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Star Wars: Lords Of The Sith by Paul S. Kemp (book review).

Having reviewed ‘Star Wars’ books for a little while now, I’ve noticed that the books about ‘evil’ characters tend to fall into two distinct camps. Those books that explore the origins of some of the characters through political or murderous ends such as ‘Darth Plagueis’ or ‘Tarkin’ and those that feature the Sith being cornered in a tight spot and using their ingenuity to escape or cause havoc. I would count ‘Darth Maul: Lockdown’ and the ‘Darth Bane’ novels in that camp. Thankfully, while the former series of books tend be a little worthy and somewhat banal, the latter series are exciting page-turners. ‘Star Wars: Lords Of The Sith’ by Paul S Kemp falls into that latter series.


The book also serves as a sequel to several episodes of ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ TV series as it concerns Ryloth and the Twi’lek freedom fighter Cham Syndulla. The book sets itself firmly in the era post-‘Revenge Of The Sith’, as the Emperor attempts to tighten his control on the galaxy’s star systems. On Ryloth, though, the resistance is mounting a fight back to Imperial oppression and when one attack goes too far, the Emperor is alerted. He decides to investigate Ryloth and is naturally joined by Darth Vader, his right-hand cyborg.

Vader is terrifyingly awesome. Kemp has managed to reconcile the ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ version of Anakin (confident, cocky, but also brooding and angry) with the Vader we know from the original trilogy. Here the Dark Lord pilots like a demon and murders remorselessly. While the Emperor retains his cool, political detachment, manipulating his apprentice through their friendship, Vader is a zealot, ruthlessly pursuing and killing the enemies of the Empire.

Those enemies take the form of Ryloth’s freedom fighters, lead by the experienced Cham Syndulla who is partnered with the vengeful Isval, a former slave turned terrorist. Together, they aim to start a rebellion beginning with their own planet. A plan is formed to cut off the head of the Empire for good.

As we know from the movies, such a plan will ultimately fail. However, because the book concentrates on the plucky heroics of the Twi’lek rebels and the calculating ingenuity and incredible powers of the Sith, you forget caring and are too wrapped-up in worrying about who would die and who might make it out alive.

The story itself really hinges on three major set-pieces, but is no worse for it. ‘Lords Of The Sith’ is a fast-paced thriller that successfully mixes in ‘Star Wars’ beloved space battles and giant monsters into a fast-moving story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Kemp is an experienced ‘Star Wars’ writer and it really shows here. This is probably the best ‘Star Wars’ novel since the declaration of the new timeline. Hopefully, this standard will be maintained.

John Rivers

June 2015

(pub: Century 2012/Lucas Films/Random House. 285 page hardback. Price: £19.99 (UK) ISBN: 978-1-846-05682-6)

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