I have been reading Star Wars books since I can remember, but my introduction to the extended universe began when I was 10, starting with Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice. I haven’t stopped since those Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan adventures. However, being only 27 years old, I clearly came into a universe already well established and already growing with every passing moment. Years and many, many hours of reading, video games and TV shows later, I get the unique experience at being on the ground floor for the new Disney Star Wars canon. I am personally super pumped for this, and will be walking you all through my reading experiences, starting with Lords of the Sith, which was the most recent novel I finished.
So What Do Lords of The Sith DO All Day?
Lords of the Sith is the third novel released in the new Star Wars canon, written by Paul S. Kemp. It takes place in between Episodes III and IV before Tarkin, focusing on two different sides of the a conflict around Ryloth, home planet of the Twi’leks. A Ryloth freedom movement group causes some problems for Vader and the Emperor, which kicks off the action-packed events which propel us into the beginning of Lords of the Sith. This book reads very much like an action movie. From the beginning you are on a ride showing you how powerful Vader and the Emperor really are. The opening is so strong that it leaves you daring to hope for more throughout the rest of the book. The exhibition that Vader and the Emperor put on exemplifies how much they outclass the rest of the galaxy and how they managed to take over and stay in charge for so long.
Unfortunately, what helped the book early on ends up being the single note that it plays over and over again. This gets exhausting by the end of the book and it takes away the levity of the trials that Vader and the Emperor are going through. Every step of the way the book pits them against the rebels but it never really gives the rebels a victory–destroying the dramatic tension. The story seems to suffer from trying to make the rebels and the empire both teams you are rooting for. This ultimately muddles the reader’s feelings. The story would have fared much better if the author kept the point of view restricted to the rebels, and used Vader and the Emperor as boogey men. Or if the author wanted to use the Empire’s perspective, they could have tried keeping it limited to a royal guards first time really seeing what the Emperor and Vader can do together giving some shock value to the events.
Is It Worth It?
While the book has a weakness in its writing , it is not to say that the book doesn’t do well at expanding the Star Wars universe, which I believe is a very important distinction. In terms of building the universe there are many parts that help create, show and exemplify the rift between Vader and the Emperor. Since the events of Revenge of the Sith happened so recently to the events of this book, Vader and the Emperor are still developing their relationship with each other, but it does squarely show us Vader’s place beneath the Emperor. There are some tie-ins to Rebels, the Disney XD show, but they are used more as passing mentions than universe-changing implications.
As an avid Star Wars reader, old canon and new, this book does a great job of deepening my understanding of the Vader/Emperor relationship while it was still developing. Lords of the Sith also helped me understand Ryloth’s involvement in the overall universe. However, that was all I was really able to take away from this book. Hera gets name dropped a couple of times because she is a Twi’lek but it doesn’t add to her own character. Only Vader and the Emperor get developed in this book, and while they are two of the top five most important characters in the Star Wars universe, the trials that they go through didn’t feel like they were required for the minimal developments that are made. A lot of the developments seemed to stem from the way the Emperor talked down to Vader, in which case a really long conversation would have had the same outcome. This book ended up feeling like a “Dark Side Showcase” but it didn’t want you to root for the team it was showcasing. That made me extraordinarily conflicted throughout most of the book, which did not make it an enjoyable read.
Ultimately, this book succeeds at developing the Vader/Emperor relationship, but it fails at making the reader feel like there are actual stakes. It hits the reader over the head with their power, which would have been much better done as a reveal instead of a constant. If you are as invested in the Star Wars universe as I am, you have probably already read it, otherwise you can avoid this one.