Here's another Star Wars spinoff novel, a brisk and extremely uncomplicated action-adventure romp set on planet Coruscant immediately before the events of The Phantom Menace. After a few setting-up exercises, it's essentially a prolonged chase sequence whose implacable pursuer is Darth Maul--the almost absurdly villainous-looking Sith Lord with the biggest lightsaber and worst makeup job in the entire saga to date.
The plot? Insidiously evil Darth Sidious is poised to launch the Naboo trade blockade featured in The Phantom Menace. But one of his alien henchmen has sneaked away to betray this scheme and must die. So must the traitor's contacts, smalltime crook Lorn Pavan and his uppity droid, I-Five. Likewise Darsha Assant, the female Jedi Knight apprentice who gets entangled with Pavan through either mind-boggling coincidence or the mysterious ways of the Force.
Michael Reaves makes a reasonably slick job of all this nonsense and is not afraid of clichés. Plenty of characters have wooden lines like "I've got a bad feeling about this," and "Too many questions, and not enough answers." Meanwhile in the Jedi council, Yoda makes characteristic remarks: "A good choice he would be... No accident this was."
Unfortunately, the well-known story line of The Phantom Menace defuses suspense in Shadow Hunter. That trade blockade has to happen despite the good folks' doomed heroics, and horrible Darth Maul (already far more powerful and deadly than the puny opposition he faces here) is fated to win out. This novel is for dedicated fans only. --David Langford
For the infamous, power-hungry Sith, beholden to the dark side, the time has come to rise again . . .
After years of waiting in the shadows, Darth Sidious is taking the first step in his master plan to bring the Republic to its knees. Key to his scheme are the Neimoidians of the Trade Federation. Then one of his Neimoidian contacts disappears, and Sidious does not need his Force-honed instincts to suspect betrayal. He orders his apprentice, Darth Maul, to hunt the traitor down.
But he is too late. The secret has already passed into the hands of information broker Lorn Pavan, which places him right on the top of Darth Maul's hit list. Then, in the labyrinthine alleyways and sewers of Coruscant, capital city of the Republic, Lorn crosses paths with Darsha Assant, a Jedi Padawan on a mission to earn her Knighthood. Now the future of the Republic depends on Darsha and Lorn. But how can an untried Jedi and an ordinary man, stranger to the powerful ways of the Force, hope to triumph over one of the deadliest killers in the galaxy?
SPECIAL BONUS INSIDE--the exclusive story, "Star Wars(R) Darth Maul: Saboteur" by James Luceno, previously available in e-book format only!
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