Lords of the Sith offers one of the rare glimpses into one of the earliest rebellion insurgencies against the empire.
Don’t be fooled by the title. This book is not so much about Vader and Palpatine. It’s about Cham Syndulla and his rebellion on Ryloth. It follows the actions of Syndulla’s rebellion and the lengths to which they will go to rid Ryloth of the Empire’s presence. There’s political back-stabbing, blackmail, hand-to-hand violence lots of ship destruction.
It’s a good book – though not at the top of my list of new canon novels.
Things I liked:
Vader is depicted as a persistent apparition to the Twilek rebels. At every turn Vader appears as an unstoppable force that will, against all odds, catch and destroy his prey. This is the Vader that we wanted to know and see. And he does not disappoint.
Vader has some interesting combat scenes. He has scenes in a TTIE fighter. He has scenes force-choking his enemies. He also goes to town on some of the local predators. It’s really a lot of the Vader that we never really got to see in the original trilogy films.
I liked the interaction between Vader and Palpatine. There wasn’t much of it and, frankly, it doesn’t really shed very much on their relationship. It’s just more than the nothing we had before. It’s good, but not really earth shattering.
Things I didn’t like:
Surprisingly, Cham had very little character depth. He shows no readily observable flaws given that he’s been fighting his entire life. He seemed more like a military leader leading a rebellion, not a rebel leading a rag tag group. It was as though his challenges were really the same moral questions raised to the reader – he served mostly as the moral conscience point than a complex character. As for his motives, he didn’t really seem any different than, say, Hannibal from The A-Team (more Liam Neeson than George Peppard). We frankly, got more characterization from his associates than him. That was good. But I really wanted to know Cham.
And lastly, everything that happens in this book really has no bearing on any other part of the Star Wars saga. It pretty much exists on its own. We see Cham in animated stories, but this story really has no impact on those appearances. It provides no resolution to characters that we know nor does it set up new characters that we are going to see later. So that’s kind of a bummer.
So where does this book stand for me?
It’s definitely worth the read, but It’s hard to place from a quality standpoint. I think different readers will appreciate different aspects of it. But it’s probably one of the best books of the new canon.
It’s not as good as Lost Stars (which, for me, stands head-and-shoulders above the other canon books at the moment). It’s better than Aftermath (the worst of the new canon). It’s probably on-par with Dark Disciple, but DD is a good resolution to several popular SW:TCW characters. But Vader is more interesting than Dooku or anything pre-RofTSith so it has that going for it. It’s perhaps a bit better than A New Dawn, but AND is perhaps a more important book given its relationship to the SW Rebels characters. It’s better than Tarkin, but Tarkin is much more interesting than Cham and his crew.
So, it’s probably second or third on my list of best new canon books. But it feels like that’s almost by default. I don’t think I’d recommend reading this if you haven’t read Dark Disciple or A New Dawn. Those are going to be more satisfying.