In another attempt to fill in the Dark Times, Lords of the Sith tells a tale on Ryloth, the homeplanet of the Twi’leks, shortly after Revenge of the Sith as a group of rebels called the Free Ryloth movement attempt to take down Darth Vader and the Emperor on their visit to the turbulent planet. In addition, a pair of high ranking Imperial officers are pitted against each other on opposing sides, playing key roles in the confrontation between the rebels and their Sith Lord opponents.
Lords of the Sith suffers from what has plagued several of the new novels so far: an agonizingly slow first half and a mostly satisfying ending. Lords of the Sith fares better than two of its most similar kin, Tarkin and Heir to the Jedi, due to the excellent portrayals of Vader and the Emperor.
However, it’s disappointing that the two Sith Lords actually wind up only being the focus of about a third of the novel. The other two thirds are filled up with the Free Ryloth movement, headed by the father of Rebel’s Hera and returning Clone Wars character Cham Syndulla and mostly carried out by his second, a brash, revenge driven Twi’lek named Ishval, along with a Colonel and Moff playing a cat and mouse game with one another as one becomes embroiled with the Free Ryloth movement.
While the game between the two Imperial officers gives the story an interesting subplot, it ultimately sputters out at the end. Furthermore, the Free Ryloth movement’s rebels come across as a bunch of cardboard cutout heroes, including Cham and Ishval, that seem to simply serve to drive the plot. However, even though these two plot lines plod along, Vader and the Emperor, along with the shadow that they cast over the events of the whole novel, are superbly portrayed. The two Sith Lords come across as menacing, powerful, at times chillingly alien while at others surprisingly human.
Ultimately, if you’re a big fan of Vader and the Emperor, this one is worth checking out. Also, if you’re interested in the very beginnings of the Rebel Alliance, the Free Ryloth movement’s plot line further unveils the organization’s grassroot beginnings.
Book reviewed by Space Dragon contributor Matt Pellegrino