Title: Darth Bane: Rule of Two
Author: Drew Karpyshyn
Copyright: 2008 (Del Rey); 320 pgs.
Series: Star Wars Expanded Universe
Genre: Science Fiction
ERA: Sith/Republic – 1,020 years before the Battle of Yavin (Star Wars: A New Hope)
Spoilers for Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
Rule of Two picks up where Path of Destruction left off. The Brotherhood of Darkness is no more, completely destroyed by a thought bomb. The Army of Light has suffered huge losses, including its general, Jedi Master Lord Hoth. They are under the impression that no Sith survived. However, there is a lone survivor, Darth Bane, and he wants the Jedi to keep believing the Sith are extinct.
The book started off slow for me. Bane and Zannah, his newly acquired apprentice, spend much of the first nine chapters still on Ruusan, or trying to get off it. To be fair, the author had to set both Johun Othone — Hoth’s former padawan — and Tomcat — Rain’s cousin — on their respective paths before the main story could move forward. Johun is convinced that at least one Sith survived. He wants to pursue this, but the new leader of the Jedi — Jedi Master Farfalla — finds no credible evidence to suggest there were survivors. Instead, he gives Johun a different mission. As for Tomcat, having failed both as a Jedi and a Sith, he has no idea what to do with himself. He survives a run-in with Zannah and Bane and is left to make his own way on Ruusan. Both young men will encounter the Sith years later, with tragic results.
The story jumps ahead ten years. Bane has Zannah carrying out missions while he works on creating a Sith Holocron. On his orders, Zannah infiltrates separatist groups and convince them to strike out against the Republic before they are ready, thereby ensuring that they fail, but still draw the attention of the Senate and the Jedi. Zannah’s current mission is on Serenno, a planet known for its radical separatist groups. Though she carries out her tasks, Zannah questions the logic behind them. Bane has assured her that the time isn’t right:
“The Republic keeps the Jedi in check. It maintains control and imposes order across thousands of worlds. But if the Republic falls, a score of new interstellar governments and galactic organizations will rise. It is far easier to manipulate and control a single enemy than twenty.
That is why we must seek out radical separatist groups, identify the ones that have the potential to become true threats, then encourage them to strike before they are ready. We must exploit them, playing them off against the Republic. We must let our enemies weaken one another while we stay hidden and grow strong.
“One day the Republic will fall and the Jedi will be wiped out,” he assured her. “But it will not happen until we are ready to seize that power for ourselves.”
Even so, Zannah is still concerned. Ten years ago, when Bane first set out to learn the mysteries of the Sith Holocron, he became infested with a parasite. The orbalisk, as they are called, seemed to be a boon initially, giving Bane enhanced healing abilities and strength, and a body armor that blocks even lightsabers. But Zannah feels that the long exposure to them is taking its toll on Bane’s judgment. He’s failed several times to create a Holocron and he’s gone into destructive rages. Bane has much yet to teach her, and if dies before she’s reach her full potential, the Sith may truly be lost. Eventually, Bane agrees with her and Zannah’s new mission is to find a way to remove the parasites without killing the host.
I really enjoyed the story once it made the ten-year jump; it really pick up for me. Zannah is smart, but not overconfident as her future “descendants” (Maul, Dooku, Anakin). In fact, it was kind of refreshing to read about a Sith apprentice that knows she has a lot to learn, isn’t arrogant to the point of stupidity, and is patient. She can think on her feet — a couple of times she finds herself in less-than-ideal situations that she has to turn to her advantage and hope that Bane doesn’t think she’s betraying him. Her final dealings with her cousin are chilling. Even so, I actually liked her — but not as much as I liked Bane in the first book.
Started: 25 March 2010
Finished: 10 April 2010