Literature: Dark Rendezvous

Yoda: Dark Rendezvous is a Star Wars Legends novel by Sean Stewart. Thirty months after the Battle of Geonosis, Count Dooku sends a message to Master Yoda, claiming to be tired of a war that has spun out of control and caused untold devastation to the galaxy. Dooku offers to meet with Yoda to negotiate an end to the conflict, and despite the possibility of treachery Yoda decides that the possibility of ending the war and redeeming his former apprentice is worth the risk.

The book delves into the relationship between Dooku and Yoda, as well as some of the philosophical differences between the light and dark sides of the Force. There's also a related B-plot that involves two young Jedi apprentices named Scout and Whie Malreaux, both of whom have their own struggles to deal with even as they are assigned to accompany Yoda on his dangerous mission.

Also, despite the title, there's a number of light-hearted and humorous scenes in the book involving "goofball Yoda" which harken back to the scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke Skywalker first meets Yoda.

Yoda: Dark Rendezvous provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: A standout is Scout and Whie's discussion of his two recent prophetic dreams while they're fixing the ship, and whether (as Whie believes) they indicate that he will fall to the dark side.
  • The Alleged Car: After Ventress attacks a spaceport to get to them, Yoda's party buys a used freighter rather than continue to rely on public transportation. Yoda insists on using as little of the Temple's money as possible, and they end up with a piece of junk so old it can't even get off the ground until the Padawans spend a whole day repairing it.
  • All There in the Manual: Supplementary material divulges that Scout is close friends with Ahsoka Tano, Hanna is actually terrified that she will die on the battlefield and lashes out at Scout in an attempt to cover for it, and Whie is actually the young boy that Anakin is seen killing in the holo recording during Revenge of the Sith.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Surprisingly, perhaps, Yoda expresses this philosophy in response to Whie's angst over Ventress's nihilism. Yoda admits that in his darkest moments he doubts that the Force has a greater hope for the galaxy, but then, what difference does that make? One must live life to the fullest anyway.
    Yoda: Grief in the galaxy, is there? Oh, yes. Oceans of it. Worlds. And darkness? [points to a star map] There you see: darkness, darkness everywhere, and a few stars. A few points of light. If no plan there is, no fate, no destiny, no providence, no Force: then what is left? Nothing but our choices, hmm? Asajj eats the darkness, and the darkness eats her back. Do that if you wish, Whie. Do that if you wish. To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light, or darkness, Padawan. Be a candle, or the night, Padawan: but choose!
  • Bad Boss: Darth Sidious embodies this trope, in a spectacular combination of Mean Boss, Manipulative Bastard, and For the Evulz, as he plays sadistic and cloying mind games with Dooku throughout the novel.
  • Badass Grandpa:
    • Dooku not only holds his own against Yoda but brings Ventress to her knees by lifting one finger.
    • Yoda lays waste to Ventress's droids, uses the Force to seal a hole against the vacuum of space, and drives Dooku to retreat in their final duel.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Chateau Malreaux. Also a name to run away from, since "Malreaux" is only a few letters away from "malheureux", which is French for "unhappiness".
  • Book Ends: The novel opens on a symbolically rich Coruscanti sunset, while Padmé watches a ship land at the Jedi Temple, disappointed that it's not Anakin's. The last passage is dawn on Coruscant, as Padmé finally sees Anakin's ship returning home.
  • Born Winner: Whie Malreaux is said to be just one step below Anakin Skywalker in terms of potential, but carries it better—pays more attention to detail, doesn't show as much pride or temper.
  • Breaking Speech: Yoda and Count Dooku get dueling speeches that also serve as each other's Shut Up, Hannibal!
  • Call Forward: Common in Prequel-era books.
    • Obi-Wan knows Anakin has someone back on Coruscant and covers for him, though he knows Anakin won't thank him for it later. Dooku's housekeeper Whirry offhandedly foresees Dooku's demise as "death from a high place" and "the easy destruction of a faithful servant," which is mentioned again by Ventress when she tells the Count that Sidious will kill him when he's not useful anymore. Master Maruk, saddled with Scout as a Padawan, thinks that she's incredibly brave and determined but will probably be dead in six months—the book is set exactly six months before Revenge of the Sith. (Ironically, Scout does survive Order 66, getting rescued by the Mandalorians in Imperial Commando: 501st.)
    • In a conversation with Maks Leem, Yoda half-jokingly suggests moving the Jedi Temple off Coruscant, to "Somewhere wet. Somewhere wild," with fewer machines and artificial structures. In about six months, Yoda will go into exile and spend the rest of his days in one such place (Dagobah), and later, Luke Skywalker will establish a new Jedi Academy in another (Yavin 4).
    • The ecological disaster on Honoghr was introduced in The Thrawn Trilogy, and while it was established that the original incident was during the Clone Wars, and that the Empire uses the disaster to manipulate the native Proud Warrior Race, whether it was deliberate or an accident is not known. In this book, the Jedi decry the Separatists' devastation of the world, which is mentioned offhand by Dooku to be quite deliberate—a test run by General Grievous of a bioweapon he wants to use in the Outer Rim campaigns.
  • Cassandra Truth: Both Whirry and Ventress warn Dooku that Sidious is eventually going to eventually screw him over.
  • Choke Holds: Weak, but Skilled Padawan Scout has a particular move where she can grab someone's throat, cut off the blood flow, and render them unconscious in seconds without permanently damaging them. She uses it in Padawan tournaments to great effect.
  • Colon Cancer: The book's full title is Star Wars: Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, plus the subtitle A Clone Wars Novel on its cover and title page, but not the copyright page.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Scout. Her less-than-average sensitivity to the Force has led her to learn, research, and utilize every dirty trick she can in order to keep up with her classmates.
  • Cool Old Guy: YODA.
  • Death World: Vjun, which is steeped in The Dark Side thanks to an atrocity that killed everyone on the planet and rendered most of it otherwise uninhabitable anyway.
  • Determinator: Scout is weak in the Force, but refuses to fail. She's kind of the Jedi Batman—Scout makes up for her weak, unreliable powers by training harder than anyone else, at everything, and by the time the tournament comes around she's studied all of the other Padawans and made plans for how to take them down. She's spent time burning herself with her own lightsaber in order to get used to the pain.
  • Do You Want to Haggle?: Yoda does, every chance he can get. It's very hard to get the better of a Jedi Master of Yoda's caliber, and he quite enjoys this fact. In this case, he gets a fantastic bargain on a used freighter—because it doesn't fly anymore. But that's okay, Scout and Whie can fix it up in no time!
    Yoda was a gleeful, cranky, relentless bargainer who thought haggling was fun. So much of bargaining is about patience, and bazaar-stand shysters on a hundred planets had learned to their sorrow that one doesn't know what patience is until one has tried to outlast an eight-hundred-plus-year-old Jedi skinflint.
  • The Dreaded: Sidious to Dooku, Ventress to the Jedi Order at large—especially the Padawans.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: A special Force talent of Whie Malreaux. The dreams are described as terrifying—while he's dreaming, he's stuck in his future-self's head, and says it's like being buried alive in his own body. Sometimes the panic is strong enough to wake him up.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Whirry Malreaux, which doesn't help her madness at all.
  • Flaw Exploitation: A good part of how Scout wins.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Jai Maruk's death. Frustrated at how his skill and the light side of the Force are not enough to overcome Ventress, he nearly gives in to the dark side, but resists, and finds it within himself to redouble his efforts, holding his foe off for that much longer. It's enough to put a smile on his grim face when he finally falls.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told:
    Nobody would ever know how close Jai had come to giving in to the dark side. Nobody but Maks would ever know he had resisted at the end. In a few minutes they would both be dead, and to the universe, his choice would make no difference at all.

    To Jai Maruk, it meant everything.

    For the next thirty seconds he fought more beautifully than he had in his life, and when Asajj finally cut him down, he was smiling.
  • Guns Akimbo: When Anakin and Obi-Wan arrive at Vjun, the former leaps out of their ship and attacks a squad of battle droids in this way. Considering that he has a lightsaber, this is a rather odd thing for him to do. Perhaps he's just showing off.
  • Heel-Face Door Slam: Dooku seriously contemplates turning back to the Light and Yoda makes a serious effort to convince him to do so. Spoilerhe doesn't.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Vjun seems to specialize in these. The Chateau Malreaux, built across the Bay of Tears from the city of Bitter End, right next to the mouth of the River Weeping? Best vacation spot EVER! The Chateau's own cellar is known as the Crying Room, for some reason.
  • I Know You Know I Know: The premise of the novel. Dooku has set a trap for Yoda under the pretense that he wants to return to the Light Side, or is at least willing to negotiate. Yoda knows it's a trap but goes in the hope that he can turn him anyway, since as Qui-Gon puts it, "He thinks he's lying" and really does sort of regret becoming an evil Sith Lord. Of course, Dooku knows that Yoda will know it's a trap and knows that Yoda is only coming because he wants to turn him, and in turn Dooku wants to turn Yoda to the Dark Side and possibly justify himself to his old master, since he secretly sort-of knows that he really does want to turn back to the good guys...
  • Jerkass: Darth Sidious, more than usual. Jai Maruk, Mace Windu, and Padawan Hanna to a lesser extent.
  • Last-Second Chance: For Dooku to perform a Heel-Face Turn.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Dooku, Ventress, Scout, and Sidious all have their moments. In her sparring battles with Pax and Whie, Scout exploits their kindness to win the contest. Dooku exploits both Yoda's eagerness to end the war and their personal history to lure him to Vjun. Sidious exploits Dooku's jealousy of Anakin by sending Anakin to support Yoda, ensuring that Dooku will be too angry to return to the Jedi. And Ventress exploits Whie's affection for Scout and Fidelis during their confrontation.
  • Mood Whiplash: This novel gets silly at times. And then Ventress and her assassin droids storm in and start killing people to get at our main cast.
    • Yoda and Fidelis's feast for the Padawans swings between appreciation of the food, a somber toast To Absent Friends Maks Leem and Jai Maruk, Whie and Scout shouting at each other over the loss, fear of Yoda when he demonstrates his power after Whie shouts at him, and Whie falling into despair, only for Yoda to shake him out of it by laying out his views as The Anti-Nihilist. All in the course of four pages.
    • Yoda is merrily stringing Dooku along, asking for the dark side to grant him things that sound ridiculous on the face of it. Dooku exhorts him to wish for something else, such as to be safe and free from fear, and suddenly Yoda is bitterly recounting all that he has loved and lost, knowing he will never be safe from loss like that. When Dooku encourages him to be angry about it, then, Yoda uses lighting and his voice and a touch of the Force to grant Dooku a vision of just what would happen if he did fall to the dark.
  • Mundane Utility: Yoda, fed up with how long the Padawans are taking to get lunch, uses a Jedi mind trick to swipe a soft drink from a kid (it's okay, 'cause the guy's kind of a jerk). However, he refuses to do the same while haggling over the cost of a used starship, a far more important task, saying it would disrespect the Force and his opponent. The Padawans suspect that the real reason is that Yoda thinks haggling is fun, and doesn't want to ruin the experience by cheating.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Thanks to nudging from Palpatine, Anakin and Obi-Wan go to try and help Yoda. Count Dooku learns of this while in the middle of deciding which Master he should ultimately follow, knowing that Sidious will discard him eventually and Yoda will forgive, and when he finds out, his jealousy of the young prodigy and of the attention both Yoda and Sidious give Anakin is sufficient to prevent Dooku from completing a Heel-Face Turn; he and Yoda stop debating and start fighting. Of course, Palpatine is Sidious, so this is possibly a subversion, not so much because the Big Bad instigated it as because Dooku might have deduced who really sent them (then or later) and knew that Sidious was reminding him just how tight the leash is.
    • Anakin, facing droids that have cover and a superior position, tosses a grenade into their cave without considering who else might be inside. He ends up collapsing most of the cave system, nearly killing Scout and Whie, and unknowingly driving them into Ventress's clutches that much more quickly.
  • No More for Me: Yoda, disguised inside a droid chassis, uses the Force to telekinetically seal a security droid inside a bathroom stall after failing to evade pursuit by said droid. This strange sight is witnessed by a heavily intoxicated onlooker, who promptly pours the remainder of his drink down the drain.
  • Noodle Implements: An AI operating a security camera on the low-end commercial transport the Jedi are using is dim enough to be little more than a glorified smoke detector, and ignores any suspicious activity not involving a fire risk, including "several spectacular thefts and one rather amusing con game featuring a fish, a diamond, and two deaf-mutes."
  • Nostalgia Filter: Maks Leem, a Gran Jedi who goes with Yoda, doesn't like how the Jedi seem to be moving away from being peacekeepers and towards being soldiers. She often waxes nostalgic about how the students used to have time for gardening, hand-mending their robes, and games; now they have to spend all that time on hand-to-hand combat, small-unit tactical training, and military infiltration exercises.
  • Not So Different: Dooku suggests that this may be the reason he dislikes Anakin to Yoda.
  • Oh Crap!: Dooku, when he gets just a glimpse of what it might be like if Yoda ever went to the dark side.
  • Overly Long Name: Tallisibeth Enwandung-Esterhazy. No wonder people call her Scout.
  • Place of Power: Vjun's population had always had a high percentage of Force-sensitives, and then the Viscount Malreaux conducted an experiment to unlock Force potential in the rest. It went horribly right; those who weren't killed outright went mad and murdered each other. Vjun is now steeped in the dark side, one of the reasons Dooku chooses it as a retreat. All Jedi visitors, even the Weak, but Skilled Scout, have their powers amplified on Vjun, and those who are already strong and prone to the lure of the dark, such as Whie and Anakin Skywalker, find themselves capable of amazing feats.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Scout, to Jai Maruk, when he falls in battle just after they'd finally connected as Master and Padawan.
    He was smiling. She didn't think she'd ever seen him smile before. Tears welled up inside Scout. "Don't try to talk. It will be all right, Master. Master Yoda will be here soon to take care of you." Tears dropped from her eyes onto his shattered chest. There was a long hitch in his breathing. His eyes closed. "Master Maruk? Master Maruk! Don't go," Scout cried. "Don't leave me!"

    His eyes opened, and he smiled again. "Never...," he whispered. "... my Padawan."

    His eyes closed, and he was gone.
  • Prophecy Twist: Whie knows he'll be killed by a Jedi, and that he'll be surprised. He thinks this means that he'll go to the Dark Side and someone he knows will kill him. In actuality, he gets killed by Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker in the Jedi Temple, as witnessed after the fact by Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Invoked by Scout, who makes up for her lack of strength in the Force by doing things her opponents don't expect, such as grabbing their (training) lightsaber by the blade.
  • Sadistic Choice: Dooku sets one up for Yoda as his escape plan, in the same way he did during their duel in Attack of the Clones but on a larger scale—he launches a missile at his own castle, and gives Yoda the choice of killing him and allowing the missile to hit, or saving the other Jedi while Dooku escapes. Yoda is briefly tempted to choose the former, but in the end easily nudges the missile off course while Dooku makes his getaway.
  • Shout-Out: The character of Evan Chan is a reference to a murder victim in the Alternate Reality Game The Beast (used to promote the movie A.I.: Artificial Intelligence), for which Stewart was the head writer.
  • Space Elves: The Arkanians are well known for their arrogance; two Arkanian Jedi each display it in their own way. The Padawan Hanna Ding looks down on Scout for her weakness in the Force and Combat Pragmatism, and an Arkanian Knight leaves the Order over conscientious objection to the war. Obi-Wan and Anakin try to change her mind but their arguments are rather easily defeated.
  • Tearjerker: The scene where Master Maruk dies.
  • Tradesnark™: Played for dark humor when Solis learns what it means to hate.
    The great thing about Einblatz/Docker ultrahigh-fidelity auditory sensors with built-in real-time sonographic analysis software and HyperBolic™ directional virtual-mike capability, Solis thought savagely from his hiding place on the other side of the cellar door—as Fidelis's death scream went on and on—is that one can set them to mute.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Scout is this trope. The Force comes to her intermittently and with great effort, and so Scout has learned every skill and scrap of knowledge she can in order to remain a Jedi Padawan without relying on it.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Ventress warns Dooku that Sidious will eventually pull this on him. He doesn't listen.