Friday, February 26, 2016

James Review -- Star Wars: Lords of the Sith

This week I decided to review Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp.
The story begins with Cham Syndulla, former leader of the resistance against the Separatist occupation of Ryloth and current leader of the Free Ryloth movement which seeks to liberate the planet from the Empire, aboard an armed freighter waiting to meet an Imperial transport that has been captured by the rebels.
But when the transport arrives its commander, one of Cham’s most trusted lieutenants, sends a panicked message for Cham’s ship to flee the system because an Imperial fighter force led by Darth Vader is in hot pursuit, with a Star Destroyer not far behind. Unable to flee the system without being detected, all Cham and those with him can do is listen as Vader disables then boards the transport and wipes out it crew.
Back on Coruscant, Vader meets with Emperor Palpatine where the Emperor devises a plan to lure the Free Ryloth movement into a trap by travelling to the world with Vader and leaking word of the trip to the Ryloth senator’s staff which he is certain contains a rebel spy. Cham receives this information, but fearing it might be a trap, he contacts Belkor Dray, a disgruntled high-ranking Imperial officer who aids the rebels in an attempt to discredit his superior Moff Delion Mors, who apparently spends almost all of her time doing spice and indulging her other whims while doing very little work.
The meeting leads Cham to believe that the visit is not a trap because Belkor doesn’t know that Vader and Palpatine are coming. Based on this belief, the Free Ryloth Movement prepares everything it has for its chance to decapitate the Empire by eliminating Vader and Palpatine in one blow. They launch a fleet of salvaged droid fighters to attack the Star Destroyer carrying the two Sith Lords, then slip saboteur teams aboard the ship in craft sent to assist the warship, and one infiltrator team steals an Imperial escort boat to pursue when Vader and Palpatine.
Despite being misled by Belkor, who has them target both the shuttle containing their targets and the one carrying Moff Mors, the rebels manage to down both shuttles. But Vader and Palpatine, and some of the Imperial Royal Guards with them, survive, as does the Moff. So Palpatine, Vader, and their few soldiers must evade both the rebels and the hostile native wildlife while the Moff struggles to evade those loyal to Belkor and rally forces to aid the Emperor… The book also contains "Orientation," a short story focused on Vader’s and Palpatine’s journey aboard an elderly training cruiser to meet the Star Destroyer that carries them to Ryloth and the dangers they face on that trip.
I give this book 7 out of 10. It wasn’t bad but there were several major flaws. First, knowing that Vader and Palpatine must survive drained a lot of tension from the story. Second, the fates of almost all of the characters not introduced in this story are known to those who keep up with current Star Wars lore and not many of the new characters got enough development for me to care what happened to them. This was particularly bad for the Free Ryloth Movement, with only one of the newly introduced characters getting much development. Third, there was one action Palpatine orders Vader to commit during the story which I feel served no real purpose besides drilling in the point that Vader and Palpatine are evil with a tissue-thin excuse given to explain Palpatine’s motives.
Finally, there’s a lack of detail concerning most of the spacecraft in the story with only those seen on screen being identified by class, or even given decent descriptions, a flaw that carries over into "Orientation" as readers receive no details about the cruiser the story takes place on other than a little background history. A little more detail here would have made visualizing the space scenes much easier in my opinion. Still, the character combat scenes were well-done and the interactions between Vader and Palpatine were mostly great other than the scene I mentioned above.

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