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Lords of the Sith: Star Wars Paperback – January 26, 2016
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“A compelling tale [that] gives us new insight into the relationship between Darth Vader and his master, Emperor Palpatine.”—New York Daily News
“Endlessly fascinating . . . a tale [that is] not just compelling but completely thrilling.”—Big Shiny Robot
“The best novel so far in this new era of official canon Star Wars stories.”—IGN
“Packed with action . . . hard to put down.”—Seattle Geekly
About the Author
Paul S. Kemp is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Star Wars: Crosscurrent, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Deceived, and Star Wars: Riptide, as well as numerous short stories and fantasy novels, including The Hammer and the Blade and A Discourse in Steel. Paul S. Kemp lives and works in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, with his wife, children, and a couple of cats.
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Paul S. Kemp does a good job realizing the Star Wars milieu and making it feel seedy and lived-in. He also does a really good job making it feel sci-fi, a dimension of it's identity that most Star Wars stuff chooses to ignore. Ships feel isolated and fragile in a very good way, technology feels embedded within the world, and honestly, I really loved that side of Lords of the Sith.
I also enjoyed reading about Vader, for the most part. He's written with surprising depth, and his relationship with the Emperor is really unsettling. It's both disarming and disgruntling to see their emotionally-abusive relationship played out like that; and yet, Vader doesn't become the victim in the way the prequel movies tried so hard to paint him. He is fully aware of his actions, their implications, and his ultimate monstrosity. Indeed, he revels in it, believes that this is the role he was cast into by the Force--that he is the bloody hammer necessary to make everything else right. It's twisted and messianic and conflicting in a good way. I do wish that Kemp had been given a few more Force-related descriptions in his bag: the biggest letdown of Lords of the Sith is that the force-users are written with a numbing repetition.
Though the book does feature the titular galactic bullies as, if not protagonists, than certainly narrators, most of the book is actually told from the perspective of the Twi'Lek terrorists, or the Imperial Colonel Belkor, whose station on Belkor has led to an escalating corruption in pursuit of personal power and accolades. Vader accounts, as a narrator, for less than a quarter of the book, with the Twi'Leks taking at least half, and Belkor the remaining third or so. No narrator is particularly weak, though the politick of Ryloth did wear on after a while. When Kemp finally brings everything to a close, and the remaining narrators are standing on top of each other, it's a marked relief.
This is a rock solid entry in the new Star Wars canon. It treats the sci-fi aspect of the series with much more respect than Chuck Wendig's Aftermath, or the Lost Stars book, and bridges the gap well between the prequels and original trilogy. I'd recommend it without reservation.
This book also includes a wonderful little short story called Orientation by another of my favorites, John Jackson Miller, featuring a young Rae Sloane.
That said, the story is interesting and shows the galaxy beginning to rebel and there are a few Sith Lord scenes that are just amazing in their portrayal (one of them is very, very early on). It doesn't really contribute much that's new to the new Canon universe, but it is a fun read that's worth the time spent on it.
Long live the Empire!
I'll go on record to say that the first encounter Vader has with the Free Ryloth movement is one of my favorite Darth Vader moments so far. It's a perfect merger of a reckless Anakin adjusting to, and embracing, what he's become.
Paul S. Kemp does a good job of taking Vader from a fallen Jedi to a Sith Lord. He shows a pretty good vision of the relationship between master and apprentice, and even gives a good idea of how he handles Vader's conflicting views. The way they're portrayed in the book is a great compliment to both trilogies without really relying on or the other too much. It even manages to tie some Star Wars: Rebels (just a bit) in the mix.
I found myself confused on who I was cheering for, but that's not a bad thing. Without giving away too many details, I'll just say that even though you know what's going to happen in the end since most of us have seen the Original Trilogy, it's a thrill-packed, truly intriguing, and intense story, that made it hard for me to put down!
This book has some cool scenes of Sidious and Vader facing off a horde of obviously Alien inspired creatures. For fans of the Dark side it’s a fun read. There is nothing that’s going to stay with you afterwards but an enjoyable read for SW fans.