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 likelihood 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 are 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?
- Armor-Piercing Question: Ventress asks one to Dooku about his relationship with Sidious. Despite his charisma, Dooku can't come up with any response, and changes the subject.Ventress: Fine, fine, take your shots. You're just buying time now, because I'm right. Ask yourself one question—ask it from the dark side, look at it clear-eyed, Count. Your master uses you now because he is beset by dangers. What happens when you are the most dangerous being left standing?
- 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.
- Batman Gambit: It's implied that Sidious sending Anakin to Vjun is really Sidious pulling this on Dooku—he knows Yoda has a fair chance of turning Dooku back to the Light, so he sends Anakin (whom Dooku is jealous of) to spoil the process. It works.
- Being Evil Sucks: A running theme throughout the novel. Despite all of Dooku's power, and skill, and armies, and riches, he's still just a hollow instrument for Sidious to play. Similarly, despite how powerful and deadly Ventress is, she in turn is nothing more than just a useful tool for Dooku. And deep down, she knows it. Despite all the might of the Dark Side, it still can't create anything beautiful.Yoda: I want...I want a rose.
Dooku: Be serious.
Yoda: Serious am I! Another rose, make for me!
Dooku: The dark side springs from the heart. It isn't a handbook for cheap conjuror's tricks.
Yoda: But like this trick, do I! The trick that brings the flower from the ground. The trick that sets the sun on fire.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Yoda is funny, and silly, and eccentric, and has very strange taste in food...but he's also a master of the Force and the lightsaber, and you really do not want to get him angry.
- 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".
- Bookends: 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 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.
- Complexity Addiction: Dooku thinks Palpatine suffers from this, musing that it would be simpler to just have the Separatists' droid army win the Clone Wars rather than go through so many covert manipulations.
- 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.
- Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Whie lashes out at Yoda in grief after Maks Leem's death, accusing him of not caring since he's seen so many Jedi come and go. Yoda sets him straight—he cares just as much as Whie does, multiplied by every Jedi he's lost over the centuries, and carries on anyway."Teach me about pain, think you can?" Yoda said softly. "Think the old Master cannot care, mmm? Forgotten who I am, have you? Old, I am, yes. Mm. Loved more than you, have I, Padawan. Lost more. Hated more. Killed more." The green eyes narrowed to gleaming slits under heavy lids. Dragon eyes, old and terrible. "Think wisdom comes at no cost? The dark side, yes—it is easier for them. The pain grows too great, and they eat the darkness to flee from it. Not Yoda. Yoda loves and suffers for it, loves and suffers."
- 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 largeespecially the Padawans.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: A special Force talent of Whie Malreaux. The dreams are described as terrifyingwhile 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.
- Eccentric Mentor: Yoda seldom shows off the lighter side of his personality in other Legends works, but here, the "kooky little green gnome" persona from The Empire Strikes Back is not an act, but truly how he behaves when he can afford to be less than serious. He teases other Jedi, fights a cafeteria droid who tries to take away his "inedible" food, steals some kid's soda, and haggles gleefully over a ship that can't fly. Consider this bit of wisdom, which Yoda delivers as only he can:"A band around her heart there has been, years on years. And now she feels it loose, and the blood running back into her heart: stings it does!"
"Yes!" Scout cried between sniffles. "Yes, exactly! ... How did you know?"
Yoda scrambled up onto the bed and sat beside her, letting his little legs dangle in space. His ears perked. "Secret, shall I tell you?" He leaned in close, so she could feel his whiskers rasping against her face. "Grand Master of Jedi Order am I!" he said loudly right in her ear. "Won this job in a raffle I did, think you?" He snuffled and waved his stubby fingers in the air. "How did you know, how did you know, Master Yoda?" he said mincingly, followed by another snort. "Master Yoda knows these things. His job it is."
- Even Evil Has Standards: Dooku gets a glimpse of what would happen if Yoda ever fell to the Dark Side: a Sith of such immense power and so corrupt and evil that Sidious himself would be annihilated before him. He doesn't like what he saw.
- Eviler Than Thou: Dooku realizes he was a fool for trying to turn Yoda to the Dark Side for this exact reason: if Yoda ever fell to the Dark Side, Sidious would be nothing in comparison to what kind of power and evil he'd be capable of.
- Flaw Exploitation: A good part of how Scout wins.
- Foreshadowing: Ventress' Armor-Piercing Question is going to come back to haunt Dooku in a major way in six months' time, not to mention Whie's "I'm so glad you're not here to kill me!" statement.
- Graceful Loser: Pax the young apprentice Scout beats in the first round of the tournament using trickery note . He holds no grudge against her for it and even when another apprentice speaks up saying Scout should be disqualified he quickly defends her actions saying it's his fault for forgetting the rules and she won fairly. After Scout wins the tournament he cheers for her and tells her how much she taught him about being a great Jedi.
- 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.
- HeelFace Door-Slam: Dooku seriously contemplates turning back to the Light and Yoda makes a serious effort to convince him to do so. Spoiler—he 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 is lying," but 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...
- I Surrender, Suckers: Scout sort of pulls this to win a match in an apprentice competition, dropping her lightsaber and bowing to her opponent, then grabbing him when he goes to shake her hand. "Sort of" because she doesn't give the actual surrender signal, which would of course automatically end the match. Her opponent, being a friend and a gracious type, takes this as a useful lesson in paying attention.
- Jedi Mind Trick: The novel twice shows us the perspective of the tricked.
- In her first round of the apprentice tournament, Scout is up against a boy who's hard to fight because he's just so likable. Before the match starts, she gets the idea that she could throw the fight, stop worrying about the tournament, and share in the enjoyment of her foe's victory. It seems like such a good notion that she almost goes through with it, until (it is implied) Yoda breaks his hold over her. He didn't mean to influence her; he just radiates likability in the Force. Scout gets him back with the I Surrender, Suckers trick. A Continuity Nod is given to the Trope Namer from A New Hope.Scout: [laughs and waves her hand] This is not the victory you were seeking.
- Played for Laughs when Yoda goes out looking for food on a starliner, disguised as an R2 unit.Donni gulped as the top of the little R2 swiveled around and locked onto his eyes. A queer, almost glassy feeling came over him, and then, as if by magic, two ideas popped vividly into his head, one after another. The first was that actually, when you got right down to it, Chuck was kind of a creep, and it would serve him right if some R2 unit stole his drink. The second was: What drink?
- In her first round of the apprentice tournament, Scout is up against a boy who's hard to fight because he's just so likable. Before the match starts, she gets the idea that she could throw the fight, stop worrying about the tournament, and share in the enjoyment of her foe's victory. It seems like such a good notion that she almost goes through with it, until (it is implied) Yoda breaks his hold over her. He didn't mean to influence her; he just radiates likability in the Force. Scout gets him back with the I Surrender, Suckers trick. A Continuity Nod is given to the Trope Namer from A New Hope.
- 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 HeelFace 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 and Dooku's conversation goes from levity to despair over two pages, then becomes genuinely frightening. 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.
- Muscles Are Meaningful: Scout is a Rare Female Example; to compensate for being weak in the Force, she has developed as much muscle mass as a slim-built girl of fourteen can have.
- Nice Guy: Pax Chizzik is described as such with Scout saying "Everyone liked Pax", however even though he is extremely charming and friendly he also does not seem to fully control his powers yet and subconsciously uses the Force to MAKE people like him.note
- 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 HeelFace 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.
- Anakin, when the whole cave system begins to collapse because of the grenade he had thrown.
- 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.
- Pressure Point: Another specialty of Scout's in Padawan tournaments. An apprentice's lightsaber doesn't do him much good if his arm is too numb to hold it.
- Prophecies Are Always Right: Whie's dreams of the future may be confusing or lacking in detail, but they invariably come true sooner or later.
- 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.
- Several minutes earlier, he uses a similar tactic, throwing Whirry out of the window and making Yoda divert his attention to saving her, while Dooku attacks him. Seems to be his trademark trick.
- Sarcasm Mode: Being in an almost constant state of this is the Phindian species' hat.
- 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.
- Dooku says that the Force isn't a "handbook for cheap conjuror's tricks," a subtle one to Gandalf's famous line: "Do not take me for some conjuror of cheap tricks."
- 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.
- Spirit Advisor: Building off the quick hint in Attack of the Clones, this novel contains a scene in which Yoda and the Force ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn confer over the sincerity of Count Dooku's offer of peace. Being both one with the Force and Dooku's former apprentice, Qui-Gon has a dual insight into the Sith Lord's state of mind.
- Tearjerker: The scene where Master Maruk dies.
- To Absent Friends: After Maks Leem and Jai Maruk fall to Ventress, as soon as Yoda's remaining party gets a moment of peace, Yoda arranges a small feast and a (non-alcoholic) toast in their honor, taking advantage of Fidelis's cooking skills.
- 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.
- What If?: Dooku gets a look at "What if Yoda fell to the Dark Side?" He'd become a Sith of such unbelievable power and evil that Sidious would be completely annihilated. Dooku is horrified.
- 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.