The Darth Bane
series is a trilogy of books by Drew Karpyshyn set during the period of the New Sith Wars (roughly 1,000 years before the events of The Phantom Menace
). It chronicles the life of Dessel, a cortosis ore miner that joins the Sith and eventually becomes Darth Bane, the first Lord of the Sith Order that eventually spawned Emperor Palpatine. The first book Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
was followed by Darth Bane: Rule of Two
, and the series concluded in Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil
, which was released on December 8, 2009.
The books are unusual in the Star Wars Expanded Universe
in that they are from the perspective of a character aligned to the Sith. Even more unusual, no attempt is made to portray the actions of Darth Bane as heroic or noble. Instead, Bane slowly descends ever deeper into corruption and eventually becomes as evil as one would expect the Dark Lord of the Sith to be.
Related to the Darth Bane books is an older comic book series entitled Jedi vs. Sith
, which is set around the same time as the last part of Path of Destruction
and explains how Zannah and her cousins (Darovit and Hardin) arrived on Ruusan during the final battle between the Jedi and the Sith. Although Bane is technically the Big Bad
in this series, his appearances are sporadic. The story focuses mainly on Tomcat (Darovit) and Bug (Hardin) and is arguably closer in tone to The Lord of the Rings
than Star Wars
. Elements of the series are incorporated into the Bane books in Broad Strokes
The stories contain the following tropes:
- Academy of Adventure: The Korriban Academy.
- The Ace: General Kiel Charny in Jedi vs. Sith.
- Adaptation Distillation
- The second half of the first book coincides with the events of the earlier Jedi vs Sith comic book series.
- Similarly, the first bit of Rule of Two is mostly a retelling of the short story Bane of the Sith.
- Affably Evil: Darth Cognus
- And I Must Scream: The thought bomb only destroys your body. Your consciousness is trapped within an unholy vortex to suffer eternal torment, as demonstrated when Bane discovers the aftermath of the bomb's detonation: he listens to the cries of the Jedi/Sith spirits and finds they're not even human cries, just bestial shrieks of anguish.
- Animesque: The Jedi vs. Sith comic series.
- The Antichrist: Bane extensively researches the Sith'ari prophecy that is the Sith's equivalent to the Chosen One. Since he believes the Force is there for him to command, instead of vice versa, he discounts the prophecy, but if the Sith'ari does exist it's probably Bane himself. This was later confirmed by the Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia.
- Appropriated Appellation: Young Dessel's abusive father Hurst blamed him for most of his problems, calling Dessel "the bane of my existence". So when he later joined the Sith and was given the chance to reinvent himself, Dessel took the name of Bane.
- Badass: Darth Bane. On the Jedi's side, we have Master Hoth.
- Badass and Child Duo: Bane and Rain have this dynamic pre-timeskip in Rule of Two.
- Bigger Bad: Darth Bane for the entire series, given that he's the one who developed the Sith plan for conquest ultimately executed by Palpatine.
- Book Dumb: Subverted. It's implied that much of Bane's knowledge of the Force comes entirely from his diligent study of Old Sith lore. It's especially impressive when you realize that Bane was a miner with little-to-no formal education and no training in the Force whatsoever until he was in his mid-twenties. Completely averted when Bane becomes a true Sith Lord.
- Break the Cutie: Poor Rain. All she had left in the world was a cute fuzzy alien friend, and it got shot. Her reaction? Killing the Jedi that shot her friend, then deciding to ditch her nickname of "Rain" and use her real name of Zannah to become Bane's apprentice.
- Broad Strokes: The events of Jedi vs. Sith and Bane of the Sith are incorporated into the story and slightly altered.
- Canon Discontinuity: Path of Destruction replaces Jedi vs. Sith and Rule of Two replaces Bane of the Sith in official continuity.
- The Chessmaster: It's shown that Bane has a network of spies and long reaching plans to take control of the Galaxy.
- Continuity Nod: The Temple of the Rakata on Lehon, the Korriban Academy (both from Knights of the Old Republic), and Bane's curved lightsaber hilt that resembles Count Dooku's are just a few.
- Combat Pragmatist: Bane. "Honor is for the living. Dead is dead"
- Company Town: What we see of the planet Apotros, a cortosis mining colony, is this. Pretty much everything you buy comes from the company, and they've made it so that you will essentially always be in debt to them. Even the cantina has a limit on the sabaac pot so that the entirety of someone's debt can't be paid off in one lucky night.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Bane is on the recieving end of one when first dueling Sirak. He returns the favor later on.
- The Dandy: Lord Farfalla, who is initially treated as a bit of a joke by the Sith.
- Dark Action Girl: Bane's apprentice, Darth Zannah.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Subverted in that the Brotherhood of Darkness does this spiel with Bane.
- The Dark Side: Obviously.
- Deadly Upgrade: The orbalisks in the second novel. Increased strength and armor that can resist lightsaber strikes — at the cost of chronic pain and having one's life drained away.
- Deadpan Snarker: Bug in the comics.
- Death by Childbirth: Part of why Bane's father hated him.
- Deconstruction: And Reconstruction as well. The books show the Republic in all its corrupt and evil glory plus the perspective of the Sith. At the end of the day, you realize that the Jedi Knights are entirely right that there's something fundamentally wrong with the Sith.
- Demythification: In an odd in universe example, these books to an extent do this with respect to the earlier comic books. In Path of Destruction, Bane even comments that the feats claimed by the ancient Sith are likely more myth than fact.
- Determinator: Darth Bane.
- Downer Ending: The Jedi destroy the Sith but only at the cost of their army's greatest leader and ninety-nine other Jedi. And Bane, who no one even knows exists, is left alone to found the order that will nearly destroy them. The end of the second novel is even worse.
- Evil Is Old Fashioned: The Brotherhood considers Bane a throwback to the Sith's pointless and destructive past, largely because of his uncompromising preference for the rule of the strong as per tradition.
- Evil Mentor: Qordis and Kas'im, and later Bane himself.
- Exact Words: Bane's fencing teacher calls him out on being inferior as a swordsman, so Bane admits that he'll never win the battle using a lightsaber. Bane pushes out the supports of a stone temple and crushes the man instead.
- Fate Worse Than Death: The Sith and Jedi caught in the Thought Bomb's radius are reduced to fragments of their consciousness, and are trapped in that state forever in caverns under the Valley of the Jedi. At least until Kyle Katarn, the prophesied "knight that never was", swings by and frees their spirits during his fight with Jerec. But that's a different series and a good few years later. Some of the Sith spirits hang around even then. Also what happens to Bane when he fails to possess Zannah.
- Freudian Excuse: Darth Bane was abused as a child by his father and grew up on an armpit of a planet. Bizarrely, while it's easy to see how this shaped him into a monster, he makes no attempt to justify his actions with it.
- Genius Bruiser: Tall, muscular, and intimidating yet has extensive knowledge of Sith lore and creates convoluted long-term strategies with enormous benefits to the Sith in the end, Bane pretty much qualifies.
- Harmful to Minors: Poor Rain. Ironically, she suffers more from the actions of the Jedi(recruited to fight a war, one cousin dead, the killing of her friend) than from Bane. Bane is a stern taskmaster intent on turning her into the perfect evil apprentice, but he never abuses her.
- Hero Antagonist: The entire Jedi Order largely plays this role.
- The Hero's Journey: Interestingly Bane goes through something of a dark version of this in a parallel of Luke's journey.
- Heroic BSOD: Bane goes through one of these after Sirak defeats him.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Bane (6' 7") and Zannah (in the neighborhood of 5' 5").
- Ineffectual Loner: Bane has no friends, which turns out to be Fridge Brilliance when you look back on the series and realize it. He does have comrades-in-arms once he joins the Sith army, but comes to realize that at the end of the day, the only one he can truly rely on is himself.
- Immortality Immorality: Of the body snatching evil spirit variety.
- Infant Immortality: Subverted big time.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Jedi Master Hoth.
- Made of Iron: Bane.
- Manipulative Bastard: Bane, when he destroys the Brotherhood by playing on Kaan's ego. In the sequel, a hallucination of Kaan pays him back from beyond the grave when he tricks Bane into using a Deadly Upgrade in the form of parasitic orbalisks.
- Master Swordsman: Blademaster Kas'im, Jedi Battlemaster Raskta Lsu, and Bane.
- Mind Rape: This is one of Zannah's most-utilized powers from her tutelage in Sith sorcery.
- Morality Chain: The death of Rain's bouncer friend turns her from a troubled young girl into a murderous sociopath at a very young age.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Dessel's shock when he realizes he had unknowingly killed his own father with the Force is so severe that he loses his connection to the Force and temporarily falls into a stupor.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero / Create Your Own Villain: Three Republic soldiers, Sith Lt. Ulabore, Bane's father Hurst, and two Jedi inadvertently caused Bane and Zannah to become Sith Lords.
- Neck Snap: Overlaps with Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight.
- Not So Different: According to Bane, Kaan's Brotherhood and the Jedi. Under Kaan, the Sith worked together for a greater good as equals, fought with some honor, and mostly ignored the precedents set by Darth Revan and other ancient Sith in favor of policies that promote unity and cooperation rather than infighting. Bane, who revered Revan, considers the Brotherhood a perversion of nature, and has little more than contempt for its members.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: When Zannah first meets Set in his home, he seems to be partially drunk and—rather than ask Zannah what the hell she's doing breaking into his residence—asks her if she followed him home from the party out of lust for him, inviting her onto the couch with him. Zannah curses herself for ever thinking that such an idiot could make a suitable apprentice and lets her guard down...at which point Set drops the act and springs into action, nearly slicing her to pieces.
- Papa Wolf: Caleb the healer. He stands up to a Sith Lord with nothing but sheer willpower (and douses his own arm in boiling water to show his determination) to keep his daughter hidden and safe. It doesn't work, but he still gets points for trying.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Bane spares Caleb after the latter heals him in the first book since he might need his abilities again. In general this is common for Bane as well as Zannah and was in fact one of the rules of his Sith order that they be pragmatically evil rather than outright evil.
- Redemption Rejection: Zannah's cousin Darovit offers her more than one chance to turn away from the dark side. She pretends to accept his final offer, then use Sith sorcery to drive him insane and convince the Jedi Order that he is the Sith Lord they've been hunting.
- The Rival: Sirak is this for Bane.
- Rich Bitch: Serra sort of starts out as this. She got better, only to be killed by Darth Cognus.
- Rule of Two: Codified by Darth Bane. "One to embody power, the other to crave it."
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Everyone seems to know of every unimportant planet or person in the galaxy, like Onderon or Caleb, and The Republic is still using the same ship classes that were used during the war with Darth Revan's Sith, some 3000 years earlier. This is justified in other canon by having the two designs continually be updated up to the Ruusan Reformations, when the Republic military became essentially obsolete.
- Shout-Out: Lots of them to Knights of the Old Republic and Jedi vs. Sith.
- The Social Darwinist: Bane and by extension, Zannah.
- Start of Darkness: For both Bane (Path of Destruction) and Zannah (the last bit of Path of Destruction and all of Rule of Two).
- Stone Wall: Bane trained Zannah in Soresu, a defensive style normally used by Jedi.
Zannah: Defense will not slay my enemy.
Bane: You lack the physical strength required for the powerful attacking strikes of Djem So or the other aggressive forms. You must rely on quickness, cunning and, most of all, patience to best your enemies.
- Stop Helping Me!: A definite case for Sarro Xaj during the Duel on Tython.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Bane lived a truly crappy life until the Sith "rescued" him.
- Take a Third Option: Bane can't defeat his old lightsaber instructor in combat, but he can crush him with a stone temple.
- Teens Are Monsters: Zannah, kind of. In the books she's either ten (Path of Destruction), twenty (Rule of Two) or in her early to mid-thirties (Dynasty of Evil), but Rule of Two throws in some flashbacks of her training at twelve and fourteen.
- Too Dumb to Live: Darovit.
- Tykebomb: Rain, who becomes Darth Zannah.
- ‹bermensch: Bane may be one of Star Wars few genuine examples as he doesn't bother trying to justify himself.
- Unholy Nuke: The Thought Bomb from Path of Destruction is one such example; using Sith energy, it obliterates all Force-sensitives (and for those close enough, all life-forms) within its radius, including the Sith who used it.
- Villain Protagonist: One of Star Wars' few examples.
- Villainous Valor: Many in the Brotherhood of Darkness show this, most notably Kopecz.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: In the Jedi vs. Sith Comic Darovit has an extremely idealised view of Jedi and is horrified when they turn out to be as vulnerable as anyone else, which leads to him killing General Charny and briefly joining the Sith.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Lord Kaan is driven mad by the pressures of the war mixed with the temptations of the Thought Bomb.
- Worthy Opponent: Kopecz, who has the respect of some of the Jedi Masters.