“Dark Lord: The Rise Of Darth Vader” by James Luceno follows the exploits of the legendary Sith Lord as he hunts down a band of Jedi escaping the fate of their brethren as a result of a regiment of clonetroopers that refuse to implement order 66.
Towards the end of “Return Of The Jedi”, Darth Vader turns on the Emperor and hefts the villain to his fate at the bottom of some kind energy reactor. However, from “Dark Lord: The Rise Of Darth Vader“, readers learn that this was not necessarily the result of a sudden change of heart upon seeing Palpatine hurl lightening from his fingertips at little Luke.
Rather, it slowly unfolds throughout the novel that the relationship Vader has with the Emperor is not that of a worshipful underling but instead that of a resentful sycophant wanting what his superior possesses.
“Star Wars” fans will enjoy seeing the unfolding development of familiar characters rising to prominence in the years between the two trilogies such as Chewbacca, Grand Moff Tarkin, R2D2 and C-3P0. Also of interest to devoted Star Wars fans will be the prominence given to Kashyyyk and the Wookies in the novel’s climax.
Though “Star Wars” is known more for its faced paced action than its more cerebral counterpart “Star Trek“, “Dark Lord” is not without profound reflective moments relevant to the chaotic times in which we live.
In an exchange with Bail Organa of Alderan, Vader muses, “Harmony is the ideal of the New Order, Senator, not dissension.” And in another insightful passage, the text reads, “The ideals of democracy hadn’t been stamped out by Palpatine ... the citizens of countless worlds and star systems, grown weary of the old system, had allowed democracy to die (319).”
Were Darth Vader an actual historical figure, few good people would care what reasons he might invoke to justify his atrocities. However, as a fictional character, the saga of Anakin Skywalker serves as sympathetic warning of how small bad choices have a way of accumulating in such a manner as to ruin the lives of not only those making them but the lives of those around such individuals as well.