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Flashback: Star Wars – Cloak of Deception

April 19, 2007

One of the things I would really like to see from the SWEU is more adult-length novels featuring Qui-Gon and and Obi-Wan. There is a series of books from Scholastic about the early days of Obi-Wan’s training. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s relationship wasn’t any smoother than Obi-Wan and Anakin’s and only die-hard fans who read everything have a full appreciation of that fact. Though I didn’t read the entire series, there were several stories I wished had been longer and more in-depth. I feel this era got short-changed in the novel department. Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, currently the only other (near) pre-Episode I novel, focuses mostly on Darth Maul (duh!) and several non-movie characters.

Cloak is a favorite. It has those wacky Neimoidians and some of my favorite quotes.

Cloak of Deception by James Luceno Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi track a terrorist working for the Nebula Front, an organization that is targeting the Trade Federation. Things are not as them seem when the terrorist, Captain Arwen Cohl, steals valuable ingots from the Neimoidians, yet lets the cargo drift off into space. The plot continues to twist as Supreme Chancellor Valorum attempts to salvage the situation in the out-lying regions, without alienating the Trade Federation or the Outer Rim. In a bid to seem fair, Valorum agrees to hold a trade summit, even after an assignation attempt is made on his life. As the Jedi rush to uncover the plots and conspiracies, Darth Sidious sets his plans into motion, one that will ensure the Neimoidians gain complete control of the Trade Federation, and weaken Valorum’s ability to govern.

Era: Republic, 33 years Before the Battle of Yavin.
Author:James Luceno
ISBN: 0-345-44297-0 (Del Rey)

I enjoyed this book very much. It was filled with plot twists and hints of things to come, not only in The Phantom Menace, but in later episodes and books. Luceno never lets you forget that Palpatine cannot be trusted. He is shown, time and again, supporting Valorum; yet you know that he is plotting the man’s downfall, both as the simple senator of Naboo and as the Dark Lord of the Sith. This book also gives a plausible explanation as to why, of all planets, Naboo is blockaded: Sidious convinces the Neimoidians that Palpatine is responsible for the successful passing of the tax bill in the Senate. The biggest plot-twist, to me, was that Valorum was not the real assignation target at the trade summit. Luceno carefully plotted out the deceptions, and I was pleased that I hadn’t guess who the real target was until the very moment the droids open fire.

Several familiar faces appear in the story: Jorus C’baoth; the Jedi Council, as seen in The Phantom Menace; Vergere joins Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan on part of their mission; Luminara Unduli, who hails from the same world as Cohl, briefs Qui-Gon about him (though she is not mentioned, it is assumed that the padawan Luminara is seen conversing with is Bariss Offee); Tarkin, as lieutenant governor of Eriadu, plays host to the visiting Valorum and makes some foreshadowing remarks about calling the Core “home”; Queen Amidala appears briefly in a hologram, shortly after her election to the throne of Naboo.

Favorite Quotes:
“I’ll keep flying in circles while you make your mind up about what to do.”– Rella to Captain Cohl.

“It’s confirmed: you’ve lost your mind.”– Rella to Captain Cohl

“Just think where we might be without the Jedi.”
“I can only imagine.”
– Supreme Chancellor Valorum, Senator Palpatine

The problem inherent in returning home was that one couldn’t escape recalling – on some level of cellular memory – the seven formative years Neimoidians spent as puny, pale, wriggling grubs, in competition with every other grub for survival and the chance to mature into red eyed, noseless, fish-lipped, and decidedly distrustful adults.
– passage, regarding Neimoidians

“Here’s something that will cheer you up, Rella. The arm’s orbit is deteriorating.”
“If you mean we’re actually in danger of falling from the sky, you’re right. I’m thrilled.”
– Jalan, Rella

“Keep an eye out for a place to crash.”
“You mean land, don’t you?”
– Captain Cohl, Rella

“What’s next for you two?”
“We thought we’d retire from mayhem. Maybe take up moisture farming.”
– Havac, Rella

“In search of something purposeful, Qui-Gon, or just hoping you’ll bump into something worthy of your attention?”
“I have — you.”
— Adi Gallia, Qui-Gon Jinn

“Where is your young apprentice?”
“Sharpening his wits.”
“So you actually give him an occasional respite from your resolute tutelage?”
“It’s a mutual thing.”

— Adi Gallia, Qui-Gon Jinn, regarding Obi-Wan Kenobi

“Just now we need to assess where we stand.”
“On an island, in the middle of a lake, with adversaries on the approach, Master.”
– Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi

“The High Council’s favorite Jedi. I half expected you and your loyal Padawan to come bolting over head in Captain Cohl’s gunship.”
— Adi Gallia, re: Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan



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