Lords of the Sith

Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp

vader-logoVader stared out one of the small viewports at the millions of pieces of debris, the whole of it as dense as an asteroid field. Each bit of metal goaded his anger. The rebels would be made to pay.

“Treachery never goes unpunished, old friend,” the Emperor said, as though reading his mind.

Vader heard an undertone of menace in his Master’s tone. He turned, thinking to ask what his Master meant, but before he could, he felt something through the Force–impending danger. His Master, too, must have felt it, for he gave the concern voice.

“They are coming,” the Emperor said, his voice as soft and gelid as a cold breeze.

Paul S. Kemp has shown that he has a talent for writing Sith in his previous Star Wars novels, and Lords of the Sith is no different. Here he gets to write the two greatest Sith of all: Darth Vader and the Emperor. For Vader, he serves his role as the Emperor’s weapon. He is a thing of fear and legend. His prowess on the battlefield stirs people to disbelief. In short, he is the villain we grew up with, the masked man in black with the crimson blade. Yet the Emperor, as always, has other plans. For him, Vader is not yet ready, and there is another test he must pass on his journey as a Sith.

vader-logo“Are you testing me, Master?”

“Testing you? Is that how you perceive things?”

“Am I wrong?”

His Master smiled and reached up to put a hand–a hand that could emit Force lightningon Vader’s shoulder, the gesture both a sign of affection and assertion of power.

“We are, all of us, always being tested, my friend. Tests make us stronger, and strength is power, and power is the point. We must pass all the tests we face.” A long pause, then, “Or die in the effort.”

The relationship between Vader and the Emperor is spot on in this novel. Kemp does a superb job of capturing both characters, nailing their dialog, and dipping into both of their heads. In Lords of the Sith, we see the Emperor testing Vader, and in turn, we see Vader being challenged by those tests. Furthermore, we see some of the ghosts of Vader’s past still lingering in his head. One of the key plot points in this story is Vader dealing with the vestiges of his past and proving that they no longer hold any sway over him. In highlighting that story, Kemp gives us some great dialog and tense action scenes as the Emperor pushes Vader into extreme situations. Each lesson leads to some delicious moments for fans.

vader-logoPadmé.

He rarely allowed himself to think her name.

His rage slipped his control and he squeezed the control stick so hard it cracked. His breath came hard, fast, loud.

He felt his Master’s eyes on him, always on him, the weight of them, the questions they carried. He knew his Master could see into him, through him.

“You are troubled, my friend,” his Master said, his voice calm while the ship screamed through Ryloth’s stratosphere.

“No, Master,” Vader said. He sank fully into the Force and used the focus it gave him to exorcise the past from his mind.

Beyond Vader and the Emperor, the story follows Cham Syndulla and Isval, two Twi’lek freedom fighters. Cham is a character of significance because he appeared in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series and is also the father of Hera Syndulla, one of the main characters in the Star Wars Rebels television series. Isval, on the other hand, is a brand new character. Initially she is one of Cham’s lieutenants in his Free Ryloth movement. However, as the story progresses, readers will get to learn more about her, including her rather emotionally charged backstory. Together, they provide a contrast for the villains of the story and give readers someone to root for. Kemp does a great job of developing the characters and making them empathetic. You can’t help but like Cham who is the ideal good guy leading his people and making the right choices. But Isval is a more gray character, and in a way, far more interesting. She walks a fine line between being good and bad. Without Cham to guide her, she could be as evil as Vader, but with him, she has a chance at being something better.

vader-logoVader turned to Deez and the captain. “You two are to hold as long as you can here.”

The captain stiffened. “We will stay with our Emperor.”

“Do as Lord Vader commands,” the Emperor said.

“What are you going to do then?” Deeze asked while he and the captain took grenades in hand, activated them, and waited for the pursuing lyleks to appear.

“We’re going to kill them all,” Vader said, igniting his lightsaber.

The Emperor cackled, drew his own lightsaber, and activated the red blade.

So, what does this Vader/Emperor team up book provide readers? In short: an awesome story. As expected, we get to see Vader and the Emperor teaming up in battle and showing off their lightsaber skills and Force powers. We get to see Cham Syndulla’s character expounded upon and some glimpses of what traits he might have passed on to Hera. There are space battles, dogfights, ground battles, the Emperor’s Royal Guards in combat, Imperial traitors who go nuts, and a whole lot of Twi’leks. There’s heaps of action, lots of character development, and as you can see with all the quotes I’ve included, some fun dialog. It’s a bridge between the Clone Wars era and the Dark Times, a prelude to Star Wars Rebels, and a test of mettle for those who dare challenge the Empire.

vader-logoGoll looked up at the sky through the openings in the forest’s thick canopy. “Wind’s bringing rain. Smell it?”

As if on cue, thunder rumbled.

“What kind of men are we after here, Cham?” Goll asked. “This is like nothing I’ve ever seen, or even heard of.”

Cham just shook his head, lekku waving. Isval had only one answer, and she still wouldn’t say it out loud.

Apex predators. That’s what kind of men they were after.

In the end, I give Lords of the Sith a five out of five metal bikinis. I had a lot of fun with all the Vader and Emperor scenes and I really enjoyed the way Kemp captured their relationship. I was also surprised at just how interesting Cham and Isval turned out to be. On top of all that, there were a lot of memorable moments in the book. Vader not only brings up Padmé in the story, but Ahsoka as well. While they’re both fleeting moments, those names remind readers of just who is beneath the mask and it gives credence to the Emperor’s purging of Vader’s past. Some ghosts are hard to kill.

vader-logoThe carcasses piled up around them, a mountain of the dead, and still they came on. Soon both of them were covered in gore, lost in the Force, in their unbridled ability to kill.

 

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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