Red Harvest, pages 1 – 46

I am eating my words.

Perhaps cross-genre really is what the Star Wars universe needed in order to save itself, or perhaps they just needed Joe Schreiber.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not falling head over heels for this guy or anything, but his writing is so many steps above ubiquitous painful knives exploding in wounds.  (here’s a hint: he knows how to use the word miasma!)

So let’s cut to the chase and see what’s going on here and why we care: In Red Harvest we find ourselves largely (well, so far) on the planet Korriban at the sith academy.  Bear in mind this is 2000 years or so before Darth Bane, so there is no Rule of Two and there are many sith Lords out there roaming around the galaxy.

One of these sith lords is Lord Scabrous.  He is one necromantic kind of guy.  Tall and lanky and dressed all in black like you assume every sith lord to be.  Here Schreiber seems to try to make him stand out from the rest, but if you’re familiar with sith dynamics you just figure he’s like any other sith lord.  Except sometimes he kidnaps his students and keeps them in cages to do experiments on.


There is a Jedi atrium.  No shit.  Remember that one of the goals the jedi adhere to is that of preserving culture.  Well, they also like to garden. In fact, they like to garden so much that some of them have special “green force thumbs” and are selected to go serve in their greenhouse.  What happens in the greenhouse?  Oh, you know, the jedi talk to the plants mentally through the force.


Except, one of these jedi, who is of course way better at botany than the rest of the jedi gets kidnapped along with a black orchid that is about one thousand years old.  Who kidnaps her?  Scabrous, I’m betting.  He needs the black orchid for some crazy necromantic spell or something.

Best Moment:  It’s not like Scabrous hasn’t tried to get his hands on one of these black orchids before.  And when a mercenary tries to bring him a fake one, Scabrous just looks at him and asks him where his partner is. The mercenary is all “Oh, he’s back at the ship” and Scabrous goes “Nuh uh” and has his droid bring a silver tray with a bowl in it and there’s his partner’s head, floating in a bowl of soup.  But that’s not even the best part.  Scabrous then forces the guy to eat it!

Worst Moment:  Even though I’m pretty excited about the fact that this guy can actually write a good sentence, sometimes he still brings back memories of Darth Bane.  Here’s an example, from when one of the sith students is kidnapped and finds himself caught in a cage and we see Darth Scabrous for the first time: “Nikter already knew exactly who it was, even before the flickering torchlight of the room revealed the man’s face-a long, bony sculpture of bone and half-lidded eyes” Wait, what? A bony structure of bone? Nicely done.

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Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil pages 202 – finish

Here we go.

Lucia, in her infinite wisdom and sympathy, decides that it is unfair to leave Bane locked in a prison to rot and be tortured by Serra, so she injects him with a drug that brings him back to consciousness.  She then darts out of the room to catch up with Serra so they can escape before Bane kills them.

Zannah and Set show up at the prison docking bay where Zannah pulls an unnecessary loop de loop in order to impress Set with her AWESOME and RADICAL flying skills.  Set says ‘whoa dude so tubular’ and they continue to act like five year olds.  Zannah tells Set to wait for her while she searches for Bane.  Set stands around for roughly 30 seconds before honestly kicking dirt and juggling because he is so bored.  Right there with you, Set.

But then!  Set can feel the power of Darth Andeddu’s holocron resting somewhere within the prison and figures he can get the holocron and get back to the ship before Zannah gets back.  He books it.

Darth Bane wakes up on the wrong side of the bed at this point.  He knows that Lucia essentially rescued him but he still doesn’t know who she is. So he figures what the hell and blasts through the prison, killing guards and stealing a vibroblade.  At this point the Huntress still has his lightsaber.  Hm.  By saying at this point am I foreshadowing too much?  Or did I just foreshadow too much there?  Drew Karpyshyn, help me out!

Serra and the Huntress have a quick little conversation in which Serra figures out that the Huntress is sooooo evil.  Of course, this is after the Huntress tells Serra about how Lucia betrayed her and Serra doesn’t believe her until she hears an alarm go off throughout the compound.  She freaks out and runs to the room where the button to make the entire place collapse is.

While Serra is deliberating whether or not to press the button, Bane runs into Lucia and just before he kills her, Zannah smashes her up against a wall and crushes her skull.  Bane and Zannah get into a fight!

Then Set and the Huntress get into a fight at the docking bay!  The Huntress completely overpowers Set but he gets the upperhand by blowing up two of the four ships at dock and threatening to blow up the last of them unless she lets him leave.  She relents and he makes off with the secrets of immortality.

Serra stumbles upon the body of her treacherous friend Lucia and, unable to take anymore decides screw it and runs back to the button room and presses the button to make the place collapse.  Don’t worry, she gets out alive.

Bane and Zannah’s fight ends in an impasse despite Bane lacking a lightsaber and Zannah goes back to her own ship (sorry, Set took off earlier in the Doan royal ship, wanting to give Zannah the slip) and takes off when she can’t find Bane.  Bane runs into the Huntress and takes her on as an apprentice and she gives him back his lightsaber.  The Huntress… might have Bane’s personal holocron.

The Huntress (soooo tired of typing that, I just keep thinking of the Batman character) figures Serra went back to Ambria to visit her old home so she and Bane go there to take her out.  There outcome here is inevitable.  Serra realizes she has given in to the dark side and that by seeking revenge she is tarnishing her father’s memory.  She tells Bane to go stuff it and the Huntress kills her.  No guts, no glory.  No, seriously.

Because Bane doesn’t want three stupid sith out there, he sends Zannah a distress beacon.  She shows up and they have their final confrontation where Bane is winning until Zannah brings up all the dark energy left on Ambria by that old sith sorceress which creates these dark tendrils that slice off Bane’s arm.  Too bad for Zannah Bane just learned the art of essence transfer and he takes over her body and essentially becomes immortal.

Well, I mean he tells the Huntress (now Darth Cognus, sigh) that he is Zannah and that Bane is gone.  But there are enough HEY NO LOOK AT ME context clues to tell you Bane is in charge.  And hey, for once Bane does something halfway smart.  By not telling the galaxy you’ve taken over this body I suppose you have a certain edge because the galaxy thinks you’re dead.  I don’t know if this means Bane will finally be able to grasp sorcery or not because the only epilogue we get is dumb Set standing around thinking to himself about how he’s going to lie low while he figures out how to be immortal.

And that’s the end of this absurd and lackluster trilogy.  Who knows how long Bane jumps bodies, maybe it will come up in a later book.  But unfortunately the next book (chronologically) happens around Star Wars Episode 1, roughly one thousand years after this book.

In the next couple of days I’ll summarize some points about the trilogy (and by that I mean I’ll complain for a bit) and then we’ll start Red Harvest, a book that takes us back in time 2,500 years before Banes story.  Apparently it’s about zombies?  I don’t know if I feel confident that cross-genres will save Star Wars.

Best Moment:  This is an easy one and I feel cheap using it but… This trilogy is over!  Yay!  Beer, meet liver.

Worst Moment(s):  During Zannah and Bane’s last fight, one of Zannah’s attacks feels like “a hot knife stabbing directly into his brain” which okay is bad enough but wait. “Then the knife exploded, sending a million burning shards in every direction.” I don’t know what it is with this guys obsession with every injury/painful moment feeling like a knife but do each of them have to constantly explode and become million-piece fragments of its former self? Okay, just remember the best moment.

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Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil pages 148 – 201

Well, Bane has his fiftieth holocron and now he’s on his ship going back to homebase.  All of the hyperspace paths have collapsed in the short amount of time that he has been on Andeddu’s planet, making his return trip longer than expected and this writing device of stalling affords Bane the time to study the holocron on his way back home.  Hilariously Andeddu’s holocron puts up a fight and tells Bane he’s not worthy of learning the secrets of immortality.

Bane throws a small tantrum and figures well whatever, I just got done watching Hackers anyway, and proceeds to hack the holocron.  Obviously he is successful but the success drains him of energy and he sleeps the rest of the way home.

On a bit of lore-trivia (finally, something worth noting): The key to immortality is to actually take over someone else’s body.  The person must dominate their victims mind but the victim must also have a body strong enough to withstand all the dark energies being forced into it.  If you fail, your mind ends up in a void.  Bane likens this to the forcebomb void that he tricked so many stupid jedi and sith into.

Set Harth wakes up and gets recruited by Zannah as her apprentice should she manage to kill Darth Bane.  She recruits him despite how apparent it is to her that he does not give a damn whatsoever about the sith or their goals.  She figures he’ll learn to love her dark ways.  Set is a complete jerk to her but she lets it slide.  The whole “I will not be the cruel man my father was” just doesn’t sit quite right in Sithland.

Zannah decides that now is the time to defeat Bane, and takes off for home.

Except!  The Huntress and 20 mercenaries are waiting for them at their secret lair!  The Huntress (I wish she had a name) runs across Bane’s personal holocron and nabs it despite her tendency not to take personal belongings on jobs.  It just felt… right to her.  One of the mercenaries is all hey huntress I heard you can see the future do we live?  In her mind she sees his broken back and him dead on the floor.  Her response? Yeah some of us come through.  So cold.

Bane arrives at home but of course he’s still conveniently drained from haxoring the holocron and is defeated by the Huntress and her entourage. They take him alive and the huntress takes his lightsaber as a memento.

Then Zannah shows up and realizes something is wrong and she and Set take a ship to Doan to track down Bane and whomever captured him.

Back on Doan, the princess has discovered an old prison built beneath the palace called the Stone Prison. You might be wondering why it has such a mysterious name; don’t think too hard about it. Also it has a system set up to collapse the entire structure should anyone try to escape. I imagine that will happen in the near future. Well, Serra, Lucia and the Huntress go to hang out with Bane in the prison. Serra keeps injecting him with poisons and antidotes and Lucia is just oh my god it’s Des! Who knows what the Huntress is up to; I think she’s a candidate for Bane’s new apprentice. Bane pisses Serra off and she exits the room, leaving the Huntress and Lucia alone with him.

Best Moment: That guy that the Huntress saw dead on the ground? He dies, alright. From a couch that Bane sends flying into him. BAM! Couch death.

Worst Moment: What the hell. Bane is all about making the sith the most powerful force in the galaxy and is determined to destroy the jedi but the way people recruit apprentices in his mind needs some helpful criticism. How did Zannah get picked? She threw a temper tantrum over the loss of a pet and killed two jedi. And Set? What, he Oscar Wilded his way into being a floozy that is so narcissistic that he was mistaken for being evil? Set is never going to propel the sith into some golden age, Zannah. Get with it. He’s just not that into you.

(ooooh, book pun)

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Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil pages 92 – 147

On his way to the last world of Darth Andeddu, Bane finds that he must traverse the inner core of the system.  There’s a lot of talk about how dangerous it is to get there, but Bane already went into that area once for another holocron.  When he arrives he finds a sparsely populated planet with cities and a cult devoted to Andeddu.  Not one to mince words, Bane kills anyone that happens to stand in front of him and then literally pries the holocron from Andeddu’s cold, dead hands.

Zannah, hanging out on Doan, finds the barkeep that Set Harth had earlier bullied about and uses him to find out Set Harth’s home base.  She then proceeds to kill him out of nowhere after there is a moment of talk about how she doesn’t kill needlessly.  This death is justified by the barkeeps knowledge of her own origin planet.

Set’s base of operations it turns out, is Nal Hutta.  You may remember this planet from Fatal Alliance, the simmering, disgusting capital planet of the Hutts.  Well, when Zannah arrives Set has just gotten home from a party and is really trashed.  But oh wait he’s just faking it!  There’s a long fight and Zannah toys with him but ultimately she’s much stronger and subjects him to phantom brain attacks.  If he wakes up, maybe she’ll use him as an apprentice?

There’s an entire chapter about how Lucia finds the Huntress (the Iktotchi) on a casino space station.  It’s really unimportant.

Then the Huntress shows up on Ambria and has a meet and greet with Serra, who asks her to find and capture Darth Bane.  The Huntress thinks this will be pretty challenging and so of course she says I’ll do it!

Best Moment: Don’t think that you get a scene on Ambria at Caleb’s old house without at least one mention of the pot he boiled his hand in. This time it just rests there subtly in the middle of a paragraph describing a scene we’ve already bared witness to at least three times previous. The pot, like a black hole of bad times drawing you into it’s dark recesses. Which conveniently segues into our worst moment.

Worst Moment:  Ugh, failure as a critical reader on my part here, but somewhere in these particular pages Karpyshyn uses the “recesses of the mind” line again. This time it’s like inescapable or inevitable though. Stick with what you know, man.

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Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil pages 40 – 91

Darth Bane gets a call from one of his intel guys and he proceeds to meet him at a bar where he haggles for a moment before buying an old piece of parchment about this guy Darth Andeddu.  Andeddu had discovered the secrets of immortality, or at least prolonged life and the parchment gives Bane a clue on how to get to him.  In writing this, something that I realize that I love about the future, I mean past, is that none of these sci-fi people have cell phones.  No stupid bluetooth ear pieces, no massive walkie talkies.  Nothing.  Sure they get calls on their ships or paged at home or whatever, but no one is interrupted in the middle of a lightsaber fight by a 20 second clip of Lady Gaga’s latest hit announcing an incoming call from the jedi council.  Ugh, not NOW Yoda!
So, Bane wants to go find his stupid holocron to figure out how to be immortal and then he would have enough time to find an apprentice that would kill him and take over the sith command.  I feel like Bane is missing the idea that perhaps if he were immortal he wouldn’t need to be killed and he could command the sith as he likes, but maybe he’s a big picture kind of guy.
Then, finally Zannah shows up on the scene.  But hey what do you know it’s boring.  Zannah is planning on killing Bane but on HER terms, dammit.  Bane sends her on a fake out mission to Doan to investigate the recent jedi death and possibly retrieve some sith artifacts for him.  In reality, Bane is going to use her absence to slip away and find the holocron without her ever knowing.  Zannah makes a new years resolution that this will be the last mission he sends her on and she will kill him once she’s back.
Serra, Caleb’s daughter and princess whom I forgot to give a name last time, shows up on Coruscant with Lucia and gives the old one-two to a jedi master.  Verbally, I mean.  She tells him she doesn’t think the jedi need to go to Doan to investigate because it’s all over.  No blood no foul, I mean except for the dying part.  Then, the jedi master she’s speaking with, Obba, tells her about a different kind of jedi, neither of the order nor a sith called a Dark Jedi.
So Dark Jedi are like the sith except that instead of being interested in taking out the jedi, they’re just really vain.  I’m not sure if the use the dark side or not, or if they’re limited to using the force from the side of the light but for their own purposes.  That doesn’t make much sense to me though, since it seems like vanity is a sure way to get in touch with ones dark side.
In particular, there is one Dark Jedi, Set Harth who Obba thinks is potentially the most dangerous man in the galaxy.  This is mostly because Obba thinks there are no more sith lords around.  When Serra overhears this, she thinks back to when Bane invaded her home and asks Obba why he thinks that.  Obba describes the scene at Caleb’s place ten years back and when asking for a physical description of the sith lord they killed she realizes it isn’t the same person.  Hatch revenge plot.
Then we meet Set Harth.  Set is on Doan looking for the sith relics and finds his way to a bar in the mining district where he has heard antiquities are sold.  After a little bit of persuasian he gets the barkeep to take him to the person that is currently in posession of the relics found in the uncovered tombs.  When he gets there he kills everyone except the barkeep, thinking he will never appreciate just how lucky he was to get away alive.  Which he probably won’t appreciate for long, given that I imagine Zannah will kill him as soon as she meets him.
Worst Moment: Obba, some master jedi getting talked out of more thoroughly investigating the death of one of his own order by some middling princess of an outer rim planet with a vague understanding of the force? Whatever. I guess the plot had to move on somehow.
Best Moment:  Inside the bar, Set gives the barkeep 100 credits to get him to talk.  Instead of just talking, the barkeep sends everyone out of the bar and when one man won’t leave he gets his goons to pick the man up by the pants and literally throw him out through the doors and onto the street beyond.  Reading it you could just tell Karpyshyn had wanted that scene in a story so very badly.

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Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil pages 1 – 39

Okay, so I took a break for a bit. The sadness invoked by our previous foray into star wars and the novocaine numbing of picking up Mass Effect ruined my life for a bit. Those of you familiar with Mass Effect will appreciate a certain amount of irony here. Those of you who are not, I will simply shamefully confess that Drew Karpyshyn, writer of our current trilogy of awful awful times is also lead writer on the game Mass Effect, which I absolutely love. Maybe the differences required to write for a video game versus a book are just large enough to make a person good at one but not the other. Either way, congratulations Karpy.

On with the show.

Well friends.  We stand at the beginning of the end.  We stare into a great long chasm whose jagged mouth comes to an inevitable ruinous close.  Watch your belongings, stow your trays, we’re going in.

Ten years have passed since Zannah killed Caleb and Darovit and we find Darth Bane on a new planet along the outer rim.  He is rid of the Orbalisks and his body has more or less completely regenerated itself.  He spends his days lately practicing sword styles, keeping himself up to date with his information network and reading in his private library.

What has Zannah been up to?  Who knows.  Bane is disappointed with her for having not tried to kill him yet and feels like perhaps he has made a mistake in choosing her as an apprentice.  His own body is decaying before his eyes from his excessive use of the dark side, giving him little to no time to find a new successor.  Solution?  Immortality.  And luckily he just recently stumbled upon information regarding an old sith master who had mastered the art of prolonged age.  In fact, supposedly the lost master left a holocron that was never discovered and no one knows the location of.  Bane is determined to find it.

On another planet, the name of Doan, a jedi knight finds himself mediating a conflict between a royal family and their miner colony underlings.  The miners get paid very little and recently in an effort to change things tried to kidnap the crown prince but instead killed him.  Whoops.  Our jedi friend is trying to make things better but only because the council on Coruscant heard about an ancient sith tomb that was discovered on the planet.  Well, that gets foiled pretty quickly when a Iktotchi assassin shows up and kills all of the miners and the jedi as well.

Cut to meeting the crown princess.  She’s pining over having not seen her father since she was 16 and wondering how he’s doing and oh yeah his name is Caleb.  We get to relive for the third time the incident of Caleb’s hand boiling.  The princess, of course was married to the crown prince who has been killed.  Unfortunately the jedi having been killed makes the royal family look really bad and the princess decides to go to Coruscant to tell them no no it’s cool we didn’t mean it sorry.  Our bad.  She goes in the company of her personal bodyguard, a lady name Lucia.  Oh, who’s Lucia?  Just an old member of everyone’s favorite sith-wartime army elite forces the Gloom Watchers.  Also known as Darth Bane’s (Des) old band.

That’s Star Wars!

Best Moment: I want to know more about Iktotchis. This lady runs into a miner camp, kills all of them and a jedi and just leaves like no big deal.

Worst Moment: Did you already guess? What the hell holocrons. I am so sick of this. I bet Bane finds about three more holocrons in this book and still manages to learn nothing and still whines about how rare and hard to find they are. Ugggggh.

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Darth Bane: Rule of Two, pages 288 – finish.

Darth Bane got pretty messed up in his fight with five jedi.  Given that a couple of them were masters, I suppose this isn’t any real surprise.  One of the jedi, just before drawing his last breath, shrouds Bane in a bubble just as he is letting go a tremendous amoutn of force lightning.  This basically fries him instantly and DB is rendered unconscious.  Zannah gathers the lightsabers of the slain jedi and she and Darovit run off to Ambria.

Why Ambria?  Because that’s where Caleb is, the guy with the deformed hand.  Karpyshyn mentions this hand and the circumstance under which he receives this hand because well, it’s ridiculous.  In the last book, Path of Destruction, Caleb receives this boiled hand because he stick his hand in soup to show Bane he’s not afraid of torture.  whatEVER.  As if there’s no torture worse than boiling your hand.  I can think of a number of jobs I’ve had already.

So off they go to Ambria.  Too bad for them this time Caleb’s daughter isn’t there and they can’t threaten her in order to get him to heal Bane. Bane, having been shocked, has ended up losing one of the Orbalisks attached to him, which in turn has sent an awful poison into his body.  So instead, Darovit convinces Caleb that unless they treat Bane, Zannah will go off on a streak of vengeance, killing everything in her wake.  Caleb thinks about this for a moment and decides it’s a valid point.

So he heals Bane on the condition that Zannah send a message to the jedi council that there is a sith lord on Ambria and she turn herself in. Caleb will disable her ship so she cannot flee and Bane will be too weak at this point to fight anyone off.

Bane gets healed.  The jedi show up to investigate and find Caleb sliced into bits and Darovit half crazy with a lightsaber in his hand (belonging to Farfalla) and four other lightsabers that they claimed as loot from the fight.  The jedi kill him, figure oh man he must have killed Caleb and Caleb must have sent the message and Darovit must have been the sith lord. Well, that’s that!  And then they leave.

Zannah is chuckling in a basement with Bane’s unconscious body.  The jedi don’t find them.

That’s a wrap!

Best Moment: Darovit, having been driven insane by the cousin he just wants to help out lightsabered in the chest by jedi.  There’s just something really satisfying about that.  (Yeah, in KotOR I picked an evil path first, so what?)

Worst Moment:  What the fuck.  This entire book was the worst moment.

Seriously, what was the point?  What changed between the first and second book of this trilogy?

Bane figured out how to make a holocron but didn’t make one.  He hasn’t even tried yet so we don’t really know he will manage it.  So basically, nothing happened there.

Bane got rid of the orbalisks, I guess, but he both aquired and lost them in the same book so who cares?

Zannah is still an apprentice and has learned nothing new.  We spend an entire book with her and she’s still just some wishy washy sith apprentice.  Was killing her cousin the act that finally drove her to fully embrace the dark side?  Why wasn’t this just summed up in ten pages?

At the end of Path of Destruction, no one knew any of the sith survived. At the end of Rule of Two, the jedi think they just killed the last sith. Back to zero.

Nothing.  Absolutely nothing game changing happened in this overly boring, lackluster book.  At some point Johun is referred to as John in the book also, so I can only assume that even the editors gave up as well.

No wait, I’m sorry.  Darovit, their last physical link to Ruusan and Zannah’s past is severed.  But he could have just been left alone on Ruusan and it wouldn’t have mattered.  I never would have questioned what happened to good old severed handed Darovit.

Shame on you, Drew Karpyshyn.

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