Published by Random House Audio in 2012.
Read by Daniel Davis.
Duration: 14 hours, 45 minutes.
This book came HIGHLY recommended to me from a massive Star Wars fan that I work with who has told me on multiple occasions that this was an amazing book.
If you loved the political intrigue of The Phantom Menace and loved the fact that it was basically the story of a trade dispute that got out of hand, you will LOVE this book.
Let's face it, the problem with this book is that it is very similar to The Phantom Menace - the book actually overlaps with the movie. The problem with this book is that Episode I is generally considered to be the worst of the 11 Star Wars movies and doesn't compare well with the TV shows, either. It's probably better than the Star Wars Holiday Special, but I haven't seen that since it first aired so I can't trust my judgment as a ten-year old viewer.
This book fills in all of the questions that you probably didn't have when you watched The Phantom Menace. Did you wonder why Naboo has a little yellow space fleet? Well, you get to hear all about it anyway. Or, did you want to hear about exactly how the podracing track on Tatooine was financed? Did you ever wonder why Chancellor Valorum of the Senate looked so defeated and tired when he was trying to get things worked out to help Naboo? Well, you will get to hear all about the dirty backroom politics of the leading families of the Republic.
Don't care about the finances of a race track? Well, too bad - you'll hear all about it and how taxation of tax-free trade routes made a lot of people mad. Turns out Darth Plagueis was a banker and he liked to finance race tracks in his bid to take over the galaxy and Palpatine was a politician and he liked to talk about tax policy - so you get to hear about both of them. Also, Plagueis trained Palpatine to be a Sith Lord, but you hear precious little about the actual training and much about their busy schedules as they try to work in training times.
The problem with the book, specifically, is this: a Star Wars book full of spaceships and Sith carrying light sabers gets bogged down in detailed discussion of political and financial intrigues. I liken the experience that are like being forced to watch a Senate hearing on trade policy on C-Span in a Disney Resort hotel room rather than actually leaving the room and going to see Disney World. This is a Star Wars book - turn off the C-Span and bring on the cool Star Wars stuff! This isn't a John Grisham book - and if it were, it would have been a very boring one.
|Christopher Lee as Count Dooku.|
The only reason this books gets 2 stars from me instead of 1 is because it does go and backfill a giant plot hole from Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones. In Episode 2, Count Dooku just shows up out of nowhere and starts breaking apart the Republic. This book gives the background for Count Dooku, at least. He is by far the most interesting character. It made me wish I had been listening to a Count Dooku book instead.
Dry exposition. No real antagonist or struggle in this book. It reads more like a super-detailed Wookiepedia entry about Palpatine rather than an actual story. The author goes out of his way to name off as many characters, places and organizations as he can in the Star Wars universe in ridiculously long sentences. I felt bad for the reader who had to just keep reading run-on sentence after run-on sentence filled with the most obscure English vocabulary words. It's like the author was typing away with a thesaurus open on his desk while trying to get in as many obscure character mentions as possible.
The reader, Daniel Davis, did a good job. He did a good job with all of the accents and established character voices from the movies. But, an excellent reading does not make up for a poor text.
Note: the audiobook does include music from Episdode IV. The music is generally used well. It also includes sound effects, but they are used less judiciously. Often the same sound effect is played over and over again in the background - just a little too loud.
I rate this audiobook 2 stars out of 5. It can be found on Amazon.com here: STAR WARS: DARTH PLAGUEIS (audiobook) by James Luceno.