Lost Tribe of the Sith

January 25, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , , )

tribeLost Tribe of the Sith by John Jackson Miller


I decided to read the Legends books in chronological order instead of in publication order, which might not be the best approach. On the one hand, I have the story told to me in the right order, but on the other hand, I wonder if the stories will give too much away for future books. I dug in and read Asimov’s Foundation series in publication order, which was the right decision, since reading earlier books would have ruined some of the suspense of the later books, since Asimov wrote of mysteries that had yet to be solved in his prequels.

Anyway, I now understand that this series of novellas is intended to create the antagonists for Legends of the Force, a series of books that actually falls near the end of the Legends Extended Universe chronology. The thinking was that the Sith Lords had been defeated, and instead of bringing in a bunch of bad guys who had never been seen before, the publisher decided to create a lost tribe to serve as the antagonists for that series. Such was the birth of this book, which collects eight ebook novellas that told the story of that tribe.

(I should note that the Sith are a race of beings in the EU, as well as a class of Dark Jedi. I didn’t know this until I looked it up when parts of the stories didn’t make much sense.)

Precipice, the first novella, tells of a group of Sith who crash land on a hostile planet called Kesh. The group loses members to the native predators, as well as to mutiny, but it’s indicated that they are unable to make contact with anyone to rescue them. And of course, it’s the Jedi who put the Sith into that position. Skyborn, the next novella, shows what happens after the crash, when the native population, still making the transition from mythology to science, discover the Sith. The Sith take the opportunity to pretend to be the gods these people worship, as they come from the sky, and the Sith have crash-landed on their planet.

Paragon is where the story begins to pick up speed, and highlights how these novellas don’t really work as individual stories. As chapters of a novel, they work well enough, but when you look at them separately, they don’t have the cohesion of a single story. Characterization for the key characters is found in the preceding stories, including their motivations and names. The preceding stories serve as exposition, while the rest of the stories become more involved with plot.

Paragon is set fifteen years after the crash-landing, when the Sith have come to realize that they won’t be leaving the planet. An apparent plague overcomes one of the lake towns on Kesh, killing all the residents. It spreads to other lake towns, and the Sith become concerned over their own vulnerability. The truth devastates not only Kesh, but the Sith (the race) survivors, as well.

Savior follows Paragon, ten years later, when the remaining Sith choose to move from their temple near their crash site to integrate with the Kesh. The Sith are still revered as gods. Mostly. It turns out there’s an underground group of rebels who suspect or know the truth about the Sith, and hope to defeat them for good. Seeing as how this story doesn’t even mark the halfway point in this collection, you can guess how well that goes for them.

The story then jumps ahead nearly 1,000 years for Purgatory. The Sith have settled in to the planet fairly well, establishing their own system to rule the planet. Unfortunately for them, their isolation isn’t complete, as the story reveals an adversary in their midst. Sentinel continues that story, highlighting an unlikely alliance between one of the discredited Sith and someone else living on Kesh.

Pantheon jumps ahead another 1,000 years, this time showing the Sith’s ceremonies, as well as their self-serving interests and how they will ultimately lead to the destruction of the Sith. Oddly, the collection begin to take on a weird sense of humor at this point, even invoking some slapstick comedy. It’s not a complete destruction, though, as Secrets shows, but a group of people who live only for themselves doesn’t much guarantee the survival of the group as a whole. Not until they find another reason to pull together a group, that is.

Pandemonium is the last novella in the book, though it could be considered a novel all by itself. It comprises about a third of the entire book, and concludes the series of stories that have preceded it. It jumps ahead about 25 years, and covers the events surrounding why the Sith decided to work together again. Knowing Sith, though, the only thing that will bring them together is an opportunity to destroy another group. Hence the name of the novella.

I’m surprised that these novellas were originally released individually as ebooks, since many of them don’t work as standalone stories. They seem to work better together as pairs, and even then, the pairs are part of a larger story that concludes with a story that was never available by itself. It seems like the release schedule was more about marketing (and I guess they all are, really), but it felt a little cheap, and besides, the stories themselves didn’t stand out as great works.

I think the book succeeds in what it set out to do — establish the lost tribe that would serve as antagonists much later in the EU — but I didn’t feel like the stories were all that good. The characters didn’t seem fleshed out (which, granted, could have been due to the length of the works), there seemed to be more telling than showing, and a lot of the action occurred off-screen, or between chapters. I can’t help but feel like the events would have been better seen, though I will admit that the scope of this series of stories — over 2,000 years — prohibits too much detail.

So, I like it for what it conveys about the EU, but I can’t say I was wild about the style, or the stories themselves. It seems like the idea was better than the execution, which I’ve heard can be said of a lot of the EU material. I look forward to when the stories return to being as good as their ideas.

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