Publisher: Del Ray
Released: April 28th 2015
Lords of the Sith is part of the new Star Wars Disney Canon series, it is set between episode three and episode four (as well as before the TV series Rebels). The Emperor and Lord Vader go up against the Ryloth resistance, a group led by Cham Syndulla (you may recognize the name Syndulla – as he is Hera’s father). Added to this volatile mixture is a healthy dose of betrayal and subterfuge, resulting in infighting and chaos. Paul S. Kemp has managed to deliver us an interesting look into the minds of Vader and Cham (as well as other resistance members) simultaneously, comparing and contrasting the characters and bringing everything out into the light.
There are many things I found intriguing about this novel, such as the introspective view into Vader’s thoughts. I’m not saying I’m a huge fan of antagonists, but I do love being able to see what they’re thinking. I have always firmly believe that a series can be made or destroyed by the strength (or lack thereof) in their antagonists. Vader is no exception to this rule – many fans are drawn to his story, and there’s a reason for that. Getting to see his thought process was a nice change, especially considering we’re simultaneously seeing the events leading up to episodes four through six (knowing how things end doesn’t take away from the story).
There were many levels of deception in Lords of the Sith. The Emperor and Vader were quietly aboard a Star Destroyer to test the loyalty of certain members of their staff; including Moff Mors and Belkor. Unsurprisingly Cham hears news of this, and tests Belkor’s information/knowledge of the events. From there a plan is formed; the rebellion will take out the Star Fighter, using the information Belkor provides to them. With any luck this will kill the Emperor and Vader as well (a fact that Belkor is unaware of). Meanwhile Belkor is hoping to use the Resistance to either take out or remove Moff Mor so he may take her place. So needless to say, motives and priorities get very muddy very quickly.
I absolutely loved the resistance’s method of attacking the Star Destroyer – it was clever and resourceful. Especially when you consider the limited assets they had access to. I would have loved to see more of it, but all battles must end, I suppose. I’ll admit there were times when I cringed at the decisions being made by the resistance (who in their right mind would go after Vader on foot, with only a small number of people? Armed with only guns? No thank you!).
Throughout the novel it becomes clear that the Emperor is once again testing Vader. Why you ask? It would appear he is concerned that reminders of Vader’s past will make him weak, and he’d rather weed that out sooner than later. This holds true to Sith mentality, but it was interesting nonetheless to have it shown in such a subtle and gradual manner.
I loved the juxtaposition between Vader and Cham. Cham, being part of the resistance (IE, early Rebellion) has to be careful with his choices. Any decision that results in loss of life could very well backfire on them, destroying the image and goals of the resistance (who would want to join an organization that fights bad guys by doing the same thing the bad guys do?). Therefore Cham’s moral compass is very firmly set – any loss is a tragedy to him, even if it is decided that the loss is worth it. In comparison to Cham is Isval, a former Twilek slave who escaped and became a freedom fighter. She is unafraid to get her hands dirty, and is more than willing to kill any member of the Empire, regardless of their crimes. Cham helps to make Isval more compassionate, but only to the extent of dulling her anger/hatred slightly. Throughout the battles Isval’s opinions differ greatly from Cham’s, sometimes to the point of even surprising herself. It’s shocking how much more accepting she is to the loss of life than Cham. This shows the line any rebellion would be teetering over – it’s so easy and tempting just to cross that line and join the monsters in order to take down the perceived bigger monster. The rebellion has and always will be a fragile thing, completely dependent on the humanity of those that take up the cause, and Lords of the Sith proves that point eloquently.