Star Wars – Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

Path-of-destruction

Bane of Kings reviews the first novel in the popular Darth Bane Trilogy, Path of Destruction, written by Drew Karpyshyn and published by Del Ray Books in the USA, and Arrow in the UK.

“A fantastic Star Wars novel that is not to be missed by any fan – Path of Destruction explores the origins of the Sith and creates a truly chilling anti-hero that will go down as one of the greatest Sith Lords ever.” ~The Founding Fields

There are several Sith Lords that I would love to find out. Darth Revan, who I believe appeared in Knights of the Old Republic, Darth Vadar (of course), the big, famous Sith Lord, Darth Plagueis, who recently got his own novel which I am yet to read of the same name, Darth Maul, and finally, Darth Bane, who has his own Trilogy. The first of this trilogy is what I’m going to be reviewing here today, in all its glory. Path of Destruction is one of the best, darkest Star Wars titles that I’ve read yet, and has proved that just because it may be tie-in fiction, doesn’t mean that, like the Black Library novels, it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Thousands of years before the rise of Darth Sidious and Darth Vader, the Old Republic was rife with the evil Sith, who were a constant thorn in the side of the Jedi. But, greed and hunger for power were eating away at the Sith Order, destroying it from within. In the midst of this rose a new Sith, Darth Bane, who recognized that the Sith Order would fall if nothing was done. Thus, it was he who, learning to cultivate patience and cunning, hid from the strife until it was over, and then rose to become the most powerful Sith Lord ever. This is the story of the transformation of Des, a young miner, into the legendary Sith Lord Darth Bane. Des – like many of the disenfranchised who live on the Outer Rim – is disillusioned with the stagnancy of the Old Republic. When the Sith unite to bring the Republic down, Des is one of many to join their cause. His heroism and skill in battle – along with his remarkable connection to the Force – draw the notice of the Sith Masters, and Des eventually finds himself studying at the Sith Academy on Korriban. He takes the name of Bane and, amidst the deception and back-stabbing of the other students, he learns to unlock his latent dark-side talents. As his power grows, Bane realizes the Sith have lost their way. Under the leadership of Lord Kaan and his Brotherhood of Darkness, the Sith have turned their back on the true nature of the dark side. Through manipulation, cunning and strength, Bane destroys Kaan’s Brotherhood and wipes out all the other Sith so he can found a new Order based on the rule of two: one Master, one apprentice.

So this is it. Path of Destruction. I have been interested in this novel for ages, yet I only picked it up recently. And now, having read it, I can only ask, why didn’t I pick it up sooner? Although I’m more of a Luke Skywalker than a Darth Vader type person, I’ll gladly cheer for any well-written anti-hero, and Darth Bane is one that fulfills this gap perfectly. He’s strong, memorable and is possibly one of the best Sith Lords that I’ve ever encountered. This is his origin story, and clearly geared towards the more hardcore fans, although newcomers should enjoy Path of Destruction as well. This is perhaps one of the earliest Star Wars novels that there is timeline wise, and set, like Fatal Alliance and Decieved, in the Old Republic Era. In fact, the Darth Bane trilogy is one of the  first Star Wars novels chronologically wise, preceded only by The Lost Tribe of the Sith series, The Old Republic series, Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber and Knight Errant by John Jackson Miller, and is in fact set after KE takes place, making it (according to Wookiepedia), the last series/trilogy in the Old Republic Universe. And, did it feel like I was reading a novel set in the Old Republic?

No. That’s where Path of Destruction lets itself down. Even though it’s set several years before the likes of Anakin and Obi-Wan,  the first Darth Bane novel still feels like, with the exception of the fact that there are a lot of Sith wondering about the place, could easily take place in the timeline introduced to us by the movie prequels. However, whilst Path of Destruction lets itself down in that forte, there is another aspect which makes this book worth reading because of it: The Sith Academies. They’re brutal, unrelenting places to live in and the author has really captured what makes them tick in this novel here, and that makes Path of Destruction a must-read for all Star Wars fans, in my opinion. Although it might not be all to your taste, Karpyshyn has created a wonderful, fun novel that allows for some good escapism, no matter how much you’re cheering for the Jedi to win, because – well, they’re the good guys, even though Darth Bane is the main anti-hero of this story. That’s the problem that I have with books focusing on the villains of an already established universe such as Star Wars or Warhammer 40k (Chaos Space Marines vs Space Marines normally), I just can’t help but root for the good guys.

The plot is fast paced, and action packed. Karpyshyn writes action well, and can weave a good tale. He’s created a good starting point for this trilogy, and I can’t wait to see where he takes the reader in his next novel, Rule of Two, the second book in the trilogy, which is already out (and has been for some time). I’ll be getting that when I can, and although the novel does have its flaws, like some of the secondary characters may be not as memorable as Bane, and one-dimensional, and a minor issue that every time I see the name Bane I’m reminded of Bane from Batman, but that’s probably just because I’ve been watching the third Dark Knight Rises trailer too many times.

Verdict: 4/5 

The Darth Bane Trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn: Path of Destruction, Rule of Two, Dynasty of Evil.

Previous Star Wars Novel: Knight Errant by John Jackson Miller.

Next Star Wars Novel: Rule of Two by Drew Karpyshyn.

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=763842309 John C. Scott on Facebook

    Dammit more star wars books I haven’t read! Can’t keep up!

  • Rob J

    Totally agree about the Sith Academy being the best part of Path Of Destruction. You really get a feel that these are places where your skills would be honed to a razor-sharp point. The Jedi Academies seem apathetic and boring in comparison, obsessed with comforting illusions rather than harsh realities. You get the feeling that the only reason the Jedi win is because Star Wars is nothing but a story, and the jedi are the good guys and therefore MUST win.

    And I also make comparisons with Bane from the Dark Knight Rises, not only because of the name but also because of the whole “born of suffering and darkness” thing. They are pretty similar, although I’m sure Darth Bane has a very different voice.