Thoughts on “Lords of the Sith”

I had been feeling quite dispirited with pretty much all of the new Star Wars books, but while browsing in a book store I came across a couple that really sounded interesting and decided to take a chance on them. The first was “Lords of the Sith” by Paul S. Kemp … and reading that one did not in any way change my impression of the new Star Wars books.

Continuing below the fold to avoid spoilers as it is a pretty recent book:

The overall premise is a very interesting one: due to an attack by Twi’lek rebels, Vader and the Emperor are trapped together on a hostile planet while under threat from those rebels — and other groups — and have to decide if their Sith philosophy will have them co-operate to save themselves or if one of them will take the opportunity to take care of their main competition, with Palpatine looking to eliminate the one who desires the power and Vader looking to eliminate the one who has it. Of course, this is set right after “Revenge of the Sith” and so neither of them are in a strong enough position to do away with the other, making the outcome a bit of a foregone conclusion, but there is still some interesting fencing going on between the two and some interesting examinations of their personalities and relationships, which is nice since the Emperor does not get a lot of play in previous Star Wars media.

However, the big problem with the book is that despite the fact that it promises that that sort of thing will be the dominant theme of the book, it isn’t. Instead, the focus is mostly on the Twi’lek resistance group and their interactions with the planetary government. None of these characters are at all interesting, and certainly are no where near as interesting as Palpatine and Vader are. The resistance members are pretty standard resistance members and the attempts to build them up as interesting characters end up as shallow and uninteresting. There’s the noblish leader, and his uber-competent and somewhat vengeful second-in-command (a woman, as is obvious in these things). They are also linked to Hera, whom I strongly dislike, which doesn’t help. Their adventures and character arcs are dull and uninteresting, especially when balanced against the potentially more interesting interactions on the planet below.

And the antagonists for them are even less interesting. The main antagonist is a character that supposedly has positioned himself in power over many years and is really running things instead of the uncaring and lax governor … who then is outmaneuvered any time they try to do anything and never has any kind of clever response or back-up plan in place. And in the end, they try to make the — again, female, and lesbian — governor more sympathetic by linking her attitude to the death of her partner and making her seize the power that … she wasn’t supposed to have anymore, and by having her choose just the right person — that she knows somehow — to help her stop the treachery. You can’t have a good work without good antagonists, and since this story focuses on the resistance and their opponents the antagonists have to be ones to them, and they aren’t interesting antagonists.

The book would have worked with the resistance being the main antagonists to Vader and the Emperor, filling in them being rather shallow with the more interesting interactions between the two. In short, in using them as a reason for them to be in the situation they are in and to create hurdles for them to deal with. As it is, the book doesn’t really do that and the two Sith use their powers to get out of their issues far too easily to push the competition line that anyone who read the back cover would be buying the book to read. I can’t imagine reading this book again.

One Response to “Thoughts on “Lords of the Sith””

  1. Thoughts on “Master and Apprentice” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] And then the book fairly quickly takes a fair bit of time to focus on a former Jedi and the young female ruler that he has been mentoring for many years. Which led me to think to myself “Here we go again!“. […]

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