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Literature / Darth Bane

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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 Star Wars Legends 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 noblenote . 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:

  • Abusive Parents: Bane's father was, to put it bluntly, an utter bastard.
  • Academy of Adventure: The Korriban Academy.
  • The Ace: General Kiel Charny in Jedi vs. Sith.
    • Sirak is the star student of the Korriban Academy, an unstoppable swordsman and naturally gifted in the dark side.
  • 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
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Bane does well against Kas'im until he separates his double-sided saber and comes at him with two swords. Something he never taught Bane how to fight.
  • 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 Anti-Christ: 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.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Bane is ambushed by some Sith Assassins and an amateur force user in Rule of Two. Surprise and numbers don't help them.
  • Attack Reflector: A dying Jedi Master nearly kills Bane in Rule of Two by trapping himself inside a Force bubble with the Sith Lord, just as Bane fires a volley of Force Lightning at another Jedi. The lightning ricochets off the inside of the bubble, frying them both.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: In Rule of Two, Bane's Clingy Costume of orbalisks provides him with a nigh-indestructible suit of armor that lets him shrug off most lightsaber strikes. He plays this to his advantage with a hyper-aggressive variant of Form V: Djem So relying on sheer brute force to overcome opponents.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Double-bladed lightsabers as Blademaster Kas'im explains. Despite its power there are several obvious weaknesses. Such as the user being limited mostly to swings and how vulnerable the hilt is. Its real advantage is how little most know about it, preventing them from using these weaknesses. Kas'im holds this to be even more true about Dual Wielding, outright refusing to teach it to any of his students and declaring it to be a useless form that only an idiot would use. Except this is a lie; Kas'im himself chose dual wielding as his true fighting style, with his double-bladed lightsaber splitting into two regular ones. He refused to teach the technique to anyone so that any student who might betray him would not only know nothing about how to fight a dual-wielder, they would focus all their preparation on the completely different strengths and weaknesses of fighting against a double-bladed lightsaber.
    • The Orbalisks form an impenetrable armor from their shells as they spread across Bane's body. As well as secreting rage inducing fluids making him even stronger. Without the proper precautions however they would inevitably kill him, or drive him mad with their hunger.
  • Badass Bookworm: 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.
    • Zannah also qualifies, as her specialty in the Force is sorcery, which requires intensive study in the Force. Her only education was also through her study of the Force under Bane.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Bane and Rain have this dynamic pre-timeskip in Rule of Two.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: The sith among the Brotherhood of Darkness are not truly as united as they seem. With its leader Lord Kaan using his powers to project an aura of charisma and persuasion to keep the leadership in line.
  • 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.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Bane allows Caleb to live after forcing him to save his life, since he may need his help again one day.
    • Zannah does this a few times. Hesitating to kill Bane when the opportunities arise out of fear that she hasn't learned everything she can from him. Subverted in one case as she tells him that if he could not kill the assassins she inadvertently sent after him he didn't deserve to live.
  • 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 receiving end of one when first dueling Sirak. He returns the favor later on.
    • Once the initial surprise of Set Harth's attack passes, Zannah quickly takes him down with some sorcery.
  • 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. Bane disagreed.
  • 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.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: 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. Unless you're Rooting for the Empire, in which case The Chessmaster wins pretty thoroughly.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Bane builds the entire Rule of Two around this concept. Naturally, the series concludes with Zannah fulfilling this trope with the knowledge Cognus will one day do the same thing, if she proves herself worthy to usurp her power and right to the title of Dark Lord of the Sith.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: As this series predates the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic by several years, no mention is made of Vitiate's Sith Empire, despite their coming even closer to conquest of the Galaxy than Bane's idol Revan did, and being in the more recent past than Revan.
  • 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.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Bane will live long enough to create his Sith Order and Zannah will succeed him as the next Dark Lord of the Sith, and the Jedi will know nothing of it because by the time of the movies, they think that the Sith died with Bane. There is one minor subversion / goof- the Jedi never find out about Bane's Rule of Two, so Yoda knowing about this rule in the movies does not make sense here.
    • Actually, it's not that much of a goof: even during the days of the Sith Empire, it was something of a tradition for an upper-echelon Sith Lord to take an apprentice, though said apprentice usually functioned as a powerful minion rather than an heir, so perhaps that's how Yoda knew of it.
  • 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.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Dessel and his apprentice Rain. The former from a corporate slave on a backwater planet to a master swordsman, practitioner of the Force and Dark Lord of the Sith. The latter a scared child caught up in a war to a Sith Lord and master sorceress.
  • 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.
  • Grand Theft Me: When Bane starts looking for immortality, he finds it in the Essence Transfer ritual created by Darth Anneddu. Which would allow him to change bodies over time.
  • 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 he kills a fellow apprentice in a practice duel, and the full truth of the dark side becomes clear to him. Later he gets destroyed in a duel with Sirak, which just sends him further downhill.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Sirak gets the tables turned on him after Bane learns his style's weaknesses. Without any experience against a real opponent or the stamina to fight a prolonged battle Bane mops the floor with him.
    • This happens to Bane when his lightning is turned against him. Killing the orbalisks that made up his armor and releasing lethal toxins into his body which nearly kills 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.
  • Immortality Seeker: Bane becomes this by Dynasty of Evil, as his body is slowly breaking down and he fears that Zannah will prove to be an unworthy successor by refusing to challenge him for the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith. He thus needs time to find and train a suitable replacement, which he can only get by finding a way to extend his life.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Jedi Master Hoth.
  • Knight Templar: Subverted- though they do not get as much focus as the Sith and Bane himself, the Jedi in this series aren't stoic or rigid as the future Jedi will be- the Patawan Johan is told that it is fine to grieve, for one, General Hoth is far more angry and hot-headed than the Jedi of the Clone Wars ever are, and they haven't yet started only taking recruits in the form of babies, having no issue taking in Johan and several others after the age of ten or older.
    • This is also shown in that the Chancellor of the second book is the first non-Jedi Chancellor in four hundred years, showing they were much more liked in this time.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Bane concedes during his last sparring session with Kas'im, seeing that he cannot win and that it is only a matter of time before he exhausts himself, making it a waste of time to continue. Kas'im acknowledges this as a sign of just how far Bane has come as a swordsman.
    • When Bane fights Kas'im later on he is again forced to acknowledge that he cannot best him in a duel, and decides to bury him under a mountain of stonework instead.
  • Made of Iron: Bane.
  • Male Might, Female Finesse: Bane instructs Darth Zannah in a different form of lightsaber combat than himself, explaining that her smaller size, weaker musculature, and lack of nigh-indestructible orbalisk armor means she can't effectively use his Attack! Attack! Attack! variant of Form V: Djem So. He instead teaches her to use a double-bladed saber and Form III: Soresu, which she initially dislikes because the defensive style is more typically associated with the Jedi.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Name: Darth Bane, of course. Also counts Darth Andeddu, who created a method to achieve Immortality. Well, sort of.
  • 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.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The Neimoidian bartender Groshik smuggles Bane off Apatros after the latter kills a Republic soldier in self-defense, allowing him to join the Sith. He himself suffers no consequences later on, but his act of kindness allows Bane to become a Sith, causing the rest of the galaxy to suffer as a result.
  • 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 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.
  • Pet the Dog: A pragmatic example. Hurst's abuse was partly responsible for Bane's inner strength, but he resolves to never abuse Zannah. He doesn't care about her (or anyone else) as a person, but knows she'll learn more if she respects him instead of fearing and/or hating him. He instead takes a stern-but-fair stance towards her, with great results.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Bane and Zannah only escape because the Jedi never have enough of the picture to discover the truth. If Farfalla had told the Jedi Council, or at least left them a message with everything that he knew at that point, then they would have realized that Davorit could not possibly have been the Sith Lord after Zannah uses Sith sorcery to cause him to appear as the Sith Lord. Had Serra also told them what she knew rather than trying to kill Bane herself, they would have also realized Bane's identity and that he was still alive.
  • 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.
  • Professional Killer: Dynasty of Evil introduces the Huntress, a Force-sensitive Iktochi assassin hired by Serra to capture Darth Bane. By the end of the book, she becomes Zannah’s Sith apprentice and takes the name Darth Cognus.
  • 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).
  • Stern Teacher: Bane to Zannah.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • When it looks like the Jedi are about to find them and Bane tells Zannah to kill him and escape on her own, she devises a different plan. Using sorcery to drives Darovit mad, deceiving the Jedi into mistaking him for the last sith lord while hiding herself and Bane.
  • Take Up My Sword: When Bane realizes he is close to death and the Jedi are on the verge of discovering them he implores his apprentice Zannah to kill him and take up the mantle of Darth Lord and escape so the Sith Order will survive. She Takes a Third Option.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Bane is the technician to Sirak's performer, having accquried his skills through discipline and hard work while Sirak is more naturally talented. While Bane loses their first fight, he utterly crushes Sirak after several months of study and training.
  • 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.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Bane was already an elite soldier before his force sensitivity was discovered and he began sith training. After getting demolished by Sirak, being forgotten by most of the academy, and having his connection to the force crippled he ends up taking several more. Reading ancient texts in the archives, meeting Githany who repairs his Force connection and tutors him, while receiving private sword lessons from Kas'im.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Rain, shortly after she uses the Force to murder two Jedi knights who unwittingly killed her alien best friend, is offered a ride off planet by a Republic special forces officer and her two companions. Unfortunately, she needs the ship to herself so she can meet with Bane, so she uses a blaster to kill all three of them and steal it. Bear in mind she did all this at the age of ten.
  • Tyke-Bomb: Rain, who becomes Darth Zannah.
  • Übermensch: Bane may be one of Star Wars few genuine examples as he doesn't bother trying to justify himself.
    • He also views Darth Revan as this, seeing him as the ideal sith lord.
  • The Unfettered: Bane doesn't do morality, or indeed any kind of rule other than the exaltation of strength.
  • 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.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Drew Karpyshyn, the author, discussed this in relation to a fan theory regarding the ending. He had actually intended for the ending to be clear, but to many it wasn't. He noted that in order for the fan theory to work, readers would have to assume that he was being an unreliable narrator at the end of the book, something that he had never done before. "Unfortunately, “twist” endings have become so prevalent recently that I think people assume narrators are unreliable now by default..."
  • Unwanted Assistance: A definite case for Sarro Xaj during the Duel on Tython.
  • Villain Protagonist: One of Star Wars' few examples.
  • Villainous Valor: Many in the Brotherhood of Darkness show this, most notably Kopecz.
  • Weird Weather: In Path of Destruction, Bane encourages the Sith fighting on Ruusan to summon a Force-powered storm that levels the forest the Republic forces were occupying. The combination of the destruction and the miasma of evil energy also drives the formerly peaceful native "bouncers" insane, turning them from bringers of comfort to feared and pitied psychic scourges.
    Darth Bane: Now look at that map and think like a Sith. Don't just fight in the forests...destroy the forests!
  • 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.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Bane definitely would - and does.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: By Dynasty of Evil, Darth Bane’s body has begun to break down from overusing the dark side of the Force. The knowledge of his impending mortality, and his fears that Darth Zannah will simply let him waste away rather than challenge him in his prime as the Rule of Two dictates, spur Bane to become an Immortality Seeker.


Example of: