“Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?”
When it comes to the Star Wars prequels, we all know the meme: Chancellor Palpatine telling Anakin the story of a Sith Lord named Darth Plagueis while a Cirque du Soleil performance goes on in the background. But what about the real story of Darth Plagueis the Wise? What’s the tale behind the tragedy? Well, James Luceno wrote it in 2006, and I read it, as I am wont to do.
“Darth Plagueis: Like all Sith Lords before him, he craves absolute power. But like no Sith Lord ever, he possesses the ultimate power–over life and death.
Darth Sideous: In secret, he masters the power of the dark side, while publicly climbing to the highest government office.
One desires to rule supreme; the other dreams of living forever. Together, they will destroy the Jedi and rule the galaxy. Unless merciless Sith tradition becomes their undoing.”
Plagueis remains single-minded throughout the novel. He constantly recites his goals; live forever, and bring about the Sith Imperative, which is to eventually wipe out the Jedi Order, destroy the Republic, and rule the Galaxy. We’ve never seen Plagueis in any other media, so there’s nothing to compare his characterization to in that regard. But as an all-powerful Sith Lord, he’s written successfully; he’s cruel and cunning, the base stats for a Sith. His original identity is that of Magister Hego Damask of Muunilinst, and he uses this identity to move through political circles undetected as a Sith.
Here we get a look at Palpatine before he was Sidious, before he was even Palpatine; when he was just a teenager on Naboo just getting interesting in politics. Palpatine starts out crafty and sneaky, eventually evolving to murderous once he embraces the dark side. It’s interesting to read how Palpatine began, recruited as a teen by Plagueis and shaped into Sidious. As we know, he uses his identity as Palpatine to move up the ranks while living a second life as a Sith Lord, just as Plagueis uses Hego Damask.
Obviously, this book is politics heavy. Sidious and Plagueis plan to implement the Sith Imperative from the inside out, taking over the Republic only to bring it down. With Palpatine moving his way up the political ladder, and Plagueis as Magister Hego Damask of the InterGalactic Banking Committee, politics abound. If you’re not really up to speed on Star Wars politics, this can be a little daunting. Admittedly, I don’t know as much about the Republic, the Senate, the Trade Federation, etc., as I think I do, so reading through this book got a bit confusing at times trying to keep all the political factions straight. But Luceno did a great job of explaining the politics using exposition in ways that made things easier to understand while still being enjoyable to read.
For a book that fills in so many blanks, it’s a bit underwhelming and I don’t have quite as much to say about it as usual. It’s a long book, filled with a lot of political jargon and a lot of heavy Sith stuff. Which is great if you’re interested in Star Wars politics or the Sith. I’d definitely recommend Darth Plagueis if you’re interested in the Sith at all.
I will say, even though this book is part of Star Wars: Legends, I would consider it to be part of the Star Wars canon; it answers a lot of questions left by the prequel series, and fills in a lot of blanks in Palpatine’s background. It expands on the Sith mythos and explains so much of what the Sith had planned, all the way back to Darth Bane and the rule of two. Not only does Star Wars: Darth Plagueis master its politics, it’s also rife with Sith history and legends, making it a unique read from a perspective we usually don’t explore much in-depth.