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Lords of the Sith - Books and Novels (Canon)

Title: Lords of the Sith

Author: Paul S. Kemp

Release Date: April 28, 2015

Timeline: Eight years after the start of the Clone Wars

Pages: 267

Credits: Review & Text: Ian Gebhard; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

This is a full review and summary. Spoiler warning applies...

Review | Key Characters & Locations | Summary | Talking Points | Discussion

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor's chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader's allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.

Main Characters

  • Darth Vader (male Cyborg) - Sith Lord, apprentice to Palpatine, enforcer of the Empire
  • Emperor Palpatine (male Human) - Sith Lord, ruler of the Empire
  • Cham Syndulla (male Twi'lek) - Rebel, leader of the Free Ryloth Movement
  • Isval (female Twi'lek) - Rebel, member of Free Ryloth Movement
  • Belkor Dray (male Human) - Imperial Commander, second to Moff Mors

Secondary Characters

  • Orn Free Ta (male Twi’lek) - Senator, public face for Ryloth
  • Royal Guard (male Human) - One clone, one regular human, loyal bodyguards to Emperor Palpatine
  • Moff Mors (female Human) - Imperial leader of Ryloth

Key Locations

  • Ryloth - A planet in the Ryloth system of the Outer Rim Territories, and the homeworld of the Twi'lek species. Its terrain varied, filled with jungles, mesas, valleys, and volcanoes, and had an atmosphere breathable for Twi'leks and humans alike. A forest covered its equator, filled with dangerous predators. Given the varied and dangerous terrain, Twi'leks lived in caves underground where it was safer.

Key Creatures

  • Gutkurr - A species of predatory insectoid carnivores native to the planet Ryloth. During the Clone Wars, the Confederacy of Independent Systems deployed gutkurrs to attack Galactic Republic clone troopers during the Battle of Ryloth. Gutkurrs were said to be the second-most dangerous predator on Ryloth, the first being lyleks.
  • Lyleks - A species of large insectoid predators native to the equatorial forests of the planet Ryloth. With their spiked pincers and powerful mandibles with a pair of tentacles near it, the lyleks were the only Rylothian lifeform more dangerous than the predatory gutkurrs. Their ridged, spiked carapaces could deflect blaster bolts. Although the Lyleks lived in hordes, the bigger individuals often dismembered the smaller members of their kind. These hordes were led by a Lylek queen, and their elaborate underground nests could cover up to 15 square kilometers. They communicated by hissing, clicking and chittering.
Review

Before this book came out there was a blitz in publicity and debate on fan sites; Lords of the Sith was going to have the first opening gay character. Many wondered, myself included, how the sexuality of any character could possibly play any role in this novel. Thankfully it was handled by being marginalized to only a quick statement, that as many suspected played no part in the main story. Now I realize that we live in a time in which inclusiveness and political correctness are very important, but to throw things in just for the sake of saying they are there in pointless, especially when it concerns the sexuality of a character. Star Wars has had a gay character before (Bevin Goran), and it has an entire species capable of changing gender (the Hutts). There have been references made to alien species with no gender (the Vratix, Killiks, etc). The point is that people and fans in general have long accepted that sexuality is as varied as the creatures inhabiting the galaxy and no one has ever made a stink about it, nor would they have this time if there hadn’t been such a publicity push for it.

Now, ignoring the above, Lords of the Sith presents a unique window into the early years of the Empire. Most of the galaxy is seemingly content with the state of the Empire. Only here and there are spotting bits of unrest. Set eight years after Revenge of the Sith, it provides links to The Clone Wars, and Rebels both: one of the royal guards is a clone, and Cham Syndulla is the father of Hera Syndulla. It also gives us a view into the relationship between Vader and Palpatine. Neither truly trusts the other, yet both need the other. This does cause a bit of friction between them and aids in some much needed character development.

Sadly though, the book starts off with great promise but it ends on a very weak note. What is the fate or Orn Free Ta? What happens to Moff Mors? How does the Empire crack down on Ryloth? Does Cham actually help start the Rebellion? There are a great many questions left unanswered by the end that an epilogue chapter could have greatly helped to answer.

The biggest disappointment to me is that Lords of the Sith continues the trend of being one-off novels. So far all the novels in the new canon have been individual tales telling a single story. There has been no real interconnectededness, just references here and there to other events, places, or people. I do like that we are getting more of a variety in the stories told, rather than just focusing on Han, Luke, and Leia, but the stories really need to find a way to connect more to each other.

Overall Lords of the Sith is a pretty decent story with both strong and weak points that I feel many people will enjoy. I give it 3.5 holocrons out of 5.

Character Reviews

Emperor Palpatine – Palpatine has proven once again why he is a master manipulator. Knowing that there is a spy on the staff of Orn Free Ta, he arranges a visit that will prove to be potentially deadly. All for two reasons: he wants to test Vader, his loyalty, his strength, his beliefs, and to force the Free Ryloth Movement to strike before they grow any larger. We also get to see Palpatine in combat again, using the force and his lightsaber skills in a battle with numerically superior foes. We learn the big reason he doesn’t use the force often is his continued manipulations of others, always wanting to appear weaker than he truly is. Character Grade: A

Darth Vader – Here we see the most character insight, as we are shown Vader still has his doubts about becoming a Sith Lord. He is also haunted by his memories. Being tested by potentially fatal situations he is able to prove to both himself and Palpatine that he made the right choice and is able to come to acceptance with who and what he now is. Character Grade: B+

Cham Syndulla – As a man, Cham struggles with his inner turmoil, fighting for a free Ryloth, but also going against many of his own people that have accepted it. He is branded as a terrorist and a freedom fighter. With a quick intelligent mind, he is cunning and capable of making the most difficult of decisions, but can be prone to letting his emotions get the best of him. Character Grade: A

Isval – A former slave turned freedom fighter, she has a dark past that has served to influence her mindset. Confident and skilled as a fighter and able to give and receive orders, her mentality towards Imperials leads more towards a sociopath serial killer. Character Grade: B

Belkor Dray – Arrogant, callous, over inflated ego and sense of self righteousness, Belkor fits many of the stereotypes we have been shown for ambitious Imperial officers who in reality don’t have the skills or temperament needed for further advancement. Character Grade: C

Back To TopStory Summary

Chapter 1: Darth Vader is meditating in his hyperbaric chamber. As he comes out of meditation, the process is described in how his helmet is sealed on. As soon as his helmet seals, a junior officer notifies him that there has been an incident at the Yaga Minor shipyards.

Cham is waiting with Isval and the rest of his ships crew, for another member of the Free Ryloth Movement to arrive. When he arrives, Pok immediately begins warning Cham to run away, they have been tracked through hyperspace. Before Cham can do anything a flight of V-wings emerge from hyperspace, led by a custom Eta Interceptor, and begin working to disable the freighter Pok is on board. Pok and his crew fight back but are disabled. Cham and Isval listen to the battle over comms, being forced to accept that there is nothing they can do to help.

Vader aims his fighter at the freighter then sends it on a collision course, bailing out before is hits. He then uses the breach in the ship to board. Quickly encountering a Twi’lek, Vader kills him and tells the rest over comm that he is coming for them. 

Chapter 2: Cham and Isval realize they are hearing Vader over the comm. They continue to listen as Vader works his way through the ship killing all he encounters. A star destroyer arrives to reclaim the freighter as Vader kills Pok. Picking up a comm Vader threatens to find those who are listening in. Cham kills the comm and they hide the ship in an asteroid field until the Imperials leave.

Back on Coruscant, Vader waits with Palpatine contemplating the nature of Master / apprentice relationship. Orn Free Ta enters, escorted by the royal guards. Vader interrogates him briefly, and then Palpatine informs him that they will all be traveling to Ryloth to make an example of the Free Ryloth Movement. After Orn leaves, Palpatine tells Vader that there is a traitor within Orn’s staff.

Chapter 3: Cham receives a coded message informing him that Orn Free Ta, Emperor Palpatine, and Darth Vader will be making a trip to Ryloth aboard a Star Destroyer. Wary of a trap he sends a message to Belkor Dray to confirm his Intel.

Belkor takes a shuttle up to the residence of Moff Mors on the largest moon of Ryloth. There he interrupts a meeting between her and a Hutt. He gives her a brief situation update and is informed that Orn Free Ta is returning to Ryloth and is to make preparations for his arrival. On returning to Ryloth he arranges a meeting with Cham Syndulla.

Chapter 4: Out in the expanse of Ryloth that is not settled, Belkor lands and is met by Isval who leads him deep into a system of caves to meet Cham. Cham explains to Belkor how he has been using him all this time, and how Belkor is going to go along with his plans or Cham will turn over recordings proving how Belkor has been assisting the rebels on Ryloth. Belkor confirms that Orn Free Ta is coming to Ryloth but makes no mention of either the Emperor or Vader, leading Cham and Isval to believe that the information they received is good. They begin making preparations for an ambush.

Isval goes to town and sets up a new home before dressing up as a slave girl / escort and going into the seedy part of town.  Outside a club she waits for the perfect target, finally assaulting an Imperial officer with a young Twi’lek woman. She takes the Twi’lek girl to the house she set up and frees her, then goes back to the Imperial and beats him nearly to death. Leaving the officer broken in an alley she leaves to continue preparations for the coming battle.

Chapter 5: Cham is at one of his bases on a Ryloth moon tending the final details for the ambush. As he reviews the plans he continues to remind himself that he is a “Freedom fighter, not a terrorist”. Speaking with Isval he learns that she has put herself in charge of the primary insertion team.

Vader and Palpatine are on the bridge of the Perilous as it leaves Coruscant for the duration of the hyperspace jump. Upon arriving in the Ryloth system, Palpatine makes the statement “Let the test begin.” The Perilous has come out of hyperspace into a minefield created by Cham and his people. Hundreds of mines begin to batter the ship and her shields. Vader orders his fighter prepped and the ships V-wings deployed as he senses a greater threat approaching.  Specially modified mines, bleeders, are disrupting the ships shield system and bringing it down.  With the shields of the Perilous coming down, Cham deploys a fleet of hundreds of modified Vulture droids. As the droids speed towards the ship, Vader leads the V-wings in an effort to defend the ship.

Chapter 6: The shields have failed. Vader leads the fighters in a desperate attempt to destroy as many mines as possible before the Vulture droids reach them. As more and more mines hit and detonate against the Perilous, Cham and his compatriots begin to hope for a successful attack.     Cham receives a message from Isval, down on Ryloth. The first reports are coming in about the attack. There is panic on the ground as Isval waits for her phase of the attack to begin.

Vader leads the attack on the Vulture droids. Drawing on the force, he quickly destroys several. But, sensing something odd about him, uses his skills to maim one Vulture revealing a cargo full of explosive laden buzz droids. There are too many Vultures to stop them all and more and more crash into the Perilous unleashing their cargo into the ship and inflicting massive amounts of damage. A second wave of Vulture droids rapidly approach. Drawing deep on his hatred Vader pulls away from the other fighters and using the force destroys most of the second wave, leaving only a few stragglers for the V-wings to destroy.

Moff Mors contacts Belkor to find out what is happening. While bickering she reveals that both the Emperor and Darth Vader are aboard. As soon as he finishes with her, Belkor contacts Cham demanding to know what is happening. Cham verbally slaps him down and orders him to send up every repair crew and ship on Ryloth.

Chapter 7: Isval receives clearance for the second phase of the attack, as well as, clearance to launch her repair ship. Hers and two other “repair” ships are filled with members of the movement and board the Perilous unopposed. Executing her Imperial escort, she leads her teams through the ship to the hyperspace generator.

Lord Vader reenters the ships bridge, standing there amidst the chaos is Orn Free Ta and Emperor Palpatine. Releasing his anger, Vader hold Orn responsible for the attack, informing him of the traitor on his staff and the repercussions to come.

Chapter 8: Reports come into the bridge of explosions and firefights breaking out. Vader and the Emperor give the order to execute every Twi’lek on board the ship. Vader leaves the bridge to hunt down the traitors. Isval and her team manage to get into the hyperdrive chamber and sabotage it. Vader hunts down and kills both of the secondary teams tasked with distracting the Imperials, before realizing the true threat. As Vader works to cut through the blast door, Isval and her team escape through the other side. Vader discovers the rigged hyperdrive and orders and immediate evacuation of the ship. Isval and her team reach their extraction point and discover that their ship is gone. Seeking another way off the ship they find another escape ship just as Vader finds them.

Chapter 9: Isval grabs her blasters and makes a stand against Vader. He crosses the forty meters between them in seconds deflecting all her shots. A member of her team grabs Isval and hauls her into their escape ship. Vader, frustrated at his failure to kill them, runs through the ship to the Emperor's shuttle. Isval is enraged at being denied battle with Vader, and immediately she is on the comm with Cham demanding the ID of the Emperor’s shuttle so she can attack it. Cham dispatches the few droid tri-fighters that he has available to assist, then comms Belkor to get the ship ID.

Moff Mors is on her way down to the planet. Belkor comms her and gets her shuttle ID before answering Cham and providing the ID’s for both the Emperor’s shuttle and Moff Mors. The Perilous explodes, sending out shockwaves and damaging most craft and escape pods in the area. Belkor comms the pilot of Moff Mors shuttle ordering it closer to the Emperor.

Chapter 10: Moff Mors shuttle, being the closest, is cause for Isval to attack it first, striking and knocking out power to it. Moff Mors shuttle is left adrift heading towards the planet unpowered. Moving quickly, Isval goes to attack the Emperor’s shuttle. Vader takes control of the shuttle and while evading the attacks of Isval, uses the force to choke her crew while unseen. As Isval is blacking out from a force choke, she manages to send her ship crashing into the Emperor’s shuttle. The ship crash does significant damage to the Emperor’s shuttle. Vader is just able to land on Ryloth in a manner reminiscent of his crash landing on Coruscant as Anakin. The Emperor, Vader, and two royal guards have survived the crash and work their way out of the shuttle.

Chapter 11: Belkor is leading an organized panic. Reports are coming in that both Moff Mors and the Emperor’s shuttle have gone down, and there are thousands of distress calls being received.

A member of her crew awakens Isval. Her ship is out of control and spinning wildly. After regaining control she contacts Cham demanding he provide a search grid for where the Emperor’s shuttle went down. Cham contacts Belkor and has him notify a Comm station that a ship is coming with wounded VIPs from the Perilous, he then contacts Isval and sends her there to disable the station, while dispatching a couple of other ships to begin searching for the Emperor’s shuttle.

Chapter 12: Isval receives a message from another member of the Movement. They have found the crash site for the Emperor’s shuttle. She tells them to attack from the skies but not land. Aggravated that she isn’t the one attacking Vader and Palpatine, Isval quickly completes her attack on the communication station disrupting comms planet wide.

The ships that have found Palpatine and Vader strafe them on the ground. Vader is able to deflect several of the laser cannon shots using his lightsaber. On the next pass Palpatine unleashes a storm of force lightning into one ship bringing it down, and Vader uses the force to grab and rip the other ship from the sky. There are no survivors in either ship.

Moff Mors has survived the attack on her shuttle. Awakening on Ryloth, she takes her damaged shuttle to the communication station. There she explains the betrayal as she understands it by Dray and gathers what forces she can to try and rescue the Emperor.

Chapter 13: Isval meets up with Cham and takes on a group of commandoes, and then both take their ships to the reported sighting on Palpatine and Vader. There they discover the wreckages of one of their freighters. Landing, the commandoes go to retrieve the bodies while Cham and Isval discuss what would have happened. Before the soldiers can enter the downed freighter a Gutkurr comes out holding the arm of one of the crewmen. Several more of the creatures appear before a large group then turns towards Cham and the rest charging to attack. Cham, Isval and the others manage to escape back onto a ship, going now to look at the downed Imperial shuttle.

Vader and Palpatine are meditating at another campsite as the royal guards explore the immediate area. Upon leaving the mediation Palpatine and Vader have a brief discussion about Vader’s past and how it is affecting him. As they speak Palpatine feels the guards returning. Nor are they alone.

Chapter 14: Belkor has reached the comm station. Upon speaking to a subordinate he learns that Moff Mors has taken the commanding officer and the base stormtroopers to go in search of the Emperor. Belkor then orders all the V-wings involved in the search to obey his only commands as he declares Moff Mors a traitor attempting to assassinate the Emperor.        

The royal guards are being chased by Lyleks, ferocious predators that swarm and devour anything they find. Vader and Palpatine make a temporary stand before retreating with the two guards. They fight a running battle against the horde as they are chased and driven over miles and down into a cavern system. Once deep inside the caves they realize that they have been herded into a lylek nest, where even more of the creatures and a queen await.

Vader turned to Deez and the captain. “You two are to hold as long as you can here.”
The captain stiffened. “We will stay with our Emperor.”
“Do as Lord Vader commands,” the Emperor said.
“What are you going to do then?” Deez asked while he and the captain took grenades in hand, activated them, and waited for the pursuing lyleks to appear.
“We’re going to kill them all,” Vader said, igniting his lightsaber.
The Emperor cackled, drew his own lightsaber, and activated the red blade.

Chapter 15: Cham’s second ship has reached the downed shuttle, and the commandoes are on the ground checking things and find evidence that Palpatine and Vader were chased off by a horde of Lyleks. Cham receives a call from Belkor, who updates him that the V-wings are now on the mission to kill Moff Mors as they believe her a traitor. Cham and Isval land with the remaining commandoes and they decide to follow the trail of destruction left by the horde of lyleks.

Chapter 16: Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine go on an impressive killing spree. Using the Force, their lightsaber skills, and each other they slaughter virtually every lylek in the nest, including the queen. Cham and the others really start to question if they will be able to take Vader down as they find more and more evidence of his killing ability. Vader, Palpatine, and the lone surviving guardsman, leave the lylek nest and encounter a young Twi’lek girl. Using the Force, Palpatine compels her to aid them and take them to her village. At the village, Palpatine gives their names as Krataa and Irluuk, the Sith words for death and fate.

Chapter 17: While Palpatine socializes with the Twi’leks of the village Vader repairs the communication system, dipping into meditation as he does so. Cham, Isval, and the others have arrived outside the village and are preparing to attack Vader. Moff Mors and Belkor have both arrived as well. Finally the planetary comms are back up and working.

Chapter 18: Moff Mors orders the V-wings to fire on and kill Belkor. Her shuttle lands and begins disgorging stormtroopers. The Twi’lek commandoes move in to battle both the stormtroopers and Vader. One Twi’lek stays back to cover and then carry Cham away from the battle. Isval is captured, and then after the battle, briefly interrogated, and then executed by Darth Vader. Palpatine then orders Vader to go and execute all the Twi’leks of the village so that there can be no witnesses or stories to spread of what happened. Cham escapes to rebuild his network and the Free Ryloth Movement.

Back To TopPoints of Discussion
  • Again we have the death of a strong female lead at the end of the novel, rather than being pointless, does the author manage to make her loss into an inspiration for Cham to continue on?
  • Do you feel that the ending of the book could have benefited from answering more questions about the immediate aftermath?
  • Did having an LGBT character warrant the amount of publicity it received before coming out? How did you feel about the way the author handled the issue?
External Links:
Added: September 17, 2016
Category: Books and Novels (Canon)
Reviewer: Ian Gebhard
Score:
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