Did you ever hear The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?
Darth Plagueis is a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel by James Luceno set during the final decades of the Old Republic (beginning approximately 67 years before the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope). The plot concerns itself with the life and times of the titular character, Darth Plagueis, and his dual efforts to conquer the galaxy and achieve immortality through manipulation of the midi-chlorians that connect the Force to its users. After betraying and murdering his way to the head of the Sith Order, Plagueis's journeys lead him to discover a young noble named Palpatine. Sensing enormous potential in the youthful malcontent, Plagueis ensnares Palpatine in the Sith ways and grants him the Sith title of Darth Sidious. The remainder of the book concerns itself with the relationship between these two Sith Lords and how their pursuit of power disrupts The Force and inevitably leads their fruitful partnership to a lethal conclusion.Darth Plagueis is pivotal in that its content is heretofore unexplored. The history of the saga's Big Bad is detailed, as are new insights (as experienced through the eyes and actions of the Sith) to galactic events that lead to the Empire's rise. The novel spans decades and even encroaches well into the events of The Phantom Menace, featuring (to varying degrees) characters like Chancellor Valorum, Count Dooku, Darth Maul, Jabba the Hutt, Nute Gunray, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker.Tone-wise, Darth Plagueis is more cerebral, with more emphasis on history, mysticism, and politics than outright action, affording it a similar nature to Luceno's other prequel-era Palpatine-centric novel, Cloak of Deception. It was released January 10th, 2012.
The novel contains the following tropes:
A God Am I: Plagueis is hellbent on securing immortality, as he believes it will make him this.
Sidious/Palpatine eventually declares himself to be the Sith'ari, which is basically the Sith version of God.
Above Good and Evil: One of the reasons Plagueis is intrigued by Palpatine is that he seems to have transcended notions of morality.
All There in the Manual: Kinda. While Darth Plagueis can stand on its own, several short stories were published concurrently in novel reprints and the Star Wars Insider (Matthew Stover's The Tenebrous Way and Luceno's own Restraint and Endgame). They expand on the roles and actions played by Darth Tenebrous and Darth Maul during the course of the book. It's justified given that the novel's focus is Plagueis and Sidious.
Always Chaotic Evil: The Yinchorri, as explained in their wookiepedia article, believes that anything that they can take with force is theirs. Plagueis and Sidious manipulated this into a conflict which resulted in the deaths of a fair amount of Jedi and the degradation of Valorum's reputation, setting the stage for Palpatine's ascension to Supreme Chancellor.
Ambition Is Evil: Palpatine, Gunray, Dooku, Veruna, Pestage, Doriana, Jabba, etc. Pretty much everyone with at least one line in the book.
The Antichrist: Palpatine is introduced as a young son of a nobleman who exhibits prodigious intellect and a proportionately high disregard for common morality. He is also said to be a delinquent, having a history of petty crime and being directly responsible for the deaths of two individuals as well as someone who is willing to murder his entire family without too much prompting.
In the prologue, Palpatine admires the constellations that dot Coruscant's eastern sky just before the sun rises, i.e. the ''morning stars''. If that's not Revelation-y enough for you, he refers to the Dark Side in his thoughts as the "beast" that will bring about the "end times".
Arc Welding: In addition to numerous references to other SWEU works that don't go beyond a Shout Out, the novel ties previously standalone Episode I tie-ins into a coherent scheme of Sith machinations.
In particular, the events in novels Cloak of Deception, Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter and Darth Maul: Saboteur and comics Jedi Council: Acts of War, Darth Maul and Bloodlines from Star Wars Republic were all previously known to fit into the Sith Grand Plan somehow, until this novel tied them all together and explained the exact role each of those events had.
Big Bad: Plagueis, as the titular character and Master of Palpatine, appears to be this at first. At the end of the novel, however, it becomes all too clear that Darth Sidious had usurped the mantle long before his own ascent.
Book of Sith, a supplementary text on all things Sith released not long after Darth Plagueis, goes one step further by implying that Plagueis was never the Big Bad at all, being played like a violin by Sidious even prior to his apprenticeship.
Luceno seems intent on removing any potential doubt that Darth Sidious is the pinnacle of this trope for the Star Wars mythos. As an example, it turns out Palpatine was the one who engineered Padme's campaign for the throne of Naboo. While this may not seem to be a big deal in and of itself, when you consider it along with the events of the films, the impact speaks for itself.
Plagueis himself is a skilled one, to a lesser extent. He was involved in the incident at Galidraan that began Dooku's dissent with the Jedi and, more importantly, was the one who gave Sifo-Dyas the suggestion to clone an army for the Republic....
Bear in mind that the climax reveals that these things as well as a lot more had in fact been manipulated by Sidious himself.
Palpatine becomes one over the course of the novel assuming, of course, that Palpatine wasn't already one from the start.
The Chosen One: Both Palpatine and Plagueis are anxious and obsessed with meeting Anakin Skywalker.
Namely, the reason they want to meet him is because he's not only the result of a botched experiment, but also the one destined to destroy them due to the midichlorians retaliating for the unethical experiment.
Continuity Cameo: A lot. Sifo-Dyas, Qui-Gon Jinn, Wilhuff Tarkin, Finis Valorum, etc.
Continuity Nod: Tons and tons, on the verge of Continuity Porn. Luceno gets an A+ for effort: the plot intricately weaves itself in with Cloak of Deception and The Phantom Menace. To get a general idea, about 99,8% of all names in the book are from previously established sources, sometimes so obscure the larger Expanded Universe ignored them all they until now.
Curbstomp Battle: Plagueis vs. Captain Lah and the crew of the Woebegone. A 17-year-old, untrained Palpatine vs. his family and their bodyguards.
The Dragon: Maul to Sidious. Sate Pestage and Kinman Doriana each serve as this in the political arena.
Even Evil Has Standards: When Tenebrous accessed Force Foresight upon possessing Plagueis, he ended up foreseeing Plagueis's murder at the hands of Darth Sidious/Palpatine, and it was strongly implied that Tenebrous was horrified not just at the apprentice's murder of Plagueis, but also at how evil said apprentice was.
Veruna flat out admits that if he had known Plagueis was a sith from the word go he would never have thrown his lot in with Plagueis no matter how desperate. In his own words "political power is one thing but this....."
Evil Mentor: Tenebrous to Plagueis, Plagueis to Palpatine, Palpatine to Maul.
Evil Plan: The Sith Grand Plan to conquer the galaxy begins in earnest here, and in surprising detail.
The Force: The prequel films mention repeatedly that the Force is imbalanced and that the dark side is ascending. The origin of the imbalance begins in this book.
Foreshadowing: An Itkotchi prophetess foresees the ensuing Clone Wars, Order 66, Galactic Empire, Death Star, and Galactic Civil War. Needless to say Plagueis moves quickly to silence her; Palpatine reminds Anakin that he will monitor his career with great interest; Master Sifo-Dyas is persuaded that the Republic needs an army....
Foregone Conclusion: Any fan who has seen Star Wars Episode III knows what happens to Darth Plagueis at the end.
Luceno even opens with the immediate aftermath of Plagueis' murder, refusing to play it as a twist or give it a sense of false suspense. What the reader doesn't realize until the climax is that how Palpatine killed Plagueis isn't important. It's where and more importantly,when.
Freudian Excuse: Unambiguously averted. Unlike his predecessor Bane, young Palpatine's feelings towards his family are a little...extreme. To elaborate, Palpatine's father does hate him, but for the simple reason that Palpatine has transparently hated him from the moment he was born (though his dad covering up his crimes did help Palpatine develop an "I can do no wrong" mentality).
Palpatine: It's ironic. He could save others from death, but not himself.
Irony: Cosinga Palpatine mentioned at one point that House Palpatine was one of the six gates that prevented Chaos from being unleashed in mythology. Now, take note that Chaos is presumably the Nabooian and Force-user equivalent of Hell. Palpatine (the eldest son)/Darth Sidious basically ends up unleashing Hell, thus undoing the Palpatine legacy.
Mythology Gag: Plagueis is very specific in the type of immortality he's pursuing. He wants his body to live forever in good health and refuses to pursue shortcuts like transferring his essence into another being or a series of cloned bodies. His apprentice on the other hand...
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Sidious and Plagueis just had to upset the order of the midichlorians in a botched experiment of crafting a Sith Weapon. Well, it certainly bit them in the butt afterwards when the midichlorians retaliated by creating Anakin Skywalker to destroy them once and for all.
Likewise, after the attempt on his life, Plagueis actually forsook sleep since he feared that he'd be killed in his sleep. He ultimately proved to be right. Unfortunately, Palpatine ensured he fell asleep by having him get drunk by Sullustian Wine before he made his move to kill him.
The Sociopath: The nicest thing you can say about Palpatine. He really was just born a bastard.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: By making it apparent that Plagueis was the one who planted the seeds for the events of the Prequels, as opposed to Sidious, some feel that it ruins Sidious's character, preventing him from actually being the grand chessmaster that the movies made him. Then again, in his final speech to his master, Sidious claims that he was the one who planted the seeds with Plagueis acting as an Unwitting Pawn who, in Sidious' words, "thought [they] were your ideas when in fact they were mine, cleverly suggested to you so that you could feed them back to me". Ultimately, the question boils down to whether the reader is able to buy Sidious' claim.
The Starscream: Plagueis to Tenebrous, Sidious to Plagueis; averted with Maul and Sidious.
Ironically, it becomes apparent that Sidious had in fact been manipulating Plagueis ever since the latter first initiated him into the Sith.
Plagueis to Tenebrous is somewhat of a deconstruction of the trope, as not only was Tenebrous anticipating that Plagueis would betray him, he actually was glad that Plagueis finally acted on his desire to murder him, and his only regret was that Plagueis didn't act on the starscream tendencies years earlier.
Start of Darkness: Dooku and Gunray all the way. To a lesser extent, Palpatine, who was sociopathic from the very beginning.
Arguably, one for Sate Pestage as well. Plagueis had given Palpatine Pestage in the belief that he'd be useful to the Sith Lord, and while he wouldn't be called 'innocent' he probably wouldn't have become so twisted if he hadn't been under the influence of the Sith Lords. Since he was, fast forward a few decades later and he becomes Grand Vizier of the Galactic Empire.
Sure, Why Not?: Reportedly, James Luceno was originally reluctant to cast a Bith as a Sith Lord (Darth Tenebrous), but eventually concluded: "What the heck."
Sympathy for the Devil: Averted, with the possible exception for Darth Maul and Nute Gunray. Maul was raised a Sith from birth and Gunray's ambition was relentlessly exploited.
Possibly played slightly straight with Darth Plagueis, however: Plagueis literally was destined to become a Sith before he was even born, meaning he literally had no other choice to be anything except to be a Sith, if supplementary items for the novel (such as the Tenebrous Way) are of any indication.
Plagueis also has one after learning of Anakin's existence. He becomes coarse and blunt when demanding a meeting and actually shows genuine fear when it's revealed that Anakin is being considered as a candidate.
Wicked Cultured: Evil has never been so prominent in the EU as it is with Darth Plagueis, and little to none of it is thuggish.
Wham Episode: The entire book, but especially the last third where we learn Sidious didn't kill Plagueis years earlier as fans had always believed. The Muun is alive well into the climax of Episode I before the apprentice makes his move.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of 11-4D after Sidious murders Plagueis. Sidious says he will give 11-4D a new body, but there's no sign or mention of him in the post-Episode I literature. According to Luceno, he likes to think that 11-4D is one of the droids that gets the drop on Aurek Team in Labyrinth of Evil and is present when Anakin is put into his armor.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Given that the central characters are Sith, this is standard operating procedure. Plagueis does this to Darths Tenebrous and Venamis, as well as all of Venamis's potential apprentices. Karma's a cold bitch, however, as King Veruna of Naboo and his cabal of toadies attempt to do this to Plagueis's alter-ego, though it fails horribly. And just when things seem to be absolutely peachy for the reigning Sith Master, Sidious makes his own move....