Science Fiction

Star Wars: Lords of the Sith

Author: Paul S. Kemp

Published By: Del Rey

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Though I have been worried about the Disney effect on my Star Wars universe, I had to admit that the cover of the latest Star Wars book was quite intriguing.  With the exception of the short scene in Return of the Jedi, we have never really seen Darth Vader and the Emperor fighting side by side...and even then, they weren't really fighting together, but in tandem, and then against each other.  I wondered who they were fighting against in this novel and I like Paul S. Kemp's work, so I picked up a copy of Star Wars: Lords of the Sith.

                Star Wars: Lords of the Sith takes place on and around the planet Ryloth, home of the Twi'leks.  Ryloth is rich in spice and deep in the slave trade, both of which the Empire seeks to control.  For the Empire, this is just an acquisition worth keeping and growing.  For the people of Ryloth, this is just another unwanted occupation. 

                Freedom fighter Cham Syndulla fought begrudgingly alongside the Republic in its attempt to oust the Separatists years ago.  Now, he is struggling to rid his planet of the Imperial rule that came about after the Clone Wars.  Fighting at his side are a number of Twi'leks, including the former slave and now fierce fighter Isval, and a handful of humans who believe in his cause.  Cham has an unlikely ally in an Imperial underling to the Moff. 

                Belkor Dray has been feeding Cham reliable information that have led to small successes in exchange for making Moff Mors look bad.  But a new piece of information that has been passed Cham's way will strain that working relationship to the brink.  It would seem that an Imperial Star Destroyer is headed towards Ryloth to investigate the uprisings.  On board are some rather important guests - Senator Orn Free Taa, Darth Vader and the Emperor. 

                The theory is that if you take the head off of the snake, the rest of it will die.  Cham's hoping the same holds true for the Empire.  He and Isval are especially looking forward to taking out Vader, who has been responsible for many deaths within their camp.  Their only hope at success is assistance from Belkor Dray, but making the Moff look bad is not as dangerous as outright treason.  Can Cham convince Dray to help them?

                This novel takes place in the new Star Wars universe which somewhat annoys me - the new timeline is quite short, leading me to believe that all of the novels I have read in the past, other than the Clone Wars series, will be discounted.  And yet, I can't say I didn't enjoy reading this book. 

                Star Wars: Lords of the Sith offers a unique look into the early relationship between Darth Vader and the Emperor.  At this stage of the game, Palpatine is not quite certain of his apprentice, wondering if his past will serve to turn him against his Master too soon.  Meanwhile, there is a very real struggle within Vader regarding his past.  Returning to Ryloth brings back quite a few memories of his time fighting during the Clone Wars and his relationship with Padme.  Vader struggles to use those memories effectively...anger makes him stronger.  But could it be that he was manipulated into this whole thing by his Master.  If so, why not strike him down now?

                Reading about the Emperor and Darth Vader fighting together against the members of the Free Ryloth movement and the planet's own predatory species was incredible.  The two apart are forces to be reckoned with, but seeing them fighting together, realizing just how powerful they are when their powers are combined is just amazing.  Great writing there by Paul S. Kemp - I could imagine every scene involving Vader and the Emperor vanquishing enemies in my mind's eye.  This book also showed us how the Emperor kept Vader in his sway, using him to perform incredible atrocities that would make an ordinary man loathe himself, hoping that Vader would be able to turn his more sentimental emotions off completely and making him into a hardened monster eager to do his Master's bidding.

                I also loved the character of Isval and the sexual tension that existed between her and Cham.  I loved that she was dedicated to the Free Ryloth cause, but also to her own cause, freeing sex slaves in the lower levels of her home world and taking them away from the pain she suffered in her youth.  Cham is also a terrific character.  I loved his character in the animated Clone Wars series and was happy to see him in this book.  I love how the authors in the Star Wars universe always find a way to keep Darth Vader from crossing the paths of former allies like R2D2, C3P0 and, in this case, Cham Syndulla.  What would have happened if they had actually met on the battlefield?  Would Syndulla recognize the Anakin in Vader?  Would the Anakin still left in Vader realize he was about to destroy an ally and stop himself?

                I can honestly say that I enjoyed reading Star Wars: Lords of the Sith.  Perhaps because it doesn't mess too much with the timeline I know and love.  I wonder what the other books will be like leading up to the new release in December.  Until then, I will be cautiously reading, reporting to my faithful readers my likes and dislikes within this newly revamped Star Wars galaxy.  May the Force be with us all!


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