It’s been six weeks since the release of Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost, an audio original Star Wars book from Random House Audio. Jedi Lost is a Star Wars tale that I never knew I wanted but ended up absolutely loving anyway. Last week marked the fourth anniversary of the death of actor Christopher Lee, who portrayed the antagonist Count Dooku in the Star Wars films, and if you’re looking for something new to honor the actor’s contribution to the saga, you won’t do much better than giving this book a listen.
Jedi Lost is written by author Cavan Scott and is only available in audiobook format. The creators took full advantage of this medium to deliver a magnificent tale about Dooku’s days as a padawan and his life as a Jedi before assuming his ancestral throne as the Count of Serreno. The book is narrated by a full cast who all give fantastic vocal performances. Read on for the full spoiler review.
Due to the busyness of life, I haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and hammer out a review for Jedi Lost until now. Fortunately, however, I have managed to actually listen to this audiobook twice, so I’ve been able to really wrap my head around the story and the characters over the last few weeks. Let me start by pointing out some of the things I really enjoyed about this production that truly set it apart as one of my favorite off-screen Star Wars productions to date.
For starters, the production quality of this audiobook is absolutely fantastic. The vocal performances are stellar across the board, the music is spot on, and the sound effects suck you right into the story. Euan Morton’s Dooku might not sound exactly like Christopher Lee, but he delivers a convincing portrayal of the character that had me sold on his performance very early on in the story. Some of the standout voices include Jonathan Davis as Qui-Gon Jinn, Marc Thompson as Yoda, and perhaps most notably, Orlagh Cassidy as Asajj Ventress.
One of my favorite characters in the audiobook is one that was first introduced in Star Wars: Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray. His name is Rael Aveross, and he was Dooku’s padawan prior to Qui-Gon Jinn. He is featured more prominently in Gray’s book (which I highly recommend reading or listening to either before or after listening to Jedi Lost as they are very closely connected), but he is an important part of Dooku’s story, so he makes a couple of notable appearances in Jedi Lost as well. As a southerner from East Tennessee, I really enjoyed his vocal portrayal in the book.
Rael’s rich baritone underneath his overtly southern American dialect was a little startling at first, having never heard this accent before in Star Wars. I actually suspect that Rael’s strong Sam Elliott vibes will put some people off initially, but I urge you to give him a chance.
Having been picked up by the Jedi Order when he was already five years old, he still retained some memories of his life before the Jedi, as well as his unique Ringo Vindan accent. He may sound like a redneck, but he was chosen by Dooku as his apprentice, so let the implications of that sink in for a minute.
Despite the drawling cadence (that has unfortunately been associated with ignorance in modern America), Rael is a highly intelligent and capable Jedi who is almost unmatched in his skills with a lightsaber. He serves as a mentor to Qui-Gon, and his carefree mentality and willingness to bend the rules when necessary help balance out Dooku’s more severe personality and Jedi orthodoxy.
But enough about Rael, this story is really about the origins of Count Dooku, a.k.a. “Darth Tyranus”. What was Dooku like before he left the Jedi Order and joined forces with Darth Sidious to become a Sith Lord? How did he become the leader of an entire planet? This book answers all those questions and more.
The “now” setting of the book takes place during the Clone Wars as Dooku tasks his assassin, Asajj Ventress, with hunting down his sister, Jenza, who had been recently kidnapped. Fans of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars series may remember Ventress’ introduction where Dooku found her battling multiple foes in an arena. The series may no longer be considered canon, but Ventress’ intro in Jedi Lost harkens back to this moment in the assassin’s life, which I thought was pretty great as I still have a special place in my heart for that series.
Throughout the story, Ventress uncovers tales from Dooku’s past and is amazed to see how much her master had changed throughout the years, realizing that he wasn’t always the cold-hearted Sith Lord that he is today. As Ventress searches for Jenza, she discovers some old holos that reveal the Count’s early years through conversations that he had with his sister throughout the years.
Dooku began his life on the planet Serreno, born to Count Gora and Countess Anya. When his father realized that his son was a Force-sensitive freak, he abandoned him in the wilderness. Fortunately, Dooku was found by the Jedi and taken to the temple to be trained as one of them. As a youngling, Dooku joined the Hawkbat Clan under the Jedi Master Tera Sinube where he befriended fellow student Sifo-Dyas. The youngling clan dynamic bears a similarity to the houses at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series, and to further that comparison, you could say that Sifo-Dyas plays the Ron Weasley to Dooku’s Harry Potter.
During his time as a student at the temple, Dooku began to idolize Lene Kostana, a Jedi with a personal dedication to seeking out Sith relics in effort to better understand the ancient dark order should they ever again become a threat. During his Initiate Trials, Dooku performed admirably when dueling with his friend, Sifo-Dyas, and was hopeful that Kostana would choose him as her apprentice. The crushing disappointment came when Kostana instead chose Sifo-Dyas, but much to everyone’s surprise, Master Yoda himself came forward to take Dooku under his wing personally.
It was rare, though not unheard of, for a member of the Council to take on a padawan, but for Yoda, the Grandmaster, this was an occasion without precedent. At first, Dooku struggled to see eye to eye with his master (no size-related pun intended), as Dooku was all too eager to begin his training in earnest while Yoda couldn’t seem to fit training an apprentice into his busy schedule. Dooku later realized that Yoda had been teaching him one of the most important lessons of all – patience.
Over the years, their relationship improved, but when Yoda discovered that Dooku had been keeping a dangerous secret from him, trust issues between the two began to arise. Years before, Dooku had had a chance encounter with his sister while on a visit to Serreno as a youngling. Although his brother was a complete jerk and his father wanted nothing to do with him, he developed a quick and lasting bond with his sister. Over the years, Dooku had remained in contact with Jenza, which was completely against the rules of the Jedi Order.
It had become apparent that Dooku had developed an attachment to Jenza, which was strictly forbidden, and Yoda was not too happy about it. Dooku promised to cut off his contact with Jenza, but when his mother died, he didn’t think twice about journeying to Serreno to be there for his sister. Things quickly went south when he had a confrontation with his father Gora, and it would be some time before Dooku would speak to his sister again.
Later, Dooku was contacted by Jenza with a plea for help. After the death of their father, her brother Ramil had taken the throne, but in his selfishness, the people had begun to rebel against him. Angered at the Jedi for refusing to send aid due to Serreno’s self-proclaimed autonomous stance regarding their relationship with the Republic, Dooku went without their approval, along with Kostana and his friend Sifo-Dyas, who had become severly plagued by dark visions from the Force in recent years.
On Serenno, Dooku overthrew his brother, unleashing an ancient Sith war beast in the process. The dragon-like creature had lain dormant for years, but it had been awakened years ago accidentally when it had sensed Dooku’s presence. The beast was a relic of the ancient war that Dooku’s ancestors had fought against the Sith, overthrowing the dark Force-users on their own without the help of the Jedi.
Things got out of hand quickly, however, when the war beast raged beyond Dooku’s ability to control it, and Dooku was forced to kill the creature to regain control of the situation. With Serreno leaderless and his faith in the Jedi Order shaken, Dooku made the decision to leave the Order and take his rightful place as the Count of Serreno to lead his people into a bright new era. His sister loved him deeply, but she was also wary of the rising darkness that she had seen in her brother. As time went on, she eventually decided to reach out to the Jedi in concern for her brother and his most recent actions.
When Ventress secured Jenza from her captors, she was surprised to learn that this was not a simple rescue mission. She was an assassin after all, not a savior, and Dooku ordered her to kill Jenza for attempting to betray him to the Jedi. This was the turning point in Dooku’s fall to utter darkness, killing off the only person that he truly loved in the whole galaxy. With Jenza dead, he was free of his only weakness, free to serve his new master without reservation.
There is a lot more in this book story-wise that I won’t cover here, but that is the general outline for what happens to Dooku along the way. His subtle flirtation with the dark side through his obsession with Sith relics and ancient prophecies culminate in the moment that he fully succumbs to his darker desires when he takes control of the Sith war beast, bending it to his will. All chances of the former Jedi finding redemption are then lost when he orders the death of his own sister.
There is no question that Dooku was once a good man with noble intentions, but his attachment to his sister was his undoing, which only further justifies the Jedi Council’s concern over Anakin beginning his training so late in the game with his own attachment to his mother in The Phantom Menace. In both cases, it would seem the Jedi had legitimate need for concern. But as with anything, it wasn’t so simple. There were multiple factors that led to Anakin’s fall, as well as Dooku’s. But the situation does shine more light on the dangers of allowing someone with such power to give in to their emotions, giving place for these feelings to become the toxic fuel for their connection to the dark side of the Force.
Jedi Lost was a fascinating story, and like I said, one that I didn’t know I wanted. But since Master & Apprentice gave me a little taste of life with Dooku as a Jedi through Qui-Gon’s experiences as a padawan, I found myself wanting to know more about those years in Dooku’s life, and this tale delivers on that and so much more.
I strongly recommend this one, and I really hope we see more audio productions of this caliber in the future. The cast was great, the music was perfect, and the story was entertaining. What more could you ask for, really?
Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost is available now. Happy listening Star Wars fans!