A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....
When the Emperor and his notorious apprentice Darth Vader find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their own ruthlessness to prevail.
"It appears things are as you suspected, Lord Vader. We are indeed hunted."
Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor's chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters - and the truest measure of Vader's allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.
On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as "spice", an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources - by political power or firepower - and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.
For Syndulla and Isval, it's the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet's surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries.
©2015 Paul S. Kemp (P)2015 Random House Audio
This audio book is expertly read, the sound assists used bring a real sense of the Star Wars universe to forefront of the listeners mind. Jonathan Davies shows his immense talent as a narrator by subtly changing the tone and pace of his voice to indicate different characters speaking, instead of trying to come up with distinct individual voices. All in all it was an expertly produced product, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Night gathers, and now my watch begins.
Chapter 10. I had to wait this far in to get what I was hoping for: Vader staring into a fire opening his inner monologue to the reader, reflecting on his personal losses by name (Ashoka Tano, Obi-Wan, Padmé, Shmi Skywalker).
I can't decide if this was not up to the author's previous work, which I liked: "SWTOR Deceived", or if he did the best with what he was given. The dialogue is repetitive exposition. Vader even calls it out by the end, giving the reader a catharsis, "Why was the emperor stating so obvious a lesson?" - possibly to help along any 5th graders that can't grasp the narrative. The Darth Bane Trilogy demonstrated to me that Sith are only interesting when in conflict with other force users, including themselves. Any story that matches them against civilians, no matter how militarized, is unsatisfying. The author whips the metaphorical dead horse: Force-wielders are APEX PREDATORS. We get it. This story needed either a Jedi in hiding on Ryloth that escaped Order 66, or a potential new Sith Apprentice for either Vader or Sidious to present an opportunity for either one to test The Rule of Two.
Great Palpatine. As close to the actor Ian McDiarmid, as you'd want. As good of a Vader as you'd want without it being James Earl Jones.
Say something about yourself!
This is beyond doubt, and without hyperbole, the absolutely best-written characterizations of Vader and the Emperor put in a novel to date.
Taking place smack in the middle of the Dark Times (8 years after Revenge of the Sith, 11 years before A New Hope), the remnants of the Clone Wars come back to haunt the Sith in the form of Cham Syndulla and his freedom fighters.
Unlike many books focusing on the Dark Side characters, the heroes in this book matter. Syndulla is the William Wallace of Ryloth, having fought for his world's freedom since before the Clone Wars began. Time and experience has made him formidable enough to pull off a mission that could actually threaten the core of the Empire itself. The Imperial officers at the forefront likewise demonstrate how the Empire has bred corruption and treachery, which play right in to Syndulla's operations. The result is that the Sith are tested at virtually every level.
Being honest, we have a good idea before this even begins how it'll play out, but a book like this is about the journey, not the destination. And oh what a journey it is! Suffice it to say, the action is unleashed in chapter one, and there is very little downtime as this book's pacing is as relentless as Vader himself. Fans of the original trilogy will recognize our classic villain, while fans of the prequel era and especially of The Clone Wars will have no problem seeing Anakin Skywalker under the breath mask, purified by his anger as a living engine of destruction. The officers hate him, while the stormtrooper corps revere him. We see him behind the lightsaber and behind the controls of his starfighter. It's a seamless incorporation of all aspects of the character, pulling the various threads together and showing us exactly what kind of a monster Vader has become. It meets and exceeds every expectation on that front.
Sidious, on the other hand... what we saw from him in Revenge of the Sith is but a taste of what this book gives us. By the end of this, it's indisputable why Vader bends the knee. As fearless and intelligent as Vader is demonstrated to be, Sidious remains always one step ahead.
As narrator, Jonathan Davis is one of the best veterans of the Star Wars line, and it's always good to have him aboard. He doesn't do voice matching, but the spirit of the characters are there, aided where necessary by filters. Mix in the classic sound effects (except for some inferior substitute for Vader's breath mask) and the music of John Williams, and the adventure is ready to unfold.
Performance was pretty top notch, including sound effects. Would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of star wars. Story stays pretty true to the teachings of the sith. Both Palpatine and Darth Vader were written very believable.
Performance was incredible but the story wasn't quite what I was hoping for. It was heavily focused on the rebellion and only about a quarter of the story included the title characters.
The marketing for this book makes it seem like we're going to go deeper into the relationship between Vader and Palpatine and what power the two of them combined wield. Other than a prolonged fight against a nest of Ryloth predators, we don't really learn anything new about the two Sith Lords, either their power or their relationship dynamic. The story focused overwhelmingly on the Twi'lek rebels, which makes this seem like more of a simple Star Wars Rebels prequel than a tale of two Sith Lords. If this is the start to the new EU, I'm going to be very disappointed.
This book was very well-written and well-narrated, and the characterizations of Vader and the emperor gave me chills. It wasn't perfect, I wanted a bit more closure with some of the new characters' backstories, but overall as a Star Wars fan I really enjoyed this and might give it another listen soon :)
I just wanted to say that the performance of the narrator was pure magic. The sound effects and voices really immersed me with the story and the world.
Great work all around !
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