by Joe Schreiber.
I loved Joe Schreiber’s Death Troopers. I loved the idea of weaving horror elements with Star Wars tropes, and I thought the whole thing was surprisingly well written. So I determined then I’d read Schreiber’s other contributions to the expanded universe. I’m doing an alphabetical book challenge on my other blog and had no real idea what to read for M. And then I thought, you know what, two birds, one stone — Maul: Lockdown. So here it is.
In general, I enjoyed this book. If Death Troopers was zombies, this was nearer a slasher type book, and Schreiber writes the most unflinching violence I’ve ever seen in EU novels. So if you don’t want to read descriptions of gore and violence, you will definitely want to give him a skip. As far as canon is concerned, it turns out this book is too closely interlinked with another for me to come to a verdict just yet, but I’m leaning toward “Yes.”
It’s sometime before the events of Episode I. Darth Maul has been sent by his master to infiltrate a penitentiary where inmates are pitted against each other in gladiatorial death matches for the enjoyment of gamblers the galaxy over. His task is to locate but not kill a man who may not even exist, and deliver such and such an item to him. If he fails, he will never leave the prison and his master will not protect him. He is also forbidden to use the Force or do anything that might compromise his identity as a Sith lord.
Darth Maul is an extremely popular character, particularly for his fighting, and therefore I think fans of his will seriously enjoy this book in which he goes up against various creatures with lethal cunning. However, one of the things I struggled with was the view from Maul’s brain. To me, his character has limited appeal, and in Episode I that appeal comes only from his mysteriousness. Listening to him negotiate, interrogate, and intimidate verbally was a let down to me. While I appreciate that very few individuals are truly one-sided or lacking any complexity, I never could think of him as the protagonist and was always put off every time he was talking to someone. Frankly I found his protection of the boy Eogan strange, and the end of the book downright puzzling.
But apart from these few stylistic annoyances and some distractingly brief chapters, I really had no issue with the book. It was enjoyable, and there were definitely some moments of outright chilling horror even if the basic premise wasn’t meant to be horror. I have to defer my vote on whether or not it’s realcanon, however, because I was deeply troubled by Darth Plagueis’ presence, and unfortunately feel I must plow through the James Luceno book before I can come to any real conclusion. My main complaint would probably be that this book doesn’t feel like a stand alone; I didn’t understand what was happening for too much of it, and have the impression this is because there’s another book with the rest of the pieces. I suspect I’ll be back to update this review when I’ve put myself through the James Luceno pile.