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Setting the Scene
The Vision of the Jedi
Excerpt - Chapter One
Excerpt - Chapter One
James Luceno: Navigating the Labyrinth of Evil
January 25, 2005

Setting the Scene

[ James Luceno: Navigating the Labyrinth of Evil ]
[ James Luceno: Navigating the Labyrinth of Evil ]
Making the wait for Episode III's cinematic debut easier for Star Wars fans is Del Rey's release of Labyrinth of Evil, the new Star Wars novel that directly ties into the beginning of Episode III. Author James Luceno writes this new adventure, with access to detailed Episode III information from Lucasfilm, ensuring an authoritative prelude to the final Star Wars chapter.

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker embark on their last big mission together before the events of Episode III. It is the Chosen One's first assignment with Obi-Wan as a full-fledged Jedi Knight. The Clone Wars are nearing their climactic resolution, with the Jedi investigating tenuous leads as to the location of Darth Sidious, the long-rumored mastermind behind the dark events clouding the galaxy. But such a search leads deep into a web of lies, and an explosive adventure that sets the stage for Episode III.

Author James Luceno answers a few questions about this hotly anticipated hardcover release that hits bookstores today.

Labyrinth of Evil is said to be the prequel to Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Does the novel take place immediately prior to the film? What will audiences who see film without having read the book be missing?

Labyrinth of Evil takes place in the final month of the Clone Wars and leads directly into the opening moments of Revenge of the Sith. It supplies plot and character backstory that George Lucas didn't have the time -- or inclination -- to include in the film. In addition, the novel addresses a couple of story points that remain unresolved from Attack of the Clones. With regard to whether audiences will be missing out by not reading the book, Sue Rostoni, of Lucas Licensing, put it best when she asked fans to consider whether knowing precisely how Princess Leia received the Death Star plans is essential to enjoying A New Hope. Personally, I like the fact that Star Wars films always begin in the midst of the action and leave the backstory for audiences to fill in. But I jumped at the chance to provide the back-fill.

Did you have access to the shooting script for Revenge of the Sith in writing Labyrinth of Evil? Were you able to look at any early rushes from the film?

I read the first version of the script, and was kept updated on revisions until the last possible moment -- that is, until no further edits could be made to the manuscript. I read the novelization as it was being written, and, because I was also working on the Episode III Visual Dictionary, had access to film stills and props, and spoke frequently with Sue Rostoni, Pablo Hidalgo (Episode III Set Diarist), and Jonathan Rinzler (author of The Making of Revenge of the Sith), all of whom were either attending dailies or seeing screenings of the rough cuts. Even so, Labyrinth contains a few minor continuity errors, owing to my attempts to be specific when I probably should have been vague.

Can you set the scene of the novel for us?

Following on the heels of events in Jedi Trial and Dark Rendezvous, Anakin Skywalker has been dubbed a Knight, and Master Obi-Wan Kenobi has been named to the Jedi Council. The Separatists have been pushed from the galactic core, and the war has taken a toll on everyone. The Outer Rim sieges have been going on for four months, and Anakin and Padmé haven't seen each other for at least that long. Labyrinth is the first chance to focus the action on Anakin and Obi-Wan, both as warriors and close friends. The first half of the book takes them through a series of adventures, during which they gather clues which coalesce in the second half, setting the stage for the opening sequence of Revenge of the Sith.

Some have commented that the war the Republic faces parallels the uncertainty the U.S. faces in its current war. Were these intentional parallels or is this a case of reality mirroring art?

Views espoused by the characters do not necessarily reflect those of the writer, and no intentional parallels are made. So it must be a case of reality mirroring art. In public and in private George Lucas has said that the prequel films show the way in which democracies fall and dictators come to power. But galactic politics, even the war itself, are backdrop. Ultimately, Star Wars is a family saga about loss and redemption, and the repercussions that spring from cutting deals with the devil. Revenge's political scenes will probably end up on the cutting room floor, in any event, though they are included in the novelization, and with luck will show up on the DVD.

It's interesting to see how the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan has evolved over the course of the films and novels since Episode I The Phantom Menace. How would you describe that relationship in Labyrinth of Evil?

Jealousy and concern undermine the depth of Anakin and Obi-Wan's friendship. Obi-Wan fears that he has failed to persuade Anakin of the danger inherent in anger, and to convince him to distance himself emotionally from Padmé. He also worries about Chancellor Palpatine's continuing influence on Anakin. By contrast, Anakin is torn between being the Jedi Knight Obi-Wan wants him to be and following his own destiny as the Chosen One. Anakin wants to have it all and has convinced himself that the Jedi are holding him back. More important, he no longer accepts that the Jedi can win the war. He wishes that the Senate would simply follow Palpatine's lead.

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