It’s the old days, and what do ya know, the Jedi and Sith are fighting each other!
Cover Art By: John Jude Palencar
Author: Drew Karpyshyn
As I sit here writing the first review for this blog, I hope I don’t have to name it again, I have some confidence that my lone reader knows what site he/she is visiting, I’m debating where to go with my review. It’s funny that in the build-up of the site I thought of many things but the one thought that never crossed my mind was how to actually structure my review. I know I don’t want them to be like my Babylon 5 reviews, I like the work I did there but Babylon 5 lacks a definitive encyclopedia so I had fun in dishing out facts and tidbits about the universe. I know that I don’t want my Star Wars reviews to be exactly like my movie reviews. I will borrow a lot from that style, but in reviewing the Star Wars universe I am doing just that, not looking at each individual entry just by itself, but also as a part of the larger universe. One thing I do know is that you won’t be getting a plot summary, that’s never been my thing, I just don’t see the point in them. I’m well into my ramblings on this matter and I still have no idea where I will go with the structure. In that case, there’s only one thing to do, and that’s what I always do when in doubt, wing it and see what happens.
I suppose I should start out by letting you know that my favorite era of Star Wars is the Old Republic Era. I love the wealth of stories that are available from this era and the usually clutter free nature of the stories. In most of the other eras so much has been written that every story is bogged down by the events of another, and I often find this to not be the case with stores from the Old Republic Era. All that being said the time of Darth Bane during the Old Republic Era is an area I haven’t ventured into before. I believe there was a comic series and a few short stories set during this time, but I have yet to get around to them. With that being the case, The Old Republic: Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction doesn’t have much to worry about in holding up to other stories, but how does it hold up as a work of fiction in the Star Wars universe?
From a pure storytelling perspective, The Old Republic: Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction is an enjoyable ride. It has its peaks and valleys, but the peaks greatly outnumber the valleys. The story does start off a little slow, but I am a sucker for back story such as the one given to Bane/Des and with that in mind the slow start didn’t bother me at all. Once it gets to Des being in the Sith army things do begin to pick up and the book does a very Star Wars-centric thing. It offers glimpses of battles, events and places that we have never seen and may never see. I always get a kick out of the abilities of countless authors/artists in the Star Wars universe to offer the audience tiny glimpses into the great undiscovered.
From there we enter the heart of the book, Des’ journey through the Sith ranks to become Darth Bane. All in all this portion of the book was very enthralling, but had moments that felt off. Drew Karpyshyn’s main background is in video games, he is especially known to Star Wars fans as the lead writer for Knights Of The Old Republic. In the portions of the novel taking place at the Sith Academy on Korriban you get the sense that Karpyshyn hasn’t quite divorced himself from the more straight forward style of video game storytelling. For instance, the lightsaber training feels like it is taken right from a video game. It has the feel of a player working their way through level-ups, and frankly that works in a more tactile video game experience, but it doesn’t come across all that well in the novel format.
That issue aside, the Sith Academy portions offer my favorite part of the expanded universe, violence. Too often the more well known and mainstream Star Wars in the form of the movies shy away from violence. When combat occurs in The Old Republic: Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction it is sufficiently violent, you get the sense of true power being wielded, that life can be snuffed out at a moment’s notice and that these aren’t quite the gallant force users we have known in the majority of Star Wars fiction. The characters in The Old Republic: Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction, Jedi and Sith alike, seek to win and win at all costs, to prove their power over the others and this usually comes across in gloriously violent ways.
I have been told that there are a few continuity errors in The Old Republic: Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction. I can’t speak to those pertaining to the comic Jedi Vs. Sith or the short story Bane Of The Sith. I haven’t read either of those, maybe when I later get to them the continuity errors will be gross enough to upset me, but I have never let continuity errors bug me that much. In a universe as big as that of Star Wars retconning happens all the time, it’s best to just go with it and not let it get to you. There’s also the issue of the mineral cortosis, but it’s such a minute thing that I could care less. Finally, there is the utterance of Vaapad as a lightsaber form, an utterance that caused an uproar among the Star Wars community. Apparently this was later explained as a printing error, not one of continuity, but as I said, continuity or printing, these things happen and are nothing to get uproarious about.
To sum it all up, The Old Republic: Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction was a highly engaging and enjoyable read. It’s an interesting time in the Star Wars universe, one that very little is known about, and the novel manages to give just enough away while still keeping a veil of mystery about itself. The Old Republic: Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction is a violent journey in the attainment of power. It’s far from perfect and is too rigidly like a video game at times, but it always manages to bounce back from its downfalls with an interesting twist or intriguing character and story moment. For those interested in getting into the Star Wars expanded universe The Old Republic: Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction is a great place to start. You won’t feel the weight of so much material to decipher, but at the same time it has parallels to the films that are easy to pick up on. Before I ramble on any further, I’ll make it simple, I enjoyed The Old Republic: Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction, it’s certainly a Star Wars novel worth reading.
As an addendum, I did just wing this format, and I’m not sure how well it comes across. Any and all feedback would be welcome, just keep in mind that I do have the tendency to wax poetic, and Star Wars magnifies that tendency by a fair margin.