A handout of cover art of the latest Star Wars...

A handout of cover art of the latest Star Wars novel, 'Darth Plagueis'. Credit: Random House/Daryl Thomen

“Darth Plagueis,” arguably one of the most anticipated “Star Wars” novels, was finally released on Jan. 10 after a four-year delay, and it was well worth the wait.

Author James Luceno worked with Lucasfilm to ensure "balance to the force," if you will, resulting in what I feel is the best “Star Wars” publication to date.

We all know the man in black himself, Darth Vader. In the movies, we followed him as Anakin Skywalker from his roots as a young boy on the desert planet Tatooine to his downward spiral into the evil Darth Vader.

It was the Sith Lord, Darth Sideous (then known as Chancellor Palpatine) who manipulated both Anakin and an entire Galaxy to become emperor.

But how did Sideous begin his rise to power?

In the film “Revenge of the Sith,” Sideous spoke to Anakin about "the tragedy of Darth Plagueis,” the story of a powerful Sith Lord who was able to command the power over life and death. He eventually was slain by Sideous, his own apprentice.

And that is where “'Darth Plagueis” begins.

The book answered a ton of questions for me that the prequel films created.

For instance, in the film “The Phantom Menace,” we are immediately introduced to a group of baddies known as the Trade Federation whom with an army of battle droids in hand invade the peaceful planet of Naboo. The movie throws you into the action so quickly that no back story is properly given to the cause of these events.

"Darth Plagueis" fills the gaps on how Naboo originally got involved with the Trade Federation in the first place and why the young pre-Oscar winning Natalie Portman's character Queen Amidala had every reason to have her feathers in a bunch. The book sheds light on Sideous’ secret plans to create what would become the Galactic Empire.

Luceno takes "Darth Plagueis" down the dark path and never looks back. There is no hero in the novel, just a merciless pair demonstrating their own lust for power and knowledge.

Fans of Sideous’ apprentice Darth Maul will be pleased to read about how he and then-Senator Palpatine met. Back stories like these add depth to characters we love to watch in the movies or see kids dressed up as on Halloween. "Darth Plagueis” does just that.

I highly recommend buying a copy as you prepare for the 3D re-release of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” in theaters February.  

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