Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Dooku: Jedi Lost


The earliest canon book in the Star Wars chronological beyond Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm (although the High Republic books will beat it out later in 2020), Cavan Scott’s story distinguishes itself from most other literature in the science-fiction franchise with its dialogue-centric drama format, preceded by a helpful list of dramatis personae. Serving as a frame for the central story is Count Dooku’s apprentice, Asajj Ventress, haunted by the voice of her former Jedi Master Ky Narec, as she wanders the Count’s fortress. Dooku disciplines Ventress with Force lightning, with his familial ties among many reasons behind his fall to the dark side.

Ventress learns the history behind her Master, starting in the city Carannia, capital of planet Serenno, Dooku’s homeworld, which was hosting a showcase for the galaxy, an opportunity for the planets of the Outer Rim to demonstrate what they could contribute towards the growing Galactic Republic. At the time, Dooku, along with his friend Sifo-Dyas, is a Jedi Initiate who doesn’t want to remain holed up on the vessel Ataraxia during the Celebration. Dooku’s father, Gora, mocks the idea of “safe and reliable hyperroutes” the Republic advisors advocate, with his wife and children looking around the festival.

The android D-4 unsuccessfully tries to babysit Gora’s children, whom the Jedi’s lightsaber demonstrations awe. Dooku senses something in the girl Jenza, having no familial ties on account of his being brought to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant as an infant. Jenza’s purse is stolen by a Hoopaloo, with her brother coming to her rescue, after which the two traverse the fair together, Jenza taking the boy who she doesn’t know at first is her brother to the Great Assembly. A groundquake destroys the building, although Jenza saves Dooku’s life at the near-cost of her own.

Dooku eventually discovers his familial ties, which distresses Jedi Master Yoda, and in spite of the Jedi’s forbiddance of contact with relatives, Dooku remains in touch with his sister Jenza. Yoda tells Dooku about statues that represent disillusioned “Lost” Jedi, which inspires him to visit the Bogan Collection with Sifo-Dyas, where forbidden Sith artifacts exist. Thanks to Dooku’s phantasmal encounter with an imaginary beast, the two are caught, and punished to work in the Archives under Restelly Quist. There, Dooku senses something amiss with Jedi Master Lene Kostana, who seeks a special text and is thus suspected to be a Sith Lord.

Dooku finds a hero in Kostana, and becomes apprentice to Master Yoda, Dooku’s initial days of training being somewhat confounding, given Yoda’s focus on meditation and ignorance of his disciple. Dooku eventually gets the point and proceeds with his tutelage, and years later, Sifo-Dyas has a premonition of millions dying on the planet Protobranch, the Jedi Council apathetic towards this potential plight. Lene Kostana disagrees with the Council’s apathy, believing foresight should be acted upon, and the mission to the doomed planet remains a secret, with a solar storm indeed causing chaos on Protobranch.

Sometime later, Lene aids in the training of Dooku, although his contact with his family is discovered, with tragedy striking at this time that necessitates a visit to the world of his ancestry, Serenno, who inter their dead on the smallest of their moons, the Funeral Moon. Protestors show disdain for the ruling family of the planet that puts them in danger, although Dooku ultimately returns to his Jedi training, visiting the forested planetoid Asusto, where he hears prophetic voices, some hinting at the return of the thought-extinct Sith, and Sifo-Dyas continually haunted by foresight.

Before Dooku takes Qui-Gon Jinn as his apprentice, he trains Rael Averross, and at one point when Dooku serves as Qui-Gon’s Master, the pair suspect the Jedi Arath as treasonous, interrogating him about things such as the Solodoe seal. Dooku’s brother Ramil eventually shows up on Coruscant for the forty-eighth Dragonfire Rally, where sabotage occurs that necessitates Dooku and Qui-Gon visit a security station and find connections to a criminal named Cenevax. As Asajj Ventress learns the history behind her Master, she deals with conflict on her own, at one point going after a sniper, and interacting with Dooku’s sister Jenza.

The final act of the book opens with Dooku imploring the Galactic Senate to reconsider its cuts to the trade route defense program, although Chancellor Kalpana disagrees, and the Jedi Council doesn’t help. Afterward, Dooku learns of conflict on his homeworld, and he goes there to play his part, with his relations to his family, particularly Ramil, put to the test, and instrumental in his departure from the Jedi Order and eventual fall to the dark side. The story ends on a somewhat confounding note, with Ventress departing a building doomed to explosion.

All in all, being a true enthusiast of the Star Wars franchise that, unlike many so-called fans, actually respects creator George Lucas, I reasonably enjoyed this book, which gives excellent backstory on the enigmatic Count Dooku and somewhat fills in a few holes that the movies admittedly leave. The structure as a play rather than a traditional prosaic novel very much fits the tone of the science-fiction franchise, although it’s certainly not without its flaws, such as the arcane nature of the ending and the general lack of description as to the appearances of many characters that can make imagining the action difficult at points, but it’s very much an enjoyable canon book.

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