Over the years I tried to read as many of the now ‘Legends’ novels as I could, but either due to time, availability, money or just a story not clicking with me I ended up giving up on reading the pre-Disney novels.
Then, over the last few years, I occasionally would come across them, back in 2016 (I think) I managed to get my hands on ‘The Corellian Trilogy’ for a very, very low price and read them in quick succession.
However, my interest in the ‘Legends’ content only included the books set after ‘Return of the Jedi’ and the continuing adventures of Luke, Leia and Han. I had very little interest in anything set around ‘The Old Republic’, only because I had no real gateway to it, I wasn’t a fan of the ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ games and the seemingly continual back-and-forth of Galactic control between the Jedi and Sith felt pretty tedious to me.
Fast-Forward to now. I had a few Audible credits available, so I flicked through some of the ‘Legends’ content. I still have about half of the ‘X-Wing’ series to listen to but I fancied something a bit meatier, and then it happened, I came across ‘Darth Bain: Path of Destruction’.
Now I have heard a lot of people raving about this book, and the subsequent parts of the Darth Bane Trilogy and, despite trying to read it one time a few years ago and struggling with it I cast it aside, but there it was and I gave into temptation and snapped it up (as well as the Prequel-Era ‘Rogue Planet’).
I have had a few questions relating to the Sith, mainly, why would someone willingly become evil? Because that’s what the Sith are right? Evil? The Jedi are the heroes, the good guys and the Sith are their enemies. Case closed? Not really. We only see three Sith Apprentices in the whole Saga, Anakin is manipulated into joining the Sith to learn the ability to save Padmé from dying, Dooku, who left the Jedi for political reasons seems to have joined Darth Sidious as a means to achieve a greater power to help change the political situation in the Galaxy, and Maul, well he was born into it as a Night Brother. But what about in the past?
Set a thousand years before ‘The Phantom Menace’, the first book of Drew Karpyshyn’s ‘Darth Bane’ trilogy, ‘Path of Destruction’ shows us a Galaxy at war, it’s Jedi vs. Sith and Dessel, a young miner gets embroiled in the galactic conflict as a way of avoiding imprisonment for the murder of a Republic soldier. He joins the Sith Army and after a few years on the frontlines as a soldier his Force abilities become well known and he is sent to Korriban, the home of The Sith Academy.
As he learns from his Sith Masters, he also spends time in the archives, learning about the ancient Sith. After a crippling defeat at the hands of another student, Bane all but loses his powers and is shunned by most of the Academy, luckily one Master, Kas’im continues to train him is the art of saver duelling whilst Bane’s fellow student, Githany helps tutor Bane. Soon his power grows stronger and after a revenge fuelled duel with Sirak which Bane wins and a confrontation with the Academy’s leader, Lord Qordis, he chooses to venture out and leave the Brotherhood of Darkness.
Turning his back on The Botherhood and the Academy, the students of which have been initiated as Sith at the behest of Lord Kaan and are preparing to leave for Ruusan to fight the Army of Kight, led by Lord Hoth. Bane heads for Lehon, a planet tied to the Sith he had learned about in the Archives, he finds a Holocron left by Darth Revan and learns from the ancient Sith’s teachings, leading him to find the idea behind The Brotherhood of Darkness to be foolish and bound to fail whereas having only two Sith, a Master and Apprentice would help the Dark Side thrive.
Lord Kaan sends Kas’im to either bring Bane to Ruusan or kill him and the blade master meets his end when Bane brings the temple down around him. Babe sends Kaan a guide for a Sith weapon, a thought bomb and details where he can be found next. Kaan sends Githany who attempts to kill Bane via poison and almost succeeds but Ban manages to get to a Force Healer before plotting the end of the Brotherhood.
He travels to Ruusan and interrupts a meeting held by Kaan and tells the gathered Sith that the best way to defeat the Jedi is to burn them out of the jungle where they are hiding. Using all the Sith Army’s power, Bane burns the forest down but the connection is broken by Kaan who orders the Sith into battle, sending his forces into the skies in Airspeeders. Bane, instead of fighting contacts Kaan’s admiral who is maintaining a blockade around the planet keeping Jedi reinforcements at bay and has them engage the enemy.
Kaan’s forces just about decimate the Jedi but the Army of Light is saved at the last minute by the Jedi forces that have gotten through the blockade in the battle. Kaan, angry at their defeat leads his forces into a cave system, after deciding to use the Thought Bomb.
The Jedi follow the Sith as they make their Force connection and generate the power for the Thought Bomb, Githany realises this will result in their death, as well as the Jedi outside the cave. As she tries to escape the Thought Bomb goes off, wiping out both armies at the cave.
As Bane prepares to leave the planet, he comes across a young girl, Zannah, who has just killed two Jedi who were in the jungle. Bane decides that he will train her as his Apprentice.
What ‘Path of Destruction’ does really, really well is humanise the villains. We have been so used to seeing them as the big-bad of the Galaxy but really, they are just a religious sect, their belief structure is focused more on their own wants and needs. It’s not necessarily evil to be a Sith, but the power it bestows upon them and the abilities it unlocks can be seen as evil and destructive.
Karpyshyn really develops Bane into a sympathetic character as well. Bane doesn’t join the Sith because he believes in their ideals, he joins to avoid prison. It’s fortuitous circumstance that his Force abilities are noticed. It takes a great deal of work and effort for him to unlock his potential. His actions, the killing of Fohargh during a sparring match isn’t an evil act, it’s Bane coming to grips with the power he can wield, it’s only after that he claims he is evil.
His disillusionment with The Brotherhood of Darkness doesn’t come easily. Bane goes through so much to just be accepted by them, but the teachings from older Sith which have been ignored by many of the Sith Academy students show Bane a different path which he could take. He sees the leadership of this new Sith as weak, hindering the greatness of the Sith and the potential they have to conquer the Galaxy. Once he has seen the path he should take, Bane only kills one of his former Sith allies, the rest are killed using the Thought Bomb, his involvement is more indirect as he’s the one who introduced this weapon to Kaan but Bane would rather work in the shadows, as Yoda said, “Lies, deceit, creating mistrust are his way now.”
Going into this Audiobook (brilliantly performed by Jonathan Davis) I wasn’t sure if I would like it, however I came out of it pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed listening to it, one one occasion almost getting into work late because I was too busy listening in the car before starting work and not wanting to stop the story. Oops.
And now, as I start my week off work, I’m getting Book 2: ‘The Rule of Two’ ready to listen.
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