There is a great disturbance in the Force. . . . From the sleek ships of the glimmering Coruscant skyscape to the lush gardens of pastoral Naboo, dissent is roiling. The Republic is failing, even under the leadership of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, elected ten years earlier to save the crumbling government. Separatists threaten war, and the Senate is hopelessly divided, unable to determine whether to raise an army for battle or keep the fragile peace. It is a stalemate that once broken, could lead to galactic chaos.
Mischievous and resolved, courageous to the point of recklessness, Anakin Skywalker has come of age in a time of great upheaval. The nineteen-year-old apprentice to Obi-Wan Kenobi is an enigma to the Jedi Council, and a challenge to his Jedi Master. Time has not dulled Anakin’s ambition, nor has his Jedi training tamed his independent streak. When an attempt on Senator Padmé Amidala’s life brings them together for the first time in ten years, it is clear that time also has not dulled Anakin’s intense feelings for the beautiful diplomat.
The attack on Senator Amidala just before a crucial vote thrusts the Republic even closer to the edge of disaster. Masters Yoda and Mace Windu sense enormous unease. The dark side is growing, clouding the Jedi’s perception of the events. Unbeknownst to the Jedi, a slow rumble is building into the roar of thousands of soldiers readying for battle. But even as the Republic falters around them, Anakin and Padmé find a connection so intense that all else begins to fall away. Anakin will lose himself—and his way—in emotions a Jedi, sworn to hold allegiance only to the Order, is forbidden to have.
Based on the story by George Lucas and the screenplay by George Lucas and Jonathan Hales, this intense and revealing novel by bestselling author R. A. Salvatore sheds new light on the legend of Star Wars—and skillfully illuminates one of our most beloved sagas.
About the Author
R. A. Salvatore was born in Massachusetts in 1959. He is the acclaimed author of the DemonWars trilogy: The Demon Awakens, The Demon Spirit, and The Demon Apostle, as well as Mortalis, Bastion of Darkness, Ascendance, and the New York Times bestseller Star Wars® The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Diane, and their three children.
Date of Birth:January 20, 1959
Place of Birth:Leominster, MA
Read an Excerpt
The four starships skimmed past the great skyscrapers of Coruscant, weaving in and out of the huge amber structures, artificial stalagmites rising higher and higher over the years, and now obscuring the natural formations of the planet unlike anywhere else in the known galaxy. Sunlight reflected off the many mirrorlike windows of those massive structures, and gleamed brilliantly off the chrome of the sleek ships. The larger starship,
which resembled a flying silver boomerang, almost glowed,
smooth and flowing with huge and powerful engines set on each of its arms, a third of the way to the wingtip. Alongside it soared several Naboo starfighters, their graceful engines set out on wings from the main hulls with their distinctive elongated tails.
One of the starfighters led the procession, veering around and about nearly every passing tower, running point for the second ship, the Naboo Royal Cruiser. Behind that larger craft came two more fighters, running swift and close to the Royal Cruiser,
shielding her, pilots ready to instantly intercept any threat.
The lead fighter avoided the more heavily trafficked routes of the great city, where potential enemies might be flying within the cover of thousands of ordinary vehicles. Many knew that Senator
Amidala of Naboo was returning to the Senate to cast her vote against the creation of an army to assist the overwhelmed Jedi in their dealings with the increasingly antagonistic separatist movement,
and there were many factions that did not want such a vote to be cast. Amidala had made many enemies during her reign as
Naboo’s Queen, powerful enemies with great resources at their disposal, and with, perhaps, enough hatred for the beautiful young Senator to put some of those resources to work to her detriment.
In the lead fighter, Corporal Dolphe, who had distinguished himself greatly in the Naboo war against the Trade Federation,
breathed a sigh of relief as the appointed landing platform came into sight, appearing secure and clear. Dolphe, a tough warrior who revered his Senator greatly, flew past the landing platform to the left, then cut a tight turn back to the right, encircling the great structure, the Senatorial Apartment Building, adjacent to the landing platform. He kept his fighter up and about as the other two fighters put down side by side on one end of the platform,
the Royal Cruiser hovering nearby for just a moment,
then gently landing.
Dolphe did another circuit, then, seeing no traffic at all in the vicinity, settled his fighter across the way from his companion craft. He didn’t put it down all the way just yet, though, but remained ready to swivel about and strike hard at any attackers,
if need be.
Opposite him, the other two fighter pilots threw back their respective canopies and climbed from their cockpits. One,
Captain Typho, recently appointed as Amidala’s chief security officer by his uncle Panaka, pulled off his flight helmet and shook his head, running a hand over his short, woolly black hair and adjusting the black leather patch he wore over his left eye.
“We made it,” Typho said as his fellow fighter pilot leapt down from a wing to stand beside him. “I guess I was wrong.
There was no danger at all.”
“There’s always danger, Captain,” the other responded in a distinctly female voice. “Sometimes we’re just lucky enough to avoid it.”
Typho started to respond, but paused and looked back toward the cruiser, where the ramp was already lowering to the platform. The plan had been to get the contingent off the exposed platform and into a transport vehicle as quickly as possible.
Two Naboo guards appeared, alert and ready, their blaster rifles presented before them. Typho nodded grimly, glad to see that his soldiers were taking nothing for granted, that they understood the gravity of the situation and their responsibility here in protecting the Senator.
Next came Amidala, in her typical splendor, with her paradoxical beauty, both simple and involved. With her large brown eyes and soft features, Amidala could outshine anyone about her, even if she was dressed in simple peasant’s clothing, but in her Senatorial attire, this time a fabulous weave of black and white, and with her hair tied up and exaggerated by a black headdress, she outshone the stars themselves. Her mixture of intelligence and beauty, of innocence and allure, of courage and integrity and yet with a good measure of a child’s mischievous-ness,
floored Typho every time he looked upon her.
The captain turned from the descending entourage back to
Dolphe across the way, offering a satisfied nod in acknowledgment of the man’s point-running work.
And then, suddenly, Typho was lying facedown on the permacrete,
thrown to the ground by a tremendous concussion,
blinded for a moment by a brilliant flash as an explosion roared behind him. He looked up as his vision returned to see Dolphe sprawled on the ground.
Everything seemed to move in slow motion for Typho at that terrible moment. He heard himself yelling “No!” as he scrambled to his knees and turned about.
Pieces of burning metal spread through the Coruscant sky like fireworks, fanning high and wide from the wreckage. The remaining hulk of the Royal Cruiser burned brightly, and seven figures lay on the ground before it, one wearing the decorated raiments that Typho knew so very well.
Disoriented from the blast, the captain stumbled as he tried to rise. A great lump welled in his throat, for he knew what had happened.
Typho was a veteran warrior, had seen battle, had seen people die violently, and in looking at those bodies, in looking at
Amidala’s beautiful robes, at their placement about the very still form, he instinctively knew.
The woman’s wounds were surely mortal. She was fast dying,
if not already dead.
“You reset the coordinates!” Obi-Wan Kenobi said to his young Padawan. Obi-Wan’s wheat-colored hair was longer now,
hanging loosely about his shoulders, and a beard, somewhat unkempt,
adorned his still-young-looking face. His light brown
Jedi traveling clothes, loose fitting and comfortable, seemed to settle on him well. For Obi-Wan had become comfortable, had grown into the skin of Jedi Knight. No longer was he the intense and impulsive Jedi Padawan learner under the training of
His companion at this time, however, appeared quite the opposite.
Anakin Skywalker looked as if his tall, thin frame simply could not contain his overabundance of energy. He was dressed similarly to Obi-Wan, but his clothing seemed tighter, crisper,
and his muscles under it always seemed taut with readiness. His sandy-blond hair was cropped short now, except for the thin braid indicative of his status as a Jedi Padawan. His blue eyes flashed repeatedly, as if bursts of energy were escaping.
“Just to lengthen our time in hyperspace a bit,” he explained.
“We’ll come out closer to the planet.”
Obi-Wan gave a great and resigned sigh and sat down at the console, noting the coordinates Anakin had input. There was little the Jedi could do about it now, of course, for a hyperspace leap couldn’t be reset once the jump to lightspeed had already been made. “We cannot exit hyperspace too close to Coruscant’s approach lanes. There’s too much congestion for a safe flight. I’ve already explained this to you.”
“Anakin,” Obi-Wan said pointedly, as if he were scolding a pet perootu cat, and he tightened his wide jaw and stared hard at his Padawan.
“Yes, Master,” Anakin said, obediently looking down.
Obi-Wan held the glare for just a moment longer. “I know that you’re anxious to get there,” he conceded. “We have been too long away from home.”
Anakin didn’t look up, but Obi-Wan could see the edges of his lips curl up in a bit of a smile.
“Never do this again,” Obi-Wan warned, and he turned and walked out of the shuttle’s bridge.
Anakin flopped down into the pilot’s chair, his chin falling into his hand, his eyes set on the control panels. The order had been about as direct as one could get, of course, and so Anakin silently told himself that he would adhere to it. Still, as he considered their current destination, and who awaited them there,
he thought the scolding worth it, even if his resetting of the coordinates had bought him only a few extra hours on Coruscant.
He was indeed anxious to get there, though not for the reason
Obi-Wan had stated. It wasn’t the Jedi Temple that beckoned to the Padawan, but rather a rumor he had heard over the comm chatter that a certain Senator, formerly the Queen of Naboo,
was on her way to address the Senate.
The name resonated in young Anakin’s heart and soul. He hadn’t seen her in a decade, not since he, along with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, had helped her in her struggle against the Trade
Federation on Naboo. He had only been ten years old at that time, but from the moment he had first laid eyes on Padmé,
young Anakin had known that she was the woman he would marry.
Never mind that Padmé was several years older than he was.
Never mind that he was just a boy when he had known her,
when she had known him. Never mind that Jedi were not allowed to marry.
Anakin had simply known, without question, and the image of beautiful Padmé Amidala had stayed with him, had been burned into his every dream and fantasy, every day since he had left Naboo with Obi-Wan a decade ago. He could still smell the freshness of her hair, could still see the sparkle of intelligence and passion in her wondrous brown eyes, could still hear the melody that was Padmé’s voice.
Hardly registering the movement, Anakin let his hands return to the controls of the nav computer. Perhaps he could find a little-used lane through the Coruscant traffic congestion to get them home faster.
Klaxons blared and myriad alarms rent the air all about the area, screaming loudly, drowning out the cries from the astonished onlookers and the wails of the injured.
Typho’s companion pilot raced past him, and the cap-tain scrambled to regain his footing and follow. Across the way,
Dolphe was up and similarly running toward the fallen form of the Senator.
The female fighter pilot arrived first, dropping to one knee beside the fallen woman. She pulled the helmet from her head and quickly shook her brown tresses free.
“Senator!” Typho yelled. It was indeed Padmé Amidala kneeling beside the dying woman, her decoy. “Come, the danger has not passed!”
But Padmé waved the captain back furiously, then bent low to her fallen friend.
“Cordé,” she said quietly, her voice breaking. Cordé was one of her beloved bodyguards, a woman who had been with her,
serving her and serving Naboo, for many years. Padmé gathered
Cordé up in her arms, hugging her gently.
Cordé opened her eyes, rich brown orbs so similar to
Padmé’s own. “I’m sorry, m’Lady,” she gasped, struggling for breath with every word. “I’m . . . not sure I . . .” She paused and lay there, staring at Padmé. “I’ve failed you.”
“No!” Padmé insisted, arguing the bodyguard’s reasoning,
arguing against all of this insanity. “No, no, no!”
Cordé continued to stare at her, or stare past her, it seemed to the grief-stricken young Senator. Looking past her and past everything, Cordé’s eyes stared into a far different place.
Padmé felt her relax suddenly, as if her spirit simply leapt from her corporeal form.
“Cordé!” the Senator cried, and she hugged her friend close, rocking back and forth, denying this awful reality.
“M’Lady, you are still in danger!” Typho declared, trying to sound sympathetic, but with a clear sense of urgency in his voice.
Padmé lifted her head from the side of Cordé’s face, and took a deep and steadying breath. Looking upon her dead friend,
remembering all at once the many times they had spent together,
she gently lowered Cordé to the ground. “I shouldn’t have come back,” she said as she stood up beside the wary Typho, tears streaking her cheeks.
Captain Typho came up out of his ready stance long enough to lock stares with his Senator. “This vote is very important,” he reminded her, his tone uncompromising, the voice of a man sworn to duty above all else. So much like his uncle. “You did your duty, Senator, and Cordé did hers. Now come.”
He started away, grabbing Padmé’s arm, but she shrugged off his grasp and stood there, staring down at her lost friend.
“Senator Amidala! Please!”
Padmé looked over at the man.
“Would you so diminish Cordé’s death as to stand here and risk your own life?” Typho bluntly stated. “What good will her sacrifice be if—”
“Enough, Captain,” Padmé interrupted.
Typho motioned for Dolphe to run a defensive perimeter behind them, then he led the stricken Padmé away.
Back over at Padmé’s Naboo fighter, R2-D2 beeped and squealed and fell into line behind them.