Book Review: Star Wars: Rule of Two

Have you ever tried predicting books based on the genres and usual stories surrounding the genres? I usually have an assumption going into books based on previous experience reading books of the same genre and for the most part they don’t stray far from where I thought the story was going to go, and then there’s this series. The Darth Bane series is really something interesting because it doesn’t fall back on tropes or doesn’t give you endings that you particular think is going to happen. instead it plays with those expectations and allows you to think there is a sliver of a chance that the story is going to take a specific turn and then switches It up on you. It almost feels like a windy road through the mountains. You’re constantly feeling the forces of gravity shifting in your body, pulling you one way as you turn another.

Star Wars: Rule of Two is the latest audio book I have been listening to these past two weeks and It follows Darth Bane and his journey through the dark side. This time he has found an apprentice in a little girl names Zannah. We follow her and her journey and decisions leading her further and further into the dark side and instead of seeing an embittered adult fall further into the dark side, we see how a small child is lead into its clutches. We see how she grows up and what decisions she makes along the way, all the while Bane is trying to rediscover the ways of the dark side in his search for power and immortality. In this book, we also follow two more perspectives in the light side of the force; Zannah’s cousin Tom Cat, a defector of both the light and dark side, and a Jedi knight named Johan, once student of the master that led the battle against the Sith in the previous book. the Jedi believe that the Sith are defeated and their army has been disbanded. Johan, once stark defender against the removal of the army of light, now lives as a peaceful representative of the Jedi. Convinced by the Jedi council that the Sith were no more he falls in line with ways of politics before once again running into evidence that the Sith are hiding in the shadows. Though the story of the first was much more compelling as we figure out what makes someone a Sith. this book took its time building the stories of all the other characters before their eventual confrontation. What happens after is a culmination of all their past experiences as they got older. I’m surprised on the outcome but at the same time there was hardly any room left for doubt on how the story was going to go.

I’d say the book is both surprising and yet not as well. There were things I just knew were going to happen but I didn’t want to happen and clung onto any form of hope that the dark side would not win out. As an audible book it was well read and produced, adding music to swell up in pivotal moments and sound effects during scenes where conflict arose and the atmosphere dictated. Its actually a really good performance. I highly enjoyed those aspects though I will say I was not as deeply invested in the story as I was when it was only Bane and those who interacted with. I think this was a good follow up to what the dark side set it up to be I just thought it would be more. overall, I was entertained and engaged with the story and its different cast of characters some of which are more memorable than others. I thought Tom Cat was under utilized while Johan’s story was interesting because I got to see glimpses of what was going with the Jedi. I think I just expected a bigger battle between the dark side and the light.

*spoilers*

So one of the things that bothers me the most about this book was the build up of these characters, specifically those of the light side like Johan and Tom Cat. What I mean is that, they built up the stories of these characters and at the end they die in the most unceremonious ways. it happens that the Tom Cat is related to Zannah and they play on the fact that she has some emotional childhood attachment to him. she saves him, technically in the beginning when they were kids when bane comes across him by destroying his hand. This is where I got a lot of the Darth Vader vibes because he could sense good in her and she was a lot like Darth Vader denying the good she once had. She makes many decisions that have her avoid killing her cousin personally but at the end she gets him killed anyways. I thought that he would be able to change her and that’s what I was expecting might happen especially as the climax of the story was happening but nope. But the relationship does leave Bane in doubt of her. In hindsight, I knew she was never going to change after all the things she did to get to the point ten years later at their reunion. There was that sliver of hope and I think that’s what this series is good at, leaving you small nuggets of hope for redemption. Johan, was a different story.

I didn’t expect Johan to die in this book. I thought maybe he would survive their encounter especially because we get a lot of time with him and his journey. He initially believed there were still Sith even after the battle that wiped out all the Sith but nobody would listen to him. the Jedi finally convinced him otherwise and so he moved on with his life until eventually he meets with Tom Cat and realizes there is one more out there. I knew the moment they went off chasing Zannah through space that they were going to die though because as they were leaving they didn’t have “time” to tell anyone their plan or what they were doing. I knew at that moment, oh no they are going to die. I still held out hope for his survival but Zannah deals the final blow.

The funny thing is that Hope seems to be the common theme when it comes to Star Wars. Rebellions are built on hope, Hope is what keeps the fight alive and it’ll be interesting to read or listen to whatever comes next. am I more excited for the final book? hmm, not as I was after listening to the first one but I do want to finish it out. I’ve come so far, and I don’t want to make this the third series to have stopped at the third book this year. haha We’ll see what happens though.

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