Star Wars‘ characters range from the iconic Luke Skywalker to the minor Sidon Ithano (the red guy in The Force Awakens). Some of the series’ villains are most memorable. After all, Star Wars arguably has the greatest cinematic villain in history, Darth Vader. He could possibly even be the best villain of all time, but that’s a debate for another day. However, one villain that doesn’t get much recognition is Darth Tyrannus, properly known as Count Dooku. Frankly, he is overlooked in the movies, only appearing as the main antagonist in Attack of the Clones, and then swiftly being killed off in the opening act of Revenge of the Sith. Even with his limited screen time, the audience receives various teases of his origins. ‘Why is he a Count? He trained under Yoda? He was Qui-Gon Jinn’s master? This guy sounds awesome.’ These are precisely the questions that I pondered growing up. Thankfully, Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott, gives an extensive insight into this elegant and unconventional Sith Lord.
In the story, we learn about Dooku’s life from about twelve years old, all the way to his departure from the Jedi Order. His story is told through journal entries and holograms discovered by his apprentice/assassin, Asajj Ventress. This approach, while not my favorite, works well for the story. Throughout his journey as a Jedi, he is tied to his royal family on the planet Serenno. When the connection between Dooku and his birth family is made early on, I immediately predicted the direction it was heading, but there were still events that shocked me involving his royal family, including his brother and sister, Ramil and Jenza, respectively.
The overarching plot involves Ventress on a mission to find Dooku’s sister, Jenza, whom he has not contacted in some time. Throughout her quest, Ventress pieces together Dooku’s history starting from his childhood. The parts involving Dooku’s early life are reminiscent of the Harry Potter series, in which the characters are young and full of wonder, just like Harry at Hogwarts. As a Jedi initiate, Dooku befriends Sifo-Dyas, a Jedi who is also mentioned in Attack of the Clones, albeit extremely briefly. Dooku and Sifo-Dyas are like Harry and Ron. Dooku also has a rival, named Arath, almost identical to Harry’s rival Draco Malfoy. Dooku is incredibly eager to learn the ways of the Jedi, fascinated with their culture and teachings.
The highlights of the story were Dooku’s various relationships with his fellow Jedi, including his masters, companions, and apprentices. One of the main focuses is his relationship with Lene Kostana, a Jedi Master with a specialization in dark side artifacts. As an initiate, Dooku wishes to become her Padawan. Dooku’s connection with a dark side creature of Serenno draws him to Lene’s knowledge. Unfortunately for him, Yoda claims Dooku as a Padawan. Despite this, Lene still exists as a mentor figure for Dooku since she takes on Sifo-Dyas, Dooku’s best friend, as her own apprentice.
Sifo and Dooku reminded me of a lot of my personal friendships. Their demeanors, attitudes, and ambitions were strangely like my personal friendships, especially with my best friend. They banter, crack inside jokes, get into trouble, and rely on each other emotionally. They have each other’s backs through thick and thin, whether it’s when Arath picks on them or when they’re saving civilians on backwater planets struck with tragedy. They inevitably grow apart because of their different paths, which was heartbreaking. In their adult lives, Dooku teaches at the temple while Sifo explores and runs missions with Master Kostana. This theme is relatable because friendships often diminish while remaining ever-present.
Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoyed Dooku’s relationship with his Padawan/Apprentice, Rael Averross. While many know that Dooku taught Qui-Gon Jinn, Rael was Dooku’s first Padawan. Dooku and Rael are sharply contrasted. The former is elegantly trained and regimented, while the latter is sloppier, less disciplined, but much more relaxed and mellow. Rael’s robes are often unclean and rugged while Dooku’s are clean-pressed. Rael speaks with a heavy Ringo Vindan accent (which in the audiobook was essentially a cowboy voice) while Dooku retains his British accent, respecting the late Christopher Lee. Simple aspects like this invested me in their dynamic. Witnessing two completely different types of characters as friends was inspiring.
The novel excels at showing Dooku’s frustrations with the Jedi Council, which contributes to his inevitable withdrawal from the Jedi Order. The book hammers home the idea that the Jedi are a flawed organization of heroes. It echoes Anakin’s fall, and I saw a lot of similarities between the two characters. Although Anakin is not in the book, he and Dooku share the characteristic of doing the unexpected, even disobeying the Jedi Council. There are a lot of parallels and as a massive geek of the franchise, I loved those tidbits.
Dooku: Jedi Lost was initially released in April 2019 as an audiobook via Amazon’s Audible. Around 6 hours long, the audio play is fully dramatized, including sound effects and musical scores from the various Star Wars films. It is like listening to a movie. In October of 2019, Del Rey published a corresponding screenplay. I alternated between listening to the audio version during my frequent commutes and then reading the screenplay. However, I highly recommend listening to the audio format, as the quality is astoundingly high, creating an atmospheric experience. From lightsaber slashes to starships departing from shady spaceports, to thundering explosions amidst grand battles, it is an incredible experience. Unfortunately, there are some downsides. The book flips back and forth in time, which can be distracting. For example, at one point in the book, there is an intense set-piece involving Ventress followed by a break where she starts reading Dooku’s journal. In the audio play, the voice transitions make the situation unclear. I had to rewind a few times just to understand what was going on. This happened more than once throughout my time listening. When I read the book, the descriptions were clearer.
The overall plot of Dooku: Jedi Lost was enjoyable; however, the time jumps were sometimes jarring. I’m sure this was a difficult task since there is a large time period to cover. Dooku is seasoned and hardened as an elderly man when audiences see him in the movies. There are significant moments in his story that I thought was a shame to glance over. It would have been great to see more of his time training with Yoda, teaching at the temple, and ruling over Serenno as Count. The story’s biggest mistake was not showing his introduction to Palpatine and his inevitable fall to the dark side. Skipping over this massive turning point makes the story feel incomplete. I do not blame Scott for having to speed things along. I believe that if it had been a novel from the start, it would have been much more fleshed out, allowing for more details. It is also possible that the Lucasfilm story group wanted to withhold certain points for future Star Wars stories.
Dooku: Jedi Lost was a worthwhile read (or listen). Any Star Wars fan who is intrigued more about the Jedi Order as a whole before The Phantom Menace and, of course, Dooku’s evolution as a character, should definitely check it out.