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Literature / Lords of the Sith

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Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor’s chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader’s allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.

On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.

For Syndulla and Isval, it’s the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet’s surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries.

Lords of the Sith is a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel by Paul S. Kemp set in-between the events of Tarkin and A New Dawn. It is the fourth novel released following the Continuity Reboot by Disney.

Frustrated by the setbacks of the occupation of Ryloth, the Emperor and Darth Vader embark on a personal inspection tour, only to find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action and cut off from immediate Imperial assistance. Being hunted down by the large, well-organized and well-equipped Twi'lek resistance led by Cham Syndulla, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their own ruthlessness to prevail.

The novel contains the following tropes:

  • Abandon Ship: When Vader sees that the hyperdrive has been rigged with explosives, he orders an immediate evacuation of the ship. Unlike Legends, here it's suggested that a Star Destroyer has enough escape pods and evacuation shuttles for all on board.
  • Airstrike Impossible: The book highlights just how powerful one Imperial-class Star Destroyer is and it takes almost the entire resources of Cham's rebel group to take the Perilous down.
  • Arc Welding: This book confirms that Cham Syndulla is Hera Syndulla's father.
  • Attack Drone: Part of Cham's attack on the Perilous consists of a few hundred old Separatist droid fighters converted into kamikaze drones.
  • Attack Reflector: Vader and Palpatine manage to knock out two of Cham's gunships (actually converted freighters) by deflecting shots from their main guns back into their vulnerable underbellies with their lightsabers.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Vader and the Emperor versus the lylek colony.
  • Bait the Dog: The Emperor actually acts like a kindly old man to a village of Twi'leks (especially the children) that he visits when he and Darth Vader are stranded on Ryloth. Then, after the subsequent battle is over, he tells Vader to kill them all — ostensibly to get rid of any witnesses, but in actuality because he can. Even Vader is horrified by this, though he carries the deed out all the same.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Aside from the gutkurrs, Ryloth's apex predator, the lylek, is a giant insectoid alien larger than a man with a carapace tough enough to merely deflect small arms blaster fire. The queen variant is so big that her mouth could easily bite a human in two.
  • Blind Obedience: The Royal Guard are trained to obey the Emperor's orders without question. To prove a point, Palpatine has the leader of the unit execute one of his soldiers for a rather petty reason (he literally forgot to buckle up on the shuttle ride).
  • The Bus Came Back: Cham Syndulla returns as a major character a few years after his last appearance in The Clone Wars.
  • Canon Immigrant: Sith tongue, the language used by the Sith species in Legends, returns. The species doesn’t, so the language is relegated to one between the two eponymous Lords of the Sith.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Belkor Dray, first he betrays Mors' trust. Next, he sells the Empire out to Cham's rebels and later when things go south he turns on Cham's group.
  • Conlang: Sith tongue appears as a secret language between Vader and Palpatine.
  • Continuity Nod: At one point, Vader remembers the last time he was in Ryloth space.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Vader versus an entire transport full of Twi'lek resistance fighters.
    • Vader and the Emperor versus the lylek colony.
  • Death World: Ryloth is shown to be an incredibly hostile place due to its numerous native insectoid predators, both to the Sith Lords and the Twi'lek Resistance.
  • Determinator: Vader, of course, and it terrifies the Twi'lek fighters.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Inverted. Isval is a former Sex Slave who kills Imperials that abuse sex slaves, and escaped from her former life by strangling the man who used her.
  • Dramatic Irony: Vader gets his due reputation fairly quickly, but until the end, Cham's rebels believe that once he's dead, the Emperor is just an old man one blaster shot away from death.
  • Elite Mooks: The Emperor's Royal Guard are no slouches in a fight against the Rebels or the local wild-life.
  • Evil Gloating: After Ishval is finally captured, Palpatine takes time to gloat about how everything that happened was according to his design before having Vader execute her.
  • Exact Words: Sidious tells Vader he does not plan to kill the Twi'lek villagers, because he plans to order Vader to kill them for him.
  • Fantastic Racism: Mors chooses her Twi'lek servants based on how their pale green skin matches the scenery around her private quarters, which is extremely objectifying.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The book is canonical and it's set before Episode IV. How do you think the assassination attempts on Darth Vader and the Emperor will turn out?
  • Foreshadowing: Palpatine introduces himself and Vader to the Twi'lek villagers as "Death" and "Fate" respectively in the Sith tongue, hinting towards his plans of killing them all for fun.
  • Heel Realization: Mors has this once the full scope of the disaster surrounding Perilous and Belkor's betrayal sets in, where she realizes the situation was almost completely enabled by her foisting all her duties onto her Number Two, as well as her general apathy. She shapes back up very quickly.
  • Ignored Epiphany:
    • Isval notes that Cham would disapprove of her Serial Killer tendencies and repeats to herself her rationalization of why they are necessary. She finds this half convincing, even to herself, but goes through with another hunt anyway.
    • Cham realizes during the hunt for Vader and the Emperor that he's slipping into the same Sunk Cost Fallacy that's trapped Belkor, but can't bring himself to back down.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Mors refers to her conscripted Twi'leks as servants not slaves.
    • Cham Syndulla's personal mantra is Not a terrorist, but a freedom fighter.
  • Kick the Dog: Palpatine orders Vader to exterminate the village of Twi'leks that welcomed them, ostensibly to Leave No Witnesses but in reality simply because he can and as a bit of petty spite towards Vader, as Vader had stopped him from killing one of them earlier out of Pragmatic Villainy.
  • Leave No Survivors: Palpatine gives this order a couple of times, as he doesn't want the fact that he's a Force user to become public knowledge.
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards: A point Cham makes to Isval about the Imperial troops on Ryloth. They're mostly conscripts with only a few seasoned stormtroopers, Clone Wars veterans and clones on planet.
  • Meaningful Name: Vader's personal Star Destroyer that both he and the Emperor are traveling to Ryloth on is the Perilous. And being exposed to imminent risk of disaster or ruin is exactly where this warship takes them.
  • The Mole: Colonel Dray. And just like Vice Admiral Rancit in Tarkin he does it for the exact same reasons.
  • Mythology Gag: At one point Cham muses that he would like to be the spark that starts a fire across the galaxy.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Cham's troops try to recover the bodies of their comrades killed on Ryloth. The local wild life is uncooperative.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Vader and Isval, the former actually comments on this to the latter (telling her he knows exactly what she means by murdering out of love) right before he kills her.
  • Off with His Head!: Vader executes Isval via beheading at the end of the story.
  • Queer Establishing Moment: Moff Delian Mors holds the distinction of being the first LGBT character in the new Star Wars canon, though there were a few gay characters in some Legends stories. Her sexuality is only touched upon when it's noted that her wife was killed in a transport accident years before the events of the novel.
  • The Quisling: Orn Free Taa, a Twi'lek who serves in the Imperial Senate.
  • Rebel Leader: Cham Syndulla. He likes to keep reminding himself that he's a freedom fighter, not a terrorist.
  • Space Mines: Another major component of Cham's plan to take down the Perilous and actually handled somewhat realistically. They're deployed in a spherical formation in the area where the Star Destroyer will exit hyperspace, so no matter which way the warship turns, it will run into them.
  • The Starscream: Colonel Belkor Dray, Moff Mors' subordinate, would really like to have Mors' job and he ain't too picky about how he gets it.
  • Suicide Mission: Cham realizes that going after Vader and the Emperor is likely this, but the opportunity is too good to pass up.
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy: Something Cham notes about Belkor is that the man keeps getting in deeper by telling himself he's come to far to back out now. Cham himself later falls into this and keeps pitting the Movement's resources against Vader even after numerous signs that killing him is beyond them because he can only stomach the deaths of those who already died in pursuit of that goal if they succeed in the end.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Both the freedom fighters and the Sith Lords encounter wildlife that fits the description. The rebels run away to their ships. The Sith retreat to a bottleneck, kill their pursuers and slaughter their Queen.
  • Token Human: Faylin, a human woman, is the only non-Twi'lek we see that's part of the Free Ryloth movement.
  • Villainous Breakdown: A spectacular one. Belkor Dray loses it when everything starts coming undone in the end, going from crying to giggling to having a conversation with the corpse of the pilot he shot.
  • Villain Protagonist: Pretty much every viewpoint character except for Cham and possibly Isval, who's an Antihero Protagonist. Vader and the Emperor obviously qualify, as does Belkor Dray. The later parts of the book sometimes switch to the viewpoint of Mors, who's thoroughly on the Empire's side and has quite a few vices, but starts showing redeeming qualities towards the book's end.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never learn if Orn Free Taa was able to get off the Perilous before it exploded, though Palpatine believes that he did. Justified, as he was little more than the Emperor's puppet and thus it wouldn't matter if he survived or not.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?:
    • Alluded to when Isval notes it only cost the Movement thirty men to take down a Star Destroyer. A pained Cham reminds her that thirty is a lot of people.
    • When Gobi and Kallon cheer at all the Imperials being killed in the attack on the Perilous, Cham rebukes them for celebrating the deaths of even their enemies.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Lyleks are considered the apex predator on Ryloth, with the Twi'leks having all sorts of defenses just to keep them at bay. Vader and the Emperor slaughter an entire colony almost singlehandedly.
    • The story makes it very clear that a Star Destroyer is an absolute behemoth of a ship that takes almost every resource Cham had scrounged together over several years to bring down. And the Empire has hundreds of them.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Just like the Battle of Endor, the entire plot had been planned by Palpatine. He deliberately leaked that he was going to visit Ryloth in order to lure the resistance out of hiding. They end up expending all their resources to take down a single Star Destroyer, and yet Palpatine still walks away, but not before killing many members of the local cells.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Cham internally repeats that he's the latter, while making sure that innocents aren't caught in the crossfire of the battle.