Page count: Hardcover 320, Paperback 340
Author: Paul S. Kemp
Timeline: Follows Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, precedes Tarkin
Main Characters: Darth Vader, The Emperor, Cham Syndulla (shown below), Isval, Belkor Dray, and Moff Delian Mors
Brief Synopsis: Freedom fighters Cham Syndulla and Isval attempt to cripple the Empire through one deadly mission that Darth Vader and The Emperor hope to survive.
I really enjoyed this book. When I started reading it, I wasn’t that excited for it. I basically chose it to read because I had just finished another book and it was the only one, I owned that I hadn’t read yet. Once I got more books in the mail, I was a little frustrated that I had started Lords of the Sith. Admittedly, the book did start slow with the introduction of new characters. The book is not just about Darth Vader and The Emperor, which is what I was expecting. Since they were on the cover and the book was named after them, I felt annoyed that so much of the book was devoted to developing new characters. However, I came to change that opinion. While not the entire book is told from Vader and The Emperor’s perspective, there is a lot to learn about them through the perspective of others. The reputation of Darth Vader grew throughout the book as the freedom fighters could not even comprehend Vader’s power. And the time that was devoted to just The Emperor and Darth Vader was done very well. There was much to learn about the relationship of a Sith Master to their Apprentice. There was manipulation, fear, and trust and mistrust at the same time. So, my original bias against the book was reversed and I ended up grateful that I chose to read it.
Characters (19/20 pts)
Having characters like Vader and The Emperor can be an easy win for a Star Wars novel. The characters have already been fairly developed so they have existing strong reputations among fans. What I look for in these characters is what the author adds. We do learn some interesting content about them. I don’t want to give away too much, but Vader has some character defining moments in this book concerning his path to the dark side and we learn more about The Emperor as a Master. He is incredibly manipulative, and seeing it play out was fairly interesting. So, for these two characters, the book was definitely a win. My only con is that I wish more of the book was told about them.
Since Vader and The Emperor were not the only main characters, the book was tasked with bringing characters like Cham, Isval, Belkor, and Mors to life. Although Cham does have some significant time in the cartoons, readers won’t be too knowledgeable of the character. Kemp did a fantastic job with developing both Cham and Isval. I especially liked Isval who went through various moments in the book that made her standout as a unique character in the Star Wars Universe. Belkor and Mors were also developed well due to their limited time, but I didn’t feel committed to their characters. This isn’t necessarily a con, but just some nit-picking because Kemp did so good with the characters in this book. It is definitely a strength that stood out.
Writing Style (18/20 pts)
Kemp has a great talent for making action scenes come to life inside the reader’s mind. This made the climactic scenes that much more enjoyable. I was able to create a vivid image in my mind of what was going on. Also, through dialogue and reactions of others, he made the characters come to life as well. The characters were a strength in this novel, and it is largely because of Kemp’s writing style. For example, we learned a lot about Vader through the eyes of the other characters. Even when the emphasis was not directly on the Lords of the Sith, Kemp was able to keep in indirectly on them. This allowed for the development of multiple characters at once and kept the theme of the book true to its title.
Continuing on the strength of the characters, the book was told from all of the main character’s perspectives at differing points. Each of them gave unique outlooks on the events at hand and it made a more complete picture of what was going on. While I mostly consider this a strength, sometimes it was frustrating because I wanted to see what was going on with a certain character and it would sometimes be focused on an event or character that I wasn’t interested in. When done well, I thoroughly enjoyed it though. This writing style was unique and again highlighted a strength of the book, the characters.
Plot (20/20 pts)
So, this plot was awesome. It is partially because of how it was told (from so many perspectives), but the gradual buildup of the book was incredibly satisfying as it climaxed near the end. Around halfway through the book, it is as if the climax begun and it just kept building and building until at the end it all came together in beautiful fashion. It was a really awesome experience. It also accomplished in giving closure to each character/storyline. I wasn’t left wanting more, I was satisfied with what I got. Lords of the Sith is one of my favorite stories that I’ve read, and that is why I am giving it full points for the plot.
Intrigue (18/20 pts)
For the beginning part of the book, I did not feel the internal pull to keep turning pages. While characters were a strength to the book, the beginning felt slow since Kemp had to develop all of these characters and that took time. However, once the development set in and the story began to gradually climax, I couldn’t put the book down. Like I stated regarding the plot, the climax of the story seemed to start halfway through the book, and it kept rising until at the end of the book everything came together. While it started slow, the intrigue peaked at the end and I couldn’t put the book down. I definitely binged the last quarter of the book because I just had to find out what happens next. So, intrigue started as a weakness and ended as a strength.
What does it add? (17/20 pts)
In regard to what this book adds to the Star Wars Universe, I am most interested in The Emperor and Darth Vader. This is because of their prominent roles in the universe. I was wanting to learn more about their relationship as Master/Apprentice, and the book did not disappoint. It did examine how The Emperor trains/manipulates Vader and how Vader responds to it. Following the dark side is full of suffering, pain, and hatred and this book explains that more explicitly. It also peeks inside of Vader’s mind and provides some information on the conflict going on in his mind. We know he is conflicted from the movies, but we never fully knew what that meant. Now we have a better idea and it creates more understanding regarding Vader’s character.
The events in the book also supposedly resulted in some of the spark that started the Rebellion. This is obviously significant, but how it acted as a spark is only inferred to in this book and not spelled out. It is interesting, but it doesn’t affect how I view anything in Star Wars.
I am giving this category 17 points because I enjoyed what it adds to the universe, but I don’t think it will make me view the movies/shows in a different light. We already knew Vader had conflict and that The Emperor is manipulative, we just know more about it now. It was done beautifully, but it more of explained what was unknown instead of adding something completely new.
Logic (-2 pts)
There were a couple of events in the book that didn’t quite make sense. Vader was able to use the force to throw buzz droids off of his ship, which wasn’t done by him in Revenge of the Sith. While it makes sense that he could do it, it just raises the question why neither he nor Obi-Wan did it in the movies. Vader also basically force ran everywhere in this book. If he was moving, he was force running. This makes me question why he didn’t run anywhere in the movies when in his armor, even though he clearly can and should. Instead he seemed fairly slow during the original trilogy.
These things made me scratch my head a little bit, but the book gains some points back by explaining something in the movies. When Darth Sidious quickly kills the three Jedi surrounding Mace Windu in Revenge of the Sith, it doesn’t look that believable. It appeared that the Jedi should have defended themselves better. I don’t want to give it away, but there is a short scene near the end of the book that explains how Sidious did this. So, I am only deducting two points for logic because the book helped to explain something in the movies that was perplexing.
The final grade for Lords of the Sith is a 90/100, so an A-. I wish I had other books to compare this grade to, but it is unfortunately my first review. The book used the characters as a strength in multiple aspects, and it made the story-telling unique. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the master and apprentice relationship of Sith. The rest of the book involves a great story regarding a spark behind the Rebellion, but the interest is founded in Vader and The Emperor.
I hope you enjoyed my first review and if there is a book that you want me to read or review, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. As for now I will only be doing Canon books (but in the future that might change).
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