If you haven't read the Thrawn trilogy yet (shame on you!) the context of characters like Mara Jade may be lost on you, but this is still a great read/listen. As always Zahn stays true to the mainstay characters of the star wars universe while introducing new and intriguing bad guys, examining strange new worlds, and navigating the ethical dilemmas of loyalty and ethical responsibility.
I don't play KotOR, so the other books in this series didn't make much sense to me. I never got attached to the characters or their stories, putting the stories into historical context was difficult, and I ended up returning them (all but Revan, which was also written by Karpyshyn). As a stand-alone story, I love this book! Quirky characters, witty banter, intra-galactic espionage, and an excellent pace. It's not the Bane trilogy, but I still love this book, and listen to it whenever I have a afternoon that needs filling (Bane is my favorite star wars trilogy, but it's a weekend project).
Casual fans need not bore themselves with this book, but any "Star Wars Nerd" type fan (you know, the ones who know the difference between the remastered movies and the originals, the ones who are obsessed with Bobba Fett, or who belong(ed) to the 501st legion etc) should read/listen to this book. Then watch the movies (with and without commentary) again. That's all I'm going to say.
I don't know that Tarkin got the "Darth Plagueis treatment" as the description states. It was a great book, a gripping story, and an in-depth look at the man who came to command the Death Star and how he came to this position of power, but it didn't do for me what "Plagueis" did. Plagueis changed my appreciation and understanding the Expanded Star Wars Universe, gave me a reason to appreciate the Episode I-III movies, and set off my ongoing fascination with Sith history and philosophy. I felt no irresistable urge to watch Episode IV after this book, and can't say that I feel any greater attachment to the character or that corner of the Star Wars Universe. It's certainly worth the read, hence the 4-star rating, but it's not Plagueis.At least not to me.
After reading James Luceno's Darth Plagueis and learning the name of the visionary Sith Lord who destroyed the Sith to rebuild and revolutionize them I had to read this series. And I have to say I love this trilogy as much as I love the Harry Potter series (and that's saying something. I've read that series 5 times). Karpyshyn paints Des/Bane in such a way that you have to admire, respect and even cheer for him even as you watch him mature into a creature of the Dark. He embodies everything that we fear and hate about the Dark-possessed of awe-inspiring power, ruthless, fearsome, physically imposing and yet subtle, cunning, patient, with great respect for the past and great vision for the future. Probably the most dynamic villain I've ever encountered; he is truly the Sith'ari in my opinion, and every Sith Lord who follows after him should pay homage to his greatness. I've been waiting for these books to hit audible since the day I finished Dynasty of Evil the 1st time.
I gave the performance 4 stars because I didn't particularly appreciate the narrator's choice to give Bane an aussie accent. It's kind of jarring and annoying. So was the choice to give the denizens of Apatros southern accents. I realize Apatros was a backrocket planet but that's kinda pushing it. And he sometimes forgets which accent he's doing for which character, and it sounds disjointed. He is however, the only narrator I've come across in a dozen audio books who can do a good Neimoidian accent. That's worth an extra star to me.
If you were like me and thought that Star Wars episodes I-III were ruled by special effects and the music of John Williams rather than an epic story with epic characters, then you need to read/hear this book! You will come to understand the nature and history of the Bannite Sith Order, and the masterful and ruthless subterfuge that resulted in the fall of the Galactic Republic and the Jedi order.
All of the characters from episodes I-III are given greater depth and texture than could be conveyed in the roughly 8 hours of film in the movies. Emperor Palpatine will no longer be just a stooped,gravelly-voiced shadow hidden in a cowl to you after this, Darth Maul will be more than a silent, scowling killer wielding an exotic weapon, Count Dooku will no longer seem like Saruman in a cape and boots. The mystery of the death of Jedi Master Sifo Diyas will puzzle you the same way it puzzled the Jedi Council.
And you will understand that Anakin Skywalker was destined for greatness, but NOT in the way that the Jedi imagined when they accepted him for training.
I picked up this book expecting another tale of the irresistible and insatiable power of the Dark Side and the disturbing corruption that inevitably comes with it, and another glimpse into ancient Sith history. I expected to be terrified by the exploits of a Dark Lord with an army of animated corpses doing his bidding. Like the other tales of the Sith I have read (the Bane trilogy, Darth Plagueis, etc) I expected to see an ancient Sith lord cut a swath of destruction that shaped Star Wars history. I got no such thing. If you like zombie bloodbaths you'll probably like this one ( I am sitting alone in my room with lights still on . . .) but if you are more interested in character development and events that formed the Star Wars galaxy as we know it, then look elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, the book was riveting and I really couldn't put it down, and the idea of a Force-adept who speaks to plants is intrigueing, but it just wasn't quite the battle-of-good-vs-evil-decided-by-individual-choices-and-actions that I expected. I don't think I'll listen to it again.
The narrator does an excellent job performing the voices and conveying the emotions of the characters, sound effects and music score are excellent. I'll be looking for other titles narrated by this actor.
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