Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Review One: Contractual Update X

Because adding X to the end of things somehow makes more mysterious. And genetically enhanced.

Anyways, I'm not here to tell you about tired cliches of naming convention. OR AM I?!?!? This is a review after all...and I think my intellect cannons are taking aim at...*chink chink chink of Roulette wheel* "Darth Bane: Path of Destruction!" *disappointed moans from crowd, who wanted me to review "Barbie Girl" or "The Beginning is the end is the Beginning"*

So, first off, a Flynnly sum up of the book is in order. One sentence summary: "Darth Bane rises to power to reforge the Sith, while winking at Knights of the Old Republic." That is, more or less, all that needs to be said. There are, of course, ebbs and flows of the narrative, but that is the overarching plot. This is, of course, no surprise to most fans of Star Wars; in fact, were I to guess, the reason most people read it was because they knew that's what it was about. So, summary out of the way, it's time to actually get down to the nitty-gritty.

One of the things the book did best was follow a character down a convincing trail of darkness. Bane goes from a sort of bad person with no desire to kill, to a soldier in the war dedicated to killing the enemy while protecting the lives of his men, to the Dark Lord of the Sith, following the motto "those that beg for mercy don't deserve it" and killing hundreds of his compatriots. I, personally, found that aspect to be more than a little chilling, despite the fact that it occurred in a completely fictional universe.

Another thing it did well was show the inherent flaws in human constructs of good and evil. How without God as a center, our human efforts just fall short of truth. In the Star Wars universe, Jedi are pretty much the greater, if not the greatest, good. They fight for justice, light, and right. They arbitrate, are wise, and at times are simply insufferable.

The Sith, on the other hand, are the embodiments of evil. They kill, loot, loiter, turn in their library books late, crave power, and don't care who they destroy in their climb to the top. They fight for darkness, badness, and are just big meanies.

The problem is, both have admirable points, and bad things. For instance, the Jedi preach not being passionate about anything, not getting emotionally involved. The Sith, on the other hand, find strength in their passion, emotions leading them to greater heights. Path of Destruction plays up this particular facet a lot; Darth Bane would be nothing without his passion. Obviously, letting emotion cloud reason is not sensible, but neither is suppressing all emotion, and discarding any passion. There is a balance to find here, and taking either extreme is wrong.

On the other other hand, the Sith (or, more accurately, Darth Bane and the new Sith) hold the opinion, "Honor is useless to the dead." While honor needs a bit of definition here, I have to agree. But only so long as you hold "Honor" to be of the stereotypical Japanese variety: Committing Hari Kiri because you failed at something, dying with "Honor" in battle...those are really meaningless. Of course you should strive to be REAL honorable in your life, being good, kind, true, etc...but if you can die with "Honor" or live with honor, I would very much advocate the latter.

Of course the book has its weak points. There was, for instance, a rather afterthought flavored encounter with a healer, in which a page or two is devoted to how this healer is hard to intimidate, because he doesn't care at all about pain, and how Darth Bane is all stymied by this. Then suddenly he realizes there's a little girl he can threaten inside the tent, he does so, and the healer collapses instantly and within a page Darth Bane is on his way again. The whole encounter somehow just feels like "Oh snap, he needs a healer! Uh...time to retcon in a mention of him, then make him interesting!"

It also, I think, takes a little too much glee in *wink wink nudge nudge*ing Knights of the Old Republic. Some of it, only made sense, since after all Revan and Malak made a huge mark on the universe, but seriously. Enough of the cutesy references, let's PRETEND to be subtle. k?

But, one of my favorite things about it? The lack of retarded Star-Warsizing of common phrases. Such as: Fire wall = Pyro Wall, A picture is worth a thousand words = A pixel is worth a thousand sound bytes, don't put your chickens in one basket = don't put all your spawns in one container, pain in the butt = pain in the glutes...yes, these all came from one book. No, it wasn't Path of Destruction, which is the final consideration in my recommending it to anyone with an interest in the Star Wars extended universe, or anyone who knows a bit about Star Wars and wants to read an interesting character study on evil.

Sorry it's so late, but my time machine broke so I couldn't go back in time to post it on sunday.

--The Un-Answered Question of Flynn

1 comment:

Any said...

Yay for lack of retarded Star-Warsizing of common phrases! That gets old /really/ quick. :P

I stopped reading any of the SW extended universe stuff last year, after about 5 years of trying to catch up. I ended up reading quite a lot of the books (imho anyway), but it got old, and totally, incredibly different from the original movies that I first fell in love with.