Cloak of Deception is the first Star Wars novel that I have read. This novel is set before the events of The Phanton Menace and set some things in motion which help better explain potential questions raised in the movie. Some questions that get addressed in this book: What is the deal with the Trade Federation? , Why is Chancellor Valorum ineffective as the leader of the Senate? , How does the Senator from such a small planet has such influence in the Senate? .

We are in the waning days of the Galactic Republic. The Trade Federation has an absurd amount of power, influencing the Senate and maintaining control over trade lanes. They are, in effect, a Galactic Monopoly. Few in the Senate are willing to deal with this growing problem, but there are bands of terrorists attacking the Trade Federation in the Outer Rim. Members of the Trade Federation have entered into an alliance with a mysterious figure only known as Darth Sidious.

The Jedi-Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi get involved in one of the terrorist attacks and sensing a larger problem that is worth getting involved in, Qui-Gon defies the Jedi Council and continues to work to find the root of the terrorist problem and the Trade Federation. Qui-Gon also foils an assassination attempt on Chancellor Valorum, and the implications of this event are far reaching.

I did not have very high expectations regarding this book. I have not heard very many good things about the quality of the Star Wars novels. The beginning of this novel was moderately weak as I didn t find any of the characters to be engaging at all (despite my familiarity with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan). They seemed to be simply acting, and Luceno was not very successful in revealing who these men, women, and aliens were. About halfway through the novel, the story picked up a bit and I was able to get into it a bit more, and I enjoyed the book more than when I began. It was good enough that I m willing to try a few more Star Wars novels and try to work my way through the series for a while longer so that I can see what happens after the events of The Return of the Jedi . This isn t a great book, but it s not bad. It is middle of the road science fiction set in the Star Wars universe.