Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Star Wars: Book of Sith review

"Fear attracts the fearful…
the strong…
the weak…
the innocent…
the corrupt. 

Fear. Fear is my ally."
―Darth Maul.

     The Book of Sith is the companion piece to the Jedi Path sourcebook I reviewed here. As the Jedi Path discussed what made up the Jedi Order with scribbled-in notes from various movie and EU characters, so does Book of Sith do the same with their opposite number. Supposedly, this volume would unlock the secrets of the Dark Side just as the previous one did the same for the Light.

    It doesn't.

    Not really. The problem with Book of Sith boils down to the fact it's all over the place with its Expanded Universe references. It also doesn't really give us any real details into their philosophy. There's some stuff about their techniques but nothing really meaty on what makes the Sith the Sith.

    I question a lot of their choices in the book and think it would have been better to have a tighter focus on its subject. For a book about the Jedi Knighthood's dark reflection, a substantial number of pages are spent discussing the Nightsisters and midiclorians. Even the choice of margin commentators is a trifle off with Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Mace Windu, and Quinlan Vos joining the ranks of various Dark Side practitioners from the SWEU. I mean, would it have killed the author to cut down the Jedi to one or two? Also, why isn't Starkiller, Cadeus, or Darth Krayt here? They're some of the few actual post-ROTS Sith Lords.

    My least favorite part of the book is the section devoted to Darth Malgus discussing one of his military campaigns. Aside from telling us that Darth Malgus was a badass, which we knew, and a military strategist, ditto, no new insights are given to either him or the Sith Empire. The only part of it I liked was Darth Vader wondering how his relationship with Eleena the Twilelk ended. It's kind of tragic knowing, for readers of Deceived, that Malgus ended up killing her like Vader did Padme.

     The Nightsisters section elaborates on the religion of the Dathomir witches, showing they worship spirits and anthropomorphize nature. This is all fascinating but wholly irrelevant to the Sith, even if Darth Maul hails from their territories. On the plus side, it does confirm that Ventress was a Nightsister first then sold to Rattataki slavers. About the only thing interesting about this section is the idea Mother Talzin and other Force-users have met the Celestials from The Clone Wars "Mortis" arc before.

     Another part which doesn't work is Darth Plagueis' lengthy treatise on the scientific nature of the Force. After a promising beginning, it devolves into explaining why there's an afterlife and the Force works like magic. It rather undermines Plagueis as a character since he can't process what is plainly true in the Star Wars universe while distracting from what is the "orthodox" Sith view on the Force (i.e. the Force functions like magic). About the only thing I liked was the discussion there's no difference between the Netherworld (Heaven) and Chaos (Hell) but the mindset of the wielder.

     About the only parts of the book I enjoyed are the margin notes and its discussion of Sith techniques. The margin notes are hilarious, showing the vastly different perspectives of the Dark Side a collection of different characters have. While there are too many Jedi, I can't say I'm displeased with the comments. I just wish they'd made the majority of commentators to be actual Sith.

     The author manages to get everyone's "voice" right and I am particularly pleased with how they handle Luke Skywalker. He sounds like a wise and noble Jedi Master for 90% of the work but there's just enough of the Farmboy bush pilot leftover to make sure you know whose talking.

     The notes on Sith techniques are not particularly interesting but are informative. We get a number of Sith fighting styles, weapons, and abilities which all have previously shown up in the Star Wars EU. My only disappointment with this section was the discussion of Sith lightsaber techniques. Apparently, the Sith practice only three techniques versus the Jedi's seven. It's rather disappointing and makes me think the book could have expanded that considerably.

     In conclusion, I find the Book of Sith to be disappointing. It's all well-written but the relevant content regarding the Sith is miniscule. Too much time is wasted on the Nightsisters, Darth Plagueis' treatise, and Darth Malgus' military campaigns. If you want a detailed guide to the Sith, this is not the book for you. There's just too much random stuff without much relevance to the book's ostensible subject matter.


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