It’s time for Star Wars to get political!
Cover Art By: Steven D. Anderson
Written By: James Luceno
A subject you will often hear me talk about, or rant about as the case may be, is the idea of Star Wars as only one type of story. Nothing upsets me more than hearing that Star Wars is an action-adventure story and that’s it. The truth of the matter is that Star Wars is action-adventure, comedy, family drama, political thriller, horror, hard science fiction, dark fantasy and any other story genre you can think of. It can be and is often many of those things at once, but it’s also often the case that Star Wars fans aren’t willing to acknowledge this or end up hating stories that aren’t made in the action-adventure mode. I am not one of those fans, I want my stories to be varied and a Star Wars universe full of disparate stories only makes me happy.
If you are searching for an example of the varied nature of the Star Wars universe then you need look no further than Cloak Of Deception. There is a little bit of action-adventure in Cloak Of Deception, but for the most part it is a political thriller. But, it isn’t just a political thriller, it’s a nicely constructed political thriller. The machinations of various political figures and entities are at the heart of Cloak Of Deception and James Luceno weaves a compelling series of events where who is behind what and for what reason is never obvious. You want to see the machinations to their end because they are intriguing and draw you in, as a matter of fact I found myself drifting away from the story any time that it turned into more of an action set piece as opposed to focusing on the politics at hand.
Luceno shows in Cloak Of Deception why he is, at times, an author I am quite fond of. He takes the story in some interesting directions and very slyly asks philosophical or political questions that most people are afraid to ask of the Jedi. First you have the friendship of Adi Gallia and Supreme Chancellor Valorum, a friendship that isn’t given a seconds thought by the other Jedi, at least as far as we are made aware. They wholeheartedly questioned the relationship between Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker from day one, but in Cloak Of Deception they appear to be okay with a similar relationship between Jedi and politico. If they aren’t in fact questioning Gallia’s ties to politics in any way, then this adds more fuel to the idea of the Jedi as hypocrites.
However, nothing adds more fuel to the idea of Jedi as hypocrites than the final pages of Cloak Of Deception. The Jedi Council agree that they must use secrecy and subterfuge to help keep Valorum in power. They do this without knowing of his innocence, they don’t even wait for any sort of trial to take place. The Jedi have tied themselves to a government and are constantly telling anyone who will listen that the rules and laws of said government must be followed. Apparently that doesn’t apply to the Jedi who can shuck the laws and rules of their sworn government when it suits their needs.
I focused on the two examples above because I am not a fan of the Jedi and love when they are shown to be hypocritical, but moreso because Cloak Of Deception shows how an author can put a negative spin on the Jedi without bludgeoning you over the head. James Luceno tackles the idea of the Jedi as hypocrites in subtle fashion, presenting the information in a matter of fact style and allowing the readers to form their own judgments. Contrast this with the work of say, Karen Traviss, an author who beats you over the head with the idea of the Jedi as corrupt and evil so much so that the message loses any punch, as well as a great deal of validity.
Up to this point I have been exceedingly positive towards Cloak Of Deception, but that’s not to say there weren’t a few flaws to be found. Most were minor, but I did have issues with the way the inner monologue’s of Senator Palpatine were handled. When he is thinking he’s written as if he is a completely separate person from Darth Sidious, and that didn’t jive with me. They are one and the same, when delving into the inner thoughts of Palpatine you are looking into the brain of Sidious as well. Palpatine was handled perfectly from a political perspective, but the inner monologue portions were handled in less than convincing fashion.
It’s not All The President’s Men, but Cloak Of Deception is a darn good thriller. It handles politics in a devious and scheming manner, the way politics are in real life, but a way they are rarely seen in Star Wars. Cloak Of Deception is interesting throughout, and always manages to deliver moment of intrigue after moment of intrigue. It may have a few flaws, but Cloak Of Deception is a novel that belongs near the top of any Star Wars fans must read list.