Audio drama review: Get a feel for the Sith Lord's beginnings in Dooku: Jedi Lost.
The idea of a Star Wars audio drama might seem a bit niche, but there have actually been loads. Classic comics like Dark Empire and Tales of the Jedi got adapted for audio, and in 1981, National Public Radio did a wonderful version of the original movie, with actors like Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels presenting a dramatic reading of the story.
So Dooku: Jedi Lost is the latest in a long line of audio dramas set in the Star Wars universe.
Written by author Cavan Scott, it's a cross between those old-school adaptations and a modern audiobook. It's essentially a short novel -- clocking in at 6 hours and 21 minutes -- read by a full cast.
It reveals the early days of Jedi Master Dooku, who'll ultimately take the super villainous title "count," become a Sith Lord and kick off a galactic conflict in Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (where he's played the late Christopher Lee). We saw quite a bit of him as a bad guy in The Clone Wars CGI animated series, but this is our first look at his early days and it's told from the perspective of his apprentice, Asajj Ventress.
Initially, we dive into Dooku's days as a Jedi trainee, as he and fellow youngling Sifo-Dyas explore the Jedi Temple and get into mischief. Think Harry Potter-esque shenanigans like exploring the dark halls after hours. Things rapidly become more intense as Dooku gets older and his morality becomes twisted, but it's fascinating to see him as a good man and a charismatic hero as we move through his life.
Along with the fun character moments, we get sweet action too. One of the best sequences sees Dooku teaming up with Padawan Qui-Gon Jinn, making this a great companion to recently released Qui-Gon-focused novel Master & Apprentice. The pair chase down criminals like a pair of maverick space cops. Author Scott is clearly having fun with them -- a whole tale about their adventures together would be most welcome.
Since it's an audio drama, production values are high. Orlagh Cassidy gives Ventress a suitably sinister purr and plenty of cynicism, while Euan Morton's portrayal of Dooku evolves nicely as the character ages and his voice changes.
Jonathan Davis' Qui-Gon has a stronger Northern Irish accent than actor Liam Neeson, who played the character in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. (Note that Neeson is actually from Northern Ireland, unlike Davis). We also get the usual array of Star Wars sound effects and music, grounding us nicely in that universe.
But the medium hurts the experience at times -- there are parts that you'd appreciate being able to reread to fully grasp what's happened.
Some scenes are populated with unfamiliar Jedi, so you'll need to pay close attention lest you lose track of who's speaking. And the last few chapters are pretty complex, to the point where they might require multiple listens. This is a more frustrating prospect than simply rereading a section.
Despite these niggles, Dooku: Jedi Lost offers a surprising look at one of the many intriguing Star Wars characters we only glimpse in the movies. We know where this guy ends up, so it's great to finally see where he began.
Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost, from Random House Audio, is available to purchase and download from April 30.
Originally published April 30.