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Cloak of Deception by James Luceno
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509719,954 (3.47)9
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Luceno provides another fun exploration of the Star Wars universe, filled with loved (and sometimes not so loved) characters and places.

Set shortly before the events of The Phantom Menace, the novel follows Qui-gon Jinn and his padawan Obi-Wan as they investigate a series of events tied to a terrorist organization protesting the actions of the Trade Federation. As Chancellor Velorum works to find a middle ground to bring the Republic together, advice from his trusted advisor Palpatine undermines his efforts. The Jedi are loath to interfere and to follow the paths Qui-gon takes based on his sense of the Force in the present. As Palpatine’s plots converge, he moves the Nebula Force, the Trade Federation, and the Senate like pieces on a chessboard. Even the Jedi council proves predictable, though Qui-Gon’s determination and willingness to ignore the High Council as he follows his instincts work to slowly level the playing field. ( )
  Ailinel | May 1, 2015 |
I knew when I bought this book that it would be a good one. I just knew it. Star Wars books are generally good quality, it's set in my favourite time-period of the Star Wars Universe, and was centered around political story-lines. As regular readers of my reviews know, I like to see politics and intrigue at work in novels. So I was hyped up to read it, and opened it a soon as I got home.

But somehow, something went wrong.

It took me three weeks to read the book. Now, books generally take me a day or two to read, (I read Gomorrah by Roberto Saviano in an afternoon - despite it being the type of book I least like to read). So for me three weeks to read a book is a bad thing. While I had been expecting to be unable to put it down, In truth I found it difficult to pick up.

The book has a very promising start. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, the heroes of Episode 1, are chasing after some mysterious pirate who attacked the Trade Federation. (This is set pre-films, so the federation aren't bad guys yet). And then it seems to go downhill from there. The action is sparse, or at least not interesting enough to keep me reading, and it seems that we know far too much of what's going on, as we see it from several points of view.

Now there is a twist at the end, which one would hope for, but not a major one, as given that it occurs so close to the first film, we know that, for example, certain characters can't die. Unfortunately, that seems to be all of the protagonists. Since it's likely that anyone reading the Star Wars books has seen the films, we KNOW that there is no danger to the characters. There is no suspense.

I'm not saying that all the star wars books should be about characters we don't know what happens to. Rogue Planet is a particularly good book about Obi-Wan and Anakin. But it needs to be done well. Indeed, it needs to be done better than other books, and has to be more in-line with the films. Which leads us to problem number 3.

The characters seem completely different in this book to the films. In particular Yoda, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, as well as Palpatine. Perhaps the latter can be excused, as he is seen in different circles in the film, but Yoda seems far too contrary to be in keeping with his character, Obi-Wan rather pathetic, and Qui-Gon seems to just like disagreeing for the sake of it.

The only non-original character I thought was done particularly well was Master Adi Gallia, as her friendship with Valorum and Qui-Gon was nicely written and well-placed.

This also brings us nicely to the original characters, which I have to admit, weren't bad. Cohl's team was interesting, and Havac was a fairly clever little devil, despite playing stupid. But for me even Cohl seemed a bit boring after a while, and it seemed almost as if the author had gotten tired of writing about him.

The story did pick up a bit in the last few chapters, which I was grateful for, as I wanted to read the books that had just arrived in the post, but not an awful lot. Enough to let me finish the book in one sitting, but not enough to redeem the book in my eyes.

If you're a collector of star wars books, and see it in a charity shop, I'd give it a go. If you've never read a Star Wars novel before, don't choose this one. It's not representative of the majority. I might read it again one day in the future, and perhaps I'll have a new insight, but today, I wouldn't recommend this except to a huge fan, and I'd warn them not to have high expectations. ( )
  AdamBourke | Mar 9, 2011 |
In short: Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and a group of other Jedi go after a terrorist organization that's bent on assassinating Supreme Chancellor Valorum. Or are they? The events in this novel set up the political atmosphere of The Phantom Menace: the Trade Federation's blockade of Naboo, Chancellor Valorum's ineffectiveness, and Senator Palpatine's ascendancy.

In that respect, this book was pretty cool. It does set up Episode I with a fair amount of exposition that was (thankfully) left out of the movie. Beyond that, it really doesn't do too much. None of the new or secondary characters (the terrorists, the Jedi) really stood out enough to be distinguishable from one another or to make it wholly clear exactly who was doing what and why. In fact, this was my second time reading this book, and I had only the vaguest recollection of the first time. That should tell you how memorable it is. ( )
  jonwwil | Dec 21, 2009 |
Took me awhile to actually get into this since it is more of a political story than anything, but it was still a nice read. For those curious about what happened before The Phantom Menace, this is a must read. Younger readers would have a hard time following along since the vocabulary is advance. I give it a 4/5 stars for a dry beginning and a rather abrupt ending, but a very good story line none-the-less. ( )
  ray72285 | Sep 17, 2009 |
originally written September 12, 2007

James Luceno's Cloak of Deception is the first novel in the Star Wars canon that takes place during Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum's reign. As the title implies, the story is filled with intrigue, mainly political, and the author includes descriptions of the characters' cloaks and whether or not they are the deceptive type among other things, which is a nice touch. Indeed, unless the reader is familiar with the characters in The Phantom Menace (novel or movie), s/he may have a difficult time keeping track of everyone involved in the story, as there are many central characters, some more so than others.

Although it has its share of Jedi wisdom; blaster and lightsaber fights; and other staples of Star Wars lore, Cloak of Deception is mainly a political novel, and in that, will appeal to those who aren't necessarily Star Wars fans through and through, so long as they are able to follow who's who: there are, after all, 1,024 senatorial delegates representing at least that number of planets in the Old Republic rather than a mere 100 senators representing 50 states. :) ( )
  bloggochicago | Oct 26, 2008 |
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Luxuriating in the unfailing light of countless stars, the Trade Federation freighter "Revenue" lazed at the edge of Dorvalla's veil of alabaster clouds.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345442970, Mass Market Paperback)

From New York Times bestselling author James Luceno comes an all-new Star Wars adventure that reveals the action and intrigue unfolding directly before Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Mired in greed and corruption, tangled in bureaucracy, the Galactic Republic is crumbling. In the outlying systems, where the Trade Federation maintains a stranglehold on shipping routes, tensions are boiling over?while back in the comfort of Coruscant, the hub of civilized space and seat of the Republic government, few senators seem inclined to investigate the problem. And those who suspect Supreme Chancellor Valorum of having a hand in the machinations are baffled?especially when Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi foil an assassination attempt on the Chancellor.

With the crisis escalating, Valorum calls for an emergency trade summit. As humans and aliens gather, conspiracies sealed with large sums of money run rampant, and no one is entirely above suspicion. But the greatest threat of all remains unknown to everyone except three members of the Trade Federation who have entered into a shadowy alliance with a dark overlord. While the trio will be content with more money and fewer problems, Darth Sidious has grander, far more terrifying plans.

It is a time that tests the mettle of all those who strive to hold the Republic together?none more so than the Jedi Knights, who have long been the galaxy's best hope for preserving peace and justice. Yet despite their most valiant efforts, the meeting will explode into fiery chaos beyond everyone?s worst fears . . .

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:35 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

As tensions build in the outlying systems of the Galactic Republic, Supreme Chancellor Valorum calls for an emergency trade summit on the planet Eriadu--but not even Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn nor his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi can foresee the chaos that will ensue--perhaps leading to war--caused by an alliance with Darth Sidious within the Trade Federation.… (more)

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