Leading directly into Revenge of the Sith, Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno takes Anakin and Obi-Wan on a hunt for the identity of Darth Sidious. This is the trail that could lead them to unveiling their foe before he is ready. While most of us already know who that is, sometimes the journey is even more important than the ending. In this case, the adventure for Anakin and Obi-Wan gives us a rare glimpse of their friendship and teamwork between Anakin’s knighting and the opening of Revenge of the Sith.
The humor is what I really loved most about Labyrinth of Evil. Obi-Wan and Anakin’s teamwork and banter as we saw in the beginning of Revenge of the Sith are something we really didn’t get to explore much. Here we see why Obi-Wan called him a good pilot, and a good friend. It’s more than a bit disturbing to see how deeply connected he already is to Palpatine, but its revealing and sad that the Jedi don’t sense the danger, not in time.
The machinations of Darth Sidious as he adapts to this unplanned threat of exposure are masterful but also remind me of Return of the Jedi when he was occasionally taken off guard, such as Luke being on the rebel team that went to Endor.
I liked Padmé’s part in this, however small. It sets up the idea that she, Mon Mothma and Bail Organa were already concerned about Palpatine as suggested in cut scenes. And it also makes sense that the battle coming to Coruscant effected the likes of the rest of the Senate. There are hints that might be about her pregnancy here, but only hints. Padme feels Anakin and he in turn senses something changed with her. This has Labyrinth of Evil matching the suggestion of what we see in Revenge of the Sith. I wouldn’t have minded having more of her in here particularly toward the petition of 2000 that got cut from the movie.
Labyrinth of Evil is chock full of references to events in the entire Clone Wars multimedia project. You don’t have to have read (or watch, or play) the other stories to enjoy the book, however.
Labyrinth of Evil Trivia:
While Luceno didn’t talk to Lucas directly, he did talk to Matthew Stover as he wrote the novelization for Revenge of the Sith. Stover in turn, when talking to Lucas, shared Luceno’s questions and got answers for him.
According to The Essential Reader’s Companion, an early draft of Labyrinth of Evil was the base for the third season Genndy Tartovsky’s Clone Wars (available on the second DVD). However the latter focused more on the action side. The different scheduled release dates for the two projects explains some of the discrepancies (more on that in the next section.)
This was released in hardcover, paperback, abridged audiobook, and also was part of the Dark Lord Trilogy, which included Revenge of the Sith novelization by Stover and Dark Lord: Rise of Darth Vader, also by Luceno. Germany got a full audio drama version.
Labyrinth of Evil Continuity
This is officially set 19 years before ANH. Storywise the novel Yoda: Dark Rendezvous comes right before, and the movie and it’s adaptations of Revenge of the Sith afterwards.
This is chock full of references to the Multimedia project (which includes books, comics and games) and I doubt I caught them all.
With Revenge of the Sith
Labyrinth of Evil explains what triggered the attack at the exact time it happened. But it also has lead ins to things later cut from the movie. For instance, the Petition of 2000 and the Senators who were beginning to be alarmed by Palpatine’s alterations to the core ideals of the Republic. This involved Mon Mothma, Padmé, Bail Organa and others, and would lead to the very early beginnings of resistance and the Rebel Alliance.
Other Movie Tie ins
Attack of the Clones “The Works” is named here. In the movie it was seen as the location Dooku met with Sidious. It’s also visited by Quinlan Vos in the comics, features in the console game ‘Bounty Hunter’ and is a playable level in Star Wars the Old Republic.
Part of Obi-Wan and Anakin’s trail to expose Sidious involves disabling a particularly strong tractor beam, implied to be the predecessor of the one on the Death Star in A New Hope.
With the Genndy Tartovsky Clone Wars Microseries
While the exact locations at exact times of the characters during the battle of Coruscant sometimes clash, one can assume all the events happen although the timeline is just a bit disjointed.
The only really big issue is that in the novel, Mace Windu arrives after Grievous fled with Palpatine. According to the interviews on the extras DVD, Tartovsky’s team was told at the last minute that Grievous would have breathing issues in the Revenge of the Sith that they would need to explain, since he featured in the previous season. One can make an educated guess from this that if Luceno was told, it was probably too late for him to make the changes before the book was published.
Labyrinth of Evil does mention many of the previous events of the first 2 seasons (first DVD) of the Microseries, including Yoda’s battle on Ilum, the Battle of Muunilinst led by Anakin and Obi-Wan, Kit’s heroism Mon Calamari and Mace’s adventures on Dantooine.
Direct mentions to Asaaj Ventress and her fate, the events of Oma D’un (where they first met her) and Chancellor Valorum’s suspicious death are all from Republic Comics.
The Storm Fleet is from the Hasbro Dark Horse comics that came with the Clone Wars toys.
Belderone, which features prominently here, first appeared in Classic Marvel comics.
Events mentioned included Grievous’s past from the Story of General Grievous by Abel G. Peña from Star Wars Insider and Aayla’s mission to Corellia from Illusion Elusion, also in the Star Wars Insider.
The mission to Vjun in Yoda Dark Rendezvous comes up. Indirectly, Labyrinth of Evil supports the idea expressed by Anakin in the Jedi Quest books that he doesn’t particularly want to be the Chosen One. At least that is how I read it.