Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy by Jason Fry

Are you a Clone Wars junkie? If you are than you may be impatient to know what is going to happen in Season Five of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. If you do want to know what happens and don't mind spoiling the content of the episodes, then this is a great little book to read.

Originally scheduled for a September 2012 release, Shadow Conspiracy is a novelization of four episodes from The Clone Wars. These episodes include the season premier "Revival," as well as "Eminence," "Shades of Reason" and "The Lawless." I was able to find Shadow Conspiracy in stock at, but it's current release date is listed as January 2013, so it may not be widely available at this point.

Each episode takes between about 40-50 pages to tell in the book with the book weighing in at 184 pages in total.

If you have watched the Season Five trailer it is clear that this is going to be the "major" arc of the season, bringing together in a dramatic brew the Sith, the Mandalorians, the criminal underworld, and of course the Jedi.

This book seems to be a pretty close adaptation of the episodes based on reading Part I: Revival after having viewed the episode. There are some parts in the book, such as some timeline and back ground on the Mandalorians that I think is an addition that probably won't end up in the actual episodes.

The weakest of the four sections is probably the one based on "Eminence." The downside of The Clone Wars' 22 minute run time is that sometimes stories are compressed and events occur too quickly. To this reader some of the events in "Eminence" need more space between them.

The sections based on "Shades of Reason" and "The Lawless" are simply awesome. The action ratchets up and many things change, many characters are tested and fates are laid.

These stories really give Obi-Wan a chance to shine and in an the midst of these dark and dramatic stories, it is Anakin who is used to bring some levity to the episode. A nice choice based on the pair's relationship even this late in the Clone Wars and so close to Anakin's fall.

I have no doubt that Mandalorian fans will be very split over these stories. I am a huge fan of the culture that was crafted around these armored warriors. When The Clone Wars introduced the New Mandalorians and their pacifist way, there was much gnashing of teeth and digital moaning and groaning. I have long suspected The Clone Wars introduction of the pacifist Mandalorians was not the big deal it seemed, I have been waiting for a Mandalorian Civil War to return the Mandalorians to something much closer to the Expanded Universe version of the culture. As much as I expected events to unfold, I was still surprised at how exactly it played out and there are two specific choices that some fans will freak out about.

If you have watched the Season Five trailer, then you have seen Darth Sidious dueling with Maul and Opress, I won't give away the story, but I will say that assuming the episodes end at the same point as this book, Season Five will be ending in a bit of a cliff hanger.

In the end this is a great book for kids because the story is pretty dynamic and will keep their attention. For the adults this will be a very quick read and enjoyable as Fry does not dumb down his writing. The only caution I would have is not to expect the kind of embellishment you get in an adult novelization such as Matthew Stover's Revenge of the Sith novel.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy is published by Scholastic with a cover price of $5.99.

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