Monday, January 07, 2008

"Darth Bane: Rule of Two", by Drew Karpyshyn (Arrow)

Darth Bane returns, this time with a new apprentice in tow, ready to sow disorder and fear in the supposedly Sith-free galaxy.

Picking up the story immediately after the end of "Path Of Destruction", with Darth Bane beginning a new search for ancient Sith knowledge, his new apprentice Zannah in tow, the story actually took a little longer than expected to get going. It was only after the considerable time-shift that the story itself took off, throwing in a good amount of intrigue, politics and dark side sneakery. The later time allows for much more action and adventure, as Zannah stops being a small girl, and starts to talk back to Bane, challenging him a number of times through the course of the novel.

Told from the perspectives of Bane, Zannah and newly minted Jedi Knight, Johun Othone, "Rule Of Two", we get to see how the Jedi lull themselves into a false sense of security now that they believe the Sith are extinct, killed by the Thought Bomb at the climax of "Path Of Destruction".

Karpyshyn brings some innovative new creatures and tech to light, most notable of which are the Orbalisks - a truly horrifying creature that has a taste for Dark Side power. His story-telling skills, and his ability to write engaging characters makes the reader sometime forget who it is you're supposed to be rooting for. As one of only three Star Wars novels where the "bad guy" is the main protagonist (the third, non-Bane, volume is "Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter" by Michael Reaves).

While it's difficult to discuss this novel without giving too many things away, the insights into the Dark Side, and the altered, unbias perspective of it is a refreshing plus, especially after the rather philosophically-inclined latter half of the New Jedi Order series. It's a novel that's well worth checking out, and with any luck it will reach enough people to warrant a third outing for Bane, the ever-angry, bubbling ball of contempt and rage. Karpyshyn (who's also written two Mass Effect novels, based on the recently-release video game, and is also a designer/writer for the hit game company BioWare) writes in an excellent style, never allowing description to take over, always ensuring that the pace of the novel (at least, after the time-shift) never lets up. His writing allows the reader to be pulled along with the story. Most likely, you'll be up all night reading this.

I wonder if this series, should it continue, might lay the groundwork to allow for a novel that charts the rise of Palpatine - his training, his rise, etc. It would be a welcome addition to the growing Star Wars cannon now available.

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