This is not a story about heroes. This is about the villains.

Even cooler, this is a pulpy Star Wars book, published on the eve of 2015's big theatrical release of "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens." The reason this particular book is important is that it is "canon" with the Star Wars cinematic universe. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, when something is "canon" it means that it is contiguous and synchronous with other work of the same or a different medium. Lucasfilm gave Paul S. Kemp the rights to write a book which falls in the chronology of the film series. "Canon" also means that this is scripture now - lore that has permanently been added to the Star Wars Story featuring its major characters. An honor for Kemp to write, really, considering he is part of the original generation who grew up with the films.

Enough history and nerd trivia. What's in the book?

Action. "Lords of the Sith" takes place a few years after the events of the third prequel film, "Revenge of the Sith." (That's the film where Hayden Christensen played an adult Anakin Skywalker and got his arm hacked off by his teacher. Gotta love teachers.) This book explores the relationship between Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, which is actually really interesting and well thought out. The book has you on an adventure with characters you're supposed to hate but end up sympathizing with. Vader and Palpatine are trying to control a slave planet, Ryloth, which keeps them stocked with a narcotic called "spice", but soon a crash landing has both Vader and Palpatine on the planet's surface with nothing more than the Dark Side and their lightsabers. The terrain is inhospitable and they will be tested by each other and the rise of an aggressive resistance movement. They have desires, doubts, and fears.

The author nails the voices of the characters - the lines of dialogue and their cadence sound like the actors who portrayed them in all the films. We all know their relationships in some small sense -- even people who don't like Star Wars should know some of the biggest baddies on the Dark Side of the Force. To be sure, this is not literature of the highest regard, but a big bag of your favorite flavored potato chips. That can be really good if you're a Star Wars fan. It's fun. Pure and simple. In a made-up place which is very real to several generations of fans, "Lords of the Sith" is a fast-acting, intriguing, sci-fi opiate.

 

Recommended by Matthew Lowder

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