We’re going to take a look at one of the earlier novels in the new official Star Wars canon, Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp. The story takes place about 14 years prior to the beginning of the original story, and is mostly focused on Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader and their relationship as master and apprentice respectively. The majority of the novel takes place on the twi’lek home world of Ryloth.
*The following will contain some spoilers*
The book opens quickly with Vader essentially single-handedly thwarting an attempt by the Free Ryloth movement to hijack a vessel from an Imperial shipyard. What’s interesting though is that this is largely told from the perspective of the Twi’lek leader of the Free Ryloth movement, Cham Syndulla. The name Syndulla should ring a bell for those of you that have watched either The Clone Wars or Rebels as Cham appears in an episode of the The Clone Wars and his daughter Hera is one of the main characters in Rebels.
As the slaughter unfolds Cham and his crew hear Vader kill everyone over the open comm on the stolen ship. By doing this, Kemp immediately is able to shed some light on both Cham’s ability as a leader and the weight he carries on his shoulders, as well as the sheer power and ability of Vader. Now this isn’t really a major event and mostly serves just to introduce us to the characters.
As the rest of the first act unfolds Kemp continues to illustrate to the reader Cham’s adept leadership skills, as well as the overall ability and scope of the Free Ryloth movement. Kemp also delves into the personality of Cham’s second in command Isval, a female twi’lek who is also clearly skilled and intelligent, but has a habit of letting her anger get the better of her. Eventually Cham and the movement catch wind that the Emperor and Vader will be making a trip to Ryloth together, giving them the opportunity to assassinate the pair and deal a massive blow to the Empire.
As the tale continues Cham and the movement take their shot at the Emperor and Vader, and manage to strand and isolate them in the wilds of Ryloth. So the hunt begins and the pace really picks up, never letting up from there. As Cham and the movement pursue Palpatine and Vader, we get to really see the true power of the Sith, as each of them fueled by the anger and hatred of the dark side, work together to accomplish amazing feat after amazing feat.
Additionally Kemp drives home the true treacherous nature of the Sith. At one point they find themselves in a nest of creatures called lylek’s, the apex predator on the planet. For a moment, Vader observes his master slaughtering the beasts, cackling all the while, before leaping into the fray himself. Afterwords, Palpatine asks Vader whether he had considered striking him down in the melee and Vader admits as much to which Palpatine simply responds by saying “good.”
Now, we obviously know that Cham and the Free Ryloth movement don’t succeed in their assassination attempt since Vader and Palpatine are in the original trilogy of films. That said, the story Kemp tells is compelling, well written and frankly hard to put down. Though it doesn’t likely hold any bearing on the upcoming trilogy of films, if you’re a fan especially of Vader, Palpatine and the dark side, you need to read this.
Have you already read Lords of the Sith? Let us know what you thought of the book in the comments section below!
For more Star Wars book stuff, make sure to check out our review of Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath as well as our look back at the best of Star Wars Legends. As it’s the Halloween season, you should also keep up with our Countdown to Halloween by getting up to date with Modern Horror!
Images: Del Rey, Lucasfilm, Disney XD