I am one that normally does not like the villains. I am not usually one that can cheer for the villains or see one of them as the main protagonist of the story. For that reason alone, I was unsure about wanting to read Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp. I didn’t want to spend my time trying to get into a story where Darth Vader was the main protagonist. It just didn’t interest me. The more I thought about it, though, the more I was intrigued and found myself curious to learn more about Darth Vader.
So why was I finding my self curious about Vader? Here’s the thing, in the Star Wars Trilogy, he is the big baddie, the biggest, baddest, scariest dude in the galaxy. Except, in my mind, he wasn’t. All growing up, I never understood what was so scary about him. He was big and slow and moved like an old man most of the time. I always excused it as results from the “accident” that led to him being cooped up in that suit. Obi-Wan explains it by saying he is more machine than man at this point, so I figured that explained it. He used to be really scary, until he was in the suit, and after that, he was big and intimidating, but slow and lumbering. Then the prequels come along, and he spends like two minutes as Darth Vader outside the suit, and is very quickly put in the suit. There just was not a lot, in my mind, that made him so terrifying.
This book, along with some other great efforts from Disney lately, help to fill in what made him so horrifying. This goes a long way to explain why everyone in the galaxy was afraid of him, including the Emperor. For some reason, with Vader, I needed those holes filled in, and so I wanted to read this book. I wanted to learn more about the original Dark Lord of the Sith. All that being said, this book was not at all what I was expecting. It wasn’t a story told with Vader being the protagonist or from his point of view. He is still the bad guy in the story. I didn’t find myself pulling for him or sympathizing with him. The whole time, I was cheering for the other guys, hoping they would somehow succeed in their plan, even though I knew they wouldn’t. In that regard, this was a pleasant surprise.
The novel begins with a raid on an imperial vessel by some insurgents from the planet Ryloth. They encounter a group of TIE fighters, and among them is Darth Vader. The other fighters are lost, but Vader is able to board their ship and with an awesome display of the Force, he is able to wipe them all out. Right off the bat, we see why everyone feared Vader. He seems unstoppable in this opening action, and leaves no witnesses. This scene introduces us to Vader, of course, as well as our main hero, Cham Syndulla, the leader of the Ryloth insurgents.
After this opening attack, Cham and his team regroup, and after receiving some intelligence from their spies, they decide to ambush a Star Destroyer that is coming to visit their planet. The ambush would mean that the would have to completely deplete all of their resources in order for it to succeed, but they feel it is worth it because both the Emperor and Darth Vader will be aboard the Star Destroyer. They see this as a golden opportunity to cut off the head of the snake, one that will probably not come around again. They take measures to verify their information, including checking with their man inside the Imperial forces,a nd then they put their plan in motion.
It is an elaborate plan that involves multiple waves of attacks on the Star Destroyer, plans on what to do after the ship has been attacked by their forces and other Imperial and Ryloth teams head up to rescue the survivors from the ship. I mean, this is an intricate, detailed plan, not your average “let’s fly at the Death Star and then blow it up” type plan. As the plan unfolds, and we see layer after layer, it is pretty impressive, and I began to think that they were going to be successful. To a certain extent they are. They destroy the Star Destroyer, they cause mass chaos after the attack, and they even pinpoint where the shuttle carrying the Emperor and Vader lands on the planet surface. Once all of that happens, they are forced to begin hunting Vader and his master, hoping they will be able to catch them off guard. Throughout all of it, we see Vader’s power and his skills. We also see how powerful Palpatine is, and it makes sense why the galaxy feared these two. I began to understand.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read for me. I don’t read a lot of the Star Wars novels. I just haven’t ever really gotten into them. It is hard for me, for whatever reason, to get into books based on films or TV shows (I struggle just as much with Star Trek novels). I don’t think this novel changed that for me. I am not going to run out there and buy Aftermath or Heir to the Jedi. All of that being said, though, I am glad I read this book, and I would recommend it. This, combined with the Marvel Darth Vader comics series and the Rebels TV show, help to flesh out more of the Darth Vader character, and in this case, that’s not a bad thing.
Have you read Lords of the Sith? What did you think? Let us know in the comments, or you can email your feedback to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would also love to hear any suggestions on books I should pick up and read and feature here on 50 Good Books.