For a long time, I’ve wanted novels that are less about the fact that they are in the Star Wars Legends universe and more drawing from the universe’s mythology and settings to tell interesting stories of another nature. I’ve long suggested that a story about a detective from CorSec investigating a murder or a daikaiju battle that was instigated by a Sith Lords would be things I would lay my money down for in a heartbeat. That’s why my interest was immediately grabbed when Maul: Lockdown was released.
Lockdown is two different types of stories: it is a prison drama and it is a martial arts story. Regarding the latter, if a fighting game hasn’t been made out of this novel, Lucasfilm Ltd was missing the point. Whether you read the prison drama as the story mode of a Tekken-style game, or the fight scenes as plot-light breaks within Maul’s investigation, the novel works.
This is accomplished by a variety of factors. Darth Maul is a very adaptable character as the Star Wars universe goes, in that there is not a whole lot to him and everything that he is draws from other genres. Maul was casted as a martial arts character, performs the plot role of an action movie villain, is made-up to be the killer from a horror movie, and in his comics and novels takes on the role of an action/spy movie anti-hero. There’s nothing innately Star Wars about any of this, and yet one cannot deny that the Sith Marauder (I have more than enough reasons not to consider him a Sith Lord, but then I’m not familiar with any of his canonical post-death stories) is clearly a part of the Star Wars universe.
For these reasons, Maul was the perfect character for this novel, and he demonstrates it in every scene. The Jason-esque stalker from Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, the spy from Darth Maul: Saboteur, and the martial artist from The Phantom Menace are all given their time to shine in this novel. The book is told through the Zabrak’s point of view, allowing events to unfold themselves as a mystery as Maul continues to piece together the puzzle in order to accomplish his mission. The supporting cast pales in comparison, but they all complement the story nicely and I would not mind seeing any of them again in “Rise of the Empire” era media.
Lockdown is different from anything I’ve seen from Joe Schreiber to date, and that’s not a bad thing. Prior to Lockdown, Schreiber was known to Star Wars fans as “the zombie guy”. He wrote Death Troopers and Red Harvest, two novels that I enjoyed but found things to be disappointed by that essentially added up to “Schreiber is running out of ideas to use these zombies for”. In a brand new environment completely without zombies, Schreiber truly lives up to his potential, writing a story with horror elements but not as solidly in what appears to be his comfort zone as his previous Star Wars novels were. This gives the author room to explore, and explore he does, with plenty of elements for the long-time Star Wars fan to enjoy the extra work.
While I wouldn’t recommend you buy Lockdown for any children that aren’t already fans of Mortal Kombat, I heartily recommend it to any adult looking for a Star Wars-related novel that veers into other genres. Fans of the Darth Maul books to date are likely to love this book (I personally found it to be his best yet), as will most fans of exploration- and mystery-based novels. You don’t even need to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy the book, as long as you don’t mind the fact that it’s populated by aliens.