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[ Star Wars Books & Comics ]
Staff Review.

[Maul: Lockdown]

Maul: Lockdown
Author: Joe Schreiber
Published: 2014

Reviewer: Ewan, Star Wars Books & Comics
Reviewed: 2014
Review rating: 4 / 5

Spoilers are kept to minimum however cannot guarantee spoiler-free.

Although publisher supplied copy for review purposes, all opinions are those of reviewer.

Publisher's Summary:
It's kill or be killed in the space penitentiary that houses the galaxy’s worst criminals, where convicts face off in gladiatorial combat while an underworld gambling empire reaps the profits of the illicit blood sport. But the newest contender in this savage arena, as demonic to behold as he is deadly to challenge, is fighting for more than just survival. His do-or-die mission, for the dark masters he serves, is to capture the ultimate weapon: an object that will enable the Sith to conquer the galaxy.
Sith lords Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious are determined to possess the prize. And one of the power-hungry duo has his own treacherous plans for it. But first, their fearsome apprentice must take on a bloodthirsty prison warden, a cannibal gang, cutthroat crime lord Jabba the Hutt, and an unspeakable alien horror. No one else could brave such a gauntlet of death and live. But no one else is the dreaded dark-side disciple known as Darth Maul.

"Joe Schreiber returns to the galaxy far, far away in this his third Star Wars novel and it is a bit of a departure for Schreiber in that while we have plenty of descriptive gore that we associate with Schreiber's writing style, this story lacks the horror element we got in either Death Troopers or Red Harvest. Moreover, as part of his mission parameters, Maul is tasked by Darth Sidious that he is not, under any circumstances, to reveal his true nature as a Sith Lord: in essence Maul is forbidden to use the Force or his lightsaber. For a Star Wars novel starring such a prominent Force user as Darth Maul this element may seem alien to the reader, yet Schreiber is able to create a character whose strengths are both physical: Maul literally rips his opponents apart with his bare hands; and psychological: Maul is dedicated to his Master, his mission and his purpose - there are moments when Maul chastises himself for even considering questioning his master's purpose for him. And it is in this that we discover the true nature of Maul's character: where Sidious and Plagueis maybe masters of political machinations and skulduggery, Maul is the sledgehammer they use to crack the nut - in this case the prison inmates and guards, and anything else that gets in his way. Maul's position within the hierarchy of the prison's story is enhanced by Schreiber's choice of pseudonym for Maul while undercover: Jagannath; the name of a Hindu deity with red and black skin tones, which roughly translates into "Lord of the World". And there's no doubt that within this prison Maul is indeed lord of his world.
"Like his previous Star Wars novels, Schreiber's writing style is both succinct and non-stop. He dispenses with any opening exposition instead throwing both the reader and Maul into their first brutal fight. He reveals the reasons behind Maul's mission, to discover the identity of the mysterious arms dealer Iram Radique, in bite-sized chunks over the course of the first act. This only fuels and adds to the intrigue that Schreiber creates throughout his story: Radique, does he or does he not exist? If he does exist, could he be one of the prisoners, one of the guards, one of the wardens, or perhaps...? If he doesn't, then is this a wasted mission for Maul? Unfortunately this intrigue that Schreiber manufactures from the outset is let-down by the denouement at the end. However, this should not detract from what is a fast-paced story with plenty of nods to the further expanded Star Wars universe with appearances from Jabba the Hutt, the Bando Gora and even Schreiber's own prison ship and characters from Death Troopers.
"While the physical gore descriptions of the fight scenes and some of the characters may not appeal to all readers, Maul: Lockdown is a fast-paced, hard-action story with enough intrigue and if you ever needed the Sith to hit the fan, what better Sith could you ask for than Darth Maul."

Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber is available in hardback from Century in the UK and Del Rey in the US.




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