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Darth Plagueis is a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel by James Luceno set during the final decades of the Old Republic (beginning approximately 67 years before the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope). The plot concerns itself with the life and times of the titular character, Darth Plagueis, and his dual efforts to conquer the galaxy and achieve immortality through manipulation of the midi-chlorians that connect the Force to its users. After betraying and murdering his way to the head of the Sith Order, Plagueis's journeys lead him to discover a young noble named Palpatine. Sensing enormous potential in the youthful malcontent, Plagueis ensnares Palpatine in the Sith ways and grants him the Sith title of Darth Sidious. The remainder of the book concerns itself with the relationship between these two Sith Lords and how their pursuit of power disrupts The Force and inevitably leads their fruitful partnership to a lethal conclusion.
Darth Plagueis is pivotal in that its content is heretofore unexplored. The history of the saga's Big Bad is detailed, as are new insights (as experienced through the eyes and actions of the Sith) to galactic events that lead to the Empire's rise. The novel spans decades and even encroaches well into the events of The Phantom Menace, featuring (to varying degrees) characters like Chancellor Valorum, Count Dooku, Darth Maul, Jabba the Hutt, Nute Gunray, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker.
Tone-wise, Darth Plagueis is more cerebral, with more emphasis on history, mysticism, and politics than outright action, affording it a similar nature to Luceno's other prequel-era Palpatine-centric novel, Cloak of Deception. It was released January 10th, 2012.
The novel contains the following tropes:
- A God Am I: Plagueis is hellbent on securing immortality, as he believes it will make him this.
- Sidious/Palpatine eventually declares himself to be the Sith'ari, which is basically the Sith version of God.
- Above Good and Evil: One of the reasons Plagueis is intrigued by Palpatine is that he seems to have transcended notions of morality.
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Yinchorri, as explained in their wookiepedia article, believes that anything that they can take with force is theirs. Plagueis and Sidious manipulated this into a conflict which resulted in the deaths of a fair amount of Jedi and the degredation of Valorum's reputation, setting the stage for Palpatine's ascension to Supreme Chancellor.
- Ambition Is Evil: Palpatine, Gunray, Dooku, Veruna, Pestage, Doriana, Jabba, etc. Pretty much everyone with at least one line in the book.
- The Antichrist: Palpatine is introduced as a young son of a nobleman who exhibits prodigious intellect and a proportionately high disregard for common morality. He is also said to be a delinquent, having a history of petty crime and being directly responsible for the deaths of two individuals as well as someone who is willing to murder his entire family without too much prompting.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Palpatine, definitely. Dooku, kinda.
- Arc Welding: In addition to numerous references to other SWEU works that don't go beyond a Shout-Out, the novel ties previously standalone Episode I tie-ins into a coherent scheme of Sith machinations.
- In particular, the events in novels Cloak of Deception, Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter and Darth Maul: Saboteur and comics Jedi Council: Acts of War, Darth Maul and Bloodlines from Star Wars Republic were all previously known to fit into the Sith Grand Plan somehow, until this novel tied them all together and explained the exact role each of those events had.
- A Worldwide Punomenon: Doubles as an extremely meta and, for a Star Wars novel, somewhat uncharacteristic Shout-Out--"A Muun of wealth and taste"
- The Bad Guy Wins: As with most stories during this era, Darth Sidious achieves all that he desires.
- Badass Boast: Plagueis and Sidious have these in abundance, particularly for the latter when he is killing the former.
Sidious: [I am] king of the beasts, Father.
Sidious: No true Sith can ever really care about another. This has always been known. There is no way but my way.
Sidious: You were doomed the moment you took me as an apprentice!
- Badass Abnormal: Darth Venamis, who goes toe-to-toe with Plagueis and holds his own.
- Badass Bookworm: Darths Plagueis, Sidious, and Maul.
- Bastard Understudy: Darth Plagueis at the beginning and Darth Sidious seemingly for most of the book.
- Beneath the Mask: Standard trope for Sith of Bane's order.
- Big Bad: Plagueis, as the titular character and Master of Palpatine, appears to be this at first. At the end of the novel, however, it becomes all too clear that Darth Sidious had usurped the mantle long before his own ascent.
- Bloodbath Villain Origin: Palpatine.
- The Chessmaster:
- Luceno seems intent on removing any potential doubt that Darth Sidious is the pinnacle of this trope for the Star Wars mythos. As an example, it turns out Palpatine was the one who engineered Padme's campaign for the throne of Naboo. While this may not seem to be a big deal in and of itself, when you consider it along with the events of the films, the impact speaks for itself.
- Plagueis himself is a skilled one, to a lesser extent. He was involved in the incident at Galidraan that began Dooku's dissent with the Jedi and, more importantly, was the one who gave Sifo-Dyas the suggestion to clone an army for the Republic....
- Bear in mind that the climax reveals that these things as well as a lot more had in fact been manipulated by Sidious himself.
- Palpatine becomes one over the course of the novel.
- Bear in mind that the climax reveals that these things as well as a lot more had in fact been manipulated by Sidious himself.
- The Chosen One: Both Palpatine and Plagueis are anxious and obsessed with meeting Anakin Skywalker.
- Namely, the reason they want to meet him is because he's not only the result of a botched experiment, but also the one destined to destroy them due to the midichlorians retaliating for the unethical experiment.
- Continuity Cameo: A lot. Sifo-Dyas, Qui-Gon Jinn, Wilhuff Tarkin, Finis Valorum, etc.
- Continuity Nod: Tons and tons, on the verge of Continuity Porn. Luceno gets an A+ for effort: the plot intricately weaves itself in with Cloak of Deception and The Phantom Menace. To get a general idea, about 99,8% of all names in the book are from previously established sources, sometimes so obscure the larger Expanded Universe ignored them all they until now.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Plagueis vs. Captain Lah and the crew of the Woebegone. A 17-year-old, untrained Palpatine vs. his family and their bodyguards.
- The Dragon: Maul to Sidious. Sate Pestage and Kinman Doriana each serve as this in the political arena.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Palpatine.
- Deadpan Snarker: By the end of the novel, the reader understands that Palpatine's "Legend of Darth Plagueis the Wise" was, more than anything else, a very twisted sort of joke.
- Downer Ending: Sidious has secured the chancellorship and is now in contact with the Chosen One.
- Emperor Scientist: Plagueis is a lethal combatant and seeks to conquer the galaxy like all other Sith, but he puts particular emphasis on the esoteric nature of the Force, conducting extensive experiments in attempt to directly control midi-chlorians.
- Enfant Terrible: Both Damask and Palpatine were this.
- Even Evil Has Standards: When Tenebrous accessed Force Foresight upon possessing Plagueis, he ended up foreseeing Plagueis's murder at the hands of Darth Sidious/Palpatine, and it was strongly implied that Tenebrous was horrified not just at the apprentice's murder of Plagueis, but also at how evil said apprentice was.
- Evil Mentor: Tenebrous to Plagueis, Plagueis to Palpatine, Palpatine to Maul.
- Evil Plan: The Sith Grand Plan to conquer the galaxy begins in earnest here, and in surprising detail.
- Evil Redhead: Palpatine.
- Fallen Hero: Dooku. Still a Jedi Master during the events of the novel, Dooku is portrayed as an ethical but disenfranchised man whose disgust for corruption leads him to confide in Palpatine.
- Faux Affably Evil: Palpatine and Plagueis.
- Fatal Flaw: Most of the villainous characters in the novel pay dearly for their hubris.
- Five-Bad Band
- The Force: The prequel films mention repeatedly that the Force is imbalanced and that the dark side is ascending. The origin of the imbalance begins in this book.
- Foreshadowing: An Itkotchi prophetess foresees the ensuing Clone Wars, Order 66, Galactic Empire, Death Star, and Galactic Civil War. Needless to say Plagueis moves quickly to silence her; Palpatine reminds Anakin that he will monitor his career with great interest; Master Sifo-Dyas is persuaded that the Republic needs an army....
- Foregone Conclusion: Any fan who has seen Star Wars Episode III knows what happens to Darth Plagueis at the end.
- Freudian Excuse: Unambiguously averted. Unlike his predecessor Bane, young Palpatine's feelings towards his family are a little...extreme. To elaborate, Palpatine's father does hate him, but for the simple reason that Palpatine has transparently hated him from the moment he was born (though his dad covering up his crimes did help Palpatine develop an "I can do no wrong" mentality).
- Heel Face Turn: Darth Gravid.
- Immortality: Plagueis would undoubtedly prefer type I, but is in fact seeking desperately type II.
- Immortality Immorality: Darth Plagueis all the way.
- Insult Backfire: During the final argument between Palpatine and his father:
Cosinga: Murder has always been in your thoughts, hasn't it? You've merely been waiting for someone to grant you permission to act.
Palpatine: I don't need anyone's permission.
Cosinga: Precisely. You're an animal at heart.
Palpatine: King of the beasts, Father.
- Ironic Fear: Plagueis.
Palpatine: It's ironic. He could save others from death, but not himself.
Plagueis (thinking): Sidious had a gift for subterfuge that surpassed the talents of any of the Sith Lords who had preceded him, including Bane.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Sidious and Plagueis just had to upset the order of the midichlorians in a botched experiment of crafting a Sith Weapon. Well, it certainly bit them in the butt afterwards when the midichlorians retaliated by creating Anakin Skywalker to destroy them once and for all.
- Oh Crap: Plagueis has this when he learns that Anakin's been taken to the Jedi.
- Pet the Dog: Plagueis is pretty nice and polite to any droids in his service.
- The Power of Hate: This is the reservoir of power that Sith are trained to tap into, unlike the Jedi.
Plagueis: If you don't already want to murder me, you will before I'm through with you. The urge to kill one's superior is intrinsic to the nature of our enterprise.
- Unfortunately for Plagueis, Palpatine was always ready to murder him, as soon as he had outlived his usefulness.
- Ironically, he did to some extent also value Palpatine in a way similar to that of a son, even stating that they break the Rule of Two set up by Bane. Because he clearly has no clue who he's dealing with.
- Properly Paranoid: As noted in the Villainous Breakdown entry below, Plagueis is shown to be mortified at the idea of Palpatine suggesting that Anakin Skywalker being made a Sith Candidate. And for a very good reason.
- Likewise, after the attempt on his life, Plagueis actually forsook sleep since he feared that he'd be killed in his sleep. He ultimately proved to be right. Unfortunately, Palpatine ensured he fell asleep by having him get drunk by Sullustian Wine before he made his move to kill him.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Palpatine becomes a very high-functioning version of this.
- Out-Gambitted: Plagueis plays a mean game throughout the novel, but he's not quite good enough to beat his apprentice.
- One-Man Army: Both Plagueis and Sidious show their worth against hundreds of adversaries at least twice.
- Darth Maul thinks he's this, much to both Plagueis and Sideious' displeasure over his pride.
- Robot Buddy: Droid 11-4D to Plagueis and later to Palpatine. He's pretty much an "evil" R2-D2.
- Self-Made Orphan: Sidious, under Plagueis's instruction.
- Smug Snake: Plagueis, Maul, and Naboo's King Veruna all suffer because of this to varying degrees.
- The Sociopath: The nicest thing you can say about Palpatine. He really was just born a bastard.
- The Starscream: Plagueis to Tenebrous, Sidious to Plagueis; averted with Maul and Sidious.
- Ironically, it becomes apparent that Sidious had in fact been manipulating Plagueis ever since the latter first initiated him into the Sith.
- Plagueis to Tenebrous is somewhat of a deconstruction of the trope, as not only was Tenebrous anticipating that Plagueis would betray him, he actually was glad that Plagueis finally acted on his desire to murder him, and his only regret was that Plagueis didn't act on the starscream tendencies years earlier.
- Start of Darkness: Dooku and Gunray all the way. To a lesser extent, Palpatine, who was sociopathic from the very beginning.
- Arguably, one for Sate Pestage as well. Plagueis had given Palpatine Pestage in the belief that he'd be useful to the Sith Lord, and while he wouldn't be called 'innocent' he probably wouldn't have become so twisted if he hadn't been under the influence of the Sith Lords. Since he was, fast forward a few decades later and he becomes Grand Vizier of the Galactic Empire.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Averted, with the possible exception for Darth Maul and Nute Gunray. Maul was raised a Sith from birth and Gunray's ambition was relentlessly exploited.
- Possibly played slightly straight with Darth Plagueis, however: Plagueis literally was destined to become a Sith before he was even born, meaning he literally had no other choice to be anything except to be a Sith, if supplementary items for the novel (such as the Tenebrous Way) are of any indication.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, anyone?
- Undying Loyalty: Atypical of Sith Lords, Maul is deeply devoted to his Master.
- Unwitting Pawn: Pretty much everyone in the book is a pawn of the Sith in one form or another. The book's climax reveals that Palpatine regards Plagueis himself as this, too.
- Villain Protagonist: Carrying on the tradition established by the Darth Bane series.
- Villainous Breakdown: At the book's climax, Sidious unleashes a spectacular one against Plagueis.
- Plagueis also has one after learning of Anakin's existence. He becomes course and blunt when demanding a meeting and actually shows genuine fear when it's revealed that Anakin is being considered as a candidate.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Count Dooku, freshly resigned from the Jedi Order and Sith aspirant.
- Wicked Cultured: Evil has never been so prominent in the EU as it is with Darth Plagueis, and little to none of it is thuggish.
- Worthy Opponent: Darth Venamis to Darth Plagueis. Briefly.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Given that the central characters are Sith, this is standard operating procedure. Plagueis does this to Darths Tenebrous and Venamis, as well as all of Venamis's potential apprentices. Karma's a cold bitch, however, as King Veruna of Naboo and his cabal of toadies attempt to do this to Plagueis's alter-ego, though it fails horribly. And just when things seem to be absolutely peachy for the reigning Sith Master, Sidious makes his own move....