Retro Reviews: ‘Lords of the Sith’ by Paul S. Kemp

June 9, 2020 at 12:01 am | Posted in Books, Random House, Regular Feature, Retro Reviews, Reviews, Star Wars, Star Wars Books | Leave a comment
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Lords of the Sith, by Paul S. Kemp, is the fourth adult novel released in the Star Wars canon in April of 2015.

To start with, this book has an extra special place in my heart, as it was the first Star Wars canon novel I read in December of 2015 (right when The Force Awakens came out) and I’ve been reading Star Wars books ever since.

Paul S. Kemp did a great job on this novel. His writing is exciting and scary and nerve wracking. I knew throughout the story that Vader and the Emperor were going to survive and be fine, but I found myself cheering for the Rebels and wishing and hoping that they would be successful. There were times where I bought into the excitement and thought that perhaps the Lords of the Sith would be taken down for good. Any author wants their audience to become immersed in the story, and Kemp absolutely nailed that here.

The plot of this book is fascinating and works perfectly for a Star Wars novel. A group of Rebels learn that Vader and the Emperor are taking a Star Destroyer over to Ryloth, and they plan to destroy the ship and the Sith along with it. What the insurgents don’t know is that it’s a trap, and that the Sith planned on them attacking anyway. The plot reminded me a lot of the 2008 Tom Cruise film Valkyrie. In that movie, Cruise and a number of others attempt to assassinate Hitler, although they are ultimately unsuccessful and those who are on the inside end up executed. There were several scenes that I clearly imagined that movie as being the inspiration for this story. That context made the book even more fascinating for me, and I didn’t realize it until about halfway through.

Another thing that this book does is a kind of surprise to the reader. Based off of the title of the book and the image on the cover (which is gorgeous by the way, props to Aaron McBride and Scott Beil for that) lead you to believe that Vader and the Emperor will be the main characters of the novel. While they are the focal point of the plot, almost 70 percent of the novel is told from the Rebels and other Imperials perspective. Vader and the Emperor are barely in the book until the final act. This is somewhat similar to John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi, which is almost entirely told not from Kenobi’s perspective, but rather the people of Tatooine. The reason I believe it works so much here is that you already know what Vader and the Emperor are like, especially if you have read a lot of the comics and other media. However, this book focuses on the layman and the average people who are fighting against the Empire. This makes them extra relatable and makes up for the lack of Vader and Palpatine in the book.

The Rebel characters were done very well. I loved the inclusion of Cham Syndulla, as he was a carryover from The Clone Wars television series. His arc in this book is pretty substantial, almost as big as his arc is in the TV show. I think that Kemp definitely knows how to take characters on an internal and external journey. The other Rebel character, who really is the focal character of the novel, was Isval. I thought that she was so compelling and even when I disagreed with her, I could totally understand where she was coming from. I was shocked at some of her decisions in the book (even though I had already read it) and was on the edge of my seat to find out what she was going to do. Most of the rest of the Twi’lek characters were too similar for me and therefore weren’t as interesting.

What was probably my favorite character in the book was Belkor, who really felt like a character right out of Valkyrie. I was surprised how early on it was revealed that he was a traitor and his nervousness and fear throughout the book was palpable. I honestly couldn’t remember what happened to him and I was so shocked at what happened to him.

Moff Mors was pretty interesting as a character and she is very different than any other Moff that we’ve been introduced to. There was one aspect of her story that I didn’t like, but it was really minor and only took up about two paragraphs in the book, so it really isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things.

The weakest part of the novel for me was the third act of the book. While the climax was exciting and scary and captivating, the lead up with all the lyleks was fairly boring and I really didn’t care, since I knew at that point that nothing would happen to Vader or Palpatine. It wasn’t written bad at all, it just wasn’t captivating like the other parts of the book.

I really liked all of the tie-ins to The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. It was written in such a way that if you don’t know The Clone Wars, you won’t really be missing much. That is probably the best part of the canon. There are references, but they are written in such a way that you are never lost if you don’t get them.

As a whole, this is a wonderful book. Paul S. Kemp produced a fun, exciting, well written book. It doesn’t have quite the depth of meaning or the overabundance of references that I prefer in books, but it was more fun than most Star Wars books you’ll read. Except for the minor problems I mentioned above, I don’t have too much against it. Four out of five. Great job Paul S. Kemp.

My next book review will be of Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple, the first and so far only television script adaptation in the canon.

Written by Jonathan Koan

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