Book Review: The Wrath of Darth Maul (Legends)
by Franklin Taylor
There are moments in life that offer reflection. In high school I took the leap to volunteer as a counselor in the Outdoor School program to teach science, and be responsible for a select number of middle schoolers for 5 days (last time I checked the program was cut to three days). As an introvert with a social anxiety problem, I struggled to get through my duties. During my first time as a counselor I did have one of counselor high schooler, and together we did okay at our job. It was a total one head of a snake not talking to the other.
However, in my second time as a counselor, something clicked. I did not have a partner to turn to, and had to resort to my own decisions. This led to me building up a teacher to student dynamic with the middle schoolers. If I didn't know what to do, they didn't know because I hid my fear from them. When I was partnered, I constantly sought guidance and my self doubt flowed. In the end, the trials and errors led to me being successful in the end. I felt like I had a purpose. Yet, once I graduated high school, I never went down that path again. I was a crossroads. Switching gears, what was it like Maul to grow up in the shadows of his menacing mentor? Where did Maul think he would go? What did Maul have to go through after being hacked in two and left for dead… Abandoned by his Master, when Maul had trained all those years to do one thing… and then fail. Below is my review of the Legends junior novel The Wrath of Darth Maul by Ryder Windham.
Before I began reading The Wrath of Darth Maul, I saw all of what has released so far of Star Wars The Clone Wars, all of Star Wars Rebels, read Darth Plagueis legends novel, The Sith Hunters legends comic, and Darth Maul: Death Sentence legends comic. In addition, I read some of the short stories of Maul, and the legends comic about Maul and the Black Sun. I was ready… Or so I thought.
At Last We Shall Have Our Revenge
The framing of The Wrath of Darth Maul by Ryder Windham is set during and slightly after the episode “Brothers” from Star Wars The Clone Wars. We see what Maul has become ever since his defeat on Naboo (over 10 years of isolation)! Inside the framing device around this time in Maul's life (rock bottom), we get echoes of memories that bubble to the surface as Maul tries to recount, who he was, and what he was was trying to forget.
These memories end up bridging elements of Maul's past from other stories into a tragic narrative, because ultimately, his training and wrath led to nowhere he imagined it would go. I had figured that this junior novel would kind of hit some highlights of Maul's past… but it took a different path. Like taking the long backroads home. Going places in his past I never knew I wanted to know about Maul. There is one moment early on, with little Maul jumping into the air to see his reflection in the window. The way Windham would build up that moment throughout the narrative, and it's ultimate payoff still gives me this sadness, and relatability I did not know I had..
I wish I had known about this story back, when I read Darth Plagueis legends novel by James Luceno. At the time, there was only so much Luceno could do with Maul inside a very exposition driven story, and I had hoped to learn so much more than I did. However, with The Wrath of Darth Maul it offers up so much interesting different points of views to not only Darth Plagueis novel, but The Phantom Menace as well! I am glad that we didn't get these moments in Darth Plagueis, because ultimately if you read this chronologically there is a lot of overlap from Darth Plagueis to The Phantom Menace to The Wrath of Darth Maul. This creates breathing room, kind of like in TV shows that tell you the other side of the story from a certain character's point of view. Plus, if you simply just want to get to the heart of Maul, this story cuts right to the double bladed lightsaber.
Overall, for such a short read, I ended up enjoying it so much! The Wrath of Darth Maul is a story that builds upon the mythology of Maul, and his constant struggle to haul a giant rock up a mountain, only to have it roll back down again. This book offered me a new point of view into Maul and Sidious’ relationship (Sidious is just so cruel). One can also easily binge read this story while going through a The Clone Wars rewatch.
Additional Reading Suggestions
After finishing The Wrath of Darth Maul I suggest the follow stories:
Darth Plagueis by James Luceno: This legends novel is set across three decades of story telling about Darth Plagueis, his apprentice Darth Sidious, and Sidious’ apprentice Darth Maul. It ultimately is an origin story of sorts that builds upon and expands the events of The Phantom Menace.
Dark Disciple by Christie Golden: This canon novel is set after The Clone Wars: Lost Missions, but before Revenge of the Sith. It is a tale of finding one's path in life, after losing all sense of self. It is a story about compromising nothing and everything. It is finding out what you will become. How far you will go. And a romance novel that involves assassination of the Separatist leader Count Dooku. This novel delves deeper into the mythology of the Witches of Dathomir.
I do want to add that on my reading list, I plan to read Maul Lockdown by Joe Schreiber and Darth Maul Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves. Both look to be great stories! Have you read The Wrath of Darth Maul? Let us know at @UnmistakablySW!