The Sith Empire is in flux. The Emperor is missing, presumed dead, and an ambitious Sith Lords attempt to seize the throne has ended fatally. Still, Darth Karrid, commander of the fearsome Imperial battle cruiser Ascendant Spear, continues her relentless efforts to achieve total Sith domination of the galaxy.
But Karrids ruthless determination is more than matched in the steely resolve of Theron Shan, whose unfinished business with the Empire could change the course of the war for good. Though the son of a Jedi Master, Theron does not wield the Force - but like his renowned mother, the spirit of rebellion is in his blood. As a top covert agent for the Republic, he struck a crucial blow against the Empire by exposing and destroying a Sith superweapon arsenal - which makes him the ideal operative for a daring and dangerous mission to end Ascendant Spears reign of terror.
Joined by hot-headed smuggler Teff'ith, with whom he has an inexplicable bond, and wise Jedi warrior Gnost-Dural, Darth Karrids former master, Theron must match wits and weapons with a battle-tested crew of the most cold-blooded dark side disciples. But time is brutally short. And if they dont seize their one chance to succeed, they will surely have countless opportunities to die...
Contains examples of:
- Big Good: Satele Shan and Jace Malcom share this role, as the Grand Master of the Jedi Order and the Supreme Commander of the Republic's military forces respectively. Satele in particular owns the role in the final stretch of the story, persuading Jace to commit Republic forces to the defense of Duro.
- Briar Patching: How they trick the Sith into bringing the Ascendant Spear to Duro.
- Crazy-Prepared: The Nar Shaddaa sequence at the beginning of the novel shows off just how many tools and tricks Theron typically keeps on him, and it's a lot, from his various cybernetic implants to a pair of custom bracers packed with voice-activated tranquilizer darts, interrogation drugs, taser and pinpoint laser.
- Cyborg Helmsman: The Ascendant Spear is designed such that a Dark Side Force-user such as Darth Karrid can interface with and directly control the ship via the combination of cybernetics and the Force.
- Da Chief: Marcus Trant, Director of Republic SIS and Theron's much-beleaguered boss.
- Easily Forgiven: Despite his loose cannon tendencies, problems with authority, and the fact that he single-handedly spoils a long-term SIS operation at the beginning of the novel, Theron comes out of the whole thing with a medal instead of a court martial - partly because the joint operation he manages to insert himself into takes priority over his erstwhile punishment, but mostly because he's just that good at what he does.
- Electronic Eyes: Among Theron's cybernetic implants is an electronically-enhanced left eye which he can use to call up navigation aids and view the feed from a remote camera.
- Fantastic Racism: Most of the Sith leadership discriminates against Darth Karrid due to her species, at least until they realize how powerful an ally or dangerous of an enemy she'd make.
- Flat Character: Darth Karrid. Especially noticeable given how intricate Drew Karpyshyn's Sith usually are.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Theron and Gnost-Dural spend the entirety of the story's final act, including the decisive confrontation with Karrid and her apprentices, stripped down to their underwear.
- Hero Stole My Bike: On Nar Shaddaa, Theron hijacks a teenager's swoop bike mid-flight so that he can get to the spaceport in time to stop the hit on Teff'ith from being carried out.
- Indy Ploy: Theron's preferred modus operandi involves a lot of making things up as he goes along. Where his more cautious superiors would prefer to take time in planning operations before initiating any action, Theron prefers to just get going, not inaccurately expecting that unforeseen complications will require on-the-fly improvisation which would just make overplanning useless.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Satele opted not to tell Jace that she was pregnant with his child, and likewise never told anyone who Theron's father was. Only after confirming via Marcus Trant that Theron is Satele's son does Jace do the math, resulting in an extremely awkward discussion with Theron just before Operation End Game launches.
- Punishment Detail: For his shenanigans on Nar Shaddaa, the Director assigns Theron to three months of desk work in the analytics department, well aware that he will hate every second of it.
- Reading the Enemy's Mail: The story's second act involves Theron and Gnost-Dural infiltrating Ziost in order to steal an Imperial black cipher, the mechanism by which the Empire encrypts its sensitive communications. Stealing the cipher is the first step in the Republic's plans to take out the Ascendant Spear, and - similar to stories regarding the real-life Enigma and Lorenz ciphers in WWII - this leads to a situation in which Jace and Director Trant opt not to act on foreknowledge of Imperial plans to bombard Republic planets because doing so would alert the Empire to the fact that their cipher has been compromised before the Ascendant Spear can be neutralized.
- Reassignment Backfire: Theron takes advantage of his punishment assignment to analytics to conveniently un-redact his name from the reports regarding the Ascendant Spear before they're sent to Jace Malcom, with the result that Jace requests him personally for Operation End Game over the SIS agents that Director Trant recommends for the op.
- Right Hand Vs Left Hand: Theron, on Nar Shaddaa for personal business, inadvertently crosses paths with a fellow SIS agent who's there on a mission. Neither one of them has any idea that the other also works for the SIS, with the end result that the other agent ambushes Theron in a dark alley and ends up tased insensible and doped up with an interrogation drug before Theron realizes that he's blundered into an operation in progress.
- There Was a Door: Director Trant, describing Theron to Jace Malcom, criticizes his methods as overly stylish: "He prefers to go through the window instead of a perfectly good door." A few chapters later, Theron proves his point by opting to break into Satele's apartment even though he's coming there at her invitation, partly because he doesn't want people making the connection between them but partly just to prove that he can.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Darth Marr, Karrid's main supporter on the Dark Council, tries to invoke this among the other Sith with little success.
- Whole Plot Reference: The hunting of the Bismarck.