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Literature / Darth Plagueis

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Darth Plagueis is a Star Wars Legends 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 in Revenge of the Sith. 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.

There is one other interesting facet to note here: this book was one of the very last released prior to the "Great EU Canon Reset of 2014", meaning it is, strictly speaking, under the Legends banner and not the new canon banner. However, unlike most other EU sources, the very first pieces of "true canon" non-movie material, especially the novel Tarkin (also by Luceno), reference huge chunks of this book outright, reincorporating elements from it into the Disney canon almost immediately. While the book itself has not yet been formally "rescued" from Legends wholesale, it does seem as if it is at least Broad Strokes canon to the new Disney continuity.


See The Darth Bane Trilogy, a series of Star Wars novels which also serve as the backstories for two Sith Lords that would come to influence politics and galactic affairs.

The novel contains the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: After interrogating the Gossams, Plagueis abandons his investigation into who hired Subtext Mining to assassinate Tenebrous. Dialogue later in the book — and interviews with Luceno — implies that it was probably Kerred Santhe II.
  • Abusive Parents: Even if he has good reasons to disapprove Damask's influence on his son, Cosinga is too overbearing and emotionally distant for Palpatine to see him as another thing than a petty despot, a clash not helped by Palpatine's juvenile arrogance and Cosinga's own perceivable hypocritical traits. Then, during their travel to Chommell Minor, Cosinga seals it by openly admitting to have always hated Palpatine and fantasized to have him killed, even although moments before he had just accused Palpatine of the same towards him. Depending on how you interpret him advancing towards Palpatine right after, he might have finally decided to act on this, which would turn Palpatine's first murder into a bout of self-defense.
  • A God Am I: Both Plagueis and Palpatine, at different points, declare themselves to be the Sith'ari, which is basically the Sith version of God. There's a difference, though: Plagueis does it in a symbolic way, being actually skeptical of the concept, while Sidious does it wholeheartedly. This continues a Running Gag where the only Sith who doesn't consider themselves the Sith'ari is Bane, who was the actual subject of the original prophecy.
  • Above Good and Evil: One of the reasons Plagueis is intrigued by Palpatine is that he seems to have transcended notions of morality. Plagueis himself believes in the idea, claiming that what makes one person better than another is how much their actions benefit him.
  • The Ageless: Plagueis would undoubtedly prefer Complete Immortality, but is in fact desperately seeking this.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Once Plagueis is skunk-drunk on Sullustan wine, he passes out, at which point Sidious butchers him by blowing up his breathing apparatus with Force lightning.
  • All There in the Manual: 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. It also helps if you're at least vaguely familiar with the basic plots of Darth Maul's Dark Horse comic, Shadow Hunter, Cloak of Deception, and Jedi Council: Acts of War (although the relevant parts get summarized). The last third happens concurrently with the events of The Phantom Menace and simply skips anything shown directly there without explanation, although if you hadn't seen that why are you even here?
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Yinchorri believe 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.
  • A Man Of Wealth And Taste:
    • Darth Plagueis is said to be well-dressed. It's nearly written word-for-word in the form of an uncharacteristic Shout-Out - "A Muun of wealth and taste."
    • Palpatine qualifies as well, having come from a very wealthy and prestigious family on Naboo.
  • Ambiguous Situation: While Plagueis is undoubtedly a genius, proving that Sidious was actually telling the truth when he said his master could save people from dying, it is Plagueis' fighting abilities that are left unclear here. He never duels any character that would appear in other works so we can compare their power levels, and Sidious only kills him when he cannot fight back easily. The only indication of his real power, however, would place Plagueis in a Badass Bookworm role not very far from the level of Sidious himself, as the latter obviously respects his abilities, and ultimately chooses to play it the safest possible when he murders him.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Plagueis, Palpatine, Gunray, Dooku, Veruna, Pestage, Doriana, Jabba, etc. Except by Padmé, pretty much everyone with at least one line in the book regardless of their alignement.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Darth Tenebrous is seemingly forced to relive his own death forever in an endless Stable Time Loop. The very Trope Namer even gets quoted. By this point, the only hope Tenebrous has is that if his maxi-chlorians ever die, then he will die as well.
    • Darth Venamis is subjected to an artificial version of Tenebrous' fate by Plagueis.
  • And Show It to You: Plagueis actually rips out a primitive alien's heart in a fight.
  • The Anti-Christ:
    • 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 family (not just his hated father, but his entirely family with him) 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 inhis thoughts as the "beast" that will bring about the "end times".
  • Antagonist Title: Darth Plagueis is the Greater-Scope Villain of the Prequel Trilogy and the main focus of the novel.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Palpatine, definitely. Dooku, not yet, but already on the road.
  • 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 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.
    • The scene when his mother gave Maul to Sidious ties in to the Nightsisters-arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, explaining how and why was Maul Separated at Birth from his fraternal twin brother Savage. However, considering the possibility that The Clone Wars might have revealed Talzin to be Maul's true mother, the character of Kycina shown in this novel might have been retconned as being lying all along.
  • Archaeological Arms Race: Discussed as a possibility to recover lost Sith teachings, but dismissed by Plagueis. All of the known Sith sites have been thoroughly plundered multiple times over the millennia, so all that's left now is angry ghosts.
  • Asshole Victim: Cosinga. Not so much his wife and other kids, though.
  • Avenging the Villain:
    • Plagueis goes after the heads of Subtext Mining for betraying Tenebrous, though it's mostly to ensure they don't pose a threat to him or the Grand Plan.
    • Sidious viciously retaliates against Pax Teem and his cohorts when they try to have him and Plagueis assassinated.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: As with most stories during this era, Darth Sidious achieves all that he desires.
  • Badass Boast: Plagueis and Sidious have these in abundance, particularly for the latter when he is killing the former.
    Sidious: [I am] king of the beasts, Father.
    Sidious: No true Sith can ever really care about another. This has always been known. There is no way but my way.
    Sidious: You lost the game on the very first day you chose to train me to rule by your side—or better still under your thumb. Teacher, yes, and for that I will be eternally grateful. But Master—never.
  • Badass Bookworm: Darths Plagueis, Sidious, and Maul.
  • Bastard Understudy: Darth Plagueis at the beginning and Darth Sidious seemingly for most of the book.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Darth Plagueis, as per the Bane tradition, often bragged that he'd create the Jedi's Chosen One. Sure enough, as indicated by Nice Job Fixing It, Villain! below, he ends up doing exactly that, to even his own horror.
  • Becoming the Mask: Sort of. When he arrives on Coruscant, Sidious is essentially giving a constant performance as the good, noble Senator Palpatine. Twenty years later, he's still the same bastard at heart, but he's been playing the part for so long that it's now second nature, and as effortless as breathing.
  • Beneath the Mask: Standard trope for Sith of Bane's order.
  • 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. Of course, it's Sidious telling us all of this.
  • Bloodbath Villain Origin: Palpatine kills his father after a mutual hate statement, and right after throttles his family and their bodyguards to death for no reason other than agreeing his father's intention to forbid his contact with Plagueis.
  • Broad Strokes: As noted above, while it's still formally Legends material, it does seem like the book is at least broadly canon to the new, reorganized Star Wars Disney continuity due to how much of it is getting referenced in post-reset material. (James Luceno having gone on to write Tarkin, the Disney-continuity's first major standalone novel, probably helped.)
  • Call-Back: In Part 1, Plagueis has Palpatine sit down on a bench to converse with him. In Part 3, he tries to do it again, but Palpatine is too angry to comply. This really emphasizes how Plagueis has lost control of his apprentice, if he ever truly had any in the first place. He even seems rather crestfallen that his surrogate son doesn't want to sit and chat with him.
  • Call-Forward: 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; Plagueis spies on Qui-Gon Jinn speaking to Anakin before they leave Coruscant, and he sees a Force vision of a "black-helmeted cyborg rising from a table".....
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: As he is killing Plagueis, Sidious explains that he could have left his master to die at the hands of the Maladian assassins hired by Pax Teem, but chose to rescue him because he hadn't learned everything he could from Plagueis. He also admits that Plagueis surviving Veruna's attempt on his life (secretly arranged by Sidious) benefited him in the long run, as it allowed Sidious to secure his election.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Luceno seems intent on removing any potential doubt that Darth Sidious/Palpatine 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. Moreover, if we elect to fully believe Sidious' words at the end, some of Plagueis's own manipulations had in fact been manipulated by Sidious himself.
    • 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...
  • 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.
  • Consummate Liar: Both Plagueis and Palpatine, who keep high-profile public facades while being Sith lords.
  • 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 until now.
    • Just to list a few events that this novel references and/or reenacts: Darth Maul’s 2000 comic series, Darth Maul: Saboteur, Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, Jedi Council: Acts of War, Star Wars: Starfighter, Star Wars: Cloak of Deception, Star Wars: Shadow Hunter, Star Wars Republic (issues 36-39, and 64), and a flashback from Jango Fett: Open Seasons issue 3. The Bando Gora and many of it’s members from Star Wars: Bounty Hunter' are mentioned.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: At one point Plagueis and Palpatine cite one Darth Guile, who's never been mentioned before, cite one detail about him, and that's it. Not even a who he was, what he did, or what became of him (though given the Sith record...), and he never got any other mention in any other Legends work either.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Plagueis vs. Captain Lah and the crew of the Woebegone. A 17-year-old, untrained Palpatine vs. his family and their bodyguards.
  • Dashed Plot Line: The plot takes place over thirty-five years, with time skips between each third (roughly speaking) of the book. Ten years separate parts one and two, while twenty years separate parts two and three. Inside these parts, the plot covers two or three years at a time.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Sidious' manipulations in Naboo politics put Padmé in power and lead to them building the fighter squadrons that turned the tide in the blockade, and his attempt to get Maul to salvage things does little but tip his hand and get his best servant killed. That his long-term plans survive it intact is down to sheer chance.
  • The Dragon: Maul to Sidious. Sate Pestage and Kinman Doriana each serve as this in the political arena.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • By the end of the novel, the reader understands that Palpatine's "Legend of Darth Plagueis the Wise" was, more than anything else, a very twisted sort of joke.
    • This gem from Sidious to Maul, after Maul has told a recent victim that he is a Sith Lord: "And if by some marvel Garyn had managed to escape, or even defeat the one-being army that is Darth Maul, what repurcussions might we be facing, apprentice?"
  • Downer Ending: The master who held (or believed to hold) Sidious' leash is dead, and without him, Sidious has secured the chancellorship and is now in contact with the Chosen One.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • At one point, Senator Pax Teem states that Tatooine is far too remote and lawless to have any impact on galactic affairs. Oh, how wrong he is...
    • Early on in their training, Plagueis tells Sidious about the occasional corruptive effect the Dark Side has on users. Sidious (still a young man at this point) asks if this means he's going to turn into some wrinkled, sunken-eyed, raspy voiced thing. Plagueis just shrugs this off, but anyone who's seen the movies will know Sidious is right to be worried.
    • Plagueis assures Sifo-Dyas that cloning a Jedi is impossible, all while Jorus C'baoth is standing nearby.
    • Plagueis dismisses transferring his essence into cloned bodies as a path to immortality. His apprentice has no such reservations.
    • Maul states that a Nightsister is not a Sith. To which Palpatine replies "As you well know", being a Nightbrother. A subtle indication to Palpatine's refusal to fully train Maul as an apprentice Sith Lord, and his use of him as a blunt tool.
  • Drives Like Crazy: A young Palpatine killed two people by recklessly flying his speeder and crashing it.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Palpatine in the Prologue, which shows him in the aftermath of murdering Darth Plagueis. He is positively exultant and awash in the energy of the dark side. Very much like the Palpatine we know and love from the films.
  • Emperor Scientist: Plagueis is a lethal combatant and seeks to conquer the galaxy like all other Sith, but he puts particular emphasis on the esoteric nature of the Force, conducting extensive experiments in attempt to directly control midi-chlorians.
  • Enfant Terrible: Both Damask and Palpatine were this, with the former having been specifically bred for this.
  • Equivalent Exchange: This is how Plagueis views the Force. When you use it, it will recoup a payment from you somehow. He views the impending fall of the Jedi as this principle in action. Anakin's birth is likewise a blowback from the Sith's experiments into immortality.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Palpatine's betrayal of Plagueis.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Plagueis legitimately cares about Palpatine and sees him as a sort of surrogate son. Unfortunately, the feeling is not reciprocated.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • When Tenebrous note  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.
    • Plagueis is something of a conservationalist and is shocked and enraged when the forests of Sojourn, filled with rare and endangered plants and animals is destroyed. He later tells Palpatine the event was the will of the Dark Side, as it likely needed to be destroyed for the sake of the Grand Plan but he would have never had the heart to destroy it himself.
    • Veruna flat out admits that if he had known Damask was a Sith from the get-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 what you represent…”.
    • Subverted with Cosinga Palpatine. He tries to bully Plagueis into withdrawing his support for Bon Tapalo's electoral campaign, ostensibly because he's engaged in a feud with the Tapalo family, but it's actually because the opposing candidate is his mistress's brother. Possibly played straight in that he regarded his hated son as an "animal".
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • Palpatine's discussion with Plagueis during the Gathering on Sojourn, which results in the Sith realizing that killing the Jedi isn't enough. To fully wipe them out, they need to make them into the enemies of peace and justice — in essence, turning the entire galaxy against them.
    • Plagueis gets another one during the summit on Serenno when Sifo-Dyas unknowingly gives him the solution to the Clone army quandary: Create it for the Jedi rather than to oppose them.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Daniel Davis' portrayal of Sidious in the audiobook mostly downplays his immense hamminess but retains the fey, faux-charming vocalisation Ian McDiarmid brought to the role.
  • 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.
  • Evil Redhead: Palpatine.
  • The Evils of Free Will: How the Sith, or at least the non-Sidious ones, justify the Grand Plan. It's saving the weak-willed and inferior beings of the galaxy from making decisions which would be wrong anyway. That, and killing all the Jedi.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Palpatine is unnerved when Dooku is describing Anakin as extremely gifted in the Force and it occurs to Palpatine that he had been standing right next to the boy and sensed nothing about him.
  • Fallen Hero: Dooku. Still a Jedi Master during the events of the novel, Dooku is portrayed as an ethical but disenfranchised man whose disgust for corruption leads him to confide in Palpatine.
  • False Friend: Valorum considers Palpatine his closest friend and most important political ally for decades, right up to the end. Which is exactly why he was so invested in the Naboo situation, and why Padme's eventual call for a no-confidence vote is such a gut punch.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Both Palpatine and Plagueis.
  • Fatal Flaw: Most of the villainous characters in the novel pay dearly for their hubris, and it is a Foregone Conclusion that Sidious himself will pay for his.
  • The Force: The Prequels mention repeatedly that the Force is imbalanced and that the dark side is ascending. The origin of the imbalance begins in this book.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Any fan who has seen Revenge of the Sith knows what happens to Darth Plagueis at the end. Luceno even opens with the immediate aftermath of the 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: Played with, but averted at the end. Unlike his predecessor Bane, young Palpatine's feelings towards his family are a little... extreme. To elaborate, Palpatine's father does hate him and has some degree of desire to kill him, but for the simple reason that Palpatine has transparently hated him from the moment he was born and has become a criminal over the years (though his dad covering up his first crimes did help Palpatine develop an "I can do no wrong" mentality).
  • Glad You Thought of It: Palpatine claims that he did this many times to Plagueis.
  • Godhood Seeker: Plagueis is hellbent on securing immortality, as he believes it will make him this.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Subverted. You'd think Plagueis, the master of Emperor Palpatine, would prove to be this for the film series even if he was dead beforehand. You'd be wrong.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Darth Gravid, sorta.
  • Historical Fiction: Obviously it's not, but Luceno said the experience of writing it was like writing historical fiction - the book threads together so much pre-existing Star Wars lore that he spent a lot of time researching in order to fit the book around the "known history".
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Sith leak information about Ainlee Teem's corruption to another contender for the Supreme Chancellorship, Bail Antilles. Bail predictably uses the info to disgrace his opponent, but this makes him appear like a zealous reformer in the eyes of the heavily corrupt Senate who flock to the more moderate Palpatine.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Plagueis believed Sidious reciprocated his loyalty towards him and shared with him his well-intentioned views towards the galaxy. He was very,very wrong.
  • I Can Rule Alone: Plagueis wanted to form a Big Bad Duumvirate with Sidious. Sidious replied with this trope.
  • Immortality Immorality: Darth Plagueis all the way.
  • Immortality Seeker: Plagueis, who is hellbent on achieving this to become akin to a god.
  • Insult Backfire: During the final argument between Palpatine and his father:
    Cosinga: Murder has always been in your thoughts, hasn't it? You've merely been waiting for someone to grant you permission to act.
    Palpatine: I don't need anyone's permission.
    Cosinga: Precisely. You're an animal at heart.
    Palpatine: King of the beasts, Father.
  • Ironic Fear: Plagueis' fear of death, as detailed in the movies.
    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.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Though with the little difference that it's not a Jedi doing it, it's a Sith. Plagueis likes using them on occasion. He's got no luck with the Yinchorri though. They don't notice, and think there's something wrong with that Muun waving his hands about.
  • Kick the Dog: Somehow, it's not really surprising that Palpatine comes up with the idea of not just killing the Jedi, but completely destroying their reputation and legacy — thereby turning them into enemies of the Republic.
  • Kill 'Em All: Deconstructed as Darth Plagueis focuses on the logistical problems of the goal Darth Bane set in stone. With only two Sith at a time, each generation has batted numerous ideas back and forth, such as a plague to target Force users. How the plan evolved into what will be seen in the Prequel Trilogy forms a core part of the book.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: The Maladian assassins are elite killers with the best training and gear, so much that they are officially a bane even for Jedi knights. However, it proves to be insufficient: even although Plagueis is left grievously wounded just before their battle, he manages to fend off almost three dozens of them until a healthier Sidious comes to the rescue.
  • Light Is Not Good: Darth Gravid was one of the few Sith who converted to the Light side of the Force. Unfortunately, he went cuckoo.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • Possibly with Senator Vidar Kim's family. Kim comes to believe that the speeder accident which killed his family was engineered by the Naboo ruling elite. He believes their motive was to force him into retirement given he's against their policies (and they can't just relieve him of the post as his senatorial appointment was a concession to the opposition). It's left ambiguous as to whether Kim was merely paranoid or if the Naboo nobles really did engineer the accident.
    • Played straight with Plagueis' murder of Kerred Santhe at a banquet years earlier. He kills the target with a Force choke, but is able to make it look like the accidental ingestion of the central dish (poisonous Bloat Eel).
    • Ultimately, Palpatine covers up his murder of Plagueis by passing it off as a mechanical failure of his breathing apparatus.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Palpatine.
    Plagueis (thinking): Sidious had a gift for subterfuge that surpassed the talents of any of the Sith Lords who had preceded him, including Bane.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!":
    • By trying to subtly drive a wedge between Dooku and the Jedi, this is the reaction Plagueis is hoping to achieve. If a Master of Dooku's power, reputation, and skill were to sever ties with the Order, it would send the Jedi into a panic.
    • The reaction of Pax Teem and his associates when an enraged Sidious violently interrupts their celebratory feast, lightsaber in hand.
  • Meta Twist: Plagueis' death, specifically when it occurs. Luceno takes advantage of Revenge of the Sith never specifying when Sidious killed his master by revealing that Plagueis was alive well into the third act of The Phantom Menace, and (just barely) lived to see his apprentice become Supreme Chancellor, instead of Sidious killing Plagueis years before the events of the Prequel Trilogy as most fans had assumed and most databooks had claimed.
  • Money Is Not Power: Despite his status as a financial superstar, Plagueis points this out to Veruna. This is understandable, given his immersion in the Dark Side.
  • Mugging the Monster: At one point a group of disgruntled associates to Hego Damask take his young protege Palpatine hostage, intending to kill him as a message to the former. Palatine plays along with them while privately thinking about all the ways he can kill them if and when things turn ugly (albeit believing at first that they actually want to get him to spy on his mentor), all the while really more concerned about maintaining his cover and letting them explain their sinister plans to him.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In a villainous example, Plagueis has this reaction when he realizes that Anakin might be The Chosen One, born to destroy the Sith as a consequence of Plagueis's own experiments.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Darth Tenebrous is a villainous example—the Bith have a peaceful reputation.
  • 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...
    • The book also references the "Han Shot First" controversy from the Special Edition of A New Hope: "Onaconda Farr thought of politics the way his Rodian brethren thought of bounty hunting: Shoot first; ask questions later".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • By confiding in Senator Palpatine, Dooku unknowingly passes on key intelligence to Plagueis and Sidious regarding Jedi politics, the Prophecy of the Chosen One, and the discovery of Anakin.
    • Sifo-Dyas screws up big-time during the summit on Serenno (though he has no way of knowing), as his debate with Plagueis is what gives the Sith Lord the idea to create a Clone army for the Jedi rather than to oppose them.
  • 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.
  • Noble Demon: Plagueis is a rare example of a Sith that has enough redeeming qualities to make him relatively sympathetic, even without being compared to the fully twisted Palpatine. He is actually capable of true loyalty, opposes the Stupid Evil facet of the Dark Side as much as he can, and is kind of a Well-Intentioned Extremist in his views. Unfortunately, this ends up becoming his own destruction to the hands of Palpatine.
  • Noodle Incident: Plagueis' murder of Kerred Santhe starts off as this, but is subverted when he relays the whole story to Palpatine halfway through the book.
  • Not Me This Time: If Vidar Kim's family WAS assassinated than it's the one murder Palpatine and the Sith weren't involved in.
  • Not So Different: Plagueis to Cosinga Palpatine. Both are incredibly wealthy Smug Snakes with a penchant for violence, though Plagueis restrains his darker impulses unless he needs to unleash them; both try to be The Man Behind the Man, with Cosinga wanting indirect control of Naboo via placing his mistress's brother on the throne and Plagueis wanting to be Palpatine's co-chancellor; both try to influence (or outright control) Palpatine with disastrous results; and both are slain in a way that Palpatine manages to both cover up and directly benefit from.
  • Obviously Evil: Darth Maul, which, given the Sith's current modus operandi is hiding in plain sight, is a significant liability.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Plagueis has this when Sidious tells him that Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan have been sent to deal with the blockade of Naboo.
    • And again when he learns that Anakin's been taken to the Jedi.
  • One-Man Army: All the Sith. Despite being taken by surprise, Plagueis is able to fell several dozen elite assassins. Palpatine slaughters the entire Malastare embassy singlehandedly. Amusingly, though, Darth Maul's arrogance is criticized by Sidious as him seeing himself as a "one being army".
  • Out-Gambitted: Happens late in the novel, when Plagueis and his associates are ambushed by a group of assassins during a clandestine ritual. Plagueis gets caught flat-footed and loses half of his face in the bloodbath. Worst of all, the attack was planned by a perfectly normal alien senator. Palpatine later refers to the incident as part of his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Plagueis when he kills him.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Plagueis is pretty nice and polite to any droids in his service in direct contrast to pretty much 75% of the galactic community.
    • Perhaps the largest display of empathy on Palpatine's part is that he shows some concern for what will happen to Maul after the Sith are victorious.
  • Playing with Fire: Sidious uses this to kill Pax Teem.
  • P.O.V. Sequel: The last third of the book retells multiple Episode I-era stories from the Sith's perspective. It is a bit odd in never doing so quite directly; we see them discussing events and making plans, but never actually see the scenes directly from their perspectives.
  • The Power of Hate:
    • This is the reservoir of power that Sith are trained to tap into, unlike the Jedi.
    Plagueis: If you don't already want to murder me, you will before I'm through with you. The urge to kill one's superior is intrinsic to the nature of our enterprise.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • As noted in the Villainous Breakdown entry below, Plagueis is shown to be mortified at the idea of Palpatine suggesting that Anakin Skywalker being made a Sith candidate. And for a very good reason.
    • 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 on Sullustan Wine before he made his move to kill him.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Palpatine becomes a very high-functioning version of this.
  • Puny Earthling: Darth Plagueis describes Palpatine as such during his training: "Hard to tell (how long the training will take). Humans are their own worst enemies. Your body isn't meant to withstand real punishment. It is easily injured and slow to heal. Your olfactory and tactile senses are relatively acute, but your auditory and visual senses are extremely limited".
  • The Purge:
    • After capturing Venamis, Plagueis goes after the Bith's apprentice candidates. He does to ensure they won't be a threat to either him or the Grand Plan.
    • Darth Maul thinks he's this, much to both Plagueis and Sidious' displeasure over his pride.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: When Sidious finally kills his master:
    Sidious: It was Plagueis who denigrated his apprentice in private for hiring an inept assasin to kill Senator Kim, and yet who allowed himself to be tricked by the Gran and nearly killed by mercenaries. Plaguies, who turned away from the Grand Plan to focus entirely on himself, in an egotistical quest for immortality. Plagueis, who had the temerity to criticize his apprentice for having inculcated too much pride in the assassin he had trained. Plagueis, who attempted to turn his equally powerful apprentice into a mere messenger and intermediary. And Plagueis, who watched in secret while his apprentice tasked their true intermediary to reveal the reborn Sith to the galaxy. Plagueis The Wise who in his time truly was, except at the end, truly trusting that the Rule of Two had been superseded and failing to realize that he would not be excused from it. Plagueis the Wise, who forged the most powerful Sith Lord the galaxy has ever known, and yet forgot to leave a place for himself! Whose pride never allowed him to question that he would no longer be needed.
  • Retcon:
    • The 2005 New Essential Chronology established that Sidious murdered Plagueis at some point between 52 and 46 BBY, that is, between Palpatine's ascent to Senator and Padmé's birth. In this novel, Plagueis is killed in 32 BBY, during the events of The Phantom Menace. Their reasons are also different: originally, Sidious killed Plagueis because he suspected Plagueis planned to replace him for a perfect Sith created through the midi-chlorians, who would have been Anakin, while in this novel he kills Plagueis because the latter had outlived his usefulness. Finally, this novel shows Sidious was embellishing the story when he claimed Plagueis was killed in his sleep, given that Luceno's Plagueis is killed much more prosaically while he is wasted in Sullustan wine.
    • The plot point that Sidious started training Maul behind Plagueis' back actually predates this novel by many years, but before the revelations given by Luceno, the Essential Guide to the Force databook suggested Sidious had maintained other secret apprentices before Maul. This is contradicted by Luceno's novel, where Maul is his first apprentice (and one Sidious was actually pressed by his mother to take). Also, as the novel was written after The Clone Wars made Maul a former Nightbrother, he is now introduced as a Dathomiri and son to a witch named Kycina.
    • Inverted and downplayed. The materials mentioned above (and Vader: The Ultimate Guide) had established that Plagueis was actually successful in summoning a "living embodiment of the Force" through manipulation of the midi-chlorians, causing the virginal conception of Anakin in order to generate the perfect Sith candidate (a reminiscence of the Kwisatz Haderach from Dune, a novel that heavily inspired Star Wars in other aspects). In this novel, Plagueis does try to create the perfect Sith through the midi-chlorians, but it is instead implied that he failed and that the creation of Anakin was actually the Force lashing back at him by creating the opposite to what he wanted, a Chosen One who would destroy the Sith. Therefore, Plagueis is still related to the origin of Anakin, only that now he is technically less related and in a different way.
    • The Chronology (and Labyrinth of Evil) stated that Sifo-Dyas planned the clone army entirely by himself, and that it was Dooku, already secretly working with Sidious, who then took over the project and paid it with his family holdings in Serenno. Plagueis was already dead by that point, and nothing implied he ever knew Sifo-Dyas personally, not to mention that he contributed to his thoughts. In this novel, it is shown instead that Plagueis was acquainted with Sifo-Dyas under his civilian disguise, discussed the topic with him to give him ideas, and funded the project with the money of Damask Holdings, after which Dooku and Sidious only had to kill Sifo-Dyas to hijack it.
    • The same happens with the future members of the Separatist movement, including the Trade Federation, who are here shown to have been manipulated by Plagueis since before the events of the film (heck, he is part of them, being a Muun banker himself). It's possible, even probable that all of this actually happened offscreen in previous canon, given that Plagueis had always been officially a Muun and that Sith generally like to play long-term, but it had never been shown until this work.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Once you know to look for it, you can spot that Palpatine is feeding Plagueis all of his plans and that half of what Plagueis takes as honest respect in his viewpoint scenes is barely-restrained sarcasm right from the beginning.
  • Robot Buddy: Droid 11-4D to Plagueis and later to Palpatine. He's pretty much an "evil" R2-D2.
  • Rule of Two: Being a book about Sith Lords, of course this trope is in full effect. Of course, as is tradition every single Sith in the book breaks the rule in some way.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Sidious, with a bit of Plagueis's impulse.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Darth Maul. He's a skilled fighter, only not as skilled as he thinks.
  • Smug Snake: Plagueis, Maul, and Naboo's King Veruna all suffer because of this to varying degrees.
  • The Sociopath: The nicest thing you can say about Palpatine. He really was just born a bastard.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Pax Teem's plan to assassinate Plaugeis is brilliantly planned and executed. However, Teem doesn't know his assassins — the Maladians — were utilized by Palpatine's aide Sate Pestage to assassinate Senator Kim. Embarrassed at how it was nearly botched, Pestage's Maladian contact tips him off about the Plagueis operation. This allows Palpatine to foil the assassination and leads to Teem's murder.
    • Later, Palpatine deliberately goads Veruna and his cabal in order to get them to try to kill Plagueis. However, Palpatine didn't anticipate that his Master had had dealings with Jabba the Hutt. Jabba gets wind of the attack plan through his underworld contacts and tips off the Muun. Plagueis survives and Palpatine has to wait until the night before the Election before trying again.
    • At the end (which takes place during Episode I), Anakin very nearly becomes this. When it's revealed that the prophecy of the one that would bring balance to the Force might be true, Palpatine and Plagueis panic.
  • 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:
    • Firstly, Plagueis to Tenebrous. It 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.
    • Later Sidious to Plagueis. Ironically, Sidious claims he had been in fact been manipulating Plagueis ever since the latter first initiated him into the Sith.
  • Start of Darkness:
    • Dooku and Gunray all the way. To a lesser extent, Palpatine, who was sociopathic from the very beginning.
    • 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.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Plagueis spends a lot of his time trying to figure out what midi-chlorians actually do. Before him Jedi and Sith lore on the subject consisted entirely of "Force sensitives tend to have a lot of them".
  • Sympathy for the Devil:
    • If supplementary items for the novel (such as the Tenebrous Way) are of any indication, 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. Even then, he managed to become a Noble Demon by their standards.
    • Very intentionally averted for Palpatine, who is more or less portrayed as The Antichrist absolutely loves being evil. He is deliberately written as not being sympathetic in the least, and more evil than every other villain in the story bar none, just to cement his status as the ultimate Big Bad of the Star Wars mythos.
    • Darth Maul was raised a Sith from birth and Gunray's ambition was relentlessly exploited.
  • Training from Hell: Plagueis flat-out states Palpatine's Sith training is supposed to be hellish, so Palpatine will want to kill him as dictated by the Rule of Two.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Veruna's attack on Sojourn starts off with orbital bombardment to soften up Plagueis. He then follows this up by dropping a nuke as the coup de grace.
    • The cabal's strategy is justified considering the last assassination attempt against Damask didn't exactly go well.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: Plagueis' birth name is "Hego".
  • Too Dumb to Live: As Palpatine notes to Plagueis while killing the latter: why did he think that Sidious would let him live? Sith operate on Klingon Promotion and Chronic Backstabbing Disorder policies, after all.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, anyone?
  • Undying Loyalty: Atypical of Sith Lords, Maul is deeply devoted to his Master. As is noted, this just makes it easier for the truly evil Palpatine to manipulate him to get what he wanted.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Utterly averted with Palpatine.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Pretty much everyone in the book is a pawn of the Sith in one form or another. The book's climax reveals that Palpatine regards Plagueis himself as this, too.
  • Villain Protagonist: Carrying on the tradition established by the Darth Bane series.
  • Villain Respect:
    • Subverted in the case of Darth Tenebrous to Plagueis when the latter finally catches him off guard and mortally wounds him. While initially pleased and even congratulatory, Tenebrous takes a second look and decides that Plagueis wasted his opportunity to escape the imminent mine collapse, thus proving himself unworthy to ascend to mastery.
    • Sidious is (grudgingly) impressed with Valorum when the Chancellor manages to piece together bits of the Grand Plan on the eve of the Naboo Blockade.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • At the book's climax, Sidious unleashes a spectacular one against Plagueis.
    • 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.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Plagueis seems to regard himself as this in some respects. He truly believes that the galaxy would be better off under the direction of the Sith. His Muun mentality is at play here - Muuns' regard themselves as superior to other forms of life and prize ambition and elitism, but they also value the collective good of Muun society. As such, Plagueis thinks it entirely natural and obvious that some people are just destined to rule over others, but that doesn't mean he thinks that all life is intrinsically worthless or that he isn't working towards some higher goal that will ultimately benefit everyone (in his case, the elimination of Death).
    • Count Dooku, freshly resigned from the Jedi Order and Sith aspirant.
  • 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.
  • Wham Line:
    • "I'm looking for a student named Palpatine." This simple query to a Naboo collegial receptionist sets the downfall of the Republic and Jedi in motion, and sealed Plagueis' own fate.
    • "Have you named him?" "Maul, he is called."
  • 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. The novel Tarkin, also by Luceno and part of Disney's post-2014 canon, reveals that 11-4D is still in Sidious's service five years after the creation of the Empire.
    • As noted earlier, the mystery of who hired Subtext Mining to assassinate Tenebrous is left unresolved, though dialogue later on implies that it was probably Kerred Santhe II. Alternatively, since Subtext Mining claims they were hired by someone on Naboo, and since Palpatine claims he was plying Plagueis from the beginning, longer than Plagueis knew, it is entirely possible- if stretching- that Palpatine was the one who hired them, so that the Sith would have an opening, and knowing that Plagueis would be drawn to Naboo for that reason and others, and that thus- through the Force or other means- he somehow found out who the two Sith Lords were before Plagueis even met him (and thus, truly was manipulating his master from the very, very beginning).This would, however, be clashing with the prologue that openly states that Palpatine doesn´t know how Plagueis master died.
  • Worthy Opponent: Darth Venamis to Darth Plagueis. Briefly.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With:
    • Boss Cabra's son Darnada tries this trope on Plagueis after first meeting him, only for the unimpressed Sith Lord to react the same way with much more reason. Darnada's assistant has enough sense to shut the Dug up before he does any more damage to Damask's business relationship with Cabra.
    • As demonstrated from the opening page, when it came to Palpatine, Plagueis had no idea who he was dealing with.
  • 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...

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