Book Review: Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown

Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber

Set before the events of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, this new novel is a thrilling follow-up to Star Wars: Darth Plagueis

It's kill or be killed in the space penitentiary that houses the galaxy’s worst criminals, where convicts face off in gladiatorial combat while an underworld gambling empire reaps the profits of the illicit blood sport. But the newest contender in this savage arena, as demonic to behold as he is deadly to challenge, is fighting for more than just survival. His do-or-die mission, for the dark masters he serves, is to capture the ultimate weapon: an object capable of obliterating the Jedi and conquering the galaxy.

Sith lords Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious are determined to possess the prize. And one of the power-hungry duo has his own treacherous plans for it. But first, their fearsome apprentice must take on a bloodthirsty prison warden, a cannibal gang, cutthroat crime lord Jabba the Hutt, and an unspeakable alien horror. No one else could brave such a gauntlet of death and live. But no one else is the dreaded dark-side disciple known as Darth Maul.

  
I have been enjoying the latest Star Wars books a lot, they offer a great out of the movie experience. Most of the ones that I have read all feature on the Rebel and Jedi side and not so much on whats happening over at the Sith. Here Maul: Lockdown offers the perspective of the Dark side. When I looked at the cover and saw Darth Maul staring back at me I actually got the creeps. I only know him of the movies and he is a piece work. When I read that this book takes place before The Phantom Menace I got even more excited, I am always eager to learn more and more about the Star War universe.

Where many of the Star Wars stories that I have read so far takes you to different locations, Maul: Lockdown takes place in one single location that of the space prison, Cog Hive Seven. Maul has been sent here by the Lord Darth Plagueis and Sidious in order to make contact with an infamous armsdealer Iram Radique, from who he is to acquire a weapon that will bring down the Jedi's once and for all. But the search for Iram proves to be much more difficult as Maul cannot reveal who he truly is, he may not use the force not his lightsaber to safe himself, this could call unwanted attention. What also doesn't work in his favor is that the warden favors him in the internal prison fights. Maul walks a deadly path amongst the galaxies worst scum. Though the focus is on Maul and finding Iram Radique, there are a few side stories that nicely broaden the scope of the main storyline of Maul: Lockdown. Drawing away the focus somewhat from Maul but still moving the story forward added much more flavor to the story as you get to see how some of the "innocent" and less violent prisoners perceive all that goes on about in Cog Hive Seven. This also gave some breathing space as the action tends to get pretty intense when Maul takes to the center stage in battle.

There are dark places and there are dark places and you have Cog Hive Seven. Joe Schreiber is also known for his Death Trooper book where zombies play a main element, and some of such a horror/thriller element is nicely interwoven in the story of Maul:Lockdown. In describing the prison Cog Hive Seven, it's dark and narrow corridors and internal politicals leaves a dark and gritty impression on the story which is even more so bolstered by the viciousness of several characters. Even though the story only takes place in such a small confinded area, Joe Schreiber makes the stage large and due to the internal prison problems it's always in motion adding a nice dynamic swing to the story, there really isn't a boring moment within the this story. 

As for the characters that you follow in Maul: Lockdown, I have already mentioned that the focus is on Maul. You know for me he has always been this creepy character from the first time that I saw him in the movies, with those horns and his red/black face. This is just how Joe Schreiber brings his character over, the ruthlessness that you have gotten to learn about Maul is precisely what you get. In Maul: Lockdown he is also a man of few words but his actions speak for themselves. He is constantly searching for a way to get to Iram Radique but kept at a standstill as nothing is working in his favor and though he is a powerful users of the Dark Side Force he isn't allowed to use it and this strain is directly noticeable on his personality and actions. How would you go about when you aren't allowed to use where your good at? There are a few interesting moments in Mauls character when he is on the edge of breathing his last breath where you get to see past the viciousness and ruthlessness of his character and see a more vulnerable Maul. This was directly to my liking, I never had to opportunity to see him like this, but once he recovers... he is back to the same old Maul. There are some other characters that have a short focus in the story but aren't as well represented as Maul. First you have the Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious, I knew a bit about there characters and how they have acted in the Star Wars universe and was definitely pleased to read about their scheming with Darth Maul and how they send him message and forced him to go forward. it was more in the way how they brought these messages that it proved that you should mess with them, else it will turn out bad for you, really, really bad. you also have the addition of Jabba the Hut, yes that ugly big fellow, though his appearance is also very brief, his dialogues that followed produced so many cool imaginative scenes with his talk and personality from the movies just great stuff. And last but not least were the inmates Arthrax and Eogan Truax, father and son. They proved an interesting point-of-view. Arthrax was a former Bando Gora and it somehow feels that he wants to redeem himself, Arthrax is locked away with his son Eogan and does everything not see his son get hurt. There are some nice more sensitive moments in their view points that amidst the brutal action gave a needed change of pace and sense. 

In the ending of the story of Maul: Lockdown, Joe Schreiber throws everything into one action packed rapid. No one is safe from destruction and everyone seems to look at for themselves and makes sure that he or she survives. However unlucky for the prisoners is that they have explosives placed in their hearts... that with the push of a single button can be made to explode and Maul has one too... It's a great race to the finish and one that will bring you to the edge of your seat!

Maul: Lockdown is a unique book for me amongst the other Star Wars books that I have read so far. I hadn't read a Dark Side focused book before and liked where Joe Schreiber took his story surrounding Darth Maul. What might sound like a straightforward story with Maul having to contact a shady arms dealer, soon turns out to contain many more different elements. Yes it has soem pretty dark, gritty and vicious scenes when it comes down to the battles in the arena between Maul and his opponents, however when the heat of the action cools down there is a nice story unfolding not only about Maul's character but also surrounding several other inmates, and this really helped to create just the right atmosphere. To top this all off, the story took place in a relatively small area, the Cog Hive Seven but Joe Schreiber build this prison in a great way showing an environment that's always in motion and far from boring. These Star Wars books that take place outside the movies really help to bring back the classic Star Wars feeling, they are relatively short reads but are a lot of fun to read!     

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