Star Wars: Darth Bane: Rule of Two
After a surprisingly enjoyable read in Star Wars: Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, I couldn't wait to read the next novel in the Darth Bane Trilogy. Things had just gotten interesting and I couldn't wait to see what Bane had in store for his apprentice in this next novel.
Star Wars: Darth Bane: Rule of Two picks up where Path of Destruction leaves off. The aftermath of the Brotherhood of the Sith's release of the thought bomb has left the planet of Ruusan in shambles. The Jedi have lost many a prominent member, including General Hoth, their leader in battle. The Sith are no more...or so the Jedi think. Darth Bane has survived, although not untarnished by the thought bomb, plagued by severe headaches and visions of now-dead Sith enemies.
To accomplish his Sith Empire through the Rule of Two (one master, one apprentice), Bane must find someone young enough to be malleable, yet powerful enough in the use of the Force to master the ways of the Sith. He comes upon a young girl named Zannah with a great deal of anger in her heart and an affinity for the Force and offers her an apprenticeship in the ways of the Sith. To prove herself, she unleashes her power on her long lost cousin, a Force user with confused alliances. Bane deems her a worthy apprentice and sends her on her first mission.
As Bane travels the world in search of more knowledge in the Sith powers from believed lost Sith holocrons, the Jedi begin a path to rebuilding, placing them under the power of a non-Force wielding Republic Chancellor. Though Johun, once apprentice to General Hoth and now full-fledged Jedi, has presented evidence that the Sith may still exist, the Jedi Council believes that the Sith have been destroyed, deeming the evidence sketchy at best.
When Johun comes across a hermit healer on Ruusan with irrefutable evidence regarding the existence of a Sith duo, the Jedi begin to take the survival of the Sith seriously. But with a grown Zannah now slinking about undercover in their own Jedi Archives, will it be too late?
Rule of Two is a fast and interesting read. I'm not used to a novel in which the bad guys are the most important beings in the novel. How do you root for the bad guys? And yet, somehow, author Drew Karpyshyn makes Zannah one of those characters the readers root for. I found myself conflicted, hoping Zannah could pass all of the trials set before her by Bane, yet still hoping that her character could be redeemed in the eyes of the Force. You find yourself liking and rooting for Johun in the novel as well, but quickly realize that, as a novel explaining the rise of the Sith under Bane, the dark side is definitely going to win this battle of wills.
One thing that annoys me a bit about this novel is the fact that it repeats the mood and attitude...I suppose it would be called arrogance...of the Jedi in refusing to believe that the Sith could have survived. The same attitude appears in The Phantom Menace. At least the clouding of the Jedi's minds towards the existence of the Sith in that movie trilogy is explained in the Darth Bane Trilogy. I know that those who do not study and understand history are doomed to repeat it again, but it is just difficult to believe that a society so steeped in their own history could not see it repeating, but, when you consider our own world, I guess it is possible.
I loved watching Bane gather knowledge - the traps he has to evade, the trials he must go through. The writing was extremely descriptive and I could actually imagine it in the back of my mind quite vividly...it played out like the trials players of a video game have to face before reaching their eventual goals. And the ways in which Zannah changes over the course of the novel from the young, somewhat less than innocent girl once known amongst family as Rain, to the hard-hearted apprentice with thoughts of surpassing her master and thus destroying him. Thoughts of redemption begin to erode as the novel moves forward, especially once you read the surprising twist at the end.
Star Wars: Darth Bane: Rule of Two is a great action packed novel with plenty of information about the Sith for a Star Wars fan to chew on. We've already learned so much about the Jedi, that it's a nice change to learn more about the ways of the Sith. I can't wait to see what happens in the final novel of the trilogy.