Tuesday, June 29, 2010

4975 BBY: Lost Tribe of the Sith: Savior

Believe it or not, I’m glad JJM wrote a fourth installment to his Lost Tribe of the Sith series. I ended the third volume with the sentiment that I was glad to be done with his work. But now at the end of the fourth volume I’m left wanting more. His prose was easier to read this time around as well.
The fourth installment of the Lost Tribe of the Sith series finds Yaru Korsin, the Grand Lord of the Sith on Kesh, at the centre of assassination plots and schemes of spite.

In true Sith fashion, power struggles and coups have come to fruition as Commander Korsin celebrates his people’s 25th anniversary of being on Kesh. The Sith, under the leadership of Korsin, have decided to leave the top of the mountain, and live among the Keshiri in their villages.

After the move down the mountain, Seelah, Korsin’s wife, unraveled her plans for control, which consisted of placing her own son, Jariad (both nephew and step-son to Yaru) as Grand Lord. Her plans did not come about however, as Yaru Korsin had his own daughter secretly trained and poised to challenge her half brother and mother for leadership.

The story ends with Yaru Korsin and his faithful servant Gloyd killed in the coup, Seelah crippled, Jariad dead, and Nida Korsin the new leader of the Sith on Kesh. The way this all came about was intriguing and fast paced, and as I said earlier, I really enjoyed the ending of this series (if it has indeed ended).

The most interesting storyline in this novella however, was the Keshiri plot headed by Adari Vaal. Instead of collecting the Keshiri to challenge the 600 Sith on Kesh in some sort of civil war, she decided to steal the Sith’s only mode of transportation, the uvak flyers, and take the creatures along with her people to a distant and remote part of the planet where I assume they intend to rebuild and live free of Sith rule. Nida Korsin was not aware to the extent of the Keshiri plans, but as she puts it, the Keshiri: “…plunged themselves into a pit of lava. In spite – or fear. It doesn’t matter” (LTOTS 30). Even though Miller makes it clear that Nida does not really know where the Keshiri have gone, she is dead on with their motivation. I found this plot line a-typical, and really enjoyed it. I thought for sure there would be some sort of reckoning of the Keshiri and the Sith, but Adari Vaal’s move was one of spite. I enjoyed where Miller brought this story. I enjoyed how Miller ended it.

In the last volume of the Lost Tribe of the Sith series, I was attempting to come to terms with the idea of a “Sith Empire”, or as I had put it an “Empire of pure evil”. I was attempting to understand with how an Empire of evil can get anything done, because at some point co-operation has to occur. The idea simply did not make any sense to me.

After going through the KOTOR video game, and reading the first four chapters of Crosscurrent, and coming across some interesting lines in LTOTS 4, the idea of a Sith Empire, or Sith culture began to make a little more sense to me. The way I now understand the Sith empire, is through the view-point of a capitalist/corporate/imperialist society. The Sith Empire and how I now understand it, works very much like our own secular humanist culture, just ramped-up and caricatured. A caricature is never accurate, but contains kernels of truth. One simply needs to pull a headline from a newspaper to see what I mean: power, greed, and fear are the underpinnings of our daily lives. Examples such as the Enron debacle, the Bernie Madoff affair, the BP oil spill, the disrespect for the common worker, the unfair treatment of educated immigrants, etcetera. This is all Sith: control of power by the few, subjugation of the many by the wealthy, and the exaltation of the self. (For the record this is not what I actually believe of Western culture, I believe there is more to Western culture than just this, but I can’t fully argue against this viewpoint if someone else were to understand and believe that this is, in truth, what consumerist North America culture really is).

What I found interesting about Savior, was that Yaru Korsin had to work against the fundamental philosophies of Sith culture in order to survive: “ So many people, so many ambitions to manage. It was why Korsin had allowed them to think that he had indeed activated the emergency beacon once, before it failed. The prospect of departure had the power to unite; so did the specter of the arrival of a punishing superior power” (LTOTS 2). If Krosin did not lie to his people, Sith power struggles and raging ambition would tear the society apart. He had to work against what his society stood for, in order to keep it standing.

I think I’m on to something with my Sith vs. Jedi, secular vs. sacred comparison. In order for secular humanism to really work, it has to release the grasp the sacred world holds over its people. One way to do this is to call into question the idea of the divine, or to make foolish the belief in anything beyond the self. This is what Yaru Korsin does with the Keshiri, yet with an ironic twist. He uses the sacred as a tool of control: “Everywhere he’d look in this palace, the Keshiri had plastered something depicting his divinity. He chuckled to himself. We’ve really done a sales job” (LTOTS 11). The secular world needs to make belief in divinity a “sales job” in order for it to eventually be called into question.

Sith culture in this story also works as an imperialist society: “Adari brought people claiming to be the Skyborn into their midst to reshape the Keshiri standards” (LTOTS pg 13). Like the British brining “civilization” to India, circa the 1800’s, The Sith are bringing a “higher standard” of living to the Keshiri.

In my grade 12 Religion class, I show my students a documentary called Affluenza, which begins our discussions on how media affects self image and self esteem. Needless to say we quickly figure out that the basic message behind a lot of marketing is “you suck, so buy our product and you won’t suck anymore”. This is especially important for girls, as they are constantly bombarded with unrealistic expectations of femininity. Keeping people dissatisfied with their current position, and hungering for more is also what I deem as Sith in nature, and the constant pursuit of perfection, of a “higher standard”, is what keeps Sith culture competitive, cutthroat, and apathetic to dignity.

Seelah Korsin, in her pursuit of Sith perfection, kept among the humans on Kesh this hunger and desire for a perfect body image: “But the Sith were already more pleasing to look at. She’d instilled in the younglings a respect for their bodies, a lust for physical perfection.” (pg 16). I think what makes Sith the embodiment of evil, is that it twists virtue into vice. Seelah installed “respect for their bodies” which is the virtue, but twisted the virtue into the vice of vanity by making sure the younglings then “lusted for physical perfection”.

All-in-all I enjoyed the fourth installment of the Lost Tribe of the Sith, and I’m looking forward to JJM’s new project Knight Errant. Though I’m not sure what I’m going to do to fit it into the chronology project. I suspect, and partially hope, that I’ll be beyond that era in Star Wars history when Knight Errant will be eventually released, so I may have to simply make posts here and there throughout the project to include it, or perhaps ignore it all-together, wait for it to wrap up completely, then tackle it as a comprehensive whole. I don’t know. Much remains to be seen. Though, as a Star Wars fan, and author of a Star Wars Chronology Project, this is a good problem to have. It shows just how deep this world really is, and how abundant in story the world of Star Wars has to offer.

I’m going to continue with my back-logging of Star Wars history with another piece by JJM: The Secret Journal of Doctor Demagol. Once I’m done with that I’ll be looking at one of the timelines offered by http://www.swtor.com/, which discusses some of the details of Star Wars history after the KOTOR comic, and before the KOTOR video game. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. Apparently, there will be further LTotS ebooks. Sue Rostoni has said there will be 8 installments. Each is released around the time of a new Fate of the Jedi novel, so we won't see the next one until late this year.

  2. Well, that's not so bad. I think Miller's getting a little better with each one.