Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter
|Cover artist||David Stevenson|
February 1, 2001
November 27, 2001
|Media type||Hardcover & Paperback|
|Preceded by||Cloak of Deception|
|Followed by||The Phantom Menace|
Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter is a 2001 novel set in the Star Wars galaxy. It is a prequel novel occurring before the events of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. The book was written by Michael Reaves. The cover art was by David Stevenson. The book takes place 32.5 years before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The book is non-canonical to the Star Wars "Legends" brand as well as the Canonical Star Wars brand.
After years of waiting in the shadows, Darth Sidious is taking the first step in his master plan to destroy the Jedi Order and take over the galaxy. He meets secretly with his Neimoidian contacts in the Trade Federation to finalize details in the plan to blockade the planet Naboo. But one member of the delegation is missing, and Sidious does not need his Force-honed instincts to suspect betrayal. He orders his apprentice, Darth Maul, to hunt the traitor Hath Monchar down. Maul completes this task by decapitating Monchar with his double-bladed lightsaber, but learns from Monchar that he had also recorded proof of the Sith's manipulation of the Naboo blockade on a holocron, to sell for profit. A suicidal attack by a Trade Federation-hired bounty hunter forces Maul to retreat before claiming the holocron, making an explosion which kills the bounty hunter, and by the time he returns to its hiding place, the holocron is in the possession of its intended purchaser, a Corellian con man named Lorn Pavan.
Pavan, although at first purely motivated by money and deeply resentful of the Jedi for taking his son away from him, realizes the nature of the information and seeks to take it to the Jedi Temple. Maul, for his part, is ordered by Sidious to not only retrieve the holocron, but kill Lorn, his droid partner I-Five, and anyone else who might have knowledge of the information. Meanwhile, a Jedi Padawan named Darsha Assant is faced with the Jedi Trials to finally become a full-fledged Jedi Knight by saving Oolth the Fondorian, a Black Sun member, and get some information out of him of Black Sun's destruction (which had been caused by Maul in the previous novel Darth Maul: Saboteur). Darsha saves Oolth from a gang in one of the lower levels of Coruscant, but when she and the Black Sun member zip-line toward the top of a building, Darsha and Oolth are attacked by hawk-bats. Eventually, the two go high enough where the hawk-bats force Darsha to release Oolth and he falls to his death on the lower levels.
Lorn and I-Five meet up with Yanth the Hutt, a crime lord in one of the lower levels in Coruscant, to get money out of the deal, but Maul arrives to kill Yanth by impaling one of his lightsaber blades into him and murders his bodyguards. This gives Lorn and I-Five the opportunity to escape. Jedi Master Anoon Bondara and his padawan, Darsha Assant, who are on a mission related to the Black Sun crime syndicate, find Lorn and I-Five. The two Jedi agree to escort Lorn and I-Five to the Temple, but the foursome are attacked by Maul, leading up to a battle on the top of a building. Bondara manages to nearly kill Maul at the cost of his own life, leaving Lorn, I-Five, and Darsha to work their way to the Temple from the underground caverns of Coruscant, while Bondara is killed in an explosion that also nearly kills Maul. Maul, however, is not seriously wounded, and immediately begins tracking the three again.
After escaping various dangers of Coruscant's subterranean levels, Lorn, Darsha and I-Five are once again set upon by Maul, who is intent on fulfilling his mission. Darsha, realizing that she cannot defeat Maul, draws out their duel long enough for I-Five to hastily repair a carbonite-freezing unit and seal Lorn and the droid inside it. Darsha plunges her lightsaber into a pile of volatile gas canisters, causing an explosion that Maul barely escapes and kills Darsha. Upon surveying the scene, Maul feels no trace of Lorn in the Force, not realizing that the carbonite hibernation has made his lifeforce all but undetectable.
An automatic timer frees Lorn from hibernation, and he decides to go after Maul on his own to try to retrieve the holocron. When I-Five attempts to come along, Lorn deactivates him and asks a friend to take the droid, who knows about the blockade, to the Jedi Temple. Lorn's friend, however, decides to keep I-Five for himself - after giving the droid a memory wipe. Lorn, unaware of this, uses a piece from the body of a subterranean creature to block his presence in the Force, and follows Maul to a Republic space station. Lorn sneaks up on and stuns Maul momentarily before Maul awakens and strikes out, severing Lorn's right hand and pursuing him through the station's service tubes.
Lorn barely makes it into the public area of the station where Maul cannot follow, and unwittingly gives the holocron to Senator Palpatine of Naboo, not realizing the senator's true identity is Maul's Sith Master, Darth Sidious. After a brief period of recovery, Lorn starts to leave his quarters, only to be confronted by Maul one final time. Maul by this point considers Lorn a worthy opponent and kills him quickly, then leaves, his task completed.
In 1999, Del Rey aired a TV commercial for the novel.