Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Review: Labyrinth of Evil

Labyrinth of Evil Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was fun, but heavily bogged down by the baggage of being a Star Wars book.

The story, almost by definition, couldn't go much of anywhere. We know what happens before, and we know where it ends up. Nothing can be resolved because nothing starts resolved in the next movie. It makes Annakin's slide a bit more gradual than just watching the films, but even in that case the book has to start with "already sliding" and end before it actually gets to any interesting values of "slid". So it ends up with some nice backfilling of character details, and some decent action scenes but not much else. Annakin is still a petulant uninteresting child, and Obi Wan appears to have been reduced to comic relief, but a number of the side characters get some interesting fleshing out.

Speaking of the pitfalls of being a Star Wars book, there are a few consistency problems in here that kind of annoyed me. I'm not one of those details fanatics that writes a tirade on the internet because the main character's childhood pet had the wrong name on an irrelevant picture frame in the background somewhere, but I do like things to be internally consistent. At one point this book contains a history lecture that includes someone infiltrating Count Dooku's _cadre_ of multiple apprentices, while discussing his training of Grievous, and his (or possibly Sidious') training of someone called Ventris. And Dooku's own training at the hands of Sidious along with Darth Maul's before him. And then the book tells me - with a straight face, in the very next paragraph - that there are never more than two Sith in a generation: a master and an apprentice. What? You've just listed like a dozen! I can forget the details of my own breakfast given half an hour, but even I notice when you contradict yourself from one sentence to the next!

And then I realised; the entire reason for that line - and indeed much of the history lesson of a chapter - is to placate the details nerds who memorised a line from Yoda to the effect of "Always two there are; no more, no less. A master and an apprentice" and decided it had to be literally true of the entire universe, instead of just meaning that a master trains one student at a time. The annoying inconsistencies in this book come from the author desperately trying to reconcile his story with every last obsessed-over detail of the annoyingly inconsistent movies and other books! He'd have been better off writing his own story where he was free to make stuff up; but then we're back to the baggage that comes with writing a Star Wars novel.

Luceno writes pretty well though, so I will read the next one, where he is at least less shackled by being wedged between two movies. Hopefully there the plot will be allowed to go somewhere.

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