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Literature / Labyrinth of Evil

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A Star Wars Legends novel by James Luceno, Labyrinth of Evil is the story of how the Jedi almost caught Darth Sidious in the months leading up to Revenge of the Sith.

Despite failing to capture Nute Gunray on Cato Neimoidia, Obi-Wan and Anakin manage to recover crucial intelligence that may lead the Republic forces to their ever-elusive ultimate quarry: Darth Sidious. Following the trail across the galaxy, the two Jedi never quite manage to catch up with the elusive Sith, but get a glimpse of just how extensive his machinations are before being recalled to Coruscant in order to rescue Palpatine from Grievous.

The book covers roughly the last few months before Episode III, and retells the story of the invasion of Coruscant, as featured in Star Wars: Clone Wars, while providing a completely different explanation than that miniseries of what Obi-Wan and Anakin were doing just before being recalled to Coruscant.

Labyrinth of Evil, along with the Revenge of the Sith novelization and Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader, is part of what is unofficially called the "Dark Lord" trilogy.

Labyrinth of Evil provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Arc Welding: Luceno ties together multiple elements from the Clone Wars stories and earlier in the Prequel era, as the Jedi realize just how extensive Sidious's machinations are.
  • Asteroid Miners: The inventor of the mechno-chair's hyperwave transceiver is holed up in an asteroid mining operation, and Obi-Wan and Anakin go and find him. The Commerce Guild mined out a large asteroid until it was hollow and concave, then set up shop there, using tractor beams to pull in smaller asteroids for dismantling.
  • Awesome by Analysis: Thanks to his brain being technologically enhanced, Grievous manages to copy a few of Mace's Vaapad techniques during the Battle of Coruscant.
  • Batman Gambit: After being implied in Attack of the Clones, Luceno definitively confirms that it wasn't an accident that Jango killed Zam Wesell with a Kamino saberdart. Dooku was laying a Trail Of Breadcrumbs for the Jedi; he needed his old colleagues to find Kamino and take possession of the Clone army (and at an earlier point than when the Kaminoans would have eventually contacted the Council).
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The harvester beetles working in the redoubt's fungus farm.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Nute Gunray's fortress on Cato Neimoidia gives off this vibe. Besides being huge, opulent, and full of rare treasures (the reason Gunray returned to his homeworld in the first place), it sits on top of an enormous warren where fungi are grown, both as food for larval Neimoidians and as a valuable export.
  • Call-Back: Many of the clues pointing toward Sidious were seen back in The Phantom Menace; for much of the novel, the Jedi follow a thirteen-year-old trail. Gunray's mechno-chair, which provides the first break, is the same one he used on Naboo; Anakin and Obi-Wan find a pilot who delivered Darth Maul's ship to him from its manufacturer; and Sidious apparently uses a U-shaped speeder bike of the same design as Maul's to get around Coruscant quickly.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Obi-Wan casually mentions to Anakin that he could think of far worse places to live than Tatooine, a few months before he spends 18 years there.
    • While infiltrating an Asteroid Miners' facility in pursuit of a lead on Sidious, Anakin and Obi-Wan's ship is held in place by a powerful tractor beam. Obi-Wan watches while a Republic Intelligence agent disables it, learning a skill he will put to good use on the Death Star, and distracts a few guards with the same Force trick he will use then. The agent declares that such powerful tractor beams will be prominent on future warships, which will be large enough to support them. Likewise, he states that a ship mounting enough tractor beams could completely stop other ships from entering hyperspace—a nod to the Interdictor class of Imperial cruiser seen during the Civil War period of the EU.
    • From the mouth of Gunray's protocol droid, captured and set to aiding in the hunt for Sidious, to a clone commando:
      Commando: Consider yourself lucky. Now you're on the side of the good guys.
      TC-16: Good guys, bad guys ... who can say anymore? What's more, you won't be so quick to say that should someone compel you to shift loyalties at a moment's notice.
  • The City Narrows: Sidious's hideout on Coruscant, seen at the end of Attack of the Clones, is in an abandoned industrial zone called "The Works," not far from the Senate District where most scenes on Coruscant are set. The Works is rusted, polluted, and filled with vermin, vagrants, criminals, and worse.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Downplayed—when Anakin slices up a battle droid to save Obi-Wan, he points out that Anakin's lightsaber passed way too close to his head for comfort.
  • Continuity Nod: Plenty, to stories from throughout the entire Clone Wars multimedia campaign. As it's Luceno, it borders on Continuity Porn.
  • Continuity Snarl: The final season of Star Wars: Clone Wars also shows the lead-up to Revenge of the Sith; it aligns with with Labyrinth of Evil in some ways, but contradicts it in others (ex. some of the Jedi escorting Palpatine are the same ones in Clone Wars, but Obi-Wan and Anakin's whereabouts before they're called back to Coruscant to rescue Palpatine are completely different in the two works.note 
  • Consolation Prize: While Anakin and Obi-Wan fail to capture Gunray, they get proof of Sidious's existence.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Anakin brings out this quality in Obi-Wan Kenobi.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In Chapter 10, Bail Organa reflects on how things have changed on Coruscant during the war—freedoms eroded in the name of security, Fantastic Racism against species associated with the Separatists, omnipresent clone troops who stop anyone who looks like a terrorist—in what sounds like a commentary on The War on Terror.
  • Downer Ending: The Jedi fail to find and capture Sidious. General Grievous launches a massive attack on Coruscant and takes Chancellor Palpatine hostage, leading into Revenge of the Sith.
  • Drunken Master: After Intoxication Ensues for Obi-Wan via fungus spores, he holds off wave after wave of battle droids, stumbling and weaving all over the room and yet deflecting every blaster bolt without fail. As soon as the fight is over, he collapses.
    He was in the Force, to be sure, but deep in some other zone as well, giddy with astonishment, as the world unfolded in slow motion.
  • Fantastic Racism: The speciesism of the Empire is just beginning to appear in the twilight of the Republic, mostly against Neimoidians and other species associated with the Separatist leaders (and never mind that Count Dooku is human). On an ad for the Commission for the Protection of the Republic:
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Jedi will fail to capture Sidious or learn his identity until Episode III. The tragedy of the book lies in seeing just how close they come to nabbing him.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Palpatine as always. Luceno also adds a new layer to Palpatine's secret trolling with the reveal that one of the statues he installed in the Chancellor's Office is actually an ancient demigod of disguise.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Pondering how Palpatine has remained in office for so long, Bail Organa recalls how many argued against replacing him at the beginning of the Separatist crisis—after all, it's dangerous to "change dewbacks in the middle of a sand dune."
  • Insane Troll Logic: Throughout the novel, the Jedi Council and friendly Senators (like Bail and Padme) are both becoming increasingly concerned about some of Palpatine's more questionable wartime decisions and his logic behind them. For instance, they don't understand his reassigning half of Corsucant's home defenses (to seize on the Senate's response to his State of the Republic) or opening more and more fronts despite the Jedi's pleas that they're spread thin. Palpatine's actions, on the other hand, make perfect sense as Darth Sidious and weakening Coruscant and the Order for the war's endgame.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Obi-Wan drops his rebreather, and then encounters a crate full of intoxicating spores. As Anakin puts it, he appears to have invented a new form of lightsaber combat.
  • It's Personal: Anakin's attitude toward capturing Nute Gunray, due to the Trade Federation's attack on Naboo and the assassination attempts on Padmé.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Grievous doesn't realize that Palpatine uses one on him when the Chancellor is captured—thus revealing that he's the Sith Lord.
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: How the hunt for Sidious plays out: The mechno-chair leads Obi-Wan and Anakin to one of its manufacturers, who leads them to another, who tells them of a pilot who delivered a ship, who gives them the destination on Coruscant. From there, the Jedi and their allies follow more clues towards Sidious's true hiding place.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: In order to draw General Grievous into the service of the Confederacy, Dooku and the InterGalactic Banking Clan engineered a shuttle crash, further damaged Grievous's body while he was unconscious, then convinced him to let the Geonosians rebuild him as a Cyborg in exchange for his service.
  • Motive Misidentification: When Obi-Wan briefs Yoda on the mechno-chair's discovery (and the Sidious evidence), he wonders if Dooku might have been telling the truth on Geonosis after all — that the Senate was now under the control of the Dark Lord of Sith. Yoda dismisses this, arguing the Order had secretly watched the Senate since and found nothing. Besides, if the Sith were controlling the Senate, wouldn't the Clone Wars be over? Wouldn't the Republic and the Core have fallen to the Confederacy? The mistake he, Obi-Wan, and the rest of the Jedi are making is that they're assuming a Separatist victory is the Sith's endgame. They never consider the possibility that Sidious wants his team to lose and that he ironically needs the Republic to triumph.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Trade Federation Viceory Gunray screws up big time when he returns to Cato Neimoidia to recover his treasures. Not only does he nearly expose the Separatist fleet's location to the Republic, but his leaving the mechno-chair behind sets off the entire hunt for Sidious.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Obi-Wan and Anakin keep track of the number of times that they've saved each other's lives. As of Obi-Wan saving Anakin from a cloud of poisonous gas, they're at 25 to 36, Obi-Wan to Anakin.
    • Inverted as the context around a Noodle Incident from the film is explained here. See Intoxication Ensues.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Gunray realizes that he left his mechno-chair, complete with records of his secret conversations with Grievous and Sidious, in Republic hands.
    • Dooku has this reaction when Sidious informs him that the Jedi have located the Sith's secret base on Coruscant.
    • Mace, Yoda, and the other Jedi realizing the Separatists have invaded Coruscant.
  • Pinball Projectile: A particular skill of Obi-Wan's, although with the slight variation that he's deflecting the blaster bolts with his lightsaber, rather than firing them himself.
  • Resolved Noodle Incident: Towards "that business on Cato Neimoidia" that Obi-Wan wasn't too proud of in Episode 3. After accidentally inhaling a bunch of narcotic spores and forgetting his mask, Obi-Wan, in what can only be called a drunken trip, annihilates fifty Battle Droids by the time Anakin gets there to render assistance.
  • Series Continuity Error: The book claims that before discovering the image of Sidious within the mechno-chair, the Jedi believed he was a lie, invented by Dooku to lead Obi-Wan astray on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones, and not mentioned since. But in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, Dooku names Sidious as his master openly to Yoda. Continuity Nods to Dark Rendezvous appear elsewhere in Labyrinth of Evil, yet this discrepancy is not explained.
  • Shoot the Builder: Palpatine killed everyone involved in the design and delivery of Darth Maul's ship except two scientists he planned to use later and a pilot who went into hiding. During the book's events, Palpatine unsuccessfully attempts to kill the pilot and the less important scientist to cover his tracks.
    Fa'ale Lah: You know, they killed the engineers, the mechanics, just about everyone who worked on that craft. But I knew. I made the delivery, grabbed what was due me, and I was away. Not far enough, though. They tracked me to Ryloth, Nar Shaada, half the starforsaken worlds in the Tingel Arm. I had my share of close calls.
  • Shout-Out: The commando unit's name, "Aurek Team", is a nod to the iconic '80s series The A-Team.
  • Spanner in the Works: Gunray's blunder endangers Sidious's plans just as they're entering the critical, final stages of the Clone Wars. He has to adjust them on the fly in order to elude the Jedi and get them back on track.
  • Take That!: There are several jabs at the Bush Administration and The War on Terror, such as a reference to "Homeworld Security" and Palpatine labelling Felucia, Mygeeto, and Saleucami as a "triad of evil."
  • Title Drop: Yoda uses "labyrinth of evil" to describe the state of the war while discussing Palpatine's priorities and continuing power grabs.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Obi-Wan and Anakin, now that Anakin has graduated to Knighthood and they act as partners in the Clone Wars instead of master and student.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In the moments before his death, Captain Dyne sees the face of Sidious...and realizes the Jedi and Republic have been betrayed more profoundly than they feared. He's seeing Palpatine beneath Sidious' cowl, but doesn't convey this to the reader to preserve the reveal for Revenge.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Despite his risk of exposure, Sidious not only manages to stay one step ahead of the Jedi but use their search to accelerate his own endgame.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite their role in the hunt for Sidious, neither Mace or any of the other Jedi follow up on Aurek Team's fate during the Revenge of the Sith novelization.