Lost Tribe of the Sith: The Collected Stories
Lost Tribe of the Sith is an anthology collecting eight short stories, previously released for free online, and a new novella concluding the narrative. The short stories will receive a sub score on a scale of one to ten, while the novella will be graded out of twenty points.
Precipice is the opening act of the story, and as such, it exists mainly to set up future events and introduce us to important characters, including our protagonist, Sith Yoru Korsin and his crew on the Omen. We learn about the origins of the Lost Tribe, a beginning which ties nicely into the plot of the recent novel Crosscurrent and the old Tales of the Jedi comics, and about the circumstances which stranded them on the planet of Kesh. This is a strong way to open the series, describing events with flair and throwing in very dramatic, very Sith conflict at the end.
Part two introduces us to the inhabitants of Kesh, the primitive Keshiri. Told through the eyes of one of the more enlightened members (who is of course ostracized for her heretical beliefs) of the society, amateur geologist Adari Vaal, Skyborn is a very interesting introduction to the people of Kesh that includes a compelling first contact scenario between the two factions. Adari comes to life in a way that the characters from the first story didn't, feeling more human and being a more grounded personality. This segment explores the relationship between the natives and Sith, mainly built on the premise that the Sith are divine beings, an intelligent historical parallel to the Spanish Conquistadores. A worthy follow up to the first story, one that introduces a new peril for the Sith and explores some interesting societal themes.
Paragon marks an important shift in the story. Set twenty five years after the events of Skyborn, this piece sees the traditional Sith plotting threaten to destroy everything the Keshiri and Sith have worked hard to build over the course of the last quarter century. Mostly focusing on Seelah, a character only superficially involved in the plot thus far, the tale has more action and plot than the two before it, but it doesn't lead to as many interesting revelations about the Lost Tribe as the other two. Thankfully, it makes up for this by providing us with a fascinating new character in the unbelievably evil Seelah, and with greater levels of tension and intrigue than anything in the compilation to date, Paragon manages to progress the story in admirable fashion.
Savior concludes the power struggle that started in Paragon, pitting Adari's hidden machinations against Seelah's scheming, both aspiring to take down Yoru, who has entrenched himself as the ruler of Kesh. Set ten years after the previous story, Savior sees both plots come to an action packed conclusion in a story that feels very similar to the previous part, albeit with more flair for the dramatic, especially the last five pages or so. Additionally, this is a more essential event in the Lost Tribe of the Sith's history, altering the balance of power forever and in a somewhat unexpected manner.
The narrative moves ahead one thousand years for the next piece, Purgatory. The Sith power structure has evolved quite a bit in the millennium since Savior's conclusion, and the beginning of this story is a harrowing portrayal of just how brutal the Sith can be. Our protagonist is Orielle Kitai, daughter of Sith High Lore Candra Kitai. After a brutal plot twist she goes from her priviledged position to the life of a slave. Desperate to gain her power back, she stays in the house of her friend, Jelph Marrian. At this point Purgatory becomes a bit too romantic and sappy for my tastes, as Jelph and Orielle have a handful of heart to heart conversations over the course of the rest of the book. There is a nice little twist at the end, but I didn't particularly like the protagonist, and there is quite a bit of dead time in this book. Not a bad read, but not as good as what has led up to this point.
Sentinel begins right where Purgatory left off. After the major twist from the last novel, Orielle is desperate to use her new found knowledge to earn back some of her stripped away power. This leads to a more action oriented story than the one before. Orielle desperately searches for a way to turn her life around, while Jelph tries to keep her from spilling his secret. This leads to some explosive conflict between the two, and ultimately a very satisfying resolution to this story. The conclusion ends up giving this otherwise small scale and personal story some far reaching effects, giving this a sense of purpose and unity among the other stories in the series.
The narrative makes another, significantly larger, chronological leap forward with Pantheon. Set two thousand years after the first story and one thousand years after Sentinel, Pantheon explores the society of these Sith in a way the previous books mostly didn't, instead focusing on interpersonal conflicts and the usual Sith scheming. Featuring Sith historian Hilts, one of my favorite protagonists in the entire series, this book deals mainly with how the Sith have deviated from their original course into an endless chain of backstabbing and plotting with no vision of a greater goal. Hilts attempts to unify the various factions that have sprang up over the millennia by playing the recorded last words of Yaru Korsin, but of course disaster strikes when one of the factions tries to get him to alter the recording. What follows is a quirky take on revisionist history plus some very unexpected humor. A strong piece of story progression, characterization, and entertainment.
The final of the short stories in this collection, Secrets takes place immediately after the events of Pantheon, and features Hilts and his aide Jaye desperately trying to find Korsin's lost secrets in the wreck of the Omen in hopes of reuniting the warring Sith factions. Like Pantheon, it features a protagonist more reliant on brains than brawn, using his superior knowledge of history and sociology to try to get the people of Kesh out of a very sticky situation. This is an excellent follow up to Pantheon, though it is much lighter on humor and Iliana, one of the faction leaders that Hilts teams up with, is a one note and boring character.
To close out the collection, we are treated to a brand new novella meant to tie together the various plot lines that have opened up over the 2000 years since the Omen crashed landed on Kesh. It does this admirably, bringing together Korsin's reign, Hilt's actions to earn the mantle of Grand Lord, Adari's exile, and even Orielle and Jelph's smaller scale story in an action packed and entertaining finale. Set twenty five years after Hilts gains control of the Sith faction, Pandemonium is quite similar to the first story in that it is the tale of two vastly different cultures coming together. The Sith have discovered a way to fly across Kesh's oceans, and it doesn't take them long to find another faction to attempt to subjugate. The action is told through the eyes of Quarra, a high ranking Keshiri female staging an amusing affair when the Sith invade, and Edell Vrai, an ambitious Sith responsible for the design of the airships. There is plenty of everything that has made this series successful in this novella: humor, scheming, action, and world building. We get to learn about a whole new element of Kesh, one that is quite different from the Sith, while enjoying a story with plenty of exciting twists. There are some moments that don't hold up, like a disguise segment that seems to be a bit poorly thought out and a very predictable climax, but Pandemonium is a very entertaining conclusion nonetheless.
The Lost Tribe of the Sith collection is a wonderful array of short stories that helps to build a comprehensive portrait of a society far removed from the usual Star Wars tropes. We still get quite a bit of Sith scheming, but the power structure is nothing like Bane's Rule of Two or the Sith Empire, and instead seems to fit what the society needs in a much more realistic way. With only one mediocre pair of stories, The Lost Tribe of the Sith does a great job of using a wide array of characters and narratives to achieve its goals.