Star Wars: Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader is a 2005 Star Wars Legends novel by James Luceno. It takes place in the immediate aftermath of the events of Revenge of the Sith—Darth Vader struggles to cope with his Emergency Transformation and identity crisis, while a group of rogue Jedi led by Master Roan Shryne deal with the fallout of Order 66.
The novel begins in the "final hours of the Clone Wars," contemporaneous with the latter half of Revenge of the Sith. Roan Shryne, Bol Chatak, and Chatak's Padawan Olee Starstone lead an incursion onto the Separatist world of Murkhana. Order 66 comes down during the battle, but a squad of independent-minded clone commandos, who have history with Shryne, disobey orders and allow the Jedi to escape.
A Time Skip of one month follows. The newly-Emperor Palpatine learns of the commandos' betrayal and decides to give Darth Vader the task of punishing them, in his public debut as Palpatine's enforcer. Vader discovers Chatak hidden among ordinary prisoners and kills her in a duel; Shryne and Starstone are again able to get away.
The rest of the novel juxtaposes Shryne and Starstone's attempts to meet up with other surviving Jedi and escape from under the Empire's thumb against Vader's obsession with completing their extermination, as a way of burying the lingering voice of Anakin Skywalker within him. Along the way, they cross paths with some rising stars in the newly minted Imperial Navy and the incipient Rebellion.
This novel contains examples of:
- Attack Its Weak Point: By constantly trying to hit the respirator controls on Vader's chest, Shryne forces Vader to adopt a specific defense that allows Shryne to try to defeat him by inflicting numerous minor injuries to Vader's prosthetic arms and legs. Once Vader realizes what's going on, however, he ends the fight by using the Force to barrage Shryne with more objects than he can destroy or deflect.
- Awful Truth: Vader tells a dying Shryne the entire terrible true story about Sidious, the Clone War, Order 66, and his own identity.
- Badass Arm-Fold: Vader, getting used to his armor, is learning which poses are most intimidating. He folds his arms often, and also plants his fists on his hips.
- Bad Boss: Vader suspects that Sidious had his life support and armour constructed with outdated, ill-fitting technology to punish him for needing it in the first place. Sidious, in turn, is annoyed that Vader failed to kill Obi-Wan, and is further annoyed by Vader's constant complaints about his suit. Eventually, Sidious gives him a scathing verbal beatdown.Sidious: Just image what Yoda might have done to you. Obi-Wan triumphed because he went to Mustafar with a single intention in mind: to kill Darth Vader. If the Jedi Order had showed such resolute intention, if it had remained focused on what needed to be done rather than on fears of the dark side, it might have proved more difficult to topple and eradicate. You and I might have lost everything. Do you understand?
Vader: Then I suppose I should be grateful for what little I have been able to hold on to.
Sidious: Yes. You should.
- Battle Amongst the Flames: Vader and Shryne's duel on Kashyyyk continues even as the Empire is bombarding the planet from orbit, blasting huge holes in the forest-city of Kachirho and setting what's left on fire.
- Benevolent Boss: His Bad Boss tendencies aside, Palpatine does everything he can to snap Vader out of his depression. Not because he cares about Vader's mental well being, but because he finds it counterproductive and annoying.
- Big Damn Heroes: When Vader has eliminated the other Jedi from the fight on Kashyyyk and is facing Starstone alone, Shryne pulls off a dramatic rescue, leaping from the Drunk Dancer's dropship, grabbing a fallen lightsaber with the Force, and killing Vader's chief stormtrooper in one motion, while Archyr picks off other troopers next to him, Guns Akimbo.
- Big Fancy Castle: The Royal Palace of Alderaan is a 700-year-old labyrinth of ballrooms, chambers, and turrets. R2-D2 leads Shryne and his team on a merry chase through the hallways while they're trying to find a fugitive Senator they've been hired to smuggle offworld.
- Blood from the Mouth: When Shryne coughs up blood, he realizes that he's ruptured vital organs in a fall and will shortly be dead.
- Break the Cutie: Starstone
- Broken Ace: Shryne. He was a leading commander and powerful Jedi in the early days of the Clone Wars, but he lost two apprentices in battle, and by the time of the novel is bitter and sick of fighting, with his emotional state also causing him to have difficulty using the Force.
- Call-Back: This novel contains several to Labyrinth of Evil and Revenge of the Sith, to the point where they were eventually marketed as a trilogy despite the latter being written by a different author (Matt Stover).
- Call-Forward: Acting as a sort of epilogue for Revenge of the Sith, this novel sets up many of the Original Trilogy's plot points.
- In his introductory scene, Roan Shryne has a Force vision of a battle on a forest world, with a lone figure tearing down darkness and an enormous explosion in the sky—foreshadowing the Battle of Kashyyyk at the climax of the book, and also an apt summary of the end of Return of the Jedi. As he lies dying, the vision returns to Shryne and he perceives that Vader will be at the center of it all—and that the Force will never fall to darkness forever.
- Mon Mothma appears as a young Senator and ally of Bail Organa. In Return of the Jedi and subsequent Legends works, she is a leader of the Rebellion. Garm Bel Iblis is another such Senator; in The Thrawn Trilogy he returns to the Rebellion after forming a splinter group.
- Bail Organa himself is a supporting character, reluctant to openly defy Palpatine along with Mon Mothma because of his duty to safeguard his adopted daughter Leia—still an infant, but carrying the hope of the galaxy.
- Darth Sidious, goading Vader, points out that if they were to come to blows, Sidious could easily short out Vader's suit with Force Lightning—exactly how Vader will eventually die.
- Palpatine assures everyone he will not disband the Senate. He keeps his word... until A New Hope when he disbands the Senate off screen.
- Palpatine reflects to himself that if he discovers Darth Plagueis's secret, he and Vader could rule the galaxy forever... if they don't kill each other first.
- Vader forms a Villainous Friendship with one Wilhuff Tarkin, newly promoted to Moff and already in charge of portions of the secret construction project that will become the Death Star.
- Chewbacca happens to be one of the Wookiees that Starstone's group of Jedi meet with on Kashyyyk. When the planet falls under attack, he winds up piloting their shuttle and escaping with them, explaining how he got into the smuggling business before meeting Han Solo.
- As Vader looks down at the dying Shryne, he anticipates looking down on a defeated Sidious the same way—he certainly will, but not for the reasons he thinks. He also plans to take on an apprentice with a "rebellious spirit" to aid him in that quest.
- The Emperor gives Moff Tarkin a bit of advice that informs his worldview and makes him the sort of person who, in A New Hope, will blow up a peaceful, heavily populated core planet as an intimidation tactic.Palpatine: What is one world, more or less, when the galaxy is being reordered?
Tarkin: ...I will bear that in mind, my lord.
- Following Vader's victory on Kashyyyk, Palpatine is satisfied that Vader will make for a good enforcer... until a more suitable apprentice can be found.
- In the final chapter, we see Obi-Wan Kenobi learn of Vader's survival in his vigil on Tatooine. His Spirit Advisor, Qui-Gon Jinn, advises him not to tell Luke the truth about his father before the boy is ready.
- Chekhov's Skill: Filli hacks into an abandoned Separatist base to use its communication suite, accidentally reactivating all of the base's defenses and battle droids. In the final battle over Kashyyyk, he uses that experience to reactivate an entire Separatist warship and send it at the Imperial ship keeping the escapees from getting away. The warship had been arming its Self-Destruct Mechanism when it shut down, but fortunately, Ramming Always Works.
- The Chessmaster: Palpatine had accounted for just about every variable when it came to Anakin's corruption, even predicting Vader would betray him the moment he returned from Mustafar and planning to have Padmé assassinated if Vader hadn't done it himself. The one thing he forgot to consider was the possibility of Vader's horrific loss against Obi-Wan.
- Clones Are People, Too: The clone troopers have unique personalities and disagree about how best to interpret orders. When Ion Team hears about Order 66 secondhand, they refuse to kill the Jedi they've worked under and allow Shryne, Chatak, and Starstone to escape. Shryne and Starstone experience strongly mixed feelings when they find themselves forced to kill other clone troopers to survive. Some clones even allow for a bit of levity; when Climber meets up with Shryne again, they share a common joke about how the clones are hard to tell apart.Shryne: The voice is familiar...
Climber: The face even more so.
- Colon Cancer: The novel avoids double colons (common in Star Wars works) by stylizing the title as Star Wars: Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader on the copyright page.
- Consummate Liar: Palpatine has the audacity to tell the truth about the Clone Wars—they were an enormous scheme to play the Republic and the Separatists off against each other by Running Both Sides, in order to amass greater power. But he plausibly accuses the Jedi of doing this (Wasn't Count Dooku a former Jedi? And wasn't the clone army commissioned by a Jedi?) when in fact he did it himself.
- Continuity Nod: Several of Palpatine's advisors have names that come up again in works set after Return of the Jedi, including Armand Isard and Sate Pestage.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: On Kashyyyk, several of the Jedi in Shryne's group try to tag-team against Vader. It ends with two of them dead and another four severely injured. Only Shryne himself provides Vader with an even match.
- Don't Call Me "Sir":
- Played with concerning Vader—one of the Imperial captains calls him "Admiral Vader" instead of "Lord Vader", but he thinks to himself that it's not worth bothering to correct the man as long as he takes orders.
- After Starstone's master is killed by Vader, she takes to calling Shryne "Master". He tells her to knock it off as he doesn't want anybody figuring out that they're Jedi—and possibly also because he hasn't gotten over losing two Padawans. Starstone still insists on calling him "Master".
- The Dragon: The Kashyyyk operation firmly establishes Vader as Palpatine's Number Two. When one captain questions his orders, Vader merely asks if the man would like to speak to Palpatine, causing him to quickly back down. Palpatine even tells Tarkin that his only concern is that the fleet commanders "obey Lord Vader as they would me."
- Even Evil Has Standards: Even though they're enemies, Vader disapproves of Shryne turning to smuggling. He outright tells him that it's unbecoming of a Jedi.
- Failure Hero: Vader sees himself as such at the beginning, and sinks into a depression that Palpatine finds irritating and counterproductive. He turned to The Dark Side to save Padmé, and what does he have to show for it? Padmé is dead by his own hand, as are most of his former colleagues, he himself has undergone an Emergency Transformation into a cyborg trapped in a walking iron lung, and his Master is also disfigured. The Emperor spends most of the book telling Vader to get over himself—the galaxy is theirs, they won.
- Famous Last Words: Shryne recalls his vision of several months earlier and perceives that Palpatine will not triumph in the end.Shryne: An explosion bright as a star. A forest world, intrepid defenders, escaping ships, and... you, I think, somehow at the center of it all. Skywalker, it won't matter if you find them. It won't matter if you find and kill every Jedi who survived Order Sixty-Six. I understand now... the Force will never die.
- Fate Worse than Death: An entire chapter is dedicated to describing how Vader believes death would have been preferable to his imprisonment in his suit, incapable of walking, talking, eating, or seeing on his own. As he grows stronger in The Dark Side and overcomes his depression, however, he comes to see the suit as merely an outfit, no longer limiting him.Above all, he thought: This is not living. This was solitary confinement. Prison of the worst sort. Continual torture. He was nothing more than wreckage. Power without clear purpose...
- Friendly Enemy: Shryne and Vader have quite a few exchanges that are dangerously close to a friendly conversation, if you ignore the fact that they're trying to kill each other.
- The Hermit: Obi-Wan is settling into his new life, watching over Luke from afar. As he told Anakin in Labyrinth of Evil, there are far worse places to live than Tatooine, and solitude suits him.
- Home Field Advantage: What the Wookiees have when the Empire assaults Kashyyyk. While they do have major spaceports, if real trouble comes around, they can quickly duck into the planet's deep forest, where they have a significant advantage over their attackers—unless said attackers burn down the forest itself.
- Hope Spot: Not three paragraphs after the Wookiees offer the Jedi safe haven on Kashyyyk, the Empire comes calling for them.
- Immortality Seeker: Darth Sidious's ultimate goal is to unlock the secrets of cheating death supposedly discovered by the ancient Sith. Now that he has the galaxy, he intends to rule it forever.
- The Insomniac:
- The novelization of Revenge of the Sith reveals that after he had his fateful vision of Padmé's death, Anakin swore off sleep to avoid any more prophetic dreams. A month after his Emergency Transformation into Darth Vader, he would like to sleep again, but still mostly cannot—what sleep he is able to get is full of indistinct nightmares and provides no rest.
- Ever since killing his own master in his sleep, Darth Sidious no longer allows himself to sleep at all, apparently relying entirely on The Dark Side to sustain himself.
- Jedi Mind Trick: Utilized by Chatak and Starstone in order to hold onto their Jedi equipment while disguised as ordinary prisoners. Shryne, seeing the diminishing of the light side of the Force as a personal failure, isn't sure he can pull off the mind trick at all, but successfully uses it on a guard in order to escape when the prisoners are set to be transported offworld.
- Just Between You and Me: Vader is agreeable to answering his Worthy Opponent's questions, but at least waits until Shryne is already dying before he reveals his and Sidious's true identities, as well as the truth of the war and Order 66.
- La Résistance: The Wookiees of Kashyyyk are well aware of the nature of The Empire, and equally aware that they will be targeted sooner or later. When the Empire does appear (using Starstone's group of Jedi as a scapegoat), the Wookiees immediately flee into the dense forests, ready to organize into guerrilla groups and outlast the Empire on their own turf.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Shryne and Starstone fall in with a crew of smugglers. Their captain Jula just happens to be Shryne's mother—his father had given him up to the Jedi over her objections. Jula is Force-sensitive herself and claims to have guided her ship to them on purpose.
- Mercy Lead: Climber and his commandos disable their fellow clones' equipment long enough for the Jedi to flee "for old times' sake," but warn them that they won't hesitate to engage if they catch up.
- Mighty Glacier: Vader's prostheses grant him immense strength, but initially slow him down. By the novel's end, however, he's learned to compensate for them and graduated to Lightning Bruiser.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Starstone's reaction when she realizes her unwitting role in the Imperial invasion of Kashyyyk.
- My Greatest Failure: Palpatine considers Vader to be this. He'd spent years moulding Anakin into the perfect Sith, only to have it all go to waste on Mustafar. He even considers just killing Vader, but decides against it since even in his crippled state Anakin is still obscenely powerful and there's no telling how long he'd have to wait until another strong Force user came along.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: It's made clear that this is how Vader sees Palpatine by this point. With everything he's lost, he has nothing left but the relationship with Palpatine, and his sole motivation by the end of the novel is eventually killing him.
- Never My Fault: Vader at one point contemplates who is to blame for his miserable existence. First he blames the medical droids for being incompetent, then he blames Palpatine, and finally he settles on blaming Padme and Obi-Wan for not having faith in him. It fails to even occur to him that maybe he is to blame for choosing to turn to The Dark Side and go on a murderous rampage.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: By going to Kashyyyk, the fugitive Jedi give the Empire an excuse to invade the planet and enslave the population.
- Not So Different: Vader sees his past self in Shryne, which is why killing him serves as an act of closure and lets him fully embrace The Dark Side.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Bail's reaction when he walks past a black-clad figure and hears the Stormtroopers address him as "Lord Vader".Bail felt as if someone had left the air out of him.
His legs began to shake and he grabbed hold of the platform railing for support, somehow managing to keep apprehension from his voice when he said to Mon Mothma: "You're right. Some Jedi did survive."
- When Obi-Wan realizes Vader is still alive, he panics until Qui-Gon's ghost tells him that Vader will never return to Tatooine.
- Bail's reaction when he walks past a black-clad figure and hears the Stormtroopers address him as "Lord Vader".
- Orbital Bombardment: Vader orders his fleet to pound all of Kashyyyk's cities with turbolaser fire from orbit after the Wookiees prove less willing to be taken captive than initially anticipated.
- Parrying Bullets: Four crack commandos refuse to accept execution from Vader. Two of them are dead within seconds when Vader deflects their own blaster bolts into their helmets.
- Permission to Speak Freely: Tarkin to Palpatine, on the subject of the fleet commanders' opinion of Vader (it's negative). The Emperor tells him to make it a habit.
- Pet the Dog:
- Vader is surprisingly lenient with Bail Organa for harboring Fang Zar. When Zar nearly escapes, Vader accepts Bail's word that he wasn't involved. Of course, he was actually with Organa at the time, and knows that he didn't have anything to do with it.
- Vader also expresses mild sorrow when Shryne kills Commander Appo, outright stating that he was fond of him.
- Powered Armor: Deconstructed Trope. The novel describes in loving detail exactly how uncomfortable Vader's armor and prostheses are. The author even consulted an employee of LucasArts who has worn the suit.
- Prophecy Twist: So far as Darth Sidious is concerned, the prophecy of the Chosen One is fulfilled—Anakin brought balance to the Force by facilitating The Dark Side's ascent to the top. Of course, the prophecy will twist back on Sidious come Return of the Jedi.
- Quit Your Whining: Sidious has to tell Vader this more than once.
- Ray of Hope Ending: Shryne and several of the Jedi fugitives are dead, Kashyyyk has fallen to the Empire with tens of thousands of Wookiees pressed into slavery, and Darth Vader has overcome his crippling depression and is ready to take his place as a full Dark Lord of the Sith. But Starstone and the remaining Jedi plan to continue working against the Empire, and Bail Organa and Obi-Wan Kenobi are watching over the twin infants in which the galaxy's hope rests.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Palpatine delivers one to Vader over his complaints about the flaws in his armor.
- Reforged into a Minion: The main focus of the book is Palpatine's attempt to restore Vader's confidence in himself and fully indoctrinate him into the Dark Side.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: After Shryne, Starstone, and Chatak escape Order 66, they receive a signal recalling them to the Jedi Temple. Starstone correctly speculates that all of the clones have turned on the Jedi, but thinks it's because they're in league with Count Dooku and the Separatists. They aren't, but their boss is.
- Scenery Porn:
- Alderaan is a jewel of a Core World. The Royal Palace is a Big Fancy Castle in the center of the capital city Aldera, which in turn is in the center of a mountain lake surrounded by picturesque peaks.
- Kashyyyk is described in lush detail. The capital city Kachirho's central tree is a multilevel edifice, with balconies, bridges, and walkways both inside the trunk and out, all carved from the living wood with intentional imperfections that draw the eye.
- Slow Walk: Due to the awkward construction of his leg prostheses, this is initially all Vader can manage without tripping. After becoming more accustomed, however, he keeps this up purely for the intimidation factor.
- Spirit Advisor: At the climax of the Revenge of the Sith novelization, the Force ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn came to Yoda, offering to train both Yoda and Obi-Wan to follow in his footsteps. Here, his voice speaks to Obi-Wan himself, calming him when Obi-Wan finds out that Vader survived Mustafar, and reassuring him that Luke is safe—Vader will never return to Tatooine, the planet that caused him so much pain.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Palpatine feels the need to spell out that the Imperial leadership is entirely human while claiming that he has no Fantastic Racism against non-humans, honestly!Palpatine: When have I ever shown myself to be intolerant of species differences? Yes, our army is human, I am human, and most of my advisers and military officers are human. But that is merely the result of circumstance.
- Taught by Experience: Vader's lava bath has forced him to rein in his temper and learn to affect a veneer of callousness.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Not being able to use Force Lightning, Vader hurls his lightsaber like a boomerang and uses the Force to turn it into a spinning plasma saw.
- Took a Level in Badass: Vader, as he becomes accustomed to his cyborg body, becomes increasingly competent and dangerous.
- Unwitting Pawn: Rather than capture the fugitive Jedi quietly, Moff Tarkin allows them to slip past an Imperial checkpoint in their disguised stolen shuttle, so that when they land on Kashyyyk he can accuse the Wookiees of harboring fugitives as a pretext to invade the planet and round up thousands of Wookiee captives to use for construction of the Death Star.
- Vader Breath: Vader himself hates it. His artificial lung is controlled by a computer that monitors his heart rate, so he has no voluntary control over his respiration, and the sounds and harsh sensations interfere with his attempts to sleep.
- Villainous Friendship: Vader forms an alliance with one Moff Wilhuff Tarkin. Tarkin proposes a plan that both completes Vader's Jedi hunt in a way that demonstrates his skills to the Imperial fleet command, enhancing his reputation, and provides skilled slaves for Tarkin's secret Death Star construction project.
- Villainous Valor: When Sidious threatens to fry Vader's suit, Vader tells him flat out that he's not afraid to die.
- Villain Protagonist: The novel focuses on the nascent Dark Lord's transformation from the shattered remnants of Anakin Skywalker to the confident, callous Sith Lord seen in the original films.
- Worthy Opponent: Shryne and Vader come to see each other as this. On Vader's side, this seems to be because Shryne reminds him of the Jedi he used to be, and he considers killing Shryne to have brought him closer to the dark side. When they finally duel, they are evenly matched in swordsmanship, and Vader only wins by withdrawing and using telekinesis to throw a storm of planks and splinters at Shryne.Shryne: I owe you a debt. It took you to bring me back to the Force.
Vader: And you to firm my faith in the power of the Dark Side, Master Shryne.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Shryne assumes that Vader is the Sith Lord who manipulated Palpatine into turning against the Jedi. Vader is quick to inform him just how wrong his assumptions are.Vader: It's thinking like that that blinded the Jedi to their fate.
- You Have Failed Me: Vader rightly suspects that Palpatine deliberately used outdated tech in his armour and made it nightmarishly uncomfortable to wear for this reason. Palpatine also threatens to fry Vader's circuits with Force Lightning when his griping gets on the Emperor's nerves.