On October 1, 2019, Del Rey Books – an imprint of Random House – published the hardcover edition of Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost, the complete script to the full cast audio drama by British writer Cavan Scott. The publication of the script followed the July release of the audiobook published by Random House, which – like all Star Wars fiction vetted by the Lucasfilm Story Group – part of the official Star Wars canon.
Although Dooku: Jedi Lost’s “present day” is set sometime during the Clone Wars – Assajj Ventress is one of the point of view characters, as is Count Dooku himself – the main narrative is set before the events of Star Wars Episode I:The Phantom Menace and is the “origins” story of “Darth Tyranus,” the Sith name assumed by Dooku when we meet him in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
As the main antagonist that the Jedi Order deals with directly in Attack of the Clones and throughout much of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the most prominent Jedi Master ever to leave the Order was obviously created by George Lucas to illustrate that even a fully trained and experienced Jedi could be turned to the Dark Side. But even though the films and animated TV series dropped a few hints as to why Dooku forsook the Light and became Darth Sidious’ apprentice, Star Wars fans didn’t get the whole back story – until now.
Darth Tyranus. Count of Serenno. Leader of the Separatists. A red saber, unsheathed in the dark. But who was he before he became the right hand of the Sith? As Dooku courts a new apprentice, the hidden truth of the Sith Lord’s past begins to come to light.
Dooku’s life began as one of privilege—born within the stony walls of his family’s estate, orbited by the Funeral Moon where the bones of his ancestors lie interred. But soon, his Jedi abilities are recognized, and he is taken from his home to be trained in the ways of the Force by the legendary Master Yoda.
As he hones his power, Dooku rises through the ranks, befriending fellow Jedi Sifo-Dyas and taking a Padawan of his own, the promising Qui-Gon Jinn—and tries to forget the life that he once led. But he finds himself drawn by a strange fascination with the Jedi Master Lene Kostana, and the mission she undertakes for the Order: finding and studying ancient relics of the Sith, in preparation for the eventual return of the deadliest enemies the Jedi have ever faced.
Caught between the world of the Jedi, the ancient responsibilities of his lost home, and the alluring power of the relics, Dooku struggles to stay in the light—even as the darkness begins to fall. – Publisher’s dust jacket blurb, Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost
As I said earlier, Dooku’s story is set within in a “frame” story that takes place when Assajj Ventress, the disillusioned Jedi turned assassin, is still training on Serenno – Dooku’s home world – as his secret Sith apprentice. One night, while she is still torn between serving her new Master and running away to an uncertain fate, she discovers Dooku’s secret holojournals, which the imperious Count has been recording since he was a Jedi initiate under the tutelage of several Jedi Masters, including Grand Master Yoda.
In essence, Dooku: Jedi Lost is a series of flashbacks that reveal significant events in Dooku’s life, starting with his accidental reunion with his brother Ramil and sister Jenza as a 12-year-old Jedi Initiate. Dooku is on Serenno with a group of fellow Initiates and Padawans accompanying Yoda and other Masters during the planet’s equivalent of a World’s Fair. The young Jedi-in-training are present in order to observe life in the galaxy that the Order is sworn to protect as the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy.
For Dooku, this Celebration – which is intended to be a showcase to show the Republic at large what Serenno has to offer in the way of trade and commodities – is a life-altering experience. After saving Ramil and Jenza (not knowing that they are his siblings) from a gang of ruffians, the young Jedi is overcome with the odd feeling that Serenno is his home, even though he left the planet when he was but a baby and grew up in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.
Dooku: Jedi Lost follows its protagonist over a span of time that covers over fifty years in the life of the skilled but conflicted Dooku and the growing malaise in both the Republic and the Jedi Order. In his youth, Dooku is a dedicated Jedi apprentice who is not content unless he excels both academically and as a wielder of a lightsaber.
Nevertheless, even as he trains in the ways of the Force as Yoda’s Padawan learner, Dooku already has traits that foreshadow his eventual turn to the Dark Side. As a boy, he finds ways to bend – even break – some of the sacrosanct rules of the Jedi Order, often aided and abetted by his fellow Jedi apprentice, Sifo-Dyas.
And, as the years pass, Dooku’s arrogance and feelings of superiority not only lead to rivalries with other young Jedi, but he breaks the Order’s edicts on forming attachments and secretly starts communicating with his sister Jenza.
This secret rebellion against the monastic rules that the Jedi have codified will have repercussions later on, but it is only one of many steps that Dooku will take on his path to his downfall. Along the way, Dooku will be influenced by the mysterious Altiri Jedi Master Lene Kostana, who is journeying from one corner of the galaxy to another in search of Sith relics as part of a secret mission for the Jedi Council. And even as he takes on a talented apprentice named Qui-Gon Jinn, Jedi Master Dooku finds that his loyalties are being tugged in different directions as his home world experiences several crises after Dooku’s father, Count Gora, dies.
Although Random House Audio has released full-cast audio recordings of Star Wars material before (William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy by Ian Doescher got the audio drama treatment a few years before), this is the first time in recent memory that a Star Wars author pens a canonical work that is not a novel turned into an audio book.
In a way, Cavan Scott, who has written several installments of the Star Wars Choose Your Adventure and Wild Space series, has channeled the late Brian Daley, the author of the Legends Han Solo Trilogy and the 1981-1996 National Public Radio Dramas based on the Star Wars trilogy. He could have chosen to write Dooku: Jedi Lost as a novel, but he chose instead to tell his story of how and why Dooku forsook the Light Side of the Force and left the Jedi Order nearly a decade before we meet him in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones as an audio drama.
The interesting thing about the script – Dooku: Jedi Lost’s audio version isn’t sold on compact discs, so I have not heard it – is that rather than use a single Narrator to set up scenes and get us up to speed on things, the author chooses to use a frame story set during Ventress’ stint as Dooku’s Sith-trained assassin, then tells us the Tragedy of Count Dooku through the perspectives of various characters, including the Force ghost of Ky Narec, Ventress’ Master from when she, too, was a Jedi Padawan. We learn why Dooku’s parents gave their Force-sensitive son to the Jedi, how Dooku advanced through the Jedi ranks while keeping a lot of secrets from his Masters in the Order, and how, eventually, the future Count of Serenno began to see both the Jedi Order and the Republic it served as corrupt and in need of either change – or total replacement with a new system of governance.
If you are a fan of the Skywalker Saga and the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series, you’ll find many familiar characters in Dooku: Jedi Lost. Obviously, “Darth Tyranus” – played so well by the late Sir Christopher Lee in Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, and the theatrically-released pilot for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Corey Burton in the rest of the episodes in Star Wars: The Clone Wars – is the script’s protagonist. He is joined by Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda, Sifo-Dyas, Tera Sinube, and Rael Averross – Dooku’s first Padawan – as well as the mysterious and compelling Lene Kostana.
We also get to meet Dooku’s family – Count Gora, Anya, Ramil, and Jenza – and see how and why Dooku inherited his title of Count of Serenno. It’s a dysfunctional family group straight out of a Shakespearean tragedy, in which ambition, sibling rivalry – and sibling loyalty – and a desire for power all play a part in transforming Dooku from an aloof but stalwart Jedi Knight to the evil Darth Sidious’ right-hand man.
This is a well-written and entertaining story, full of all the elements that make Star Wars such a fun and exciting space fantasy franchise. There’s a lot of adventure, drama, character development, and even some lightsaber action, not to mention the occasional use of Dark Side powers such as Force chokes and Force lightning.
And that’s only in the script version! Maybe someday I’ll give in to temptation and get the audio drama to get the whole Dooku: Jedi Lost experience. For now, though, the script will suffice.
I give Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost four of five stars.
Until next time, Constant Reader, May the Force be with you…always.