My re-read book this week was Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp. It's a book starring Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, and they definitely are a really cool part of the book, but there is also so much more to this book, from other characters and plotlines (though everything is weaved very tightly together). It's a really cool book in general, as well as a Star Wars book, and I think it's a great read.
Spoilers ahead for Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp!
First off, the first chapter of this book has Vader crashing his ship into another ship, climbing into that ship, killing everyone aboard and then just breathing into the comm with the ship's comrades on the other end. I don't have much to say about it besides the fact that it is so, so freaking cool.
Vader and Palpatine's relationship is a super cool part of this book. It's not a dynamic we get to actually dive into all that much on-screen after Revenge of the Sith, so reading about is really neat. Seeing the push and pull as they both know it is in the nature of a Sith partnership for the apprentice to kill the master, and how Vader has his fleeting thoughts of betrayal but ultimately chooses loyalty to Palpatine. We also see how Palpatine urges these on, oddly enough, trying to get Vader to be stronger and dig deeper into hatred and the dark side. It's such a crazy, complicated dynamic that I could read about forever.
Cham Syndulla is prominent in this book, as the main plot is that his rebel group destroy a Star Destroyer that Vader and the Emperor are on, making them crash on Ryloth and good targets for an attempted assassination. Cham calls in all the favors he has, and of course loses- and he loses a lot. There's a new character in this book, a Twi'lek woman named Isval, who is really cool. She can definitely be cold, but she's passionate about the fight and about freeing other Twi'lek women from slavery. She's a great character, and she makes a brave final stand against Vader and certain doom so that Cham can get away and be the leader the now almost dead movement needs to revive itself. I really liked seeing this early rebellion, but not THE early rebellion like the one Bail Organa had. You can see in this book where Cham and Hera had their differences, and how a unified Rebellion allowed for the victory over the Empire, not a splintered one where people focused only on their own planet and not the rest of the galaxy.
A really cool plotline in this book was about Imperial corruption. We follow an Imperial officer named Belkor who wants to undermine Moff Mors, who he thinks (and who honestly has) failed at doing her job properly in overseeing Ryloth. He's been working with Cham to support the Free Ryloth movement- not because he wants to free Ryloth, but to undermine Moff Mors so he can eventually take power. Cham uses these past little bits of support to blackmail Belkor into giving a LOT of support, and Belkor was instrumental to their almost-assassination of Vader and the Emperor. However as the book deteriorates and he gets not only found out but eaten more and more with guilt, he begins to lose it, and eventually dies getting shot down after trying to order Imperial pilots to fire on a Twi'lek village where Vader and the Emperor currently are.
Finally, I have to talk about the village. A little girl finds Vader and the Emperor while they wander lost through Ryloth wilderness, and she kindly offers to take them to their village, which they accept. It's honestly haunting and gut-wrenching to read as the Twi'leks happily welcome them into their homes, providing them with food and just about anything they ask for, knowing that Palpatine is going to order them all killed. Even though we don't really know any of the characters, the sheer cruelty is just heartbreaking.