Book Review: Lords of the Sith

Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp, Star Wars Canon

When the Emperor and his notorious apprentice, Darth Vader, find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their own ruthlessness to prevail.

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor’s chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader’s allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.

On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.

For Syndulla and Isval, it’s the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet’s surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries.

The current Star Wars book keep on getting better and better. The last few books have been wonderful additions to the universe and now with the promise of the new movie, I am even more stoked to read about the universe. Most of the books in the Extended Universe have focused on the jedi side, Even though the focus on the Star Wars series is also heavily on the good guys, there is always something alluring to the Sith. They are mysterious... Paul S. Kemp devotes this whole book, as the name might already imply, to the two big names of the Sith, notorious Emperor Palpatine and Lord Vader. And it pays off. Big, big time.

The story of Lords of the Sith picks up a few years after the events of Revenge of the Sith. Anakin Skywalker has switch allegiance and is now better known as Darth Vader. The galaxy is pretty much in the hands of the Empire, the rebels aren't causing any trouble just yet... But things aren't going as smooth as Palpatine and Vader would have liked to have seen. Therefore action must be taken to work out the few kinks in the table. One of the kinks is a dysfunctional Moff on the planet of Ryloth, intel is leaking out that is fueling the effort of the Ryloth resistance movement led by Cham Syndulla. Ryloth is an important planet for the Sith when it comes to the production of a powerful narcatotic known as "spice", which the Ryloth resistance movement is disrupting. A line has to be drawn and drawn quickly. They often say when you want to have success you have to do it yourself. So Palpatine and Vader find themselves board of the Star Destroyer Perilous bound for Ryloth. These travel plans don't stay unnoticed though and the Ryloth resistance movement attacks Palpatine's and Vader's Star Destroyer and against all odds it seems that the Sith have found their match or at least they have been out smarted in this move. The Perilous goes down in flames and all of a sudden Vader and his master, Palpatine, find themselves temporarily stranded. It is quite hard to tell more about the story as it will show some big reveals. But I can add to this that the beginning relation between Palpatine and Vader will be put to the biggest test yet. Also they are facing a lot of problems along the way... and even though they are powerful and skilled with the force, there are some creatures that still pose a threat and challenge for them... 

Paul S. Kemp has a way with words, the story just flows out of the paper, easy to get into and making it in turn much more enjoyable to read. Especially with the focus point on the Sith side. I really liked the story that Paul S. Kemp wrote in Lords of the Sith. It is much more complex than you might think as he puts a lot of focus on both the storyline and the characters. For me it was the latter part, the character that truly made this story shine. 

I have been full of praise with how the different authors have been showing the characters of Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo and many other so far and full praise should be also going to Paul S. Kemp and the way that he is showing his characters. That of Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine and those of the resistance: Cham Syndulla and Isval. These character have the focus on them, added to these does come quite an extended secondary cast like Moff Mors and Belkor Dray. The relations and emotions between the different characters go rather deep, and really makes the story intricate. 

Take for example the relation between Vader and Palpatine. Apprentice and Master. Darth Vader has been serving Palpatine for a time know but you can just feel the tension between their relationship. Palpatine is constantely testing Vader and this reflects back in Vader personality. It feels that every moment one of them might go just that step to far and turn on the other with lightsaber in hand and Force ready. But despite a sort of strenuous relation, there is also a feeling of trust. They need each other to survive not only for this mission but also on the long haul. It's best described as it is mentioned in the book, like a symbiotic relationship. In the end the apprentice well... Great to see the relation so worked out and it gave a much clearer picture of how it goes between apprentice and Master. It's quite different than a Jedi training... 

The highlights where you read the thoughts of Vader with his anger and channeling the Force were just so cool to read about. He has a lot of bottled up rage and this makes him a very dangerous character, however the flashback moments that you read about when he was still Anakin gave me some chill on my spine, he is clearly still very conscious about what he did and how he did it... Darth Vader is a complex but amazing character to read about. 

Next to highlighting the Sith side of the story, Paul S. Kemp also invests enough time in showing the Ryloth resistance side of it all. This in the forms of their leader Cham Syndulla and his right hand women Isval. The perspectives alternated in between the storyline and they got their own point-of-view. I liked the emphasis on them and how they went about plotting against the fall of the Empire. And this goes with a lot of devotion. They know they have the odd against them but these Twi'leks fight with their believes and that it has to start somewhere. Paul S. Kemp made this wonderfully reflect in their personalities and their respective actions. I was actually partly rooting for Cham to succeed but well I know movies four, five and six, so I knew that nothing really could happen to Vader and Palpatine, however with the confidence with which Paul S. Kemp wrote it just might have could have happened. Awesome. Their is a great embodiement hidden in the layered characters. 

This is my first Star Wars book by Paul S. Kemp. Looking up his earlier track record I saw that he has written many other book in this series and that must have given him an edge. For those who are familiar might say again another winner, I have to stick with a definite winner in the Star Wars Extende Universe series. An awesome storyline and even more amazing characters to make the story come to life. Furthermore this is my first introduction to having Vader and Palpatine in the full spotlight. This is a true pleasure to read and should be on every Star Wars fans reading list. Obligatory!

Just a headsup more Star Wars goodness will come soon, July will see Christie Golden's Dark Disciple and September will see Chuck Wendig's Aftermath (the journey toward The Force Awakens THIS ONE WILL BE BIG).


  1. In general, I felt that this book was a complete let down. I was hoping for more insight into the lore of sith lords and what makes them tick. Furthermore, I wanted to see more of the relationship between vader and the emperor. The book MOSTLY centers around the insurgency on ryloth and the characters within. If your looking for a book that delves into force powers, application of the force and sith lore, then this is NOT the book to read. I felt that the title was completely misleading and most of the time I was trying to choke through this incredibly boring book.


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