"First, as is apparent from that spectacular cover, the book features Vader and Palpatine. It also features a character who I'm not allowed to name just yet, but who appeared in The Clone Wars animated series. In terms of where it fits in the timeline, Lords of the Sith is set after the Revenge of the Sith film and before the forthcoming Rebels television show."
―Paul S. Kemp[4]

Lords of the Sith is a canon novel written by Paul S. Kemp. It was published on April 28, 2015 by Del Rey. The story is set in the year 14 BBY, and it connects with stories from the television shows Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. The audiobook version was narrated by Jonathan Davis.

Publisher's summary[]

"It appears things are as you suspected, Lord Vader. We are indeed hunted."

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor's chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader's allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.

On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as "spice," an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.

For Syndulla and Isval, it's the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet's surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries.

Plot summary[]


Eight years after the beginning of the Clone Wars, the Emperor and Darth Vader ruled the Galactic Empire. The Empire faced several pockets of resistance including the Free Ryloth Movement, led by the former Twi'lek freedom fighter Cham Syndulla. While Ryloth is a nominally independent protectorate, the planet is occupied by Imperial forces, who view Ryloth as a vital source of spice and slaves. After meditating aboard the Imperial Star Destroyer Perilous, Vader is informed by Captain Luitt of an incident at the Yaga Minor shipyards.

Meanwhile, Cham and his Lieutenant Isval are on a starship bridge when they receive word that their comrade, Pok, has stolen an Imperial freighter as part of the mission to hijack an Imperial weapons shipment. However, Pok's stolen freighter is being pursued by several Imperial V-wing starfighters, led by Darth Vader in his personal Eta-2 interceptor. Under Vader's orders, the pilots fired on the freighter's aft shields and disabled the ship's engines. Vader then ejected himself from his starfighter, and boarded the ship by ramming his starfighter into the last remaining gun turret.

Once aboard, Vader orders the squadron leader to escort the disabled freighter. He then makes his way through the ship and systematically kills the Twi'lek hijackers. Vader fights his way to the ship's bridge to personally kill Pok. Cham and Isval listen to Vader's murderous rampage aboard the freighter via intercom, and order their forces to return to Ryloth. Reeling from the loss of his friend Pok, Cham decides to shift from "half measures" and attempts take out the Empire's leaders: the Emperor and Darth Vader.

Plots in motion[]

Back on Coruscant, Vader and the Emperor hold an audience with Ryloth's collaborationist Senator Orn Free Taa, who was widely regarded as a puppet of the Empire. Due to the disruption of Ryloth's spice trade, caused by the Free Ryloth rebels, the Emperor and Lord Vader have decided to accompany Senator Taa on an official investigative visit to Ryloth. The Emperor has arranged for Senator Taa, his staff, Vader, and himself to travel to Ryloth aboard the Star Destroyer Perilous. Following Taa's departure, the Emperor reveals to Vader that his visit was merely a ruse, and the real reason was to expose a traitor; one who has been leaking information to the Free Ryloth movement.

Later on Ryloth, Cham receives an encrypted message that Senator Taa, the Emperor and Vader will be traveling to Ryloth aboard an Imperial Star Destroyer. Cham discusses this news with Isval via comlink. The two then decide to contact their Imperial spy Colonel Belkor Dray, to ascertain the reliability of this information. If Belkor is aware about Vader and Palpatine's visit, Cham's first thought was that it would be a trap. But if he is not aware, Cham sees it as a perfect opportunity to topple the Empire's leadership, and free Ryloth from Imperial rule.

Meanwhile, Colonel Belkor visits Moff Delian Mors, the governor of Ryloth, who lives at a luxurious command center on Ryloth's largest moon. Belkor resents Moff Mors for her decadent lifestyle, indolence and her dealings with criminal elements like Nashi the Hutt. During the visit, Belkor and Mors discuss the recent failed attempt made by the Ryloth rebels, who to steal an Imperial weapons shipment. The two discuss how deeply embedded the Free Ryloth movement is into the fabric of Twi'lek society. Belkor is aware of Orn Free Taa's upcoming visit and plans to arrange his assassination in order to discredit Moff Mors.

Later that night, Belkor travels for a secret meeting with Cham near Ryloth's cave network. After exchanging pleasantries, Cham questions Belkor about Senator Taa's upcoming visit to Ryloth. Belkor is aware of Taa's upcoming visit, but does not know about the Emperor or Vader. During the course of the meeting, Belkor threatens to end his relationship with Cham and to release a data disk of all the movement's bases, and leadership in the event of his death. However, Cham outplays the Imperial officer by threatening to disclose recordings of their previous meetings; thus exposing him as a traitor to the Empire. In the end, Belkor agrees to provide information to the Ryloth rebels in return for allowing Cham to using Taa's assassination to discredit Mors, and to boost his own political career. Based on the information they could glean from their meeting with Belkor, Cham and Isval decide to proceed with their plan to assassinate the Emperor and Vader.

Later, Isval travels to the Octagon, a district in the heart of the Ryloth city of Lessu. There, she encounters a Twi'lek escort named Ryiin and a drunken Imperial officer. After assaulting the Imperial officer, she spirits Ryiin away into a new home where she will be safe from the sex trade. A former escort, Isval wants to save other Twi'lek girls from the sex trade. For the next nine days, Cham and his rebels including Gobi Glie, Xira, and Kallon prepare their trap for the Perilous. Their trap included space mines, and a swarm of former Separatist Vulture droids.

Springing the trap[]

Ten days later, the Perilous arrives in the Ryloth system with Vader and the Emperor at the helm. Gobi and Cham quickly activate their mines which damage parts of the Star Destroyer. However, the shields are still up. Vader orders the Perilous to deploy its V-wing starfighter contingent. In response, Cham and his team activate a second wave of mines which "bleed" the Star Destroyer's remaining shields. Gobi then deploys several hundred Vulture droids against the Perilous. A dogfight ensues with Vader flying his interceptor alongside the Imperial pilots. Despite the efforts of the Imperial defenders, the Perilous begins to take damage from the mines and Vulture droids. The ship's guns are soon knocked out of commission.

In addition, the Free Ryloth movement has put teams of operatives aboard three repair shuttles, which will board the Perilous in order to hunt down and kill Vader and the Emperor. Meanwhile, Vader uses the Force to rip open the bellies of vulture droids and blow them up and their buzz droids cargo. At the Imperial headquarters, Colonel Belkor learns about the Ryloth rebels' attack on the Perilous. At Cham's command, he puts out a call for all available Ryloth repair ships to render assistance to the Perilous. Belkor had also arranged for the ambush by diverting patrol craft and flight clearances in a way that allowed Cham to move his ships into position using Mors's authorization. When contacted by Mors, Belkor feigns shock and dispatches repair ships to aid the Perilous. In secret, Belkor contacts Cham and expresses anger and shock that Cham is planning to kill the Emperor and Vader. Cham blackmails Belkor into helping him by threatening to expose his dealings with the Free Ryloth movement.

With the Perilous stricken by the Vulture droid attack, Cham proceeds with phase two of the assault. Isval and the other operatives board the Star Destroyer disguised as rescue personnel from the ship Repair Eighty-Three. They make their way to the engine room and plant explosives and kill Imperial personnel. At the command bridge, Vader attempts to Force choke Senator Taa but is restrained by the Emperor. Vader deduces that there is a spy among Taa's crew with the Emperor ordering his men to confine Taa's staff to their quarters. Vader intends to interrogate them once they reach Ryloth.

Using the Force, Vader hunts down and kills several of the Free Ryloth infiltrators with his lightsaber. Vader then heads to the hyperdrive chamber where Isval and her team including Eshgo and Faylin drill charges into the hyperdrive slab. Vader uses his lightsaber to force his way into the hyperdrive chamber but Isval's team manages to escape. Vader discovers the charges in the hyperdrive chamber and orders Captain Luitt to order an immediate evacuation of the Perilous. Despite being pursued by Vader, Isval and her team managed to escape on a stolen Imperial escort boat. Vader, the Emperor, and several Royal Guards manage to escape minutes before the Perilous blows up.

Hunting the Sith Lords[]

With the Perilous stricken, Isval and her team continue their hunt for the Emperor and Vader amidst Ryloth's crowded space. Cham deploys two dozen Droid tri-fighters to harass the Imperial V-wings and gets Belkor to send the Free Ryloth rebels the ship IDs of the Emperor's shuttle and Mors's transport. Belkor also aids Cham by ordering Imperial forces to delay rescue efforts and to do a full scan of the area first. Moff Mors learns about the Perilous's and develops a plan to shift blame onto Colonel Belkor in order to protect herself. While tri-fighters attack Imperial escape pods and Mors's transport, Isval and her team hunt for the Emperor's shuttle while corresponding with Cham.

Pursued by Isval's escort shuttle, Vader takes command of the Emperor's shuttle and Force chokes Isval and Eshgo. Isval manages to avoid death by ramming her ship into the Emperor's shuttle. The impact damages both ships and they plummet into Ryloth's atmosphere. While flying the stricken shuttle, Vader is haunted by memories of Ahsoka Tano, Mace Windu, Plo Koon, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Padmé Amidala but uses his anger to burn these memories away. Vader manages to crashland the shuttle in Ryloth's equatorial forest. Several of the crew and guards are killed during the landing but Vader, the Emperor and two Royal Guards, the captain and Sergeant Erstin Deez, make it out alive. Vader and the Emperor see their situation as a test of their Sith powers.

While supervising rescue efforts, Belkor secretly resolves to kill the Emperor, Vader, and Moff Mors. Meanwhile, Isval and several of her fellow operatives survive the crash-landing but Eshgo, Drim, and Crost are killed. Isval vows to complete her mission to kill the Sith Lords so that her friends don't die in vain. Meanwhile, Cham and the surviving Free Ryloth ships fly to the night side of Ryloth to plan the next stages of their operation. Cham has exhausted most of the Free Ryloth movement's resources in taking down the Perilous but is still determined to kill the Emperor and Vader. Cham contacts Isval and they decide to destroy the Imperial communications station on the equator to impose a communications blackout.

Putting his plans into action, Cham contacts Belkor and tells him to allow an Imperial escort ship carrying Free Ryloth rebels to land at the Equatorial Communications Hub. In return, Belkor gets Cham to transmit the trajectory of Moff Mors ship since he wants to ensure that his political rival is actually dead. After learning that another rebel team led by Nordon has located the Emperor's wrecked shuttle, Isval and her remaining team fly their escort boat to the equatorial communications station and proceed to bomb the station's communications dishes. Their actions create a communication blackout which disrupts a Imperial efforts to rescue the Emperor, Vader, and Moff Mors.

Sith trials[]

Later, the Sith Lords and their Royal Guards are pursued by two Free Ryloth freighters. Vader and the Emperor use their dark side powers and Force lightning respectively to attack the freighters, causing them to crash into the forest. Meanwhile, Moff Mors survives her crash-landing only to discover that her pilot Breehld did not survive the crash. Mors comes to suspect that Belkor had a hand in the attack on the Perilous and that the Colonel diverted her to rescue operations in order to prevent her from taking command and to kill her. Mors flies her shuttle to Equatorial Command Hub and manages to establish contact with Major Steen Borkas. At the base, Mors and Borkas go over the recent events and deduce that they have a traitor within their ranks: Belkor. The two mobilize all available Imperial forces on Ryloth to find the Emperor and Vader and to foil Belkor and the Free Ryloth movement's plot.

Meanwhile, Isval and her team land their escort boat near Nordon's wrecked freighter; which had been downed by Vader and the Emperor. They discover that most of Nordon's team were killed during the crash and their bodies being devoured by large insectoid predators called gutkurrs. Isval and her team are attacked by the creatures and narrowly manage to escape back to their ship; losing four members. Elsewhere in the equatorial forest, Vader, the Emperor, and their two Royal Guards settle down in a forest clearing for the night. While meditating with his master, Vader is still haunted by his past as Anakin Skywalker but resolves to put these memories behind him. Shortly later, the Imperial party comes under attack from a pack of lyleks, vicious apex predators native to Ryloth.

In the skies above Ryloth's equator, Colonel Belkor leads a handpicked search-and-rescue team consisting of V-wing pilots whom he had managed to convinced that Moff Mors was the one conspiring with the Free Ryloth movement to bring down the Perilous. Belkor is traveling in a small search-and-rescue recon craft with his pilot Ophim. Approaching the damaged Equatorial Communications Hub, Belkor learns from the acting base commander Captain Narrin that Moff Mors, Borkas, and a squad of stormtroopers have embarked on a rescue mission to find the Emperor and Vader. Belkor convinces Ophir that Borkas is part of Mors' conspiracy and orders his team to hunt down Moff Mors and her forces. Meanwhile, Vader, the Emperor and the two Royal Guards fight off an entire horde of lyleks. At the Emperor's urging, the four retreat into a nearby tunnel and proceed to kill hundreds of lyleks in their path.

Later that night, Cham and Isval correspond with Kallon's team via intercom and learn that he has found the Emperor's shuttle. They find the bodies of several fallen Imperial personnel but see no sign of the Emperor and Vader. Cham and Isval vow to continue the hunt for the two Imperial leaders. Meanwhile, Belkor and Ophim's recon craft's ship sensors pick up Isval's stolen Imperial escort ship, Cham's native transport and a wrecked Imperial shuttle in the forest. In an attempt to prevent Ophim from discovering his dealings with Cham, Belkor shoots Ophim in the back of the head. After killing Ophim, Belkor contacts Cham to discuss their progress in hunting down the Emperor, Vader, and Moff Mors. Cham orders Belkor to use his V-wings to hunt down and kill Mors. They also agree to trick the V-wing pilots into bombing Vader and the Emperor once they have closed in on them. Elsewhere, Mors and Steen's men continue their search and rescue mission at night.

Cham and Isval's team eventually stumble on the Sith Lords' trail but discover lylek footprints. They follow these footprints into the lylek cave where they discover that Vader and the Emperor have slaughtered the entire lylek horde. Following a long and grueling battle, Vader slaughters the lylek queen at the Emperor's command. Sergeant Deez survives the battle but the Royal Guard captain is killed. Based on their encounter with the lyleks, the Emperor and Vader deduce that the Free Ryloth rebels plan to cut off the head of the Empire: the Sith Lords themselves. As daybreak approaches, Cham orders his lieutenants including Faylon and Kallon to avoid direct contact with the Sith Lords.

The conspiracy unravels[]

After emerging from the lylek tunnel, Vader, the Emperor and Deez encounter an adolescent Twi'lek girl named Drua. The Emperor attempts to kill her with his lightsaber but Vader prevents it. Vader convinces the Emperor that Drua can lead them to her village so that they can call for Imperial reinforcements. Meanwhile, strains emerge among Cham's team as the losses from the previous day's operation begin to sink in. Cham and Isval revise their earlier assessment that killing Vader and the Emperor would lead to the demise of the Empire. Instead, Isval hopes that by killing the two Imperial leaders they can start a rebellion against the Empire. Cham and his team decide to follow the Sith Lords' trail through the lylek tunnel.

Meanwhile, the Emperor, Vader, Deez arrive at Drua's Village where they are greeted by Narmn, the head of the village. Apart from blasters, the village lacks any other technologies including computers and vehicles. When Narmm asks the strangers for their identity, the Emperor introduces his party as "Krataa", "Irluuk", and the Sergeant respectively. Only Vader and the Emperor know that these pseudonyms were the ancient Sith words for "death " and "fate." Meanwhile, Cham, Isval and Goll discover the Sith Lords' trail. Cham decides that they only have one chance to stop the Sith Lords and that they must get it right.

Back at the Twi'lek village, the Emperor warns Vader that his decision to spare Drua would cost all the villagers their lives in the event of a Free Ryloth or Imperial attack. The two Sith Lords befriend the Twi'lek villagers including Drua's grandfather Mala with Vader offering to use his mechanical skills to repair a decades-old communication device. Meanwhile, Cham's team discovers that the Sith Lords have reached a Twi'lek village. Goll observes that the villagers are gathered in the village center for what appears to be a celebration. While flying the recon craft, Belkor is tormented by his actions and talks to the corpse of Ophim. Unable to contact Cham, he transmits his coordinates to the V-wing fighters and decides to find the rebel leader himself in order to extricate himself from his predicament.

Meanwhile, Moff Mors and Captain Steen's forces encounter one of Belkor's V-wing fighter pilots Wing Leader Arim Meensa. Meensa is about to shoot them down but Mors manages to convince the pilot that Belkor was the true traitor and had withheld information about Vader and the Emperor from them. After winning over Meensa, Mors issues orders for the Wing Leader not to carry out Belkor's orders to give the attack but to instead send the coordinates. Mor intends to land stormtroopers on the ground and tells Meensa to inform the five other V-wing pilots that Belkor is the true traitor. Meanwhile, Cham and Isval's forces assume positions around Drua's Village. Fearing that an impending Imperial crackdown is coming, Cham orders another lieutenant Kallon to initiate an organized retreat of the remaining Free Ryloth forces into the mountains. In order to survive the crackdown, he issues orders for the Free Ryloth rebels to break up into their constituent cells.

A dark showdown[]

After Vader finishes repairing the communicator in the midst of the awed villagers, the Emperor orders Deez to contact Moff Mors, who he knows is not a traitor. Sergeant Deez contacts Mors and informs her of the Emperor and Vader's coordinates. Mors orders her forces to travel to Drua's Village. Meanwhile, Belkor is contacted by his V-wing pilots and orders them to bomb Cham's forces and Drua's Village in an attempt to kill Cham, the Emperor and Vader. Belkor hopes to hide his dealings with Cham but is unaware that Mors has reasserted her command over his pilots. On the ground, Cham's forces prepare to launch their assault. Isval insists on proceeding with mission but Cham refuses to endanger the Twi'lek villages. As a compromise, Cham agrees to order his men to fire warning shots in order to warn the villages to flee into the mine shaft. Cham orders Belkor to send his V-wings to bomb the village but Belkor reveals that he plans to bomb Cham's rebels as well.

Before Belkor can put his plans into action, he is approached by Moff Mors's transport and shuttle. Back at Drua's Village, Cham's forces commence firings their warning shots and the villagers flee into the mine shaft. Drua tries to lead the Emperor and Vader into the tunnel but the Sith Lords refuse. Deez offers to stay at his Emperor's side. In the end, only the two Sith Lords and the Royal Guard are left standing alone in the village center. Believing their plan has worked, Isval tells Cham to give Belkor the orders to launch the V-wing airstrike. Meanwhile, Moff Mors confronts Belkor over his traitorous actions. Belkor tries to defend himself by attacking Mors's character and corruption but Mors counters that Belkor's actions have led to the deaths of hundreds of Imperials. Mors then orders Belkor's pilots to destroy the traitorous Colonel's ship, killing Belkor. After seeing Belkor's recon craft explode, Cham realizes his plan has fallen apart.

Having eliminated Belkor, Mors orders Captain Steen to land stormtroopers on either side of Cham's forces in the quarry and to dispatch another contingent to secure the Emperor. Mors then orders the V-wing pilots to shoot anything fleeing into the forest but to avoid the quarry. Mors's shuttle blocks the path of the Free Ryloth forces exiting the quarry and charging into the Twi'lek village. Meanwhile, Streen's transport lands behind the Free Ryloth forces to cut off their retreat. Cham's rebel forces are caught be enemy fire on both sides with many being gunned down. Meanwhile, Cham and his snipers exchange fire with the Sith Lords and their stormtrooper reinforcements. Mors watches the battle from aboard her shuttle and sees Vader climbing up the quarry to pursue Cham and his snipers. In an act of sacrifice, Isval stays behind to hold back Vader while Cham and Goll escape into the forests. The two narrowly avoid being blasted by V-wing fighters.

Unable to capture Cham, Vader instead Force chokes Isval into unconsciousness. Meanwhile, Cham and Goll escape on Faylin's ship. Despite their defeat, Cham resolves to continue the struggle against the Empire and to live for his daughter Hera Syndulla. Back at the village, Isval awakes to find herself a captive of the Emperor and Vader. The Imperial forces summarily execute the remaining Free Ryloth soldiers. Isval briefly confronts the Emperor and taunts him about the loss of the Perilous and the hundreds of Imperial casualties. The Emperor responds that she and her rebel comrades have failed in their goal to spark a rebellion. After a brief exchange, Vader decapitates Isval with his lightsaber. The Emperor then sends his apprentice into the mine shaft to execute Drua and her fellow villagers in order to kill any witnesses to the events.


The novel was announced on April 25, 2014. It was composed with input from the Lucasfilm Story Group, making it part of the new canon. The novel takes place between Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Tarkin. It also features Cham Syndulla,[5] a character from the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series.[4]

As of May 14, 2014, Kemp finished writing the first draft of the novel's Act One.[6] On June 23, Del Rey announced that the book's release date had been moved from March 3, 2015 to April 21, 2015.[7] On October 24, it was announced that the novel would be released on April 28, 2015.[8]

The paperback and Kindle editions of the novel also include John Jackson Miller's short story "Orientation" as bonus material.



Cover gallery[]


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Notes and references[]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 PenguinRandomHouse.jpg Lords of the Sith: Star Wars on Penguin Random House's official website (backup link) (eBook)
  2. 2.0 2.1 PenguinRandomHouse.jpg Lords of the Sith: Star Wars on Penguin Random House's official website (backup link) (Paperback)
  3. Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
  4. 4.0 4.1 My next Star Wars novel announced — Lords of the Sith. paulskemp.com. Archived from the original on February 1, 2017.
  5. Amazon favicon.png Star Wars 2014 Sampler on Amazon.com (backup link)
  6. TwitterLogo.svg Paul S. Kemp (@paulskemp) on Twitter: "And Act One of LORDS OF THE SITH is written. Exeunt right. Will revisit for an editing pass later. Onward to Act Two!" (backup link)
  7. TwitterLogo.svg StarWarsBooks (@DelReyStarWars) on Twitter: "LORDS OF THE SITH by @Paulskemp new on sale is April 21, 2015. Just our publisher shuffling dates. No need to send a squad up." (backup link)
  8. Facebook icon.svg Del Rey on Facebook: The publishing dates for our next two STAR WARS novels have moved a few weeks… (October 24, 2014) (backup link)

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