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The Darth Bane series is a trilogy of books by Drew Karpyshyn set during the period of the New Sith Wars (roughly 1,000 years before the events of the Phantom Menace). It chronicles the life of Dessel, a cortosis ore miner that joins the Sith and eventually becomes Darth Bane, the first Lord of the Sith Order that eventually spawned Emperor Palpatine. The first book Darth Bane: Path of Destruction was followed by Darth Bane: Rule of Two, and the series concluded in Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil, which was released on December 8, 2009.

The books are unusual in the Star Wars universe in that they are from the perspective of a character aligned to the Sith. Even more unusual, no attempt is made to portray the actions of Darth Bane as heroic or noble. Instead, Bane slowly descends ever deeper into corruption and eventually becomes as evil as one would expect the Dark Lord of the Sith to be.

Related to the Darth Bane books is an older comic book series entitled Jedi vs. Sith, which is set around the same time as the last part of Path of Destruction and explains how Zannah and her cousins (Darovit and Hardin) arrived on Ruusan during the final battle between the Jedi and the Sith. Although Bane is technically the Big Bad in this series, his appearances are sporadic. The story focuses mainly on Tomcat (Darovit) and Bug (Hardin) and is arguably closer in tone to The Lord of the Rings than Star Wars. Elements of the series are incorporated into the Bane books in Broad Strokes.

The stories contain the following tropes:

  • Academy of Adventure: The Korriban Academy.
  • The Ace: General Kiel Charny in Jedi vs. Sith.
  • Adaptation Distillation: According to some. The second half of the first book coincides with the events of the earlier Jedi vs Sith comic book series. Some fans feel that the portrayal of events here is more in keeping with the style of Star Wars than that series (which was occasionally characterised as Lord of the Rings with swoops and lightsabres").*
  • Affably Evil: Darth Cognus
  • Animesque: The Jedi vs. Sith comic series.
  • The Antichrist: Bane extensively researches the Sith'ari prophecy that is the Sith's equivalent to the Chosen One. Since he believes the Force is there for him to command, instead of vice versa, he discounts the prophecy, but if the Sith'ari does exist it's probably Bane himself.
  • Badass: Bane in a nutshell. Some might say too much. Jedi Master Hoth also qualifies to a large extent despite not being the star.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Bane and Rain have this dynamic pre-timeskip in DB:ROT, although it is darker than most examples.
  • Book Dumb: Subverted. It's implied that much of Bane's knowledge of the Force comes entirely from his diligent study of Old Sith lore. It's especially impressive when you realize that Bane was a miner with little-to-no formal education and no training in the Force whatsoever until he was in his mid-twenties. Completely averted when Bane becomes a true Sith Lord.
  • Break the Cutie: Poor Rain. All she had left in the world was a cute fuzzy alien friend, and it got shot. Her reaction? Killing the Jedi that shot her friend, then deciding to ditch her nickname of "Rain" and use her real name of Zannah to become Bane's apprentice.
  • Broad Strokes: The events of Jedi vs. Sith and Bane of the Sith are incorporated into the story and slightly altered. Some fans of the comics pilloried Karphyshyn for this, but he was only able to do so because of LucasBook's permission.
  • Canon Dis Continuity: DB: POD replaces Jedi vs. Sith and DB: ROT replaces Bane of the Sith in official continuity. And of course, some fans complain about that.
  • Close-Call Haircut: Lightsaber duels are serious business.
  • The Chessmaster: They aren't brought to light, but it's shown that Bane has a network of spies and long reaching plans to take control of the Galaxy. He thinks it'll take a hundred years. It took a Thousand.
  • Continuity Nod: The Temple of the Rakata on Lehon, the Korriban Academy (both from Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic), and Bane's curved lightsaber hilt that resembles Count Dooku's are just a few.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Bane himself suffers only one in the series when first dueling Sirak; he reverses it later on. Played straight when any enemy who isn't a Jedi or Force user fights against Bane almost always loses immediately.
  • The Dandy: Lord Farfalla, who is initially treated as a bit of a joke by the Sith.
  • Dark Action Girl: Bane's apprentice Darth Zannah, once she grows up.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Awesomely subverted in that the Brotherhood of Darkness does this spiel with Bane. Bane thinks its weak.
  • The Dark Side: Obviously.
  • Deadly Upgrade: The orbalisks in the second novel. Increased strength and armor that can resist lightsaber strikes -- at the cost of chronic pain and having one's life drained away.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bug in the comics.
  • Deconstruction: And Reconstruction as well. The books show the Republic in all its corrupt and evil glory plus the perspective of the Sith. At the end of the day, you realize that the Jedi Knights are entirely right that there's something fundamentally wrong with the Sith.
  • Determinator: Bane wouldn't be nearly so cool if not for this factor.
  • Downer Ending: The Jedi destroy the Sith but only at the cost of their army's greatest leader and ninety-nine other Jedi. And Bane, who no one even knows exists, is left alone to found the order that will nearly destroy them. The end of the second novel is even worse.
  • Evil Is Old Fashioned: The Brotherhood considers Bane a throwback to the Sith's pointless and destructive past, largely because of his uncompromising preference for the rule of the strong as per tradition. Even the (mostly nominal) minimal pretenses of equality made by the Brotherhood are too much for Bane.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Invoked with Githany, who tries to seduce Bane into doing what she wants. Subverted in the fact that Zannah, while described as "strikingly attractive" has one described sexual encounter, which is undertaken for the express purpose of getting people killed.
  • Evil Mentor: Qordis and Kas'im, and later Bane himself.
  • Expy: From his description, Qordis seems just a little bit too much like Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: The Sith and Jedi caught in the Thought Bomb's radius are reduced to fragments of their consciousness, and are trapped in that state forever in caverns under the Valley of the Jedi. At least until Kyle Katarn, the prophesied "knight that never was", swings by and frees their spirits with the power of his Memetic Badassery. But that's a different series, and a good thousand years later. Some of the Sith spirits hang around even then. Also what happens to Bane when he fails to possess Zannah.
  • Freudian Excuse: Darth Bane was abused as a child by his father and grew up on an armpit of a planet. Bizarrely, while it's easy to see how this shaped him into a monster, he makes no attempt to justify his actions with it.
    • He doesn't need excuses. He's fine with being a Complete Monster.
      • Bane is a bit of a Deconstruction of a Complete Monster. He understands he has a blurred sense of morality and does not find any pleasure in killing or torturing people unless he felt they deserved it.
  • Genius Bruiser: Tall, muscular, and intimidating yet has extensive knowledge of Sith lore and creates convoluted long-term strategies with enormous benefits to the Sith in the end, Bane pretty much qualifies.
  • Good Is Dumb: Darovit doesn't seem to grasp the fact that after ten years of Bane's tutelage, Zannah isn't the little girl he grew up with. He tries to convince her to turn Bane over to the Jedi and ask their forgiveness for her own actions, doesn't end well for him. And the Jedi Knights have a remarkably low opinion of a Sith Lord who supposedly killed their greatest remaining Jedi Master and a strike team of combat veterans when they kill an insane barely Force-sensitive Darovit and assume it's him. Then again, Zannah's message to the Jedi that Caleb forces her to send before he'll heal Bane is intentionally vague.
  • Harmful to Minors: Poor Rain. Ironically, she suffers more from the actions of the Jedi(recruited to fight a war, one cousin dead, the killing of her friend) than from Bane. Bane is a stern taskmaster who is intent on turning her into the perfect evil apprentice, but he never abuses her.
  • Hero Antagonist: The entire Jedi Order largely plays this role.
  • Heroic BSOD: Bane goes through one of these after Sirak defeats him.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Bane (6' 7") and Zannah (in the neighborhood of 5' 5").
  • Hypocrite: Bane only reached his potential due to others helping him; Groshik helped him evade arrest, Kopecz overrode his execution order, and he got out of his stupor thanks to Githany. If he had followed his logic he would have been one of the weaklings he despised.
    • In a sense, Bane did follow his logic. Bane acknowledged other people helped him but believed it was unwise to dwell on it or form sentimental attachment, effectively taking Groshik's final advice to heart.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Bane has no friends, which turns out to be Fridge Brilliance when you look back on the series and realize it. He does have comrades-in-arms once he joins the Sith army, but comes to realize that at the end of the day, the only one he can truly rely on is himself.
    • Also subverted, since he is extremely effectual.
  • Immortality Immorality: Of the body snatching evil spirit variety.
  • Infant Immortality: Subverted big time.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Jedi Master Hoth.
  • Made of Iron: Bane.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Bane, when he destroys the Brotherhood by playing on Kaan's ego. In the sequel, a hallucination of Kaan pays him back from beyond the grave when he tricks Bane into using a Deadly Upgrade in the form of parasitic orbalisks.
  • Master Swordsman: Blademaster Kas'im, Jedi Battlemaster Raskta Lsu, and Bane. Bane gets special mention as he outfought both Kas'im and Raskta.
  • Mind Rape: This is one of Zannah's most-utilized powers, from her tutelage in Sith sorcery. She first does it to Cynda on Serenno when she imagines Cynda and Kel in bed together, then later uses it to get the upper hand on Sarro Xaj when she and Bane are fighting the Jedi strike team on Tython. She kills Xaj after Mind Raping him, but Cynda isn't so lucky, with her mind torn apart and a tiny bit of it imprisoned in torment until her physical body eventually dies.
  • Modern Stasis: Averted in the comics, which feature more old-fashioned weapons alongside lightsabres and blasters.
  • Morality Chain: The death of Rain's bouncer friend turns her from a troubled young girl into a murderous sociopath at a very young age.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero / Create Your Own Villain: Three Republic soldiers, Sith Lt. Ulabore, Bane's father Hurst, and two Jedi inadvertently caused Bane and Zannah to become Sith Lords.
  • Neck Snap: Overlaps with Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight.
  • Not So Different: According to Bane, Kaan's Brotherhood and the Jedi. Under Kaan, the Sith worked together for a greater good as equals, fought with some honor, and mostly ignored the precedents set by Darth Revan and other ancient Sith in favor of policies that promote unity and cooperation rather than infighting. Bane, who revered Revan, considers the Brotherhood a perversion of nature, and has little more than contempt for its members.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: When Zannah first meets Set in his home, he seems to be partially drunk and--rather than ask Zannah what the hell she's doing breaking into his residence--asks her if she followed him home from the party out of lust for him, inviting her onto the couch with him. Zannah curses herself for ever thinking that such an idiot could make a suitable apprentice and lets her guard which point Set drops the act and springs into action, nearly slicing her to pieces.
  • Papa Wolf: Caleb the healer. He stands up to a Sith Lord with nothing but sheer willpower (and douses his own arm into boiling water to show his determination) to keep his daughter hidden and safe. It doesn't work, but he still gets points for trying.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Bane spares Caleb after the latter heals him in the first book since he might need his abilities again.
    • This trait along with Combat Pragmatist are the reasons Bane defeats virtually all the enemies he encounters in the series.
  • The Rival: Sirak is this for Bane. It doesn't last.
  • Rich Bitch: Serra sort of starts out as this. She got better, only to be killed by Darth Cognus
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Everyone seems to know of every unimportant planet or person in the galaxy, like Onderon or Caleb, and The Republic is still using the same ship classes that were used during the war with Darth Revan's Sith, some 3000 years earlier.
  • Shout-Out: Lots of them to Knights of the Old Republic and Jedi vs. Sith. Fittingly enough given the fandom's above-mentioned "Lord of The Rings with swoops and lightsabers" comment about Jedi vs. Sith, there is a passage in the latter part of Path of Destruction (when Kaan's swoop-mounted Sith Lords are attacking Hoth's ground forces) that is almost a word-for-word rewrite of Eomer's thoughts during the Battle of The Pellenor Fields in The Return of The King.
  • The Social Darwinist: Bane and by extension, Zannah.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Bane is flat out an amoral monster. Somehow the author makes him likable despite it.
  • Soft Water: Averted Hard. Johun barely survives a fifty meter dive into the ocean and breaks some of his ribs. His opponent he was holding onto at the time gets a Neck Snap from the resulting surface tension and dies.
  • Start of Darkness: For both Bane (POD) and Zannah (the last bit of POD and all of ROT).
  • Stone Wall: Bane trained Zannah in Soresu, a defensive style normally used by Jedi.

 Zannah: Defense will not slay my enemy.

Bane: You lack the physical strength required for the powerful attacking strikes of Djem So or the other aggressive forms. You must rely on quickness, cunning and, most of all, patience to best your enemies.

  • Stop Helping Me!: A definite case for Sarro Xaj during the Duel on Tython. Zannah herself remarks that had Johun Othone not consistently got in the way of the more skilled Xaj while trying to double-team Zannah she would've died. Arguably Johun's lack of skill lead to the death of the entire strike team of Jedi.
    • Given the fact one of the opponents was Darth Bane, a Sith Lord winning single-handedly against two Jedi Masters assisted by battle meditation, the strike team probably would have been killed more quickly without Johun's help. And to be fair, Xaj let his guard down in the middle of the duel with Zannah.
      • If Johun had stopped diving into Sarro's attacks, Zannah'd be dead. If Johun had managed to just take off Bane's hands without messing up, they'd have won. Really, Johun was a ridiculous joke in that fight.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Bane lived a truly crappy life until the Sith "rescued" him and unwittingly sealed their doom.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Zannah, kind of. In the books she's either ten(POD), twenty(ROT) or in her early to mid-thirties(DOE), but Rule of Two throws in some flashbacks of her training at twelve and fourteen.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Which seems to describe Darovit in a nutshell.
    • Terrorists Cyndra and Paak flee during an attempt to kill a politician after the single Jedi guard kills a few of their comrades and their leader kills another who tries to retreat. They flee themselves, though it turns out their leader alone was a match for the Jedi, and if they'd stuck around and helped the mission likely would have succeeded. Later when they capture Zannah(who tricked them into the attack) and find a lightsaber on her, they decide she must have stolen it and continue to take her to a meeting with their mysterious leader. There's no mention of mind tricks so these trained assassins completely ignore the possibility she's a force user all under their own mental power. Later, when Zannah reveals she is indeed a force user, both attack her with physical means one at a time. Paak is particularly stupid and tries to stab her with a knife while she's bound, and despite the fact that Zannah had already (and unmistakably) dispatched Cyndra with the force while bound, is still completely surprised when Zannah uses the force to free herself and avoid the attack. Plus, Zannah infiltrated the terrorist organization by posing as a sympathetic embassy worker. Nobody bothered to check out her story.
    • At the end of Rule of Two, the Jedi strike team coming to capture an incapacitated Bane is tricked by Zannah into killing Darovit instead. Despite the fact that Darovit is clearly not a Sith (much less capable of killing five Jedi) nor injured, the Jedi close the case without a second thought and leave without looking around, when a cursory examination of the evidence would have clearly shown the Sith were still alive. It's not even as if they didn't really believe the Sith were there-they did. They even leave Banes ship untouched, so he and Zannah can quickly escape after they leave. Plus the vaguely worded message Caleb forced Zannah to send that brought the Jedi in the first place said that only said there was one Sith, not two. Caleb was either was dumb enough to let Zannah compose the message herself or saw it and didn't object to it leaving out the second Sith. Then again, he couldn't have known that the plot would bend over backwards to ensure Bane and Zannahs' survival.
    • Lucia, Serra's bodyguard, could be qualified as this. When Serra has Bane at her mercy, she tortures him mercilessly. Lucia is horrified at her mistress's behaviour. So at the first opportunity, she releases Bane and tries to go get the Princess. She did this because she was a young soldier who served under Bane in the war and she felt she owed him after all those years. She also did it because she was trying to get her mistress to realize that torturing Bane was not the way to avenge Serra's father. Sadly, she ended up encountering Bane before she could reach Serra. She actually tried to appeal to whatever goodness or remnants of Dessel was left in Bane. It did not work. She failed to understand that a true Sith Lord has no goodness to appeal to. Although Lucia's plea did cause Bane to hesitate long enough so Zannah killed Lucia instead
  • Tyke Bomb: Rain who becomes Darth Zannah.
  • Ubermensch: Bane may be one of Star Wars few genuine examples as he doesn't bother trying to justify himself. Bane just is.
  • Unholy Nuke: The Thought Bomb from Path of Destruction is one such example; using Sith energy, it obliterates all Force-sensitives (and for those close enough, all life-forms) within its radius, including the Sith who used it.
  • Villain Protagonist: One of Star Wars' few examples.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: In the Jedi vs. Sith Comic Darovit has an extremely idealised view of Jedi and is horrified when they turn out to be as vulnerable as anyone else, which leads to him killing General Charny and briefly joining the Sith.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Lord Kaan is driven mad by the pressures of the war mixed with the temptations of the Thought Bomb.
  • Word of God: Author Drew Karpyshyn purposely wrote the aftermath of the battle between Bane and Zannah to insinuate that not all of Bane had died, and that a part of him remained in Zannah, though she had won the fight. But many fans took this to mean that Bane won and cast Zannah out, leading to Bane being in Zannah's body, and Karpyshyn finally had to post a clarification on his website where he gave the answer and apologized for writing the scene that way.
  • Worthy Opponent: Kopecz, who has the respect of some of the Jedi Masters.
    • Unsurprising given like Kaan and many of the Brotherhood of Sith, he was a former Jedi Master.
    • Kas'im could also qualify; initially it looks like Bane can beat him in a straight-up lightsaber duel after taking a level in badass, but this turns out not to be the case and Kas'im gains the advantage by switching tactics. Bane decides to forget about trying to beat the guy with a lightsaber and blasts him with the Force...but Kas'im is able to shield himself from its effects. (Unfortunately for him, the structure he's standing under does not hold up quite as well.)
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