By Paul S. Kemp
Alright, here we go. This is the Star Wars novel you’ve been waiting for since they—being Disney—announced this new initiative to pull everything back and work on brand new canon stories outside of the current and upcoming movies. It doesn’t matter who you are, the Dark Side of the Force is interesting and we really haven’t had the opportunity to explore it as much as maybe one might like. Paul S. Kemp’s Lords of the Sith, however, takes not only a look at the Dark Side, but also at the Empire with the tenuous relationship between Sidious and Vader.
Lords, simply put, was amazing. From the Free Ryloth movement that pushes the story as well as Vader and his Master to seeing the aforementioned direct interactions between the two Sith Lords, to seeing a glimpse of what the Emperor can do, this book had it all in spades. Taking place after Revenge of the Sith (Episode III) but before Tarkin and A New Dawn, Lords of the Sith is like watching the beginning of an avalanche. Lords shows not only what the Emperor is willing and capable of doing to secure his Empire, but it shows that seeming helplessness of the rest of the Galaxy. It’s a glimpse of what’s to come in the Star Wars timeline from this point until the Death Star blows up and, really, it looks at what likely a lot of worlds and civilizations went through with the Emperor in power. Paul S. Kemp, while focusing only on Ryloth, paints a pretty clear picture of what happens when you go against the Empire.
Kemp’s usage of Vader and the Emperor, as mentioned, is brilliant. The inner turmoil that Vader seems to struggle with is fascinating to the point of wanting more novels based on him around this time (or movies) just to explore exactly what someone must be going through in his situation. The things he’s done, the betrayals and pain he’s received and caused are beyond imagining. Behind that menacing black helmet, he’s not just a thoughtless pet for the Emperor to use as he pleases. Sure, Vader can do things that no normal man can do, and he proves that again and again in this novel, but this small seed of doubt in himself and his Master and the fact that he is still very effected by what happened in the last two prequels makes not only the character more interesting, but the Dark Side as well.
Lords easily takes first place in the novel race so far and considering the quality we’ve gotten so far, that says it all. Expectations were high and Kemp managed to hit them all and then some. Kemp manages to give the reader a deeper appreciation for what regular people are up against when it comes to the Empire while simultaneously making the reader empathize with Vader and considering some of the things he’s done, in the movies and even this book, that says a lot. If you’re only going to read one book from this new novel run, aside from Aftermath which leads into The Force Awakens movie because obviously we’re all getting that, than get Lords of the Sith. Guaranteed you will not be disappointed.