Read Attack of the Clones Online

Authors: R.A. Salvatore

Attack of the Clones

Turn to the back of the book for a sneak preview of the first of six novels set against the backdrop of the Clone Wars. The excitement and intrigue begin with
Star Wars: Shatterpoint
, starring Jedi Master Mace Windu!

“PLENTY OF ACTION,
ADVENTURE, AND WONDER …

A lightsaber duel written by R. A. Salvatore. Do I need to say anything more about this book? Not for anyone who understands Salvatore’s writing style and his flair for combat scenes. But that fight is only one of the highlights of
Star Wars:
Episode II:
Attack of the Clones.

—The Monroe News-Star

“The book is a virtual treasure trove of undiscovered
Clones
scenes, as well as thoughts and insights into the main characters, as Salvatore works to explain the back story above and beyond what can be seen on the big screen.… In the end, Salvatore’s book stands alone as a great fantasy novel. It’s a wonderful representation of an action-packed movie with just enough surprises to pique the reader’s interest. Salvatore is a master author who works well within the
Star Wars
universe that Lucas has created, interpreting his vision flawlessly.”

—Deseret News

“[R. A. Salvatore] brings to the
Star Wars
epic a crisp writing style that makes you turn each page feverishly and the ability to capture a certain ominousness.”

—The Tampa Tribune

“Grand-scale battle scenes that are believable, breathtaking, and complex.”

—Telegram & Gazette
(MA)

A Del Rey® Book
Published by The Random House Publishing Group

Copyright © 2002 by Lucasfilm Ltd. ® & ™ where indicated. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Del Rey Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

D
EL
R
EY
is a registered trademark and the Del Rey colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

www.starwars.com
www.starwarskids.com
www.delreybooks.com

eISBN: 978-0-307-79565-6

v3.1

Contents

A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY.…

H
is mind absorbed the scene before him, so quiet and calm and … normal
.

It was the life he had always wanted, a gathering of family and friends—he knew that they were just that, though the only one he recognized was his dear mother
.

This was the way it was supposed to be. The warmth and the love, the laughter and the quiet times. This was how he had always dreamed it would be, how he had always prayed it would be. The warm, inviting smiles. The pleasant conversation. The gentle pats on shoulders
.

But most of all there was the smile of his beloved mother, so happy now, no more a slave. When she looked at him, he saw all of that and more, saw how proud she was of him, how joyful her life had become
.

She moved before him, her face beaming, her hand reaching out for him to gently stroke his face. Her smile brightened, then widened some more
.

Too much more
.

For a moment, he thought the exaggeration a product of love beyond normal bounds, but the smile continued
to grow, his mother’s face stretching and contorting weirdly
.

She seemed to be moving in slow motion then. They all did, slowing as if their limbs had become heavy
.

No, not heavy, he realized, his warm feelings turning suddenly hot. It was as if these friends and his mother were becoming rigid and stiff, as if they were becoming something less than living and breathing humans. He stared back at that caricature of a smile, the twisted face, and recognized the pain behind it, a crystalline agony
.

He tried to call out to her, to ask her what she needed him to do, ask her how he could help
.

Her face twisted even more, blood running from her eyes. Her skin crystalized, becoming almost translucent, almost like glass
.

Glass! She was glass! The light glistened off her crystalline highlights, the blood ran fast over her smooth surface. And her expression, a look of resignation and apology, a look that said she had failed him and that he had failed her, drove a sharp point straight into the helpless onlooker’s heart
.

He tried to reach out for her, tried to save her
.

Cracks began to appear in the glass. He heard the crunching sounds as they elongated
.

He cried out repeatedly, reached for her desperately. Then he thought of the Force, and sent his thoughts there with all his willpower, reaching for her with all his energy
.

But then, she shattered
.

The Jedi Padawan jumped to a sitting position in his cot on the starship, his eyes popping open wide, sweat on his forehead and his breath coming in gasps.

A dream. It was all a dream.

He told himself that repeatedly as he tried to settle back down on the cot. It was all a dream.

Or was it?

He could see things, after all, before they happened.

“Ansion!” came a call from the front of the ship, the familiar voice of his Master.

He knew that he had to shake the dream away, had to focus on the events at hand, the latest assignment beside his Master, but that was easier said than done.

For he saw her again, his mother, her body going rigid, crystallizing, then exploding into a million shattered shards.

He looked up ahead, envisioning his Master at the controls, wondering if he should tell all to the Jedi, wondering if the Jedi would be able to help him. But that thought washed away as soon as it had crossed his mind. His Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, would not be able to help. They were too involved in other things, in his training, in minor assignments like the border dispute that had brought them so far out from Coruscant.

The Padawan wanted to get back to Coruscant, as soon as possible. He needed guidance now, but not the kind he was getting from Obi-Wan.

He needed to speak with Chancellor Palpatine again, to hear the man’s reassuring words. Palpatine had taken a great interest in him over the last ten years, making sure that he always got a chance to speak with him whenever he and Obi-Wan were on Coruscant.

The Padawan took great comfort in that now, with the terrible dream so vivid in his thoughts. For the Chancellor, the wise leader of all the Republic, had promised him that his powers would soar to previously unknown heights, that he would become a power even among the powerful Jedi.

Perhaps that was the answer. Perhaps the mightiest of the Jedi, the mightiest of the mighty, could strengthen the fragile glass.

“Ansion,” came the call again from the front. “Anakin, get up here!”

S
hmi Skywalker Lars stood on the edge of the sand berm marking the perimeter of the moisture farm, one leg up higher, to the very top of the ridge, knee bent. With one hand on that knee for support, the middle-aged woman, her dark hair slightly graying, her face worn and tired, stared up at the many bright dots of starlight on this crisp Tatooine night. No sharp edges broke the landscape about her, just the smooth and rounded forms of windblown sand dunes on this planet of seemingly endless sands. Somewhere out in the distance a creature groaned, a plaintive sound that resonated deeply within Shmi this night.

This special night.

Her son Anakin, her dearest little Annie, turned twenty this night, a birthday Shmi observed each year, though she hadn’t seen her beloved child in a decade. How different he must be! How grown, how strong, how wise in the ways of the Jedi by now! Shmi, who had lived all of her life in a small area of drab Tatooine, knew that she could hardly imagine the wonders her boy might have
found out there among the stars, on planets so different from this, with colors more vivid and water that filled entire valleys.

A wistful smile widened on her still-pretty face as she remembered those days long ago, when she and her son had been slaves of the wretch Watto. Annie, with his mischief and his dreams, with his independent attitude and unsurpassed courage, used to so infuriate the Toydarian junk dealer. Despite the hardships of life as a slave, there had been good times, too, back then. Despite their meager food, their meager possessions, despite the constant complaining and ordering about by Watto, she had been with Annie, her beloved son.

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