Genre: Science Fiction — Space Opera
Series: Star Wars: Darth Bane #1
Publisher: Del Rey (June 6, 2007)
Length: 324 pages
My Rating: 3.5 stars
The Old Republic: a time when thousands of Jedi and Sith clash over and over again for the fate of the galaxy. This struggle between the disciples of the Force seemingly eternal in nature. Each side evolving, building anew after the tide of war turns against them. The cycle of Jedi then Sith repeating endlessly.
In Path of Destruction, the Jedi are ascendant again; their enemies the Sith having undergone yet another transformation, as the days of the Dark Lords have been swept aside, replaced by the Brotherhood of Darkness. Skere Kaan forging the acolytes of the darkside into a fearsome faternity of equals, whose combined might is focused on the Republic and its Jedi defenders destruction, not on internal power struggles.
On the desolate planet of Apatros, a young miner named Dessel sees his pathetic existence ruined by poor luck and bad choices. These two forces leading him to run afoul of Republic forces, driving him to seek a semblance of protection with the armies of the Brotherhood of Darkness. But Dessel is destined for greater things than mere soldiering. At least, the whispering of the darkside suggests such. Or, perhaps, the darkside is merely lying, leading him toward his own destruction!
Anyone picking this novel up probably already knows where the story is taking them: the rise of Darth Bane. So the revelation of a Force-user turning to the darkside is not the really focus here. Rather, the journey to the new Dark Lord’s rise is what drives this tale. The character’s choices, the obstacles overcome, and the people encountered along teh way keeping readers interested in turning the pages. The Sith Order and its inner working during the Old Republic just as much the star of the show as the main character.
With this in mind, Path of Destruction does an excellent job painting a complex picture of this time period while revealing the villainous Sith in all their dark glory, casting them in a far different light than usual while adding substantially to their complexity. The old school “bad guy” trapping ripped away to reveal a Sith religion which preaches a way of life incompatible with the Jedi but just as real and vibrant. The Sith acolytes mesmerizing in their true devotion to the darkside of the Force, praise worthy for their deep devotion to their guiding principles.
As for Darth Bane himself, his story is fairly straightforward in his bumpy rise from obscurity to preeminence, but Drew Karpyshyn doesn’t ever make the mistake of protraying him as the “Chosen One.” Instead, Bane’s development feels natural, filled with struggles and clear ups and downs in his fortunes. His abilities and powers never over-the-top or contrived, but logical for his relative growth in the Force. His path to the top littered with head-scratching moments that brand him as an ordinary person with real limitation, who just happens to develop tremendous powers. And, slowly, he grows on you, becoming a Dark Lord whom you can empathize with yet still fear.
The only complaint I can voice about Path of Destruction is the lack of substantial Sith revelations. Sure, Darth Bane is coming to power in an age where the old Sith ways have been largely lost and abandoned in favor of a more Jedi-like unity, but his inevitable quest to uncover the ancient lore of the Dark Lord’s gives Mr. Karpyshyn many opportunities to explore the past. Unfortunately, all the revelations Bane uncovers in Holocrons and ancient texts is never shared with readers. Instead, we are merely told that Bane discovered many secrets and new powers. Would have been nice to have actually had all that information shared with me, but, alas, it was not to be.
When I read this novel, I was suffering from a horrible case of KRS, or Kylo Ren Syndrome. (You know, the terrible malaise which overcomes many Star Wars fans after watching the new Sith bad guy suck it up in The Force Awakens.) So, I really, really needed an infusion of badass Sith to cure me, and Path of Destruction did the job nicely. Can’t say it is my favorite EU novel ever, but it is a good one, which anyone curious about the Sith or the Old Republic should give a try.