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Literature / Maul: Lockdown

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"The sheer power of the Dark Side is never more dangerous then when it is cornered."

Maul: Lockdown is a Star Wars Legends novel written by Joe Schreiber. Released on January 28, 2014, it's notable for being the penultimate Legends book published by Lucasfilm, followed only by Honor Among Thieves before the Continuity Reboot by Disney on April 25.

One year before the events of The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul has willingly entered the Outer Rim prison Cog Hive Seven, a Wretched Hive which doubles as a death match venue where the prisoners fight one another. He has been sent by Darth Sidious to find the Arms Dealer Iram Radique, who is rumored to secretly run his operations out of the prison. Sidious told his master, Darth Plagueis, that Maul is to assassinate Radique, but in fact he has other plans for Radique's particular skill set. Meanwhile, both the Bando Gora and Jabba the Hutt attack the prison.

Maul: Lockdown includes examples of the following tropes:

  • The Alcatraz: No one has ever escaped from the prison space station Cog Hive Seven. Those smart enough to beat the security system are stopped by enforcers of Iram Radique, who doesn't want them spreading stories about his prison operations.
  • Badass Boast: Artagan has this to say when Voystock betrays his escape attempt and wants him to beg.
    Artagan: I am Artagan Truax. I have killed men in eleven systems. I have fought well and withstood much and have not given quarter. I will not be broken by the likes of you today, nor will my son. And I will not beg for mercy.
  • Badass in Distress: Maul fights while chained underwater and facing an Aqualish (a species that can handle that situation quite well).
  • Bad Boss: Sadiki summons a group of new guards whom she suspects of infiltrating the prison on behalf of Jabba the Hutt, and threatens to unleash the ruthless prison gangs on them if no one confesses. Once she gets a confession, she sics the gang members on them anyway (in a Gorn-filled scene). She doesn't even spare the innocent ones due to feeling they know too much. For his part, Jabba (whom Sadiki is calling throughout the scene) also refuses to acknowledge any of them as his men when that may have saved their lives.
  • The Beastmaster: A Weequay prisoner whom Maul incorrectly suspects of being Radique has a pack of predatory claw birds. He uses them to smuggle contraband throughout the prison and sics them on Maul during their fight. Later, the real Radique is also able to command the birds to attack people and is comfortable with letting them perch on his arms.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Discounting Maul and Sidious, the book features a wide variety of antagonistic forces competing against each other; Iram Radiq, the elusive arms dealer Maul is trying to locate, the Prison Warden Sadiki, whose questionable gambling practices earns the ire of Jabba the Hutt, who wants her head because of said gambling practices, and a Syrox worm that dwells within the lower levels of Cog Hive Seven. Komari Vosa also gets in on the action near the end of the book, but is only briefly antagonistic towards Maul before joining forces with him when their goals align.
  • Blackmail: While she only uses it as a last resort, Warden Sadiki Blirr eventually forces a gaming commission official to stop threatening to shut down her operation with a picture of them having sex back when she was a casino worker.
  • Call-Forward: Quite a bit , as per usual for pre-Phantom Menace stories.
    • One of the warriors that Maul fights in Cog Hive Seven is a member of the Yuuzhan Vong, the same species that will invade the galaxy in New Jedi Order, which takes place decades after the Invasion of Naboo.
    • Maul has faith in Sidious's grand plan for the galaxy, but has secret doubts about how he fits into it. He doesn't realize yet that Sidious will always consider him totally expendable.
    • The Kell dragons in Jabba's yacht are brought up.
    • Wampa poaching on Hoth, as seen in The Callista Trilogy, receives a mention, as does how it often proves fatal to the poachers.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: On his first day in prison, Maul sees a blind prisoner and wonders if he lost his eyes in a gladiator fight. The man is a worker in Radique's hidden arms factory and was blinded for security reasons.
  • Counterfeit Cash: Coyle is a convicted counterfeiter who Maul hires to make 300,000 fake credits that he plans to use to buy a nuke from Radique. The fakes are pretty good, but Radique, Zero, and their Weequay lieutenant think Maul is a member of the Bando Gora, a group they refuse to do business with for any amount of money. Also, given that Coyle is secretly another member of Radique's inner circle, they likely know that Maul's credits are fake the whole time.
  • The Cracker: Izhsmash is an experienced computer criminal whom Maul enlists to hack into the computer database that selects who fights in the Gladiator Games.
    Maul: You're a renegade programmer. A data thief. Word is that you wrote the original cryptoviral code for that attack on the Phage Network.
  • Cult Defector: Artagan, a former member of the Force-worshipping Bando Gora, betrayed their attempt to assassinate a crime lord and went on the run with his newborn son sixteen years ago.
  • Dark Action Girl:
    • The brutal, undefeated Yuuzhan Vong gladiator champion Maul fights in the opening scene is believed to be female by Warden Blirr.
    • Warden Sadiki Blirr is running a Gladiator Games, orders brutal executions without hesitation, and personally kills some of Jabba's enforcers and pet dragons when Jabba attacks the prison.
    • Sinister cult leader Komari Vosa is a former Jedi, and her combat skills deeply impress Maul.
  • Dented Iron: Artagan Truax is a famous prizefighter and former cult enforcer who has recently suffered a punctured lung and brain damage that gives him epilepsy.
    In his fifty-fifth year of life he'd become what the other prisoners referred to as a knockout mouse, a former champion who'd hit the ceiling of his abilities and was waiting for the inevitable final bout. The one that would kill him.
  • Dramatic Ammo Depletion: Sadiki Blirr uses up all of her blaster's energy firing frantically at a carnivorous wolf worm in a room with no light or sound, and then becomes a sitting duck for it.
  • Explosive Leash: All inmates of Cog Hive Seven have electrostatic micro-charges implanted in their hearts that the guards can trigger at any time to cause death. This is their primary means of keeping prisoners in line given that the inmates otherwise have free run of most of the prison facilities and are universal hard cases who can at any time be called into a deathmatch with any other prisoner. In the end, as a means of cutting her losses, Warden Blirr triggers all the charges, which begin killing prisoners one at a time by number, longest-serving inmates first. Since Maul is a recent arrival he has time to find a way to deactivate his charges.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Artagan is mortally wounded in a fight, and dies smiling and expressing pride that his son mastered a difficult martial arts move to use against their opponents.
    • At the end, when Warden Blirr starts triggering the explosive leashes of the prisoners, Maul observes the remaining members of the prison gangs grabbing all of the food they can from the kitchen and sitting down to eat it before it's their turn to die.
  • Functional Addict: CO Smight is a spice addict, but he's capable of doing complicated security scans and escorting a dangerous prisoner with no trouble. He's also the only one of Jabba's enforcers who infiltrated the prison to escape when Warden Blirr sics a bunch of bloodthirsty gang members on them.
  • Gambit Pile Up: The Radique organization is making and distributing weapons from inside of the prison. Warden Blirr is is trying to keep the Hutts and the gaming commission from shutting down her lucrative convict gladiator matches. Blirr's brother Dakarai is secretly impersonating one of Radique's minions to make extra money and gather data for his betting system. Jabba the Hutt has been losing money due to both Blirr's betting and Radique's arms deals and has several of his enforcers get jobs as guards to bring the two down. Darth Maul has been sent to find Radique and purchase a nuclear bomb from him (because Darth Sidious wants the bomb to kill his master, Darth Plagueis). Komari Vosa attacks the prison to take possession of the bomb. Darth Plagueis is suspicious of Maul's mission and is monitoring the whole situation. Artagan is just trying to escape with his son before it's too late. At the end of the book, Maul gets the bomb and gives it to Komari Vosa, who will eventually use it in a failed attempt to kill Plaugeis's alter ego in Darth Plagueis. Jabba gets to see Radique and the Blirrs defeated, although it isn't because of him, and he loses just about all of the enforcers he sends to Cog Hive Seven. Artagan dies, but his son makes it out alive.
  • Genre Shift: Like Joe Schreiber's other books, and like those, it's darker, edgier, and bloodier too. This time, the Genre Shift is towards prison-set Exploitation Film.
  • Hero of Another Story: Artagan has spent decades on the run from the sinister Bando Gora cult working as an undefeated fighting champion and mentor to his son before becoming a Dented Iron guy looking to escape from prison.
  • Knowledge Broker: Zero and Coyle are both long-serving prisoners with a lot of inside information about everyone, and Maul goes to them in his search for the elusive prisoner Iram Radique. Maul's efforts are undermined by the fact that Zero and Coyle are both secretly members of Radique's inner circle and send him down several false trails.
  • Make an Example of Them: Izhsmash is killed and has broken circuit boards shoved through his mouth and dead eyes as a warning to anyone else who thinks of hacking into the prison database.
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: Incarcerated arms dealer Iram Radique builds his WMDs inside the prison itself and has an unspecified number of guards on his payroll.
  • Motivational Lie: Artagan reluctantly gives his son Eogan false encouragement about his chances of surviving a prison bout.
  • Moving Buildings: This is Cog Hive Seven's specialty, as the warden can shift the prisoner cells around until they connect with that of another prisoner. Then the deathmatch begins.
  • No Name Given: The Weequay member of Radique's organization whom Maul briefly mistakes for Radique himself never gets a name.
  • No One Sees the Boss: Iram Radique is a powerful intergalactic arms dealer operating within the prison. Many (including the warden) believe that he's an Invented Individual. Maul begins to suspect he's Hidden in Plain Sight, posing as another prisoner. Neither is true. Radique is hiding in the prison's tunnel system.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Dakarai Blirr presents himself as an autistic savant who hates sound too much to even speak. Really, he's able to function perfectly and has infiltrated Radique's inmate organization in disguise.
  • The Old Convict: Zero's name comes from how he's been at Cog Hive Seven since it opened, before prisoners got numbers. He isn't a real prisoner, but an administrator in disguise.
  • Only One Name: Deconstructed. Dakarai Blurr needs to perfect his algorithm for his sister and serve Radique, so he created a Twi'lek persona who goes by the name Zero.
  • Playing Possum: Maul poisons Zero's food, and the convulsing Twi'lek drops to the ground. But because Maul got the poison from Zero's ally Coyle, Zero knew to switch out his food and only pretends to die.
  • Properly Paranoid: Eogan insists to his father that CO Voystock will take their bribe money and then try kill them rather than help them escape. That fear is correct.
  • Quickly-Demoted Leader: Vas Nailhead and Strabo begin the novel as the leaders of large, feared prison gangs. Within the first third of the book, Maul lures the two gangs into a death trap, then rescues them once Nailhead and Strabo try to abandon the others to save their own skins. This display of cowardice loses the two most of their respect and allows Maul to take over their gangs and demote them to Mooks, beating up Nailhead when he objects.
  • Resolved Noodle Incident: Among other things, the book finally addresses how, when, and where King Veruna and his cabal got their hands on a proscribed nuclear device just prior to their attack on Sojurun late in Darth Palgueis. It is completely unsurprising that Palpatine had a secret hand in it (and his involvement also explains why the Sun Guards, whose duties included monitoring black market channels for such sales, Failed a Spot Check).
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: The Hutt enforcer working as a prison guard who names all of the others after being threatened with death isn't given any special consideration for this when Warden Blirr leaves them all to the mercy of the prison gangs.
  • Ship Tease: Maul and Komari Vosa have a bit of chemistry and mutual respect after initially almost killing each other. Maul views her as a unique Force user and feels compelled to keep her from being killed by a Wolf Worm, while Komari makes him an offer to join her that isn't entirely platonic, and is the one to disable Maul's Explosive Leash with a precise application of the Force.
  • Single Specimen Species: Played with. The readers know the creature Maul is fighting is a Yuuzhan Vong but since this is way back in 33BBY, the other characters have no idea what species that prisoner is. Nor even what sex—some of the guards think it may actually be female. There's also the mysterious Iram Radique, who turns out to be a Chiss long before that species makes contact with the wider galaxy.
  • Stereotype Flip: All prior Nelvaanians who appear prior to this book are honorable beings who use the same level of technology as real-world Native Americans. Izhsmash is a computer hacker and member of an unsavory prison gang.
  • Stranger Behind the Mask: One of the Driving Questions of the book is which prisoner is the mysterious Arms Dealer Iram Radique. He turns out to be a man who is hiding in the tunnels and has never met Maul, rather than one of the many prisoners whom Maul meets throughout his search.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Referenced when Zero reveals in-depth knowledge about the sister of cannibalistic gang leader Vas Nailhead after Vas bullies him.
    Zero: After everything you've done, she hasn't stopped hoping you'll come back and be the boy that she remembers. The one who could always sing and make her laugh with every verse of "Sweet Fronda Fane."
  • Wardens Are Evil: Warden Sadiki Blirr runs (admittedly legal) televised Gladiator Games from inside her prison and is willing to commit blackmail and murder when her profitable operation is threatened.
  • The Watson: Vesto Slipher, an employee of Darth Plagueis secretly monitoring Maul's mission, also serves as someone for Warden Blirr (who thinks he's merely checking on her ability to repay a loan) to explain the prison's workings to.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Almost literally. Coyle, a mouse-like Chadra-Fan, is with Radique when he reveals himself to Maul, then vanishes from the story. However, he likely dies offscreen in the climax.