Star Wars: Lords of the Sith | By Paul S. Kemp | Published by LucasBooks |The Road To Episode VII @ Forces of Geek.com
Lords of the Sith is a cautionary that takes place 14 years before the Battle of Yavin and right before the events in James Luceno’s Tarkin.
I use the word cautionary as opposed to dark to describe the comings and goings of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine because if these characters were real and you wanted to kill them, this book would convince you to not only abandon your plans, but you wouldn’t dare to think of such a plot ever again.
The story revolves around the Twi’lek home world of Ryloth, that has succumb to Imperial control. The main protagonist is Cham Syndulla (Father of Hera from the Rebels animated series), a Twi’lek revolutionary that takes advantage of a rare opportunity and hatches an intricate plan to kill Vader and the Emperor.
Paul S. Kemp brilliantly highlights the darkness throughout the galaxy by examining the subtlety treacherous teacher and student relationship between the Sith lords.
Vader is one move ahead of everyone, and the Emperor is arrogantly two or even three moves ahead of his apprentice. There are times when Vader respected his master’s seemingly infinite wisdom, and there are other moments when the former Jedi Knight wondered if he was just another pawn.
These back-and-forth moments of degradation that are hidden under the guise of instruction raise the intensity to the nth degree. Then, just as it looks like Vader will continue to take the calculated verbal abuse, Vader puts the Emperor in check and my imagination ran wild with possibilities of what would happen next. Of course, nothing happened because of a little movie called Return of the Jedi. However, Kemp’s engrossing narrative makes you forget about what you know and immerses yourself in the story at hand.
The wonder of Vader and the Emperor working together truly takes form when they have to fight their way out of a nest of giant indigenous predators with exoskeletons called Lyleks. Kemp’s description of lightsaber strikes and Force powers being used in tandem will transport you to a front row seat inside this dark cavern.
Cham is a character that is well-realized due to the conviction he is instilled with. In moments when the Twi’lek teeters on taking things too far, he takes a step back and reminds himself that he is a “freedom fighter, not a terrorist.” That becomes extremely difficult when he witnesses the horrors that Darth Vader is capable of. Cham’s urgency to get rid of the Dark Lord increases with each turn of the page where he is the focus.
***Spoiler for Rebels***
If you’ve watched the first episode of Rebels, season 2, Hera doesn’t recognize Vader, so it appears that either Cham never intended to tell his daughter about him or he never had the chance to do so.
It’s hard to get people interested in a story revolving around the peril of two characters when you know they are not going to die. However this had the additional hook of Vader and the Emperor having to fight their way out of trouble (something we’ve never seen) while being introduced to new characters that are intriguing, and add to the story in a substantial way. Paul S. Kemp not only made this concept work, he did so in a manner that will be hard to surpass.