Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lords of the Sith

Lords of the Sith: Star WarsLords of the Sith: Star Wars by Paul S. Kemp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twi'lek Freedom Fighters Cham Syndulla, Isval, and the Free Ryloth movement find themselves with an opportunity too rare to pass up on...the chance to kill The Emperor and Darth Vader. The leaders of the Empire are traveling together to Ryloth, the home of the Free Ryloth movement. Cham will use every resource he has to strike the head from the Empire and watch the body die so Ryloth can be free once more. The resistances ambush leaves The Emperor and Darth Vader stranded in the forests of the planet while being hunted by the planets apex predators and the resistance. Despite all the loss of imperial life and being stranded on the planets surface, The Emperor's unconcerned gaze and half smile makes it appear as though all is going according to his plan.

Lords of the Sith was easily one of the best Star Wars books I've read. Paul S. Kemp delves deeply into the mind and abilities of Darth Vader letting us see his anger fueled into the force in different and deadly ways. Kemp writes some of the most awe inspiring moments I've read on Darth Vader's abilities.

The sound of a man on a respirator never feels quite as terrifying as when Darth Vader is chasing down protagonists as the grim reaper of the Empire. Darth Vader is the bogeyman, the scary story at the campfire, and the symbol of danger to every species in the galaxy. He is the physical manifestation of the force in a universe where the Jedi are practically extinct. The story constantly reinforces that few have seen a force practitioner by making statements such as he's not a man and he does things no one should be able to do.

Like every individual who's lived through a moment of terror those that have seen Vader fight have nightmares about it all throughout the novel. Who wouldn't though? If a man in all black choked me with an invisible hand that I can't fight against then I'd have nightmares too. One difference between me and the characters in the book is if I lived through that I'm running home sitting in the shower fully clothed hugging my knees with the water soaking me. I would NOT be chasing after the man with magical powers!

The scariest part of this is the reinforcement that regardless of how scary and deadly Vader is his master aka Emperor Palpatine aka Darth Sidious aka THE Lord of the Sith is even more dangerous. I've seen all the movies, Palpatine was not young when Luke and Leia finally became a bump in their mother's stomach. The people of the universe think he's a helpless old man, but this book, The Revenge of the Sith, and The Return of the Jedi clearly proved otherwise. It was interesting to see that The Emperor purposely makes people believe he's helpless likely so if anyone made it past Vader they'd be electrified with force lightning before they knew what was happening. Palpatine sits, smiles, cackles, and depresses the poor people and beasts that just want to kill him.

I feel for the Free Ryloth movement because knowing they're never mentioned in the movies means things can't go well for them. Cham is a wise leader and he makes the most of his opportunity. It would be interesting to see if any of the Free Ryloth movement members appear in any future expanded universe books.

I was surprised and slightly disappointed to learn that The Clone Wars cartoon show is canon. Darth Vader thinks of Ashoka and her nickname Snips. The cartoon show always seemed a bit too kiddy to be part of the canon, but it clearly must be.

My only actual complaint against the book is I wanted to see a lot more from Darth Vader's point of view and I wanted to see from Palpatine's point of view. Cham, Isval, Belkor, and Mors all were strong point of view characters in a memorable story, but I really just wanted to be in the heads of the Lords of the Sith.

Lords of the Sith was a fun Star Wars adventure in the new expanded universe.

4 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Autumn Republic

The Autumn Republic (The Powder Mage, #3)The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Autumn Republic starts shortly after the end of The Crimson Campaign. Field Marshall Tamas has returned to Adro to find Brudanian Forces under the command of Lord Claremonte have taken control of the city.

The war with the Kez continues on, but Adro's forces are divided.

Taniel and Ka-poel are in hiding all the while being hunted by brigades of his treacherous country men.

The Autumn Republic is a great yet at times sad conclusion to the Powder Mage trilogy. All the familiar elements of the series return with magic, mystery, betrayal, shock, family, and of course gods. The finale does not disappoint.

While most books start out slowly, The Autumn Republic beings in a sprint. Battles rage in the first few chapters and all throughout the book as Brian McClellan packed this one full of action. I had the chills more than once through some of the battle scenes.

I really enjoyed seeing the depth of many of the characters in this one particularly Tamas, Taniel, and Nila.

Tamas had the feel all throughout the book that he'd grown tired of all the fighting and betrayal. He shares a ton of sentimental scenes with Taniel, Bo, and Vlora throughout which just seemed right since they are all his kids. Tamas still had his edge, but he's really showing his kindness and caring more than ever before.

Taniel shows plainly that he's grown up even at the beginning of The Autumn Republic. Gone is the pompous powder mage replaced by a young man who cares deeply for those he loves and he even shows respect for others too.

Nila was really a shining star in this one. The newly minted privileged shows resolve far beyond what a young woman with zero training in war or fighting should have. Over and over she steps up in this one to protect herself and others. Prior to this one Nila's chapter seemed somewhat unimportant, but she was an essential part of the team in The Autumn Republic. Her interactions with Bo were also some of my favorite scenes.

The big reveal and conclusion in The Autumn Republic was unreal. Brian McClellan saved some massive twists that I hadn't considered for a moment. I love when I'm pleasantly surprised by any stories twists and McClellan had some great ones. The conclusion left me saddened and stunned, but McClellan captured the moment beautifully.

The only thing I didn't like was a certain plot point that I saw through instantly, but it really didn't effect my overall enjoyment of the book.

The Autumn Republic brilliantly caps the end of the Powder Mage trilogy. I'm looking forward to all of Brian McClellan's future works particularly his next Powder Mage trilogy which is already in the works.

5 out of 5 stars

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