Copyright: 2007 (Del Rey); pgs. 389
Series: Star Wars Expanded Universe
Sensuality: Almost, but no.
Violence: a lot. Sith Vs. Jedi
ERA: Sith/Republic – 1,020 years before the Battle of Yavin (Star Wars: A New Hope)
Summary: On the run from vengeful Republic forces, Dessel, a cortosis miner, vanishes into the ranks of the Sith army and ships out to join the bloody war against the Republic and its Jedi champions. There, Dessel’s brutality, cunning, and exceptional command of the Force swiftly win him the renown as a warrior. But in the eyes of his watchful masters, a far greater destiny awaits him.
Comments: This book is special: it is the farthest back on the novel time line, taking place years before Yoda was even born. And it is, to the best of my knowledge, the first novel that does not feature a movie character in some way.**
I thought Dessel — or Des — was a more sympathetic character than Anakin. Des is a miner, whose father hated him and abused him. The company that owns the mine owns everything else and can charge their employees outrages prices — they extend credit, of course, but you can never get ahead and if a family member dies still owing money, the debt carries over to the survivors. Des inherited his father’s debt and has no choice but to work every day.
Des is desperate to leave Apatros — he knows he destined for more than a life of a miner, he just doesn’t know what that might be. He doesn’t think very highly of the Jedi or the Republic — the fact that things on Apatros are the way they are is proof enough that the Republic cares very little of the oppressed in the Outer Rim. As for the Jedi’s supposed abilities, Des thinks they are exaggerated. He has no idea that he is strong in the Force, though he sometimes “see things before they happen.” For a future Sith Lord, Des is also surprisingly patient. He has anger and hate in spades, but he knows the value of keeping them in check, biding his time. Whenever the opportunity arises, Des gambles, hoping for the big win — but always knowing when to cut his loses.
Fate finally steps in to set him on his path. Des joins a card game against members of a Republic supply ship picking up cargo. Forced to flee because no one will believe the word of miner over a member of the Republic navy, Des finds his calling in the Sith army. His abilities allow him and his unit to earn a reputation as an elite group, used for only the most important missions. But this isn’t his destiny any more than mining was. He finally comes to the attentions of a Sith Master: he pulls off a near-impossible kill — one that only a person attuned to the Force could make. Des is offered the chance to attend the Sith Academy. He accepts, and takes the name Bane.
For awhile, Bane spends most of his time in the much-ignored library/archives — and gets the Hermione Granger Award for Archive Appreciation, in part for his belief that you can learn valuable lessons from the stories of the past:
The trinkets held little interest for Bane, however. He was more impressed with the the manuscripts and tomes that lined the bookshelves along the walls, each a magnificent volume clad in leather embossed with gold left. Many of the volumes were thousands of years old, and he knew they contained the secrets of the ancient Sith.
Bane temporarily abandons his bookish studies when his star is on the rise. He quickly learns his initial instincts were right. After he suffers a humiliating defeat at the hands of the star pupil, he is shunned as a failure and he retreats to the library. It’s during this second exile that Bane begins to realize the Sith have strayed from their path, and he begins his quest to set things right.
I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed getting a different perspective of the Sith. Bane was not a fallen Jedi like Anakin or Count Dooku, and he wasn’t a child when he came to the Sith. He’s a man, trying to find his place in life, coming to terms with his destiny, and doing what must be done. Even after he has fully embraces his destiny, he makes a surprising decision not to kill an individual, someone the reader would have expected him to kill:
There was no purpose or advantage in their deaths. Killing without reason or gain was a petty pleasure of sadistic fools.
And Bane was determined — as he punched the coordinates for Ruusan into the nav computer — to cleanse the dark side of fools.
Bane’s first priority is to save the Sith from themselves, and preserve the order until the time is right to destroy the Jedi.
A couple of things:
— The Jedi in this book were too much Knights of the Round/Templar Knights instead of Jedi. The courtly behavior and habits of Master Valenthyne Farfalla were a bit off-putting. Fortunately, they weren’t in the book very much.
— Githany’s weapon: the way it is described in the book sounded like the one Shira Brie/Lumiya used in the Marvel comics. The picture of Githany in the Jedi vs Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force depicts it looking like a regular lightsaber, but with a bendy blade (Note: Don’t read this Guide if you haven’t read the Legacy of the Force novels and are trying to remain spoiler-free).
— Lord Hoth? So, was the planet named in his honor, or the other way around?
**The Stackpole/Allston X-Wing novels featured minor movie characters, and guest appearances of the major characters. The Jedi padawan in the Medstar duology has screen time in the movies and the Clone Wars cartoon. I don’t know much about the Republic Commando novels, Galaxies tie-in or the short-story anthologies.
Started: 5 March 2008
Finished: 16 March 2008