Friday, May 15, 2015

Star Wars: Lords of the Sith, By Paul S. Kemp Book Review.

I took a long break from Star Wars books. I read some of the New Jedi Order, but gave up after six or seven books. I finished Tarkin last week, and thought it was good enough to try another book part of the official cannon. Lords of the Sith did not disappoint. Is it the best Star Wars book I have ever read? No, it's not, but it's still a great read and worthy addition to the overall canon of Star Wars
The premise of the book is a band of freedom fighters on Ryloth have been making increasingly bolder moves against the Empire, which gets Vader, and later the Emperor involved. The book does an excellent job of showcasing Vader's and the Emperor's power. Vader in particular gets to showcase his talent for mayhem and destruction. The main rebel contingent do not know Vader is a sith lord at the start of the novel. They are amazed and terrified at the way he keeps surviving after facing insurmountable odds in their favor. The other great aspect of the novel is the struggle Vader still feels in the novel. He is very much an evil person, but he still has doubts, and still thinks about people and events from his past. He is very much troubled by his actions. The killings of the younglings at the Jedi temple is brought up. Kemp does a decent job of trying to explain how Vader turned so dark so quickly, but it still is a glaring plot hole from the third movie. His other decisions and demons are the main focus, and it is enjoying to read about his internal conflict. Exploring Darth Vader between the two series makes for an extremely interesting novel, and one can only hope for a spinoff movie.
The Emperor is no slouch in this novel either. We get to read about him showing his power as well, but it is his maneuvering and premonitions which are the real shine to the story. As the reader you never feel like the Emperor is out of control. Everything is happening the way he thinks it will, he never feels in danger, and is calm in the midst of a serious shit storm. This was some of my favorite parts of the novel. Reading how the Emperor maneuvers Vader, Rebels, and Imperial traitors to his own ends. The Emperor is not all knowing, but I think Kemp does a good job of showing how he see's possible futures, and picks the most likely outcomes, based on an individual characters motivations.
The Rebel faction in the book is the weak link. They were interesting and sympathetic. Kemp set this freedom fighter group as the spark for the larger rebellion. The only gripe I have for the book is they were unbelievable in their pursuit of the Emperor and Vader. They kept seeing Vader do superhuman things, and yet they still kept trying to kill him. The only explanation Kemp used for this, was the rebels had come too far to give up on trying to kill the Emperor and Vader. I just did not buy it. After seeing Vader do what he could, there would be no way they should have kept going. Any sane person would have counted what they had accomplished as good, and live to fight another day. Kemp could have made this part of the novel more plausible, but it is a small gripe in otherwise fine effort.
The new Star Wars canon novels have gotten off to a somewhat rocky start, with many not receiving high praise. This novel deserves to be in the cannon. It has a few downsides, but overall adds to the mythology of Vader and Emperor. The internal struggle of Vader, and the machinations of the Emperor show how ruthless they can be to further their goals. The pure evilness of the Emperor shines and makes this novel a must read for any Star Wars fan.
My Thought: Must Read (if Star Wars fan)

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