Friday, May 02, 2014

Booknote: Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown

Joe Schrieber, Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown. New York: Del Rey, 2014. ISBN:  9780345509031.

This Star Wars novel is set before the events of the film The Phantom Menace. In this novel, Darth Maul's master sends him to infiltrate a prison space station. Maul is searching for a weapons dealer who runs his operation from the prison, using the prisoners for his labor. The catch is that no one has seen the weapons dealer or even knows what this person looks like. Also, Maul's master has ordered him not to use his dark powers nor do anything that may call attention to Maul being a Sith. This means that Maul needs to accomplish his mission and survive on his wits and strength alone. That will not be easy. In addition to the weapons dealer's operation, which is so secret that not even the prison warden and guards are sure it exists, there are other obstacles. One, the warden runs a gambling operation pitting prisoners against each other in fights. Two, the Intergalactic Banking Guild suddenly decides to take an interest in the gambling operation, which they quietly help bankroll, and send an auditor. Three, Jabba the Hutt is not too happy said gambling operation may be cutting into his own profits. Oh, and there is a giant alien worm that eats people loose in the station's underbelly. For Maul, this is a do or die mission.

The strength of the novel lies in the mystery. Who is Radique, the weapons dealer? The author leads us along as Maul tries to use clues to find out the true identity of Radique, but he may be running out of time. He is not the only one seeking out Radique, and Maul's master is not exactly a patient man. So, the intrigue keeps you going. The novel's pace is pretty fast. Once the action picks up, you just keep on reading it. The author keeps the chapters short, so you feel like you are moving along.

My one issue with the novel is that it does have some filler. There were some chapters that simply felt like filler, and they slowed down the narrative. For instance, the chapter where the author goes into detail describing the origin of the alien worm, placed in the middle of a fast moving plot point, mostly disrupted the reading. Plus, to be honest, it seemed unnecessary. There were a few more chapters like that where a good editor could have axed them and still kept the excitement of the story. This is a good story with a good pace, but there where moments when that pace was interrupted, and it felt like the novel was being stretched unnecessarily.

Fans of Star Wars will probably enjoy this one. I think for those who are interested in the character of Darth Maul they can get more insight on the character. Since for most of the novel, he cannot use the Force, we get to see a different side of him. Public libraries will probably want to add this one to their collections. I would view it as optional for those academic libraries that have recreational reading collections.

Overall, I liked it, but I did not really like it, so it gets 3 out of 5 stars from me.

Schreiber is also the author of Death Troopers (link to my review) and Red Harvest (link to my review). I have written before about how one thing that Star Wars novels do is take some popular genre or format and adapt it to the Star Wars universe. Death Troopers and Red Harvest are novels about zombies in the Star Wars universe for example. The Republic Commando series was based off the popularity a while back of squad-based combat video games. Lockdown is your "infiltrate the prison" novel. Overall, it is a quick, light entertainment.

Disclosure note is where I get to tell you that I read this as an e-book review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. This was in exchange for an honest review. There, we have appeased The Man once more.

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