Force Friday: Combat, Destruction, and Sith REVIEWING Darth Bane: Path of Destruction

Welcome back to The Real World According To Sam!

It's Force Friday, so you know what that's time for another Star Wars book! Today we are talking about the first book in the Darth Bane trilogy. Let's get into it!

Darth Bane: Path of Destruction

Author: Drew Karpyshyn
Genre: Science Fiction 
Year: 2006

Darth Bane: Path of Destruction


On the run from vengeful Republic forces, Dessel, a cortosis miner, vanishes into the ranks of the Sith army and ships out to join the bloody war against the Republic and its Jedi champions. There, Dessel's brutality, cunning, and exceptional command of the Force swiftly win him renown as a warrior. But in the eyes of his watchful master, a far greater destiny awaits him. 

As an acolyte in the Sith academy, studying the secrets and skills of the dark side, Dessel embraces his new identity: Bane. But the true test is yet to come. In order to gain acceptance into the Brotherhood of Darkness, he must defy the most sacred traditions and reject all he has been taught. It is a trial by fire in which he must surrender fully to the dark side -- and forge from the ashes a new era of absolute power. 


I'm figuring out that Drew Karpyshyn is one of the better Star Wars authors I have read so far. Including this one, I have read three of his books. None of them have been awful, but this one has been the BEST of them all. With this review today, I'll have reviewed each of these on this blog. The first book of his I read was Revan. I am a fan of Darth Revan as a character, but the ending and pacing of the end didn't work for me in that particular book. The next book I read was Annihilation. That one was way better in terms of pacing and overall story than its predecessor. So far, the best books in the Old Republic era have been written by Karpyshyn. Let's talk about this one and how it lines up. 

This book is the first in a different trilogy, set in the times of the Old Republic. It focuses on Darth Bane. This book covers his childhood, his young adult circumstances, and his eventual path to becoming a Sith Lord. Before now, Revan was one of the last major Sith lords who went under the name Darth. The Sith ways have changed and this book showcases how it changed, why it changed, and what will now change at the hand of Darth Bane. 

First off, let's talk about the cover. It has a kind of creepy vibe going on with the shadows on Bane's face and it is just so neat and simple. It gives you no question about what this book is about. Bane is at the center emitting evil in full focus, with lightsaber blades glowing red in traditional Sith style. There are no frills, there are no embellishments, and Bane takes center stage. 

The opening of this book focuses on Dessel, a very large teenager who lives on Apatros. Apatros is a mining world full of miners who are in the service of the Outer Rim Oreworks (ORO) Company. All services (housing and food) add to a miner's debts. Dessel has a lot of debt because of his abusive father, who is now dead. Dessel was forced to take on those debts and has been working in the mines...up until a night when he ends up suspended for biting off another miner's thumb while in a fight. He goes to the nearby bar and joins a Sabac game against some Republic soldiers. He upsets them, ends up in another fight, and finds himself having to go off-world to join the Sith army. His time in the Sith army leads him to a Sith academy and his ultimate future. This book chronicles that journey and the difficulties along it. 

Additionally, the Brotherhood of Darkness is at war against the Republic. Sith and Jedi are at odds, as usual. This time, the Sith are doing things differently. They have joined up to form...the Brotherhood of Darkness, as I mentioned. They have acolytes with different skillsets at different academies. They hope to find strength in numbers to finally take down the Jedi and the Republic. The Brotherhood of Darkness is led by Lord Kaan, who claims all the Sith share their power as equals to one another. The different Sith lords butt heads a bit. Some are more invested in their vision of what the dark side is than others, and as usual the Sith are just a complex entity trying to find a way to win their fight. 

So what is good about this book? The characters, the action, the settings, and the story. 

The characters are fantastic!

Dessel/Darth Bane is well developed. We see a full journey and change. We see that he is Force sensitive early on, then see him realize it and be taught to enhance it, before finally taking his own steps.

Githany is a former Jedi turned Sith. She wants to gain more power and didn't feel like the Jedi Order was the right fit for her. She is more selfish and power hungry, but is also cunning and manipulative. Her interactions with Bane reveal different aspects of both characters and they play off each other well within the story. 

The Sith Lords are interesting, but we follow Dessel/Bane and see the way he perceives their thinking and teachings. Seeing them from that view leads us to see a shift over time that is really intriguing.

There are also a few Jedi, but one in particular (Hoth) is a bit of a rogue in some regards. He is very different from the Jedi we know from the movies. Clearly a lot of change occurs from this point of the Old Republic to the Republic we know later.

The action in this book is also great. There are several different kinds of combat. We see military conflicts with standard weapons, but also lightsaber sparring as Bane learns how to fight with the Force. Later, we get into a bigger war, but with Force sensitive and group tactics culminating in a crazy idea. The action is not only well-written, but often. There is a lot of action, because what changes is the weight of the consequences. Some sequences are just practice, so it is about getting better. Other times there are lives on the line and you feel the direness of the situation. There are even other times existing between that spectrum, where sparring goes to a deeper edge. These scenes don't drag, and they don't rush. They're right in the middle of the spectrum.

There are several planets and settings within this book. We start off on a mining planet, end up in a battle field, go to a Sith Academy, and even some remote locations special to the Sith. I really like the level of lore and history this book tries to highlight. There isn't a lot of backstory or history teaching, so there isn't information dumping. What happens is Bane explores different avenues of knowledge and learns about what former Sith used to do or powers they had. This exploration eventually shifts locations and you really get a scope for just how ancient the Sith and Jedi are. The traditions of both go back a long way and it is really interesting to have that element presented, without it bogging down the story. The different locations are diverse enough to be differentiable, but there aren't too many for you to lose track of where the story is taking place at any point. It jumps just enough to keep things fresh. 

The story itself is not only a great concept, but it is fantastically executed. There aren't too many twists, but the pacing and progressions are incredibly fluid. I never felt like this book dragged. I was never bored. We generically have an idea of what the ending will be since Darth Bane is a known figure and there are two more books, but it isn't inherently predictable. Some things you can predict, because they follow patterns. However, these patterns don't take away from the story. Sith are always in conflict with each other. That's a fact at this point. If we think something will go wrong with their approach, there's a high chance that it will. At the same time, we don't know which piece is going to make things difficult, or which allegiances might shift. We know the bone of what CAN happen, but I was still wondering how things would happen or how they might go off kilter. I still wanted to know who came out on top of this power struggle. This is a young man's journey into his future, albeit a very dark one, and it is a solid story from start to finish. It was about 400 pages, and I was cruising my way through like it was half the length. 

One of my critiques of Tarkin a couple weeks ago was the title character was well-developed, but the opponents were kind of weak and lackluster by comparison. This book takes a title character, develops them just as well, but it gives every other aspect just as much attention. We know what Darth Bane is fighting for, we know who he has conflicts with, and we know enough about them early in the story to know how it matters. Each student Bane needs to surpass, each Sith Lord he has some kind of conflict with, and even the Jedi Order, are all presented with enough information to be able to be invested in what is going on. Bane DID have tough opposition and major struggles to overcome, and so did the other groups and people involved. They all had their own identities from the beginning. This is definitely what I wish Tarkin could have accomplished with all of its components. Path of Destruction may not be Canon, but I think it honestly should be at some point, in some way. The Old Republic needs more Canon stories, in my opinion. 

So ultimately, this is one of the best books I have read in the Star Wars Legends timeline. I can't think of anything I disliked. There weren't any characters who annoyed me or sections that dragged. I didn't feel ripped off by the end, and I didn't feel rushed. Everything built up and progressed naturally to each character's path. Bane is fearsome and I can't wait to see what happens next in his journey. I give this book a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯✯. I highly recommend it to fans of Star Wars.

Star Wars Legends 

Reading Order

✅ Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void

➖ Crosscurrent 

✅ Lost Tribe of the Sith: The Collected Stories

The Old Republic #1: Revan

The Old Republic #2: Deceived

✅ Red Harvest

The Old Republic #3: Fatal Alliance

The Old Republic #4: Annihilation

Knight Errant

Darth Bane #1: Path of Destruction

➖ Darth Bane #2: Rule of Two

➖ Darth Bane #3: Dynasty of Evil

This concludes another review here at The Real World According To Sam, where I bring the books to your screen and even give my own two cents about them.