EU books, and I expect he didn’t keep that job by being a hack. I’ll see what he does with his own, original works later in the series.

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