Monday, September 20, 2010

1000 BBY - 990 BBY: Darth Bane: Rule of Two

Even though I love my job, and truly believe teaching is my calling, I wish I could somehow make the Star Wars Chronology Project my full time job. The more I get engrossed in the material, the more I wish I could just be at home surrounded by peace and quiet, silently reading the novels, short stories, or playing the video games and recording my thoughts and reactions. I’m having entirely too much fun with this blog.

Things are going to be heating up at work with assignments coming in and tests to be given out, so all my spare time will go to marking – the necessary yet darkside of teaching. I’m already lamenting the time I can’t spend on the project in the coming months.

But in the here and now, I have a few reactions to the second book of Karpyshyn’s Bane trilogy: Rule of Two.

Though I enjoyed this book more than the first installment, I have only a few small things to comment on, namely; Farfalla’s flagship (again!), the destruction of Darovit’s hand, the role and history of the Chancellor of the Republic, the planet of Tython, and the final lightsaber duel.

In Path of Destruction I commented on how Karpyshyn downplayed the fantastical nature of the comic Jedi vs. Sith, even going so far as to exclude a description of Jedi Master Valenthyne Farfalla’s flagship the Farwind. I guess he had a change of heart, because in the opening pages of the novel, he defined the look of Jedi flagship for his readers unfamiliar with the comic: “Fashioned so that her exterior resembled an ancient sailing barge, the vessel had an archaic elegance, a grandeur that some felt was a sign of vanity unbecoming in a Jedi” (pg. 10). Even though this was the only description of the ship in the book, it still gave readers something to imagine. What I find most remarkable though, is Karpyshyn’s reluctance to fully describe the physical appearance of Valenthyne’s lower half. There is never any mention of his satyr legs. The most we get is that Valenthyne “nimbly” jumped over someone or something.

I wonder why this is so? Does Karpyshyn himself not agree with the way the story was artistically rendered in the original comic? Does he also feel that Ramon F Bachs interpretation of events is too close to the fantasy genre? I think these are questions I’d like to ask him if I ever got the chance.

Moving on, I was surprised at how the events surrounding the destruction of Darovit’s hand played out in the text, as I completely mis-read the turn of events in the comic. I had originally thought it was Bane who blew up Darovit’s hand, not in any act of mercy, but because it was he who felt his death would serve no purpose. Looking back, I can now see where my interpretation went awry. I don’t know why I thought it was Bane who blew up Darovit’s hand, as there is a caption clearly showing Zannah concentrating, then Darovit’s hand blowing up. What I did like about this scene though, was Bane’s patience with Zannah. He knew she acted out of mercy, and in turn showed some mercy himself, as he realized compassion would be something he would have to instruct out of his student in the future. He couldn’t expect her to be a Dark Lord of the Sith right away.

This leads me to another great scene I enjoyed: the flashback when Bane teaches Zannah about patience and using living things like tools – and to never become attached. I also felt a twang of sadness when Bane broke the neck of the neek.

I wonder what Master Thon would think of a Dark Lord of the Sith taking up residence where he buried the powers of the darkside from that planet. It just goes to show you how fully and completely Master Thon decimated those powers, as the only thing they are capable of is perverting the wildlife. What is more, Darth Bane – Dark Lord of the Sith – was unable to pull on those powers from the lake.

Furthering my reactions to Rule of Two, I found the character of Supreme Chancellor Tarsus Valorum interesting, but what I found more interesting was some of the history revealed around the role of Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. In musing about the Chancellor, Johun wondered about how he came to be in that position of power: “It was these traits, along with his exemplary record of public service, that had led to Valorum being appointed the first non-Jedi Chancellor in over four centuries” (pg. 94). I found that bit of information mildly shocking, because from all I know of the Star Wars universe, this would seem to me a conflict of interest for the people of the Republic and a conflict of philosophy for the Jedi. Would there not be some in the Jedi order, who over the four centuries mentioned, crave the position of power offered by the role of Supreme Chancellor? In our own universe, more than a few popes themselves could not stop from abusing their power as leader of the empire (I know papal experts could argue that popes were never the leaders of the empire, but just ask Emperor Frederick II who was in charge of the empire when Pope Gregory IX excommunicated him who he thought was in charge).

I explored this bit of history a little on wookieepedia, the only source I could really turn to to investigate the linage of Supreme Chancellors, and found that during the time frame mentioned by Karpyshyn, there is no history of who these Jedi Chancellors were. There was, however, one mention of a Jedi Chancellor from 4000 BBY to 3997 BBY, Sidrona Diath, Dace Diath’s father. Dace, if your recall, was part of the Jedi strike team from Ossus that assisted Cay Qel-Droma, Nomi Sunrider, and Tott Doneeta and company on their assault of Exar Kun and the forces of the Krath. It is mentioned that Dace’s father was Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, but that tidbit of information slipped pasted me when I was investigating that timeframe. I still find it remarkable that the Jedi were able to hold this position of authority.

The way Karpyshyn presented this information was interesting as well, because Johun thought it remarkable that a Jedi was not appointed to the Chancellorship, as most people thought it was going to be Farfalla who was going to be elected. So from what we know, sometime between the years 1400 BBY and 1000 BBY, there was a string of Jedi Supreme Chancellors.

In my opinion, that era of history is absolutely ripe for storytelling. Right there we have the makings of an epic hero in the most traditional sense. I think I’ll begin to ponder this area of Star Wars history myself.

Jedi Chancellors aside, I still haven’t talked about the most interesting Supreme Chancellor in Star Wars history (to date anyway), Blotus the Hutt, from 9000 BBY. Supreme Chancellor for over 275 years, Blotus is regarded by most historians to be one of the greatest to hold this office. A Hutt! Can you believe it?!? Dan Wallace, Steve Sansweet, Pablo Hidalgo, and Jason Fry, through a compilation of texts these writers have collaborated on, were having entirely too much fun creating and adding to the history of Supreme Chancellors in the Star Wars universe. Here’s a topic of historical expansion for any one of these writers. It could follow a similar chronology or written in the same style one would follow presidential history, the history of any monarchy, or papal history. I can see it now. Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Supreme Chancellors of the Republic.

In addition to an interesting history of Supreme Chancellors, Karpyshyn did a really good job with the final battle sequence between Bane, Zannah, Johun, Farfalla, Worror, Lsu, and Xaj. It was well described, and I found I could follow the action quite easily. It was an epic fight, the most interesting aspect being the use of Worror’s battle meditation. How powerful was that Jedi Master? He nearly singlehandedly killed Bane.
Though Worror did not attempt to use the Force power Wall of Light on Bane, I wonder why more Jedi do not use the power of Wall of Light to cut their opponents off from the Force? It’s made out to be some morally incorrect thing to do on the part of a lightside Jedi, but I wholly disagree with this sentiment. If the Jedi truly believe that what they are doing is for the greater good, I would argue that they are under a moral imperative to cut the Force from those who abuse their power.

My final point of discussion centers upon the world of Tython. In Rule of Two, it is presented as a desolate world, one where the darkside of the Force has taken up residence. Many questions arise with this presentation of Tython. What happened to it? In The Old Republic, Tython was the world the Jedi fled to – their ancestral home world – where they reconnected with the Force, built new temples, and meditated. Somewhere in the 2000 plus year history of this planet, things went terribly wrong. Not only does it seem like the Jedi have been pushed from this sacred space, but the darkside of the Force, in the form of a former Dark Lord of the Sith, Belia Darzu, has taken control. From the material presented in the Old Republic sources, Tython was once a lush and verdant planet. Unfortunately it seems like a grey and dead place now. I’m sure somewhere down the line an explanation will be provided as to what happened to the once Jedi stronghold.

I’ll complete my reactions today with a question to you, my reader. What did you think of Rule of Two? Please, share your own insights and reactions here.

For my next post I’ll engage with the third installment of the Bane trilogy – Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. I both greatly liked and greatly disliked Rule of Two. The new info about the Chancellors and the aftermath of the New Sith Wars was very interesting. I like the introduction of the Sith-wannabe (I forget his name) and his perspective on the Brotherhood of Darkness. I thought the discussion of holocron construction and Sith sorcery was interesting as well.
    However, I found it very difficult to read this book. Watching Bane corrupt a grieving little girl into a sociopath was extremely disturbing. Seeing her, still a child, commit murder, and end up a betraying, manipulative skank, I found hard to read through, as the mental images and emotions it conjured were very unpleasant, especially when one remembers the innocent girl of the comics.
    So, while I appreciate the background info this book added to the continuity, I don't think I'll be rereading it.

  2. It's interesting that you mention that - the absolute and total perversion of Zannah by Bane - because every time I began to think of this, I quickly supressed it into the back of my mind.
    Her murder of the family (a family wracked with grief over their recently deceased mother no less) disturbed me to the point that I didn't even really want to acknowledge it.
    These thoughts are made worse when you see the cute little girl with the blonde curls.
    You hit the nail on the head. There were parts of this book that were very disturbing.

  3. Do you plan to discuss "Bane of the Sith" and "All for You" after Dynasty of Evil, or are you simply skipping over them?

  4. I'm going to skip over them and focus on canonical work only.

  5. Focusing on canonical stuff makes sense. Note though that it's not clear that either of those stories are infinities, although I can understand why Joe would label them both as such. "Bane of the Sith" was published as a canonical story about Bane. However, just as Karpyshyn overwrote some of the elements of the Jedi vs Sith comics when he wrote Path of Destruction, he overwrote some of the elements of "Bane of the Sith" when he wrote Rule of Two. The Jedi vs Sith comics are still canonical, so "Bane of the Sith" could be, too, although Karpyshyn overwrote more of the latter than the former. It's at least worth taking a look at.
    As for "All for You," it's one of those Star Wars Tales stories that we've never been told definitively is canonical or infinities. I don't see why it couldn't be canonical, as long as there's an explanation provided for why knowledge of the existence of the Sith doesn't spread.

  6. All For You seems like it could conceivably be canon, but ultimately I agree with why it’s not. I think it’s difficult to explain away a Sith other than Bane and Zannah at this point in history. Yet I’m sure the presence of this particular Sith could be explained by someone wanting to include this story into Star Wars canon, but I’m not sure how convinced I’d be with any explanation. I think I simply too ready to believe Bane and Zannah are the only Sith in the universe at this point. Any other reality seems to question the totalitarian hold Bane has over the Sith order, and any other Sith in existence at this point undermines the rule-of-two. If this Sith exists without Bane’s knowledge, his presence undercuts Bane’s ability to make sure the Sith order has only one Master and one Apprentice. If he exists with Bane’s knowledge it calls into question Bane’s fervent adherence to the rule-of-two.

    Anderson’s short story Bane of the Sith was like I was reading the “Q” source of the Bane trilogy. Like some New Testament scholars believe the Gospel of Thomas is the source of the Gospel of Mark, Bane of the Sith is the kernel of the Karpyshyn’s work. Influenced, of course, by Jedi vs. Sith, Anderson seems to have made some changes from that text, dropping Zannah as Bane’s apprentice. Again, I see why it’s not canon, and as you said, Karpyshyn overwrote some of Anderson’s material.

    In the end, I enjoyed Karpyshyn’s Bane more than Anderson’s, and the art in All For You was atrocious.

    As an aside, I also made my concluding reactions to Blood of the Empire a little while back if you have yet to read that.