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  • Title: Darth Bane: Rule of Two
  • Author: Drew Karpyshyn
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • Pages: 318
  • Price: $17.13


Pat's thoughts on the latest SW Book.

By Pat Ferrara, Columnist     January 18, 2008

STAR WARS DARTH BANE: Rule of Two by Drew Karpyshyn (2008).
© Del Ray

Drew Karpyshyn is no stranger to Star Wars, or sci-fi in general for that matter. An award-winning video game writer / designer, Karpyshyn penned the tremendously successful Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect video games as BioWare’s lead writer. He’s also the New York Times bestselling author of the Star Wars Darth Bane saga which began in September of ’06 with Path of Destruction.

Now Karpyshyn is back to his Old Republic roots with Star Wars Darth Bane: Rule of Two, the follow-up to Path of Destruction. Rule of Two continues the quest of Sith Lord Darth Bane and, once again, offers readers a refreshing look into the Sith Order outside of the familiar Anakin-Vader paradigm.

The calamitous battle between the Army of Light and the Brotherhood of Kaan has ended on Ruusan. After Kaan and his Sith followers disregarded the primeval rules of the Order Darth Bane betrayed them for their weakness, and the thought bomb that was supposed to tip the war in the Brotherhood’s favor instead decimated both sides. Now Bane is the only remaining Dark Lord in the universe, and to rebuild the Order he implements the Rule of Two by taking on the young Zannah as his apprentice. Together they embody the core functional unit of the old Sith, but they’ll need more help from the long-dead Lords of the ancient order if they are to survive.

Johun is a Padawan under the former General Hoth and the epitome of a Jedi-in-training, yet one who’s known only war. Having been tempered by the harsh battles with the Brotherhood, Johun doesn’t give up the fight against the Sith easily, especially when there are rumors on Ruusan’s surface of a surviving Dark Lord. But the same bomb that obliterated the Army of Light ground forces also destroyed the Brotherhood, and now all the Jedi must make the difficult transition from war-time soldiers to peace-time counselors. The ensuing years test both Jedi and Sith, as one order struggles to find its niche in a changing universe and the other does all it can to perpetuate its name.

What I enjoyed most about Rule of Two, aside from Darth Bane’s sheer badassity, is the novel’s ability to draw you into the Star Wars universe. Like Michael Reaves and Steve Perry’s Death Star, Karpyshyn’s Darth Bane saga adds texture to an already vivid tapestry. Unlike Death Star, however, Rule of Two extrapolates upon an important yet largely unexplored section of the Star Wars lore: the near extinction of the Sith during the time of the Old Republic. Through the eyes of Darth Bane and Zannah we get a personalized look at what it means to be Sith. The reasons for joining the Dark Side are fully illuminated, and they prove to be more visceral, more real, than most of those offered by Lucas’ archetypes.

Although Zannah does face her own set of moral dilemmas as she walks down that infamous Path, Karpyshyn wisely avoids the tired Anakin “seesaw effect” that seemed so forced in the prequel Episodes. Instead we get well-written action, fascinating backstory, and extremely believable character development.

Could Karpyshyn have pushed the envelope a little further? Yes. The book simply lacks “more” to be truly awesome, but this is a common weakness of any follow-up to a strong series opener. The pacing is also a bit interrupted by a jarring fast forward and some of the latter plot details seem a bit contrived, but even so Rule of Two spins an entertaining tale that’s sure to please both fans and newcomers alike.


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ryanwareham 1/18/2008 8:46:00 AM
Lucas ruined star wars for me with episode 1. I was a huge fan of the original trilogy, then P.M. came and i though "ok, it's a slow start, it'll get better", but while the action was amped up, but story got worse and worse. I loved the NJO books and anything by Timothy Zhan and Michael A. Stackpole is going to be good in my opinion - these people took the universe from the original trilogy and expanded on it, they did not try to recreate it or update it the way Lucas did. By the sounds of your review, Karpyshyn may get me back into reading SW books, but i'm still apprehensive about giving Lucas any more of my money. Why he did not get people like Zhan/Stackpole/Karpyshyn (if he's as good as you're saying - and yes, i loved the KOTOR games, so he's got some credit there) to write the last 3 movies is beyond me. They would have built up believable characters with articulate dialogue, not this forced romance that was shoved down our throats. Good review and i'll give these a shot.
TheLastCleric 1/18/2008 9:19:23 AM
Lucas delivered a excellent story arch in the prequels and did it in a way that alluded to some of the most venerated and brilliant works of mythology. There was actually an incredibly nuanced attention to detail in the story told in Episodes 1-3 but unfortunately some of the "fans" could only nitpick the hell out of some hammy acting or the fact that Darth Maul didn't get enough screen time. These extened universe books are mostly swill and come off as dimestore novels with cheesy, pulp-inspired science fiction plot devices. I understand how popular it is to bash Lucas at this point but at the same time I find it amusing to note how woefully incorrect people actually are when evaluating the narrarives of the SW films. These books are benign, harmless diversions but the notion of them giving brighter illumination to the themes explored in the films is nonsense.
drumshine 1/18/2008 9:28:42 AM
I'm an avid reader of the expanded universe too. And it baffles the mind why Lucas didn't get someone to write the script when he's got a pool of authors that know the Star Wars universe so well. That being said, I think episodes 1-3 was actually a great story. Lots of political intrigue and windows into a characters behavior. It's just that the dialogue and his directing skills diminished it. Almost every speaking scene sounds like a first take. But I think the the story as a whole is really cool. The romance is fine and is essential to the story, but for the love of god learn how to direct it.
kaybar 1/18/2008 9:51:14 AM
I think these past few comments illustrates the fact that in terms of Star Wars fans people fall in two camps. I, like ryanwareham, detested the prequel trilogy, but drumshine you make a wonderful point. I don't necessarily think the plot of Eps I-III were bad, but their execution was terrible. By trying to apply the same formula as the original trilogy, Lucas thought he could provide everything we fans loved about IV-VI only with a fresh storyline, but when you don't have solid enough acting (like Harrison Ford to anchor down the light-hearted humor) or roles that don't cater to the many strengths of the cast (Sam L. as Mace Windu? Jesus what a clusterfuck) then you get PM, AtoC, and RotS. But Cleric if you think that the SW fiction doesn't propel the universe or build upon Star Wars' diegetic realism (sometimes even more so than the films), you either haven't read enough or are too far up Lucas' ass to make an informed opinion on this topic.
sharpe95th 1/18/2008 10:34:50 AM
In the theme of the thread being discussed on this board I would have to say I also VENERATED the original trilogy (being the first in my class to see Star Wars on opening day in 1977) but was seriously let down by the prequels. I attribute the let down to the tremendous overblown HYPE leading up to "Phantom". But I also believe Lucas strayed away from his original film-making roots of the Flash Gordon cliffhanger serials and just got way to bogged down in presenting the Joseph Campbell mythos (which, yes, I know is the origin of SW). There are those who love the mythology of the Jedi but frankly I would rather fly an X-Wing into battle or get into a firefight against stormtroopers than learn about the angst of what being a jedi is all about. The extended universe provides the spectrum of themes to the varied SW geeks out there. I've enjoyed a lot of the books, got bogged down--they're light reading, great for a lunch break--and it provides a continuation outside of Lucas' recently stilted and dogmatic interpretation of the SW universe. Then again IMHO only here...
dangunn80 1/18/2008 6:49:18 PM
GEEKS!!!!!!! hahah theres more to life than star wars! but, to add my 2 cents, u cant deny that the prequels greatly improved with each film.. episode 3 is probabnly the best star wars film ever made! as for darth bane, i must say, this sounds fantastic.. but star wars books lost me after the corellian trilogy(that was ho hum at best) and the whole shadows of the empire debacle.. CRAP! haha.. now move on nerds! LUCAS! LUCAS!
gauleyboy420 1/18/2008 7:16:56 PM
Yo I am not writing about this article I wanna know if anybody has seen Cloverfield yet, Why hasn't mania posted a review yet, no new news Are they purposely not putting out ANY reviews? I refuse to see it till I read some reviews on Mania.
metalwater 1/18/2008 7:22:56 PM
There have only ever been two great Star Wars movies...and only two, that being Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back...the rest are poor to just plain horrible movies. And instead of us just complaining about it, or cheering on the mediocre to terrible films, perhaps we need to be authoring this generation's big something--our Star Wars...and since the Wachowski Brothers messed-up the Matrix sequels, that sure ain't it, but is out there waiting to happen. It is being developed or hasn't been written yet...but it will only be a matter of time when it occurs...and hopefully one of us will be its creator.
metalwater 1/18/2008 7:31:56 PM
Gauley Boy: has spoiled the movie. Minutes later-- Mmmm, I just read it: Interesting ending. But not my kind of movie. Still, there are sequel possibilities. I just saw the Star Trek trailer at ain't it cool news. It appears to be a pirated bootleg, and it sucks. They didn't show any footage other than of the Enterprise under construction, remember the photo that was released the other day??? Well, it is taken from the 48 frames (2 seconds) that they show us in the trailer. The rest appeared to have been filmed and pieced together for the trailer. It's a bait and switch...nothing more.
JarrodSarafin 1/18/2008 8:06:03 PM
AICN shouldn't be putting up that shit. It will only be a few days before Paramount OFFICIALLY has it up..That's when I'll post it. Screw the illegal linking back and forth watching each Youtube get pulled by Paramount. Back to the Topic, guys.. I used to love the book series after reading Zaun's Heir to the Empire series but I admit to falling out of favor with the next few series after..They got repetitive...they got a bit silly..nobody ever got hurt. But then the New Jedi Order began ...(25 years after A New Hope).. They began getting GOOD writers. Characters die...they get tortured...nobody's really safe now.. I recommend people read from the New Jedi Order *the Vong war* the present books...Legacy of the Force *40 years after A New Hope* They're good reads. Definitely liked the first Darth Bane book..haven't picked up this one yet but I definitely look forward to it.
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