Star Wars: Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil by Drew Karpyshyn – 4/5 Stars

Star Wars Darth Bane Dynasty of Evil - front coverStar Wars Darth Bane Dynasty of Evil - back cover

The Darth Bane series is the most enjoyable series of books I’ve read about the Star Wars universe. I give the series 5/5 stars on the whole. It follows Darth Bane, who started out as a miner in the first book Path of Destruction and surpassed all expectations and abilities to create what is called the Rule of Two: a rule intended to keep the Sith strong so that one day, as in the prequel trilogy of films, they would rise to fight the Jedi and take over the galaxy.

 

However, Darth Bane’s current apprentice, Zannah, has not challenged him yet and the tremors in Bane’s left hand attest to infirmity and aging muscles, which is fatal in a warrior who relies primarily on martial prowess. The future of the Sith is at stake and Bane seeks the secret to eternal life, and a new apprentice, as a backup plan. Zannah mistakenly thinks her master wants her to be patient in challenging him, but also wonders if it is time. She actively thinks about recruiting a new apprentice.

There are a few captivating additions to the series including a Iktotchi assassin who has visions of the future; healer Caleb’s daughter Serra who seeks justice for her murdered husband and father; a dark Jedi Set Harth whose reliance on escape and self-preservation make a contrast between him and the Sith.

There was a touch too much background information at times, reminding us of what happened in earlier books, but it did give the reader a well-rounded understanding of the thoughts of each character. We see less of Bane in Dynasty of Evil and the chapters about each character were shorter than I would have liked.

I must say the battles were well imagined and incredibly exciting. I reckon I was drooling when the Sith battled one another, anticipating how the battles would play out. With the background information sketched out previously, all the characters and situations came together in a clash that combined political reality with petty vengeance and brutal challenge/survival.

Path of Destruction is still the best book, but I wouldn’t hesitate to read another in this series, if it was possible. Or maybe I’ll have to reread Drew Karpyshyn’s Mass Effect series again or other works he has written. There is a visual quality to his writing that I like.

Star Wars: Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil on Amazon

Drew Karpyshyn’s Website

Ryonna’s Wrath by Christian Kallias – 4/5 Stars

Ryonna's Wrath (Trials) by Christian Kallias
‘Ryonna’s Wrath’ (not ‘trials’) is the new name of this novella, as far as I know.

Fundamentally, Ryonna’s Wrath is about Droxian female alien Ryonna’s attempt to break into the maximum security prison Hellstar to save her son Jax, who we can assume has been wrongly imprisoned. However, the story also has a few parallel plots running, where Ryonna will learn about the circumstances that led to the ruination of her family. Along the way, she meets a friend called Alix, a friendly, helpful, and indispensable part of her team. Ryonna’s friendship with Alix is troubled by a vision she had of his death at her hands – visions she sees that are due to her unique ability of foresight that activates when she becomes acquainted with somebody.

It was engrossing reading about the pickles Ryonna got herself in and seeing how she would be able to get out of them. The theme of torture repeated a few times, but was written about in different ways so it didn’t bore. The technologies were colourful and simple to understand, and for this reason it made the action scenes flow seamlessly. More than one action scene reminded me of the video game Metal Gear Solid, which was well adapted.

The dialogue was always engaging, and sometimes a bit of personality leaked through: ‘Now we’re square puke wise.’

Criticism: the ‘voice’ of the story, while a signature style of the author’s, did not vary much between characters leaving the reader with people that sounded the same when they spoke, lending confusion as if the story was a narration; though an enjoyable one.

There could have been more depth to the story. Some of the prose was a bit simplistic and one-dimensional, perhaps because it was from Ryonna’s point of view and because all she wanted was revenge or justice. And crucially, you didn’t get to know how Ryonna breaks her son out of Hellstar, arguably the main point of the story. I don’t think the author left it to the reader’s imagination. Likely, this will be covered later on in his novel series, but throughout I thought I was going to get some follow-up in this novella as to all the plans Ryonna made. As a result of the lack of depth, I didn’t feel justified giving it the full 5 stars, but it was a fine point to make.

Some of the scenes were too similar to Metal Gear Solid, in that I could make a direct connection between characters of the video game moving, fighting, or manipulating others; drop to one knee, shattered glass, battling a mech with a lot of jumping around, and a main character’s fate. Nonetheless, it was engaging and some ideas were new, or new enough, like the light-blades.

Ryonna’s Wrath is like a Star Wars novel, but without the political and techno babble, and fused with fantasy instead. Aside from any preconceptions I might have had about the novella, I found the writing to be exciting, fast-paced, and intriguing. It brings forward the visual technology and the movement of action scenes with clarity. I liked seeing Ryonna in action, and some of her battle scenes and struggles were borderline epic. I did prefer his novel Earth: Last Sanctuary, but I would read from this author again. Ryonna’s Wrath is a quick nugget of thrills and excitement, so if you’re looking for a short space opera read then this should quite easily satisfy your need.

Christian Kallias’ website