Among the myriad of books and comics that have flooded us as readers of the new Star Wars canon we have a rather unique entry being recently released. Star Wars – Dooku: Jedi Lost is an audio-drama, the likes of which has rarely been seen within the modern Star Wars story telling template.
Audio-dramas are a bit different than audiobooks. An audio-drama is treated more like an audio-stage play, where there generally isn’t a narrator and the characters talk through the entire presentation. These audio-dramas are often livened up with sound effects and music to complete the illusion that you are listening to a play or a movie. Audio-dramas gained great popularity back in the days of radio shows when we didn’t have much visual stories coming from our TV sets.
To give a brief history of the audio-drama within Star Wars we are transported back, WAY back, to the early days of Star Wars. One of the original audio-dramas we ever got as fans was the beloved radio-dramas written by Brian Daley for NPR starting in 1981. These were full cast re-imaginings of the original trilogy with A New Hope being stretched out to over six hours of storytelling perfection. The two other movies within the OT eventually followed with Return of the Jedi being made over 15 years later to complete the set.
During the days of Legends stories we got many other audio-dramas in the ’90s, most often in the form of comic adaptations like Dark Empire and several Knights of the Old Republic stories. We even got audio-dramas of the Dark Forces graphic novel adaptions of the video games. But since the 1990s our audio-drama buffet has dwindled down to the presentations of Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series. But even then, of the eight books in the series, we only have gotten four in audio-drama format; the OT and The Force Doth Awakens.
This brings us to the only audio-drama within the official Star Wars canon; Dooku: Jedi Lost written by Cavan Scott and performed by a full cast. I know of Cavan Scott mostly from his work writing for the Star Wars Adventures comics by IDW and it is nice to see him be able to stretch out here and really delve into a story.
Dooku: Jedi Lost plays as a novel for the most part. The biggest impact of this being an audio-drama is that many of the characters aren’t identified as they are speaking, you have to be paying attention to the voices themselves. The sound effects are just effects here as well; there is no callout to them as you would read within a book, which makes sense. As many readers and collectors (such as myself) have wondered, Lucasfilm has made no announcement that this will eventually be released in print, or even in a physical media such as CD. The only place you can get this right now is on audio-book sites such as Audible.
As for the story itself, the book is obviously about Count Dooku, but it is not framed through Count Dooku. The book is framed through Asajj Ventress just as she becomes Dooku’s apprentice. The placement of the story frame feels as if it is just before Episode II while Dooku is still gathering his Separatist forces, but the story itself goes back through time from Dooku’s early childhood through to about Episode I time. And there are many surprises in store with the book during this period.
Being an audio-only book, I had a bit of trouble trying to keep track of everything that was going on within the book. It is a rather dense story and has many pieces that tie together for the various pieces. The names and voices of the actors also gets muddled in my mind occasionally throughout the story. I feel that in order to get the full experience of the book it would actually be pertinent to go back and relisten to it, which at a little over six hours in length, is not a major feat to do.
But one of the big things that stands out for me, especially in the early sections when Dooku was a preteen, was how many Legends references were just dropped into the story. The Sorcerers of Tund was a big one that I noticed, and it was only a mention. But there were lots of little Easter eggs hidden throughout if you knew what you were looking for.
One of the things that I really enjoyed about the story was delving into the Sith lore and how much did the Jedi really know about the Sith during this 1,000 years since they went quiet. I also really loved getting to know Dooku more. He is a character we see in Episodes II and III but we never really get a chance to know. He pops up in The Clone Wars TV series, but even then he’s an enigma. Here, he is fleshed out. He becomes a sympathetic character and we really see the problems with the Jedi Order. And the biggest thing is that those problems make sense. The reason he left the order makes sense. Although the reason has been altered from the Legends continuity, I really like this reasoning. It makes Dooku a much more relatable character.
And Asajj too, who is a co-star to the audio-drama. She is in this book as much, if not more than Dooku, and we see her struggles with the light side within her. Not to spoil too much but we see her inner light battling with Dooku’s darkness and how she deals with the two halves. The audio-drama aspect of this plays out perfectly and it entwines her Legends backstory with what we have been given about her canon backstory so far.
One of the major things about being an audio-drama is the performances, and here, the actors were top-notch. There were times that some of the voices melded together in my brain and I couldn’t tell the difference between a few of them, though. My biggest qualm with that would be Sifo Dias and Dooku were too similar, but I could generally tell who they were based on context. And speaking of Sifo Dias, this novel could really be called “The Tragedy of Sifo Dias.” I wish we got more of him. His story arc was so fascinating to me that my biggest problem with this book is not the stuff we got but the stuff we didn’t get. I wanted more of Dooku’s relationship with his first padawan. And I wanted to know how everything went down with Sifo. Sifo in general was such a tragic figure that his presence as a Jedi made for an interesting conundrum for the Order itself.
Overall, I would have to say this was a great listen. The overall storyline makes sense with how it is laid out and how we jump from one time period in Dooku’s life to the next but I would have loved more. I want more with Dooku as a student. His master-padawan teaching style and how his padawans got along with him. That is a major missing puzzle in his life story and this book dances around it. The performances were generally spot on and a lot of fun. Dooku’s first padawan, Rael Averross, was definitely an audio highlight for me. As the first audio-drama within the new canon I feel this was a home run and I hope they are planning for more of these, but maybe with a physical release possible for those of us collectors of such materials.