Saturday, April 30, 2011

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

Star Wars: Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil (Drew Karpyshyn)

Plot Summary
Ten years after the events of Rule of Two, Bane is conflicted about his longtime apprentice, Zannah. He is distraught about her assumed lack of ambition and the rapid deterioration of his body. Vowing to find a new apprentice if Zannah does not pan out, he sends her on a mission to investigate reports of a Jedi killing on the mining world of Doan. While she investigates the reports, Bane attempts to find Darth Andeddu's holocron, granting the secrets of eternal life to those strong enough to possess it. Zannah's investigations lead her to a fallen Jedi named Set Harth. After defeating Harth with an impressive display of power, he swears his allegiance as her apprentice. Bane, meanwhile, has found the holocron, studying it on the way back to his mansion on Ciutric. The secret is very dangerous, involving transferring your essence from one body to another, failure to overpower the other person's will results in losing your soul to the eternal void. When he returns to his mansion, he is ambushed by an assassin called the Huntress. The soldiers under her employ succeed in distracting her while she stabs Bane with a sedative that quickly renders him unconscious. Bane is taken to the world of Doan, where princess Serra (the daugher of the healer Caleb, whom was slaughtered by Zannah in Rule of Two) has reopened an ancient prison center far beneath the royal castle.  Serra believes Bane killed her father, and tortures him until she is convinced to stop by her bodyguard Lucia. Lucia fought with Bane in the Gloom Walkers when he was in the Sith army, and her gratitude for saving her life multiple times inspires her to save him from imprisonment.

Meanwhile Zannah traces Bane to Doan, taking her apprentice with her. Set is ordered to watch the ship while Zannah looks for Bane. Shortly after her arrival, warning alarms indicate Bane's escape from his prison. Bane quickly overpowers the token guards and sets out for Serra so he can claim his revenge. Serra is long gone however, triggering a self destruct sequence in the prison before leaving in a shuttle. Her guard, Lucia, stumbles into Bane running through the corridors. Before they can reminisce, however, Lucia is killed by Zannah, whom has caught up to Bane and is seeking to become the new Sith Lord. Bane, unarmed except for his ever present force ability, outsmarts Zannah and makes his escape. Set, after a brief duel with the Huntress, escapes in another shuttle. The Huntress remains in the hangar until Bane, desperate to escape, stumbles upon her. The Huntress offers to be Bane's new apprentice, and Bane accepts, fleeing as the prison collapses. Zannah, too, survives by escaping in the last instant, and she flees to their base on Ciutric to regroup. Meanwhile, Bane and the Huntress go to his old camp on Ambria, where they find Serra whom has returned to her father's home. After murdering her, Bane sends a message to Zannah telling her where they will have their final encounter. Zannah realizes the mistakes she made in the previous encounter and does not repeat them in the rematch. Instead of focusing on lightsaber combat, Zannah uses her force sorcery to cloud Bane's mind, and, eventually summons tendrils of pure dark side energy from the planet itself. These tendrils sever Bane's arm, in desperation he invokes the essence transfer ritual, attempting to claim Zannah's body as his own. However he is unsuccessful, and the book ends with Zannah taking the Huntress as her apprentice, and Set revealing that he has Andeddu's holocron.

Plot Analysis
The plot for this book, while decent, is easily the weakest of the Darth Bane trilogy. The recycled concept of Bane searching out another holocron was a bit of a drag, especially considering how easy it was for him to acquire it. Most of the plot felt unnecessary, Set is rather irrelevant to the whole thing and there ended up being not much of a reason for Zannah to have spared him. The idea of Bane and Zannah preparing for a final confrontation was kind of cool but it felt like the second to last duel was the one that was given the most attention. Lucia and Serra were also unnecessary to the plot as a whole, for their part in the story it could have just been the Huntress doing everything. It seemed like Lucia and Serra were introduced only to give the Huntress a motivation for capturing Bane and to tie up loose ends from the first book.They had easily the largest amount of useless, dead-end scenes.

Characterization is again somewhat of a mixed bag. Bane has changed a bit since the last time we saw him, getting a bit more concerned about his failing health and becoming desperate to replace Zannah. He is written very well and his dilemmas and attempted resolutions definitely fit the character as we've known him previously. Zannah is not quite as compelling, but it was good to see her continue to take initiative and step out of Bane's shadow. The rest of the characters are somewhat one dimensional. Set is easily the worst, he struck me as a sort of a geriatric teenager, the author really went overboard in describing his rebellious qualities and as such Set was absolutely insufferable. Lucia and Serra are kind of pointless too, not only in relation to the plot but also because of their characters. They don't really have alot of depth and what little changes they make through the course of the book are irrelevant and predictable. The Huntress is a pretty menacing character. You never really get into her head to see what motivates her or shaped her character, but she is definitely a worthy successor to the mantle of Sith Lord.

The prose is once again very nicely done. The author does a great job with fight scenes and having Bane fight off Zannah without a lightsaber was really clever. The world of Doan is also very interesting, being the main setting of the novel it was fleshed out very well considering it was an all new world. The only real problem I have with the author's choice of wording and style is with the ending of the book. Zannah is knocked to the ground by Bane's ritual and when she gets up there is enough doubt (the author mentions a strange discombobulation when Zannah gets up, in addition to clenching and unclenched her hand similar to what Bane did throughout this final book) that you really don't know who won. I really hate ambiguous endings so this was a huge detractor for me. Note that the author revealed on his site that Zannah won, but a piece of Bane survived, however he does not say how much, so it is still somewhat ambiguous (not to mention unexplained.)

A suitable conclusion to the Bane trilogy, Dynasty of Evil isn't quite as dark and exciting as the previous two novels, but as long as you can get by questionable character inclusions and a needlessly ambiguous ending you will not be disappointed.

Final Score