Review of “Star Wars: Lords of the Sith,” a novel by Paul S. Kemp

Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S.Kemp

Publisher: LucasBooks
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: Novel (321 pages)Length:
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the first Star Wars novel in the new canon that I’ve finished so far. There’s no question that this is a solid story, but don’t let the title trick you. This is being marketed as a tale of Vader and the Emperor, but they really come off as secondary characters. It’s really a handful of others who take center stage. I love the dynamic between Vader and the Emperor so I might not have picked this up had I realized that, but I’m glad I did. While it doesn’t live up to some of my Star Wars favorites (Bane Trilogy, Thrawn Trilogy I’m looking at you) Lords of the Sith kept me captivated from beginning to start.

The novel takes place only a few years after the events of Revenge of the Sith. The planet Ryloth is suffering under the heal of the new Empire and a Twi’lek named Cham Syndulla leads a resistance movement against them. After an encounter with Vader and witnessing his power, he decides to try and cut the head from the Empire by having both Vader and the Emperor killed. What follows is a deadly game of cat and mouse between this small group of rebels, imperial officers and the two most powerful people in the galaxy.

In my opinion Cham and his partner/romantic interest Isval are the stars of this book. They have a wonderful dynamic; he as the calm, collected but jaded rebel leader with the weight of the movement on his shoulders, and she as a former sex-slave at the hands of the Empire fueled entirely by rage. They couldn’t be more different, but Mr. Kemp did a great job of building their relationship over the course of the book. Isval especially stood out for me. Without spoiling anything, there’s a scene early on in the book showing what she does when she takes a break from freedom fighting that nearly brought a tear to my eyes.

On the other hand are Vader and the Emperor, and their struggle to survive the attempt on their lives. I wish they had more scenes together because every single one was brilliant. There’s a constant tension present between them. Vader respects his master’s power but it’s clear there are no feelings of true friendship. And he’s constantly being tested for weakness by the Emperor. Unfortunately, the extent of their role in Lord of the Sith’s story-line leaves them without any character arc whatsoever. It’s a real shame. They start the book with that dynamic, and when it ends nothing has changed at all.

I wasn’t as sold on the final two POV characters, Imperial Moff Mors and her overly ambitious second-in-command Belkor. They serve their purposes well as far as the storyline went, but I found myself less invested in the chapters focusing on them. I’d much rather have spent more time with the others. Even if the relationship between the Emperor and Vader wasn’t going to change dramatically, a few more conversations exploring it could’ve easily replaced the numerous pages filled with Belkor’s complaining.

All in all, I’d recommend this book to any Star Wars fan. The story is strong, the action thrilling and often brutal, and the ending came together flawlessly even while knowing certain characters obviously had to survive. There are also plenty of references sprinkled throughout that are sure to excite people who follow the universe closely (and especially who watch Star Wars Rebels). I just wish someone would change the title and the book description. This isn’t a story about Vader and the Emperor, it’s the story about two Twi’leks who dared to fight back against insurmountable odds.

This book can be purchased for kindle here.

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Review of “A Girl Named Bright,” a short story by Veronica Viscardi

A Girl Named Bright by Veronica Viscardi

Publisher: Fantastic Stores of the Imagination
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: Short Story (3,000 words)
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

According to Fantastic Stories of the Imagination this is Ms. Viscardi’s first published story. That’s very impressive, because this was an exceptionally touching story. It’s basically a journal log by a young girl named Bree while she’s on a journey to a colony in another solar system.

I appreciate any story brave enough to base it’s entire premise around Time Dilation Theory. It’s such a fascinating concept, and one which most science fiction books can’t really delve into due to storytelling concerns. Here, thanks to relativity, a one year journey to Proxima Centauri equals one hundred years back on Earth. That means that while Bree is ten when she says goodbye to her best friend Adie, by the time she arrives Adie will be one hundred years older.

The journal entries mostly track Bree’s conversations with Adie as she goes through the ups and downs of living an entire life while Bree stays the same age. It’s heartbreaking in a sense, but also quite inspiring. As old as Adie gets, she never forgets about her best childhood friend. I think that’s something we can all relate to, and to play it out across light years makes this a wonderfully unique story.

This story is available for free in the 2015 Nov-Dec issue of Fantastic Stories of the Imagination.

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