Ah, a story featuring the scary-looking, staff-sabered Sith apprentice, Darth Maul! If you are reading this review, you've most likely seen Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace, so you'll no doubt recall Maul as the strong, silent type. Admittedly, I was more than a tad hesitant upon embarking on this book's voyage. Does Maul speak at all? What if entire conversations held with Maul only involve him snarling at people before attacking them with that crazy-cool light saber? My goodness, why am I actually reading this via audio book, of all things?
Well, let me tell you, I was more than pleasantly surprised. In fact, the only way I could've been happier is if this were officially a part of the Star Wars Canon, as opposed to it being a Star Wars Legends title in Star Wars' Extended Universe.
Set after many of the events of James Luceno's excellent work, Darth Plagueis, author Joe Schreiber weaves a satisfyingly complex tale of Maul being sent on an undercover mission to an interstellar, super-maximum security prison full of some of the worst criminals in the galaxy. At his master Darth Sidious' request, Maul is tasked with the duty of ferreting out an almost mythical, Keyser Soze-esque arms dealer--rumored to be an anonymous inmate at the prison--and persuading him into providing materiel for Sidious' latest dastardly plot. To make things even more enjoyable, this prison full of baddies also plays host to illicit fighting matches between inmates! Chosen at random, the prisoners are locked in mortal combat, as the rest of known space gambles upon the outcome. If that isn't enough, Maul is also under strict orders not to use the Force to accomplish his goals, for fear of revealing his true self, as well as that of his evil master.
Additionally, Jonathan Davis' turn as narrator for this audio edition is quite spectacular, and worthy of mention. From his wide range of characterizations, to the aural ambience of the chapter introductions (seriously, listen on headphones), I found this to be top-notch work.
Equal parts detective mystery and action-packed sci-fi adventure (trust me, the fight scenes are visceral and intense. So don't expect anything like this), Maul Lockdown also provides much-needed exploration of the titular character, portraying Darth Maul as intelligent, brooding, and an occasionally conflicted servant of his master. While none would accuse him of being overly talkative, this portrayal of Maul is much closer to a complete character, and one more than able to carry an entire book. Full of twists and turns, Maul Lockdown will quickly have you pondering its "whodunnit" nature, as well as rooting for its red and black main character.
Highly recommended for Star Wars fans, teenaged years & up.