EUC Review: Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

Drew Karpyhysn’s Darth Bane novels have captivated readers since 2006, when Drew introduced readers to Bane as a young adult. Now, in 2009, Bane is an adult and facing some pretty tough choices in Karpyshyn’s latest, and as of right now, last Bane novel. Was it a fitting end? Let us see what EUCantina.net Staff Reviewer Mark Hurliman has to say…

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

Author: Drew Karpyshyn
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: December 8, 2009
Pages: 296
Era: Rise of the Empire Era

If the dark side’s most powerful master can capture the ultimate secret, the Sith will never die—and neither will Darth Bane.

Twenty years have passed since Darth Bane, reigning Dark Lord of the Sith, demolished the ancient order devoted to the dark side and reinvented it as a circle of two: one Master to wield the power and pass on the wisdom, and one apprentice to learn, challenge, and ultimately usurp the Dark Lord in a duel to the death. But Bane’s acolyte, Zannah, has yet to engage her Master in mortal combat and prove herself a worthy successor. Determined that the Sith dream of galactic domination will not die with him, Bane vows to learn the secret of a forgotten Dark Lord that will assure the Sith’s immortality–and his own.

A perfect opportunity arises when a Jedi emissary is assassinated on the troubled mining planet Doan, giving Bane an excuse to dispatch his apprentice on a fact-finding mission–while he himself sets out in secret to capture the ancient holocron of Darth Andeddu and its precious knowledge. But Zannah is no fool. She knows that her ruthless Master has begun to doubt her, and she senses that he is hiding something crucial to her future. If she is going to claim the power she craves, she must take action now.

While Bane storms the remote stronghold of a fanatical Sith cult, Zannah prepares for her Master’s downfall by choosing an apprentice of her own: a rogue Jedi cunning and cold-blooded enough to embrace the Sith way and to stand beside her when she at last wrests from Bane the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith.

But Zannah is not the only one with the desire and power to destroy Darth Bane. Princess Serra of the Doan royal family is haunted by memories of the monstrous Sith soldier who murdered her father and tortured her when she was a child. Bent on retribution, she hires a merciless assassin to find her tormentor—and bring him back alive to taste her wrath.

Only a Sith who has taken down her own Master can become Dark Lord of the Sith. So when Bane suddenly vanishes, Zannah must find him—possibly even rescue him—before she can kill him. And so she pursues her quarry from the grim depths of a ravaged world on the brink of catastrophe to the barren reaches of a desert outpost, where the future of the dark side’s most powerful disciples will be decided, once and for all, by the final, fatal stroke of a lightsaber.

The 3rd of the Drew Karpyshyn’s Darth Bane series hits readers as hard as the first two, and brings more to the table.

In this book we find Darth Bane ten years older then in Rule of Two, and more he’s a much more dangerous Sith Lord.  But his body is starting to show signs of age, a shaking in his left hand that he is no longer able to hide.  He knows that if his apprentice Darth Zannah does not move against him soon he will have to move matters along himself.
Meanwhile on the planet Doan, Serra -widow to the Prince and daughter of Caleb from the last Bane novels-  finds herself in a string of events that start with the death of a Jedi Knight and lead her to her destiny.

When Serra’s husband is assassinated, her best friend Lucia hires a bounty hunter called the Huntress to deal out retribution.  Lucia who fought alongside Bane while he was still Des in Path of Destruction no less.  But she got more then she bargained for when Jedi Medd Tandar gets killed in the skirmish.  Medd was seeking out Sith Talismans and other artifacts and was caught in the cross fire.  Thus bringing the eye of the Jedi onto Doan.  Hoping to fix things between the Royal Family and the Jedi by telling the Jedi it was someone not of the Royal house, Serra goes to Coruscant to talk to the Jedi.

There at the Jedi Temple Serra and Lucia meet the Ithorian Jedi Master Obba who tells them he believes it was his former pupil turned Dark Jedi Set Harth.  He also shows her a tribute set up for former Jedi who fought the Last Sith, among the names is her Father Caleb.  This concerns her because Obba’s description is clearly not Bane.

This news sets Serra onto a dark path.  She tells Lucia to contact the Huntress once more, and meets her on Ambria the place her father died.  There she tells the Huntress that she wants to hire her to capture Bane and bring him to her on Doan.  At the Royal Family’s estate is a dungeon that had been shut down.  Here she plans to have her revenge.

Bane has since discovered that Darth Andeddu’s is located on a planet in the Deep Core.  Bane sends Zannah to Doan to seek out the Sith artifacts that lead to the Jedi Medd’s death.  More  as a distraction then in an attempt to get more artifacts.  He wants Zannah distracted so when he gets the Holocron and learns the secret to long life she won’t have suspected and moved her plans forward to take him while he is weakened by age.  Their dance is a central theme to the story, and one that Drew handles perfectly.
Zannah follows leads that take her onto the trail of Set Harth.  She ends up finding him on Nal Hutta, and confronts him.  After besting him in battle with Sith Sorcery Zannah leaves Set as a challenge.  He either lives and is worthy, or dies lost in her spell, in the end he comes to and she explains who she is and what the Sith want with him.  Feeling he had no choice he accepted Zannah’s offer and becomes her Apprentice.

Serra meanwhile meets the Huntress on Ambria and tells her of her plans for Bane.  The Huntress uses natural Force abilities to seek out Bane in the future, and Serra gives her a poison that will help deliver Bane to Doan.

Bane has made it to the Core, and after fighting his way to the Holocron of Darth Andeddu has his prize.  On his way back he uses his power to instantly take the information in the Holocron.  Bane now has his spirit transfer spell.  Now he just needs to use it.  He heads back to his home on Ciutric IV.

When Bane gets home he is ambushed by the Huntress and a group of mercenaries.  They press him in battle and never leave him an opening.  Before he knows what has occurred the Huntress has poisoned him, and he finds himself on Doan in the old Stone Prison.  Prisoner of a more deranged Serra.
When Zannah and Set arrive at Ciutric IV they find Bane gone, and the house ransacked.  They soon figure out that the Doan Royal family had a hand in things, and that Bane was seeking out Andeddu.  As it turned out Set had studied a little about Andeddu himself as a Jedi, and fills Zannah in on his importance.  When hearing her master was looking for ways to keep himself alive, thus breaking the Rule of two she is furious.  Set tells her of the Stone Prison and they are soon off.

At the prison things fall apart for poor Serra.  When Lucia sees who this Bane character is, she recognizes him as Des her former leader of the Gloomwalkers.  In an attempt to repay Des’s sacrifice for his troops years earlier Lucia releases Bane.  While all this goes on Zannah and Set arrive.  Zannah can feel her master as her master can feel her, and she sets out to kill him, leaving Set to guard their ship.  Set though grows bored and ends up seeking out a darkness he feels.  It’s non other then Andeddu’s Holocron.  It had made its way from Bane to the Huntress to Serra, who locked it into a safe.

With Holocron in hand Set decided to take off in a new ship.  He seeks out the main hangar, where after a confrontation with the Huntress he makes  his escape from Doan.

Things have not gone so well for Serra.  After facing Bane, Lucia confronted Serra about her sudden ruthlessness.  Upset Serra left to calm down, only to be confronted by the Huntress.  The Huntress tells her that Lucia has betrayed them, and that even now Bane is escaping.  Terrified, Serra activates the Stone Prisons self destruct, but only after going and getting Lucia.  When she finds Lucia it is too late.  Lucia had stood between two battling Sith Lords, as Serra recovers Lucia’s body she witnesses Bane and Zannah locked in a deadly battle.

Zannah knows this is the best chance she’ll ever have at killing Bane.  He’s been poisoned, he’s unarmed, and he doesn’t know she’s coming.  Or does he?  Bane felt Zannah and had went out of his way to throw her off his trail.  He knows he is no match for her in his current condition, and thus his fight is about survival.  As the battle between the Sith grows Bane in a last ditch attempt at survival strikes out with Sith lightning at the explosives set to demolish the prison.   His gamble works, he manages to bring the ceiling down between himself and Zannah.  Cut off Zannah head back to her ship to escape the prison’s destruction.

Bane however heads to the main hangar, where he is confronted by the Huntress.  She offers him his lightsaber and his holocron from Ciutric IV as she asks to be his apprentice.  She tells him where he can find Serra, and offers him her ship.  He agrees, and they set off.  He tells her a little of the Sith, and she takes the name Darth Cognus.  When they arrive they make their way across the old camp of Caleb.  Serra confronts Bane, and admits that it was the Dark Side that cost her everything.  Bane has Cognus kill Serra then he sends a distress call to Zannah.

Zannah comes to Ambria, and here, where Bane has almost died two times before the two Sith lock in combat to the death.  The battle is intense, while Bane is physical, Zannah launches a Sith Sorcery attack which almost works.  Bane though used his own fear to his advantage, and breaks free of the spell.  Zannah has other tricks up her sleeve, she quickly calls on the Dark Side of Ambria, and brings it to life.  These tendrils prove to be too much for Bane, and even as he seems to have the upper hand Zannah’s able to use a tendril to sever his saber arm.  As both fighters lie on the ground Bane seizes on his one chance and reaches out with his good arm and grabs Zannah and initiates the spirit transference.

As they fight inside Zannah’s body Cognus watches the fight.  In moments it is over.  Bane’s body has been turned to ash, and Zannah is on the ground.  As Cognus approached Zannah tries to get up, takes a second as though getting used to her arms and legs or from a intense battle.  She asks Cognus who she is.  Cognus informs Zannah she’s the new Apprentice Bane selected.  Zannah accepts her as her own.  As Cognus watches Zannah she notices Zannah clenching and unclenching her left hand.

The prologue has Set Harth sitting in front of Darth Andeddu’s Holocron, eager to learn the dead Sith Lords secrets!  He sees himself not as a Jedi or a Sith, but something more, and with the spirit transference spell he will be imortal.

In The End

So in the end I really enjoyed this book.  I did find that the Lucia and Serra’s parts were a little slow at first, but Set Harth and the Huntress made up for that.  The ending by far and way will be one of my favorite endings to a Star Wars novel.  The last 3 chapters were so action packed that I didn’t want it to end I was enjoying it so much.  One thing that I loved was the way Drew played with the result of the Spirit Transference.  You almost wonder if Bane survived after all.  But in the words of Drew himself:

“So, who won the final confrontation between Bane and Zannah?

I’ll be honest; I thought it was pretty clear in my writing. I wrote the scene from Cognus’s point of view to keep you guessing to the last instant, but when Zannah proclaims “Darth Bane is gone. I am Darth Zannah, Dark Lord of the Sith and your new Master,” I thought it would be pretty clear.

The whole thing with Zannah’s hand twitching was only to show that some part of Bane had passed through to her. How much – was he still “alive” in some way, or is it just a small part of his identity imprinted on her – was supposed to be the ambiguous part. But I never wanted people to assume Bane had taken over Zannah’s body successfully.”

Very good!  So Bane’s gone… But something of Bane may vet live on.  Just not HIM.  The thing I like the most about the ending was Set- with his escaping with Andeddu’s Holocron it leaves things open once more for the Rule of Two to get out yet leave the Jedi later thinking the Sith were still wiped out.  In a way he’s doomed…or he’s out there somewhere in a new body waiting.

With the death of Darth Bane I hope that this will not be the end to the Darth Bane series.  After all, Zannah needs Andeddu’s Holocron… Unless Bane’s knowledge transferred.  After all we know his mannerizms came over but not personality- why not knowledge?  I’d love to see where Bane’s Legacy goes from here.  Who’s with me?

4.5/5.0 Kath Hounds

About the Author

Andrew Lupi is the founder of EUCantina. He started out with a simple forum, but converted his EU hub into a full website in 2007. He was one of the original hosts of our official podcast, EUCast, and was also a host of The EU Review. Andrew continues to provide advice and leadership for EUCantina.