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As the Clone Wars rage, Jedi Master Yoda must once again face one of his greatest adversaries: Count Dooku….

The savage Clone Wars have forced the Republic to the edge of collapse. During the height of the battle, one Jedi Knight escapes the carnage to deliver a message to Yoda on Coruscant. It appears that Dooku wants peace and demands a rendezvous. Chances are slim that the treacherous Count is sincere but, with a million lives at stake, Yoda has no choice.

The meeting will take place on Djun, a planet steeped in evil. The challenge could not be more difficult. Can Yoda win back his once promising pupil from the dark side or will Count Dooku unleash his sinister forces against his former mentor? Either way, Yoda is sure of one thing: this battle will be one of the fiercest he’ll ever face.

Count Dooku faces a period of uncertainty as he questions the choices he has made in his life, the decision to join with Darth Sidious and his role as his apprentice. So while the Clone Wars continue to blaze throughout the galaxy he contacts his former master, Yoda. But is it a trap or is Darth Tyranus genuinely having doubts.

Yoda accepts Dooku’s invitation, but is reluctant to inform the council of his meeting and so he invents a cover story for his absence from the Jedi Temple. Taking with him two Padawans, Scout and Whie, he leaves and embarks upon his journey. But do Whie’s visions of himself and Scout in the custody of Asajj Ventress mean Yoda’s mission will end in tragedy.

In a short space of time Dark Rendezvous has come to be regarded as one of the very best Star Wars novels released, with the feel of the film series and accurate depictions of the main characters. Along with a strong plot and interesting new characters, this instalment of the Clone Wars is among the very best. Sean Stewart writes a great Yoda that mixes both the solemnity of the prequel Yoda with the impish humour of the original trilogy. It is never forgotten that this character is 800 years old, and so all aspects of his characters are touched upon, the humour, gravitas and the wisdom. And it all makes Yoda a character you would like to see a lot more of. As well as Yoda, Dooku is written impeccably, showing the doubt and uncertainty of his path to the dark side. Secreted in an ancient castle, Dooku ponders on his choices and at times gives the reader serious doubts as to his devotion to evil. Expertly written, this adds great depth to the story.

Of the new characters Scout and Whie are the most intriguing. Scout is an underachiever in all things combat, and as such makes you root for her even more, especially when she figures out clever ways of hiding her deficiencies. Scout is far more powerful, with a mysterious history that comes to him in visions that include dreams about his parents and his death at the hands of a Jedi Knight (Anakin most likely, in Revenge of the Sith). Asajj Ventress is shown in vivid detail, highlighting her dedication to the Sith cause and her unique skills. The novel as a whole links in with the movie mythology in a smart way, showing Ben learning of Anakin’s relationship with a woman (but not knowing precisely who), Yoda’s conversation with a spirit Qui-Gon and the decimation of the Jedi order, leaving many Padawans without masters.

All in all Dark Rendezvous is an excellent novel that ties in and fills in many gaps of knowledge concerning the Clone Wars, and as the final official chapter of the Clone Wars novels is a heavyweight ending to an engrossing three-year campaign.

This article was first published on www.lightsabre.co.uk on 3rd June 2006.

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