For the past twenty years, the Star Wars franchise has detailed the intricacies of the Sith through various novels. Narratives range from Darth Bane (the creator of the Rule of Two, the edict behind the fact that there’s only Palpatine and Vader) to Darth Plagueis (Palpatine’s Master and the most likely candidate responsible for Anakin Skywalker’s immaculate creation). However, since the events of the Expanded Universe have now been rendered moot, Disney has a clean slate to write their own stories. The novel Lords of the Sith is Disney’s attempt to answer a particularly important question: What makes a Sith a Sith? As it turns out, things are pretty similar to the previous lore.
The book offers new light to the relationship between Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. Sith training points toward being ruthless enough to take whatever they want. Moral reasons are obstacles to overcome and destroy. To nurture this belief, Apprentices are encouraged to achieve their needs by employing manipulation, treason and betrayal, including (and especially) that of their Master.
Ultimately, it all boils down to this: it’s the Master’s job to teach, but only in small quantities so that the Apprentice doesn’t become too powerful for the Master to handle. But at the same time, it’s the Apprentice’s job to plot against and slay the Master in order to become more powerful. So it’s safe to say that both Master and Apprentice do not trust each other.
And yet, that is what happens. Vader and Palpatine are stranded on a distant planet with no guards, no ship, nothing to rely on except each other. Furthermore, since the Sith training is continuous, Vader must expect that the difficulties in reaching civilization are engineered by Palpatine specifically to force him into becoming stronger. All the while Vader is fulfilling his role by hunting for the slightest bit of weakness. All he needs is one mistake to tip the scales and make him the official Sith Lord.
Have I mentioned there are trust issues?
One notable twist in Lords of the Sith is Palpatine’s physical presence. The Dark Lord is usually the silent partner of the Sith relationship, manipulating events behind the scenes while Vader does the heavy lifting. Yet Palpatine is right at Vader’s side, deflecting blaster bolts with the best of them. It’s odd to see Palpatine take action, but he quickly proves that his ruthlessness will see him through to the end.
The “good guys,” on the other hand, are more difficult to relate to. We all know that Vader and the Emperor will survive (they’re too important to the Star Wars timeline to be killed), so it’s hard to identify with the co-conspirators knowing they are doomed to failure. Ultimately, their narrative is baggage to struggle through in order to set up the buddy-buddy journey of the galaxy’s favorite Sith Lords.
Fear. Anger. Hate. These are the tools of the Sith. To ascend to Mastery, the Apprentice must ultimately kill the Master. But what happens when your only ally is the person who’s trying to destroy you? That is the Sith’s true nature, and the novel succeeds in exploring that relationship to its fullest. Trust me. Once you start reading, you’ll never put the book down. Enjoy.
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