"The Sith have existed in the galaxy for centuries, lurking, waiting for their chance to seize control. As various Sith Lords emerged and rose to power, they recorded their thoughts, exploits, and plots for Sith control of the galaxy. When they fell, their knowledge vanished with them forever. Or so it seemed..."
This was the synopsis given to me and the only information I received before reading this book. The less I knew the better, and it helped to make the read that much more of an enjoyable experience. There was a feeling of overwhelming excitement as I flipped through the pages, as if this was something my eyes should not be seeing. Maybe it was the fact that I was reading an advance copy of the text that was not yet available to the general public that added to that energy. Or, maybe that my entire life as a Star Wars fan, I've prided myself on choosing the Light Side over the Dark Side and holding this "ancient text" seemed somehow wrong. As if The Dark Lord of the Sith himself would come barging through my door any moment and force choke me for having such vital information in my possession. But, I am not alone as I unravel the mysteries of Sith lore. The Book of Sith has been in the hands of the Jedi for a period of time, and I was intrigued to read the musings of Master Yoda, Mace Windu, Luke Skywalker, and even Quinlan Vos scribbled in the margins of each page.
MINOR SPOILERS (and a trailer for the book!) BELOW
We begin with the writings of Darth Sidious himself, as he explains the collected works he has compiled into this reading. He makes reference to his servant, Count Dooku, sharing the book with Jedi agent Quinlan Vos in "an attempt to lure and corrupt him." It was the nice touches like this that added to the realism of this book and explained how the Jedi had got a hold of it. Sidious goes on to say that the remaining pages were written by the Sith of the past, starting with Sorzus Syn, a Dark Jedi banished into exile after the failed war against the Jedi.
Sorzus Syn's journal gives us insight into the beginnings of the Sith Order. I loved how she spoke of The Hundred-Year Darkness, something I first heard mentioned during my time playing Knights of the Old Republic, but never sought out any information on it. Also, her talking of Korriban, the planet that "screams the loudest" for those that can hear the cries of the Dark Side, and how the rise of the Sith Purebloods began here was all new information that I found extremely fascinating. A look at primitive weaponry used by the Sith and the accompanying pictures provided in the book gave us a glimpse of a race of Purebloods who did not use lightsabers but weapons still very deadly and containing reservoirs to hold dark side energy. Syn talks of alchemy, war beasts, and amulets used in their culture. I especially enjoyed the part about the Muur Talisman that I remember reading about in the comics, and Luke's thoughts on the subject provided in the margin make reference to his encounter with the Talisman. Again, it's these small details they add that help enhance the overall experience. I wouldn't say my knowledge of the Star Wars Expanded Universe is particularly vast, but I know enough that I found these nods very impressive.
The next portion of the book is the recovered pages of what appear to be from Darth Malgus' personal war journal. Malgus explains his tactics in battle, particularly the battle of Ord Radama, his disdain towards using war droids, and his thoughts on having Lord Adraas arrive to oversee his work. It's interesting to note both Vader and Palpatine comment on their lack of faith in war droids; Vader finds them only useful for lightsaber training, while The Emperor notes they are worthless unless used in great numbers. I guess by the time the Clone Wars were over, the two of them had had just about enough droids a man could handle. As Malgus continues his stories of war, he occasionally shows us the more human side of the Sith. Coupled with a small sketch of his beloved, Malgus expresses his love for Eleena, a young Twi'lek slave girl he has fallen in love with and cared for over the years. It's moments like this that add to the authenticity of the journal and remind me of any man who has been overseas writing home to his wife. Also interesting to note is the concept art for the ISF Sith Interceptors, which show us a look at the early stages of what we eventually come to know as the TIE Fighter.
Darth Bane explains to us, in his own words, just how The Rule of Two works. I like how this chapter began with two different views on the Force beings compared to fire. Bane says it's not like fire, because it cannot be passed from one user's torch to another. Luke begs to differ and compares the Sith's control like a fire that spread through the galaxy, extinguishing the Jedi and bringing the galaxy to its knees. The title of "Darth" is explained in this chapter and how it is often believed it's derived from the ancient Rakatan term darr tah, meaning "triumph over death," or daritha which means "emperor." While this may hold true, he states the real meaning is actually from the histories of those who once carried the title for themselves. Without giving much away, I will say that Bane goes into depth about the selection process a Sith Lord goes through in search of an apprentice, and answers questions I myself have always wondered in regards to The Rule of Two. Like, why would anyone want to take an apprentice if said apprentice will eventually kill you? This and more are explained and give us insight into just how the Master and his pupil work off of each other to further their goals, which I found very informative. The construction of lightsabers is touched upon, as well, and I was fascinated to learn of the reason most Sith almost always have crimson colored blades! No, it's not just because red is almost always associated with evil in these types of scenarios. Well, not the only reason at least. Saber variants, combat tactics, Sith Armor, and the saberstaff all get touched on before the chapter ends. I find "saberstaff" not only sounds cooler, but is much easier to say than "Double-Bladed Lightsaber."
Those familiar with The Clone Wars animated series should find the next chapter intriguing, as it's written by Mother Talzin of the Nightsisters. In her journal she goes into detail about how the Nightsisters evoke the power of "the spirits" and don't truly believe in a Light Side or a Dark Side of the Force. She refers to the Jedi/Sith as "ignorant" and believes classifying the two sides is misguided. Palpatine notes that it's for this reason the Nightsisters never achieved full power for not committing to one side. I find Talzin's thoughts on the Force intriguing due to her neutrality. The Nightsisters have been a part of Star Wars canon for awhile now, but, for me at least, it wasn't until their debut in The Clone Wars that I really took notice. Most of this chapter was all new information for me, and I thought it blended well with the Star Wars mythos. Those who are interested in Dathomir, home of the Nightsisters and the menacing Darth Maul, will love reading about the history and culture of this planet. This is the only chapter in which Asajj Ventress makes comments, and let's be honest, who doesn't love Ventress??
And then, we have Darth Plagueis. He speaks of his experiments with manipulating the Force to his will. Revenge of the Sith merely hinted at the power of Darth Plagueis in a story Palpatine told to Anakin. I'm sure I was one of many people who were left wanting to hear more of Plagueis and his ability to "create and preserve life" using the Force. These documents go into detail of influencing the midi-chlorians, concentrating the Force, and the philosophies of perpetual life. I'm interested to see how this chapter of the book carries over to the book Darth Plagueis by James Luceno, which I am also currently reading. I feel like that one line Palpatine mentions of Plagueis has been haunting me for all these years, and now, suddenly, I'm getting bombarded with information. And, that's a good thing!
Dath Sidious brings the book to a close with his passage, appropriately titled "Absolute Power," as I'm sure he felt "Unlimited Power" was a line best saved for blasting Mace Windu out of a 100-story building. He mentions "Hiding in Plain Sight" which to me basically sums up Palpatine's character as a whole pretty well. He is incredibly powerful and it was the Star Wars prequels and reading material such as this that really bring to light just what an intriguing and mysterious character this man really is.
I found Book of the Sith to be a very enjoyable read. At 160 pages, I found it to be a pretty easy read, packed with tons of Star Wars lore and beautiful illustrations to accompany it. This book is a must own for Star Wars fans, especially those who have found themselves teetering more towards the Dark Side of the Force...
Want to experience Book of the Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side before buying your copy?