Thursday, August 16, 2018

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil, by Drew Karpyshyn

Today I'm finishing the Darth Bane trilogy with the last book, Dynasty of Evil. As I mentioned in reviews of the previous books I hadn't known quite how to feel about these books. On the one hand, the books don't try to make the Sith out as misunderstood bad guys or the Republic as little better than terrorists. But on the other hand with the ending of the last book I was unsure where the series was going to go from where it ended. The final book is okay but it leaves me ultimately wondering if we needed the story to be told at all.

The book picks up another ten years after the last book, with Bane and Zannah living in secrecy, slowly building their plan to destroy the Jedi and the Republic. The problem for Bane is that so far Zannah hasn't made any attempt to challenge him and take the mantle of leadership. Bane has become worried that Zannah is merely waiting for the ravages of time to do him in, completely violating the principle of the Rule of Two. But if Bane is to successfully replace Zannah with another apprentice he'll need to find a way to cheat death itself.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Serra, the daughter of the healer Caleb who Bane intimidated and then murdered, has married into the royal family of the planet Doan. When her husband, the crown prince, is murdered by a rebel group, Serra ends up on a path of revenge that will take her to face her greatest fears and confront Darth Bane.

The biggest feeling I was left with at the end of this book was did we really need to tell this story? I mean, I kind of like Serra's arc and discovering that revenge truly isn't worth it in the end and making her peace with that, but this is really the first time she's a character in these books. I think I'd have preferred a more in-depth plot with the Jedi across all three books, rather than the haphazard sort of approach we have to the non-Sith characters. It's not that Serra's a bad character, but it feels like they had a couple different ideas for protagonists against the Sith and went with all of the instead of just focusing on a few. I think it would have made the books feel more connected, because as they are they feel like episodes rather than a complete arc.

As for Bane and Zannah, I feel like we didn't need to see the ending of their conflict. We knew one way or another that Zannah would eventually replace Bane and continue the line of the Sith which would end with Palpatine and Vader. I kind of took it for granted that Zannah would be the one to succeed in this conflict and the biggest question was who of the three Force-sensitive characters we have in this book would end up being the next apprentice. I'm just left wondering if this was a story that needed to be told.

I think what would have improved this series would have been more development on the light-side of things, maybe having a few consistent Jedi characters, perhaps motivated slightly by revenge or tempted by the dark side, to serve as a contrast or foil to Bane and Zannah. Instead we end up with multiple characters who get far less spotlight time than Bane and Zannah. It also could have produced a better arc over three books than each book feeling like its own story. These books are okay, but definitely leave room for improvement.

- Kalpar

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