Darth Bane: Rule of Two is the follow-up novel to 2006's Darth Bane: Path of Destruction. It was a replacement for the then-canceled Darth Plagueis novel. It recounts the story of Darth Bane and his apprentice Darth Zannah after the Seventh Battle of Ruusan.
A preview of Rule of Two is available in the paperback release of Allegiance, released the same day as Rule of Two. The paperback was released on October 28, 2008. The paperback has an excerpt of the Millennium Falcon novel.
- ISBN 0345477480; December 26, 2007; Del Rey; 318-page hardcover
- ISBN 0345477499; October 28, 2008; Del Rey; 352-page paperback
- ISBN 9780593358818 and ISBN 0593358813; September 7, 2021; Del Rey; 320-page The Essential Legends Collection paperback
Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody the power, the other to crave it.
Now Darth Bane is ready to put his policy into action, and he thinks he has found the key element that will make his triumph complete: a student to train in the ways of the dark side. Though she is young, Zannah possesses an instinctive link to the dark side that rivals his own. With his guidance, she will become essential in his quest to destroy the Jedi and dominate the galaxy.
There is one who is determined to stop Darth Bane: Johun Othone, Padawan to Jedi Master Lord Hoth, who died at Bane's hands in the last great Sith War. Though the rest of the Jedi scoff at him, Johun's belief that there are surviving Sith on the loose is unshakeable.
As Johun continues his dogged pursuit of the man who killed his master, Zannah, faced unexpectedly with a figure from her past, begins to question her embrace of the dark side. And Darth Bane is led by Force–induced visions of a moon where he will acquire astonishing new knowledge and power—power that will alter him in ways he could never have imagined...
As the last surviving Sith, Darth Bane promulgated a harsh new directive: the Rule of Two. Determined to put this policy into action, Darth Bane thinks he has found the perfect apprentice. Zannah, though young, possesses an instinctive link to the dark side that rivals his own. Under Darth Bane's tutelage, she will become essential in his quest to destroy the Jedi and dominate the galaxy.
But there is one who is determined to stop Darth Bane: Johun Othone, Padawan to Jedi Master Lord Hoth, who died at Bane's hands in the Sith War. Though the rest of the Jedi scoff at him, Johun's belief that there are surviving Sith is unshakeable. But not even Johun could foresee the astonishing new knowledge and power that Darth Bane discovers through Force–induced visions—power that will alter him in ways he could never have imagined.
The prologue features a Force-sensitive adolescent, Darovit, who is curious as to how he survived the thought bomb that had been detonated at the end of the previous novel. He enters the cavern where the thought bomb was activated and finds a strange orb floating in midair. After touching it, he becomes exposed to the thoughts of all those who were killed by the bomb and is overwhelmed by them.
Darth Bane and his new apprentice Zannah are still on Ruusan after the destruction of the Brotherhood of Darkness during the Seventh Battle of Ruusan. Bane begins Zannah's instruction by making her relive her memories of her friend Laa's death and so that she can learn how to channel her anger at will. They head toward the former Sith encampment, where Bane kills a group of mercenaries who were looting the camp, but allows two to escape to spread rumors of the Sith's continued existence.
In Qordis' tent, Zannah and Bane find an unexpected treasure: a Sith manuscript revealing the location of the tomb of Freedon Nadd, a legendary Sith Lord from some three thousand years earlier. Bane then leads Zannah into the cave where the thought bomb was detonated to show her what Kaan's beliefs led to. Zannah is horrified by the feelings emanating from the orb, while Bane indoctrinates her with his Rule of Two. In the cave, they encounter Darovit, who is revealed to be Zannah's cousin. Darovit attacks Bane, believing her to be Bane's captive. Knowing that her new master would kill Darovit in an instant, Zannah instead stops Darovit by destroying his right hand with the Force, telling Bane that the boy's death would serve no purpose. After leaving the cave, Bane informs Zannah that he will meet her on Onderon in ten days, and that she will have to find her own way there as her first test. Bane then boards the Valcyn and left Ruusan, headed for Nadd's tomb on Dxun, Onderon's moon.
Meanwhile, Johun Othone, former Padawan of General Hoth, hears the two surviving mercenaries' story of being attacked by a Sith Lord. Johun attempts to convince Jedi Master Valenthyne Farfalla that a Sith has survived, but Farfalla quickly dismisses the mercenaries' story. He then tells Johun that he will take Johun on as his apprentice, and they have been ordered to return to Coruscant and meet with the Supreme Chancellor.
Now alone, Zannah manages to locate a Galactic Republic shuttle crewed by a soldier, a farmer, and his two sons. She accepts a meal, and tells them, when questioned, that she needs to get to Onderon, where she has family. When the shuttle prepares to rejoin the Republic fleet, Zannah makes her move, intending to hold the crew hostage in exchange for passage to Onderon. One of the farmers' sons catches her stealing a blaster, and in the ensuing struggle Zannah kills him by shooting him with it. She then kills the farmer as well and orders the soldier to set an autopilot course for Onderon. She then kills the woman when she didn't comply, along with the other boy.
In the aftermath of the thought bomb, Bane begins seeing hallucinations of Kaan and Qordis, and as he flies to Dxun, the vision of Qordis goads him, causing Bane to lash out with the Force and seriously damage the Valcyn. Despite the damage Bane is able to crash land on Dxun and enter the tomb of Freedon Nadd. As Bane attempts to retrieve a holocron from the burial chamber, he is attacked by orbalisks, parasitic creatures native to Dxun. Two of the creatures attach themselves to his body before he can escape and Bane quickly realizes that he cannot remove them. Nadd's holocron described his own experiences with the orbalisks: they feed on the dark side, release enzymes that increase physical strength and the power to draw on the dark side, grant incredible regenerative powers, and their shells offer protection against any weapon, including lightsabers. The holocron also warns they cause constant pain, multiply and spread over the entire body, and if one died, it would release a lethal poison that would kill him within days. Using his increased power to drive the phantoms of Kaan and Qordis from his mind permanently, Bane mentally dominates a drexl, a flying reptile, and uses the Force to encase it and himself in a cocoon of dark side energy and fly the few hundred kilometers through open space to Onderon.
Zannah lands her stolen shuttle on Onderon, and is confronted by a group of threatening Onderon Beast Riders. Bane arrives at that moment, killing the riders and returning with his apprentice to her shuttle. On Coruscant, the Galactic Senate passes a resolution disbanding the Jedi's military forces. Master Farfalla assigns Johun to the Chancellor's personal guard and promotes him to a full Jedi Knight.
Ten years later Zannah has grown into a beautiful young woman, training in the rare arts of Sith sorcery. She had to learn much of the dangerous power by herself because, while Bane provided her with some spells and techniques from Nadd's holocron, his own skills in that area were limited. Bane sends her on a mission to goad a separatist movement on the world of Serenno into acting against their government. Zannah seduces the separatists' second in command, an affluent Twi'lek named Kelad'den, and feeds them information about former Chancellor Valorum's upcoming visit to Serenno. The group decided to kidnap him.
Zannah returns to her and Bane's home on Ambria. In her absence, Bane has attempted to create his own holocron and failed, destroying the camp in his anger. Concerned for her master's future and slightly conflicted over her physical attraction to Kel, Zannah questions whether the orbalisks are helping Bane or harming him now. She realizes from Bane's reaction to her question that Bane also wonders the same thing, and hopes that he will eventually find a way to rid himself of the orbalisks.
Back on Serenno, the separatists stage their kidnapping. Johun, however, still acting as Valorum's guard, and manages to prevent the kidnapping and kill most of the Separatists, including Kel. Zannah, is accosted by the two surviving members, Cyndra and Paak, when she returns to is taken to the separatists' financial backer, a middle-aged man named Hetton who has been trained in the dark side and asked to become Zannah's apprentice. After Zannah defeats Cyndra and Paak, Hetton shows her his library of rare Sith artifacts and tells her of his first master's stronghold on the planet Tython, where the Jedi and Sith first came to power. Zannah takes Hetton and his eight Umbaran Shadow Assassins with her back to Ambria.
The assassins attack Bane, who kills them and Hetton before turning on Zannah. She manages to hold his attacks off long enough to tell him that Hetton knew where to find information about how to make a working holocron. This piques Bane's curiosity and he wonders if perhaps the orbalisks were part of his inability to create a holocron. He resolves to rid himself of the orbalisks and heads to Tython to find Hetton's master's base. He also assigns Zannah to enter the Jedi Temple Library and find information about how to remove the orbalisks from the massive data archives. Zannah succeeds in her mission by disguising herself as a missing Jedi and using her Sith sorcery to mask her Force presence.
As a favor for Johun's saving his life, Valorum asks the Senate to commission a memorial to the Jedi forces who died on Ruusan. Darovit, living a reclusive existence as a healer on Ruusan, is angered by this and sabotages the construction effort until Johun tracks him down. Upon questioning Darovit, Johun learns that his hand was destroyed by his cousin Zannah, and that she had been accompanied by Bane. Taking Darovit with him back to Coruscant, Johun leaves him in the Library while he tries to secure an audience with the Jedi Council. Zannah finds the information she needs in the Library, though a momentary lapse of concentration allows Darovit to sense her true identity. When she finds out that he has told the Jedi about her and Bane, Zannah takes him with her to Tython to warn Bane and then escape. When Johun and Farfalla discover that Darovit is missing from the library, they trace the records on the terminal Zannah had been using, revealing a hyperspace route to Tython. Farfalla now believes that the Sith survived and begins assembling a Jedi task force to destroy the Sith once and for all.
On Tython, Bane learns how to successfully create a holocron from Hetton's master Belia Darzu's own holocron after but is interrupted when Zannah and Darovit arrive. She warns Bane that the Jedi are on their way, but before they can leave, the Jedi ship enters the atmosphere. With no choice but to stand and fight, Zannah shuts Darovit in a small closet and she and Bane face their opponents. During the ensuing lightsaber duel, Johun happened to strike at a part of Bane's body not covered by any of the orbalisks. The Jedi are all killed, but Bane is severely injured when his own Force lightning is turned against him. Several of the orbalisks were also killed by the lightning attack. Realizing she still needs Bane's teachings, Zannah takes Bane and Darovit to Ambria in search of the healer Caleb, who had saved Bane's life previously.
On Ambria, Caleb refuses to help, having sent his daughter away years prior to deprive Bane of leverage against him should he return. Zannah threatens him with physical pain and her sorcery and his death, but to no avail. Darovit tries to dissuade Zannah from the path of the Sith, telling her that Caleb has agreed to help Bane on the condition that Zannah sabotage their ship and send a message to the Jedi Council telling them of Bane's location. Zannah finally agrees, and Caleb removes the orbalisks and heals Bane's injuries. When Bane was strong enough to understand, Zannah tells him of the bargain she made to save his life. Bane orders Zannah to kill him rather than become a prisoner of the Jedi. Zannah refuses, and a still weak Bane collapses back onto his bedding. Realizing that Bane's mental faculties are undiminished, she rises from his side and activates her lightsaber.
A Jedi strike team lands on Ambria and discovers a dismembered body at Caleb's camp. As they approach Caleb's shack a one-handed man swinging Farfalla's lightsaber emerges and attacked them wildly. The Jedi quickly overpower and kill him. After finding the lightsabers of Farfalla's companions inside the shelter, they conclude that this last Sith had been wounded in the battle on Tython and then driven himself insane by attempting to use the dark side to heal his injuries. They overlook the pit under the shelter where Zannah hides herself and Bane with her sorcery.
Several days later, Bane finally awakens. Zannah informs him that she killed Caleb and broke Darovit's mind with her powers, and that Darovit was then killed by the Jedi when they arrived. Bane asks her why she saved him, and Zannah reminded him that he still has much to teach her. Bane admits that he underestimated her and that he was proud of her. Zannah then warns him:
- "One day I will surpass you. And on that day, I will kill you, Lord Bane. But that day is not today."
- ―Darth Zannah
- "Shelly called me late last week to propose an additional hardcover this fall. THIS fall. Yep. Del Rey figured the market could bear one more, and since the Darth Bane novel was a hit, a follow-up, written by Drew, seemed the best idea. So the untitled Feb. 09 hardcover (previously the "Plagueis" novel) has been moved up, and Drew agreed to continue Bane's story. So we're off and running."
- ―Sue Rostoni on the Bane Sequel
This novel is noteworthy for being a very late addition to the publishing schedule, as Rostoni describes above. When asked about the roughly five-month production time the book would have to fit into, she called it "almost unrealistic".
On page 6, Zannah is misspelled as Zanah.
Three times in a row Johun was misspelled as "John" and "Johan."
On page 275, Raskta Lsu is misspelled as "Raska".
The novel introduces a curious contradiction in Darth Bane's philosophical views. In Legacy (2006) 5, the gatekeeper of Bane's holocron argues with Darth Krayt and states that "power is its own purpose", however in the novel Bane himself explains to Zannah that "power is only a means to an end. It is not an end in itself."
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