Thursday, January 8, 2009

Darth Bane: Rule of Two

Darth Bane: Rule of Two
© 2008 Drew Karpyshyn
318 pages.

I began this year with Darth Bane:Rule of Two, the second in a yet-unfinished trilogy of books about Darth Bane, creator of the Sith order that Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine were members of. At the end of Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, the Sith lord acquired an apprentice in the form of a young girl, Zannah. The story picks up shortly the end of Path of Destruction, where all of the Army of Darkness (the Sith) and many of the Army of Light (Jedi) have been destroyed (via events in Path of Destruction). After spending a little time here, we move ten years into the future. Bane is continuing his study of the old Sith ways to further develop his power in the Dark Side while being a mentor to Zannah. We see Bane beginning to subtly interfere in politics to bring about changes more amicable to his desires: this slow sabotage may continue until Palpatine is able to realize it in the three prequel movies. Meanwhile, one Jedi is not as confident as his brethren that the Sith have been wiped out completely. There are multiple threads: Bane's growth as a Sith Master, Zannah's growth as an apprentice, the Republic adjusting itself after the Sith Wars, the Jedi Council adjusting itself along with the Republic, and the lone Jedi's quest to expose the Dark Side. The author is good at developing stories and characters and so on, but what is particularly interesting to me is the way he develops Sith philosophy. While I certainly don't agree with it, the author actually makes it coherent. Palpatine, Maul, Dooku, and Anakin all seemed to join the dark side out of "Eh, this golden rule thing blows. How about I just give myself permission to be an ass by dressing in black and glaring?" Anakin's descent is more complex than that, but the end result is the same. The case is different with Bane. He's evil, but he's principled about it. His reasons are complex, and seemingly authentic. He grows, finds meaning in Sith teachings. This is very different from the Palpatine-esque "Being evil is so much FUN!" attitude. (Zannah, however, subscribes to the "Yay evil!" school Hopefully this will change as she gets older).

All in all, a pretty good read. I enjoy the story, the characterization, the political intrigue, and especially the orbalisks. I won't spoil anything, but they're a really interesting idea and I'd like to see EU authors do something with them.

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