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A Novel of the Old Republic

Written by Drew KarpyshynAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Drew Karpyshyn


List Price: $7.99


On Sale: June 28, 2011
Pages: 416 | ISBN: 978-0-307-79582-3
Published by : LucasBooks Ballantine Group

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On Sale: October 30, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-385-36182-8
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“Two there should be; no more, no less.
One to embody the power, the other to crave it.”
–Darth Bane, Dark Lord of the Sith

On the run from vengeful Republic forces, Dessel, a cortosis miner, vanishes into the ranks of the Sith army and ships out to join the bloody war against the Republic and its Jedi champions. There, Dessel’s brutality, cunning, and exceptional command of the Force swiftly win him renown as a warrior. But in the eyes of his watchful masters, a far greater destiny awaits him.
As an acolyte in the Sith academy, studying the secrets and skills of the dark side, Dessel embraces his new identity: Bane. But the true test is yet to come. In order to gain acceptance into the Brotherhood of Darkness, he must defy the most sacred traditions and reject all he has been taught. It is a trial by fire in which he must surrender fully to the dark side–and forge from the ashes a new era of absolute power.

“A solid space adventure [that] charts the evolution of an antihero almost as chilling as Darth Vader.”
–Publishers Weekly



Dessel was lost in the suffering of his job, barely even aware of his surroundings. His arms ached from the endless pounding of the hydraulic jack. Small bits of rock skipped off the cavern wall as he bored through, ricocheting off his protective goggles and stinging his exposed face and hands. Clouds of atomized dust filled the air, obscuring his vision, and the screeching whine of the jack filled the cavern, drowning out all other sounds as it burrowed centimeter by agonizing centimeter into the thick vein of cortosis woven into the rock before him.

Impervious to both heat and energy, cortosis was prized in the construction of armor and shielding by both commercial and military interests, especially with the galaxy at war. Highly resistant to blaster bolts, cortosis alloys supposedly could withstand even the blade of a lightsaber. Unfortunately, the very properties that made it so valuable also made it extremely difficult to mine. Plasma torches were virtually useless; it would take days to burn away even a small section of cortosis-laced rock. The only effective way to mine it was through the brute force of hydraulic jacks pounding relentlessly away at a vein, chipping the cortosis free bit by bit.

Cortosis was one of the hardest materials in the galaxy. The force of the pounding quickly wore down the head of a jack, blunting it until it became almost useless. The dust clogged the hydraulic pistons, making them jam. Mining cortosis was hard on the equipment . . . and even harder on the miners.

Des had been hammering away for nearly six standard hours. The jack weighed more than thirty kilos, and the strain of keeping it raised and pressed against the rock face was taking its toll. His arms were trembling from the exertion. His lungs were gasping for air and choking on the clouds of fine mineral dust thrown up from the jack’s head. Even his teeth hurt: the rattling vibration felt as if it were shaking them loose from his gums.

But the miners on Apatros were paid based on how much cortosis they brought back. If he quit now, another miner would jump in and start working the vein, taking a share of the profits. Des didn’t like to share.

The whine of the jack’s motor took on a higher pitch, becoming a keening wail Des was all too familiar with. At twenty thousand rpm, the motor sucked in dust like a thirsty bantha sucking up water after a long desert crossing. The only way to combat it was by regular cleaning and servicing, and the Outer Rim Oreworks Company preferred to buy cheap equipment and replace it, rather than sinking credits into maintenance. Des knew exactly what was going to happen next—and a second later, it did. The motor blew.

The hydraulics seized with a horrible crunch, and a cloud of black smoke spit out the rear of the jack. Cursing ORO and its corporate policies, Des released his cramped finger from the trigger and tossed the spent piece of equipment to the floor.

“Move aside, kid,” a voice said.

Gerd, one of the other miners, stepped up and tried to shoulder Des out of the way so he could work the vein with his own jack. Gerd had been working the mines for nearly twenty standard years, and it had turned his body into a mass of hard, knotted muscle. But Des had been working the mines for ten years himself, ever since he was a teenager, and he was just as solid as the older man—and a little bigger. He didn’t budge.

“I’m not done here,” he said. “Jack died, that’s all. Hand me yours and I’ll keep at it for a while.”

“You know the rules, kid. You stop working and someone else is allowed to move in.”

Technically, Gerd was right. But nobody ever jumped another miner’s claim over an equipment malfunction. Not unless he was trying to pick a fight.

Des took a quick look around. The chamber was empty except for the two of them, standing less than half a meter apart. Not a surprise; Des usually chose caverns far off the main tunnel network. It had to be more than mere coincidence that Gerd was here.

Des had known Gerd for as long as he could remember. The middle-aged man had been friends with Hurst, Des’s father. Back when Des first started working the mines at thirteen, he had taken a lot of abuse from the bigger miners. His father had been the worst tormentor, but Gerd had been one of the main instigators, dishing out more than his fair share of teasing, insults, and the occasional cuff on the ear.

Their harassments had ended shortly after Des’s father died of a massive heart attack. It wasn’t because the miners felt sorry for the orphaned young man, though. By the time Hurst died, the tall, skinny teenager they loved to bully had become a mountain of muscle with heavy hands and a fierce temper. Mining was a tough job; it was the closest thing to hard labor outside a Republic prison colony. Whoever worked the mines on Apatros got big—and Des just happened to become the biggest of them all. Half a dozen black eyes, countless bloody noses, and one broken jaw in the space of a month was all it took for Hurst’s old friends to decide they’d be happier if they left Des alone.

Yet it was almost as if they blamed him for Hurst’s death, and every few months one of them tried again. Gerd had always been smart enough to keep his distance—until now.

“I don’t see any of your friends here with you, old man,” Des said. “So back off my claim, and nobody gets hurt.”

Gerd spat on the ground at Des’s feet. “You don’t even know what day it is, do you, boy? Kriffing disgrace is what you are!”

They were standing close enough to each other that Des could smell the sour Corellian whiskey on Gerd’s breath. The man was drunk. Drunk enough to come looking for a fight, but still sober enough to hold his own.

“Five years ago today,” Gerd said, shaking his head sadly. “Five years ago today your own father died, and you don’t even remember!”

Des rarely even thought about his father anymore. He hadn’t been sorry to see him go. His earliest memories were of his father smacking him. He didn’t even remember the reason; Hurst rarely needed one.

“Can’t say I miss Hurst the same way you do, Gerd.”

“Hurst?” Gerd snorted. “He raised you by himself after your mama died, and you don’t even have the respect to call him Dad? You ungrateful son-of-a-Kath-hound!”

Des glared down menacingly at Gerd, but the shorter man was too full of drink and self-righteous indignation to be intimidated.

“Should’ve expected this from a mudcrutch whelp like you,” Gerd continued. “Hurst always said you were no good. He knew there was something wrong with you . . . Bane.”

Des narrowed his eyes, but didn’t rise to the bait. Hurst had called him by that name when he was drunk. Bane. He had blamed his son for his wife’s death. Blamed him for being stuck on Apatros. He considered his only child to be the bane of his existence, a fact he’d tended to spit out at Des in his drunken rages.

Bane. It represented everything spiteful, petty, and mean about his father. It struck at the innermost fears of every child: fear of disappointment, fear of abandonment, fear of violence. As a kid, that name had hurt more than all the smacks from his father’s heavy fists. But Des wasn’t a kid anymore. Over time he’d learned to ignore it, along with all the rest of the hateful bile that spilled from his father’s mouth.

“I don’t have time for this,” he muttered. “I’ve got work to do.”

With one hand he grabbed the hydraulic jack from Gerd’s grasp. He put the other hand on Gerd’s shoulder and shoved him away. Stumbling back, the inebriated man caught his heel on a rock and fell roughly to the ground.

He stood up with a snarl, his hands balling into fists. “Guess your daddy’s been gone too long, boy. You need someone to beat the sense back into you!”

Gerd was drunk, but he was no fool, Des realized. Des was bigger, stronger, younger . . . but he’d spent the last six hours working a hydraulic jack. He was covered in grime and the sweat was dripping off his face. His shirt was drenched. Gerd’s uniform, on the other hand, was still relatively clean: no dust, no sweat stains. He must have been planning this all day, taking it easy and sitting back while Des wore himself out.

But Des wasn’t about to back down from a fight. Throwing Gerd’s jack to the ground, he dropped into a crouch, feet wide and arms held out in front of him.

Gerd charged forward, swinging his right fist in a vicious uppercut. Des reached out and caught the punch with the open palm of his left hand, absorbing the force of the blow. His right hand snapped forward and grabbed the underside of Gerd’s right wrist; as he pulled the older man forward, Des ducked down and turned, driving his shoulder into Gerd’s chest. Using his opponent’s own momentum against him, Des straightened up and yanked hard on Gerd’s wrist, flipping him up and over so that he crashed to the ground on his back.

The fight should have ended right then; Des had a split second where he could have dropped his knee onto his opponent, driving the breath from his lungs and pinning him to the ground while he pounded Gerd with his fists. But it didn’t happen. His back, exhausted from hours of hefting the thirty-kilo jack, spasmed.

The pain was agonizing; instinctively Des straightened up, clutching at the knotted lumbar muscles. It gave Gerd a chance to roll out of the way and get back to his feet.

Somehow Des managed to drop into his fighting crouch again. His back howled in protest, and he grimaced as red-hot daggers of pain shot through his body. Gerd saw the grimace and laughed.

“Cramping up there, boy? You should know better than to try and fight after a six-hour shift in the mines.”

Gerd charged forward again. This time his hands weren’t fists, but claws grasping and grabbing at anything they could find, trying to nullify the younger man’s height and reach by getting in close. Des tried to scramble out of the way, but his legs were too stiff and sore to get him clear. One hand grabbed his shirt, the other got hold of his belt as Gerd pulled both of them to the ground.

They grappled together, wrestling on the hard, uneven stone of the cavern floor. Gerd had his face buried against Dessel’s chest to protect it, keeping Des from landing a solid elbow or head-butt. He still had a grip on Des’s belt, but now his other hand was free and punching blindly up to where he guessed Des’s face would be. Des was forced to wrap his arms in and around Gerd’s own, interlocking them so neither man could throw a punch.

With their limbs pinned, strategy and technique meant little. The fight had become a test of strength and endurance, with the two combatants slowly wearing each other down. Dessel tried to roll Gerd over onto his back, but his weary body betrayed him. His limbs were heavy and soft; he couldn’t get the leverage he needed. Instead it was Gerd who was able to twist and turn, wrenching one of his hands free while still keeping his face pressed tight against Des’s chest so it wouldn’t be exposed.

Des wasn’t so lucky . . . his face was open and vulnerable. Gerd struck a blow with his free hand, but he didn’t hit with a closed fist. Instead he drove his thumb hard into Des’s cheek, only a few centimeters from his real target. He struck again with the thumb, looking to gouge out one of his opponent’s eyes and leave him blind and writhing in pain.

It took Des a second to realize what was happening; his tired mind had become as slow and clumsy as his body. He turned his face away just as the second blow landed, the thumb jamming painfully into the cartilage of his upper ear.

Dark rage exploded inside Des: a burst of fiery passion that burned away the exhaustion and fatigue. Suddenly his mind was clear, and his body felt strong and rejuvenated. He knew what he was going to do next. More importantly, he knew with absolute certainty what Gerd would do next, too.

He couldn’t explain how he knew; sometimes he could just anticipate an opponent’s next move. Instinct, some might have said. Des felt it was something more. It was too detailed—too specific—to be simple instinct. It was more like a vision, a brief glimpse into the future. And whenever it happened, Des always knew what to do, as if something was guiding and directing his actions.

When the next blow came, Des was more than ready for it. He could picture it perfectly in his mind. He knew exactly when it was coming and precisely where it would strike. This time he turned his head in the opposite direction, exposing his face to the incoming blow—and opening his mouth. He bit down hard, his timing perfect, and his teeth sank deep into the dirty flesh of Gerd’s probing thumb.

Gerd screamed as Des clamped his jaw shut, severing the tendons and striking bone. He wondered if he could bite clean through and then—as if the very thought made it happen—he severed Gerd’s thumb.

The screams became shrieks as Gerd released his grasp and rolled away, clasping his maimed hand with his whole one. Crimson blood welled up through the fingers trying to stanch the flow from his stump.

Standing up slowly, Des spat the thumb out onto the ground. The taste of blood was hot in his mouth. His body felt strong and reenergized, as if some great power surged through his veins. All the fight had been taken out of his opponent; Des could do anything he wanted to Gerd now.

The older man rolled back and forth on the floor, his hand clutched to his chest. He was moaning and sobbing, begging for mercy, pleading for help.

Des shook his head in disgust; Gerd had brought this on himself. It had started as a simple fistfight. The loser would have ended up with a black eye and some bruises, but nothing more. Then the older man had taken things to another level by trying to blind him, and he’d responded in kind. Des had learned long ago not to escalate a fight unless he was willing to pay the price of losing. Now Gerd had learned that lesson, too.

Des had a temper, but he wasn’t the kind to keep beating on a helpless opponent. Without looking back at his defeated foe, he left the cavern and headed back up the tunnel to tell one of the foremen what had happened so someone could come tend to Gerd’s injury.

He wasn’t worried about the consequences. The medics could reattach Gerd’s thumb, so at worst Des would be fined a day or two’s wages. The corporation didn’t really care what its employees did, as long as they kept coming back to mine the cortosis. Fights were common among the miners, and ORO almost always turned a blind eye, though this particular fight had been more vicious than most–savage and short, with a brutal end.

Just like life on Apatros.
Drew Karpyshyn|Author Q&A

About Drew Karpyshyn

Drew Karpyshyn - Path of Destruction: Star Wars (Darth Bane)
Drew Karpyshyn is the New York Times bestselling author of Children of Fire, The Scorched Earth, and Chaos Unleashed, as well as the Star Wars: The Old Republic novels Revan and Annihilation, and the Star Wars: Darth Bane trilogy: Path of Destruction, Rule of Two, and Dynasty of Evil. He also wrote the acclaimed Mass Effect series of novels and worked as a writer/designer on numerous award-winning videogames. After spending most of his life in Canada, he finally grew tired of the long, cold winters and headed south in search of a climate more conducive to year-round golf. Drew Karpyshyn now lives in Texas with his wife, Jennifer, and their pets.

Author Q&A

Interview with Drew Karpyshyn author of STAR WARS DARTH BANE

Question: How has your work in computer games influenced your writing?

Drew Karpyshyn: The most obvious influence comes from my work on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. In researching the game I developed a real appreciation for the extended Star Wars universe; I became fascinated with the sheer depth and volume that existed beyond the movies. Being drawn into this world was the first big step towards writing Path of Destruction.

More generally speaking, I find that working in computer games has helped me better understand the concepts of agency and motivation. In game writing you tend to focus on presenting your story in a way that motivates players to make choices, then allows them to act on those choices. I like to think my non-game writing takes this principle and applies it to my characters, giving them strong motivations and more dynamic personalities. Since story is often about character, strong characters with drive and purpose help deliver a stronger overall story.

Q: What are the differences between writing for games and writing novels? Do you have any preference?

DK:While there are a lot of similarities, I find there are a couple major differences between the two genres. The first is in the final product: games (at least, BioWare games) tend to have a much broader and far-reaching scope than any novel. Take Kotor: we had nine major characters who could join the party, hundreds of people you could meet and roughly 500,000 words of dialog — about the equivalent of 5 full novels. However, because the player is in control of major sections of the story, a game is forced to deal with things on a more superficial level. We don’t know what order players are going to visit our worlds, or which choices they are going to make. Because of this, we sacrifice complexity to maintain control of the story. Conversely, in a novel the author has complete control. Every move by every character is known well in advance, allowing the author to spin a very complicated, intricate story that digs way, way down into the core of the major characters. In short, games are wide and far reaching but the story tends to stay more on the surface, while novels are much more limited in focus but incredibly deep.

The second difference has to do with the actual creative process. A novel is a very individual effort: the author sinks or swims on his or her own merits alone. I did get a lot of help from my editors, but in the end the book is quite clearly a reflection of my own personal vision. A game involves creative input from hundreds of people: artists, designers, programmers, animators, writers, etc. The end product is a reflection of a group vision, with every person contributing in their own way. In a game, you sacrifice some creative control for the sense of community that comes from sharing and building your ideas with other talented and creative people.

Q: Is Path of Destruction the first of a series? Will we see more of Darth Bane?

DK:I hope so! Without giving anything away, I can honestly say Bane’s saga doesn’t end with the events of the book. I’d love to spend more time with the character, but that’s not really my call. I hope fans feel the same way, and if Path of Destruction generates a demand for more Darth Bane, maybe the powers that be will tap me on the shoulder once again.

Q: The Rule of Two–talk about putting all your eggs in one basket! How can a system that relies on there being only two Sith in the entire galaxy at any time hope to survive? A single accident would be enough to wipe out the entire order forever, and being adept in the Force doesn't immunize one against accidents.

DK:You have to be careful not to oversimplify the Rule of Two. On the surface it’s basic and straightforward, but this is a philosophy that helped to shape the course of galactic history. There are levels below the surface, and a greater depth and complexity than first meets the eye. I don’t want to give too much away, as I do explore this in the book, but one element that is critical to the philosophy but may not be readily apparent is a belief in the power of the Force and its ability to enhance the power of the individual. An accident *could* wipe you out, but if you are worthy of being a Sith Master you have to believe you are strong enough to shape your destiny through the dark side so that there are no accidents. The fact that this philosophy kept the Sith line alive for over a thousand years is a pretty strong argument that there is some merit to it.

Q: Where did you get the idea for Darth Bane?

DK:I think Bane’s first appearance was in the Dark Horse comics published in the mid 1990’s, but my decision to use him as my central character was based on discussions between me and my editors. The comics introduced this character, but he wasn’t the primary focus of that story. I found the character to be intriguing and compelling, but what really sold me was the opportunity to examine how someone evolves into the monster Bane finally becomes.

Q: How involved was LucasBooks in this project?

DK:Obviously they had to be involved on some level to make sure this novel fits in with the rest of the Star Wars Intellectual proberties. Path of Destruction introduces a new era in the Star Wars universe, and it was important to maintain the Star Wars “feel” and keep the story in line with existing continuity.

In the early stages of developing the story I had a lot of help from my editors Shelly Shapiro and Sue Rostoni, from Del Rey and Lucasfilm, respectively. I worked out the original concept of the book and then with their feedback hammered away at it until we all felt it was something really special. When it came to the actual writing, however, I was pleased to see they let me sink or swim on my own.

Q: How did your views of the Force, and especially the dark side, evolve in the course of writing this book?

DK:Much of the groundwork was laid through the work our team did on Kotor. I think the big breakthrough came when I realized that, in and of itself, the dark side philosophy is not “evil.” It’s really about the power of the individual rather than the acceptance of collective good. Understanding this makes you realize how appealing the dark side can really be, and that’s where the true danger lies. Nobody starts out wanting to be reviled or a villain, but through the book I hope readers can gain a better understanding of how it could actually happen.

Q: Since light and dark are two sides of a single thing, the Force, and not separate things themselves, why can't Force users balance both disciplines, drawing from each as the situation requires? In other words, why isn't there a third group of Force users, neither Jedi nor Sith but occupying a gray zone between them? I don't know if you can answer that, but it's something I've always wondered about…

DK:I think there are people like this. In Kotor we touched on this with the character of Jolee Bindoh, but I think there is an inherent flaw in being a “gray” Jedi. For me the key differences in the light and dark comes down to how you perceive the Force. Is it a great, binding energy that we serve by allowing it to act through us? Or is it a tool that we use to serve our own needs? Do you believe in the power of the individual, or the value of teamwork and the group? It’s hard to live your life believing that the best answer is to become a strong individual at all costs *and* be willing to sacrifice yourself for the good of the group. They ideas aren’t easily compatible, which is why “gray” Jedi are so rare.

Q: Was it a challenge to write a book featuring a villain as the main character? Did you have to go over to the dark side a bit yourself in order to write it?

DK:It was a challenge, because I didn’t want to soften Bane up at all. He is a monster, and I wanted to portray that. At the same time, I wanted the readers to sympathize with and understand him and his motivations. As for going over to the dark side, it wasn’t as hard as you think. Remember: the dark side itself isn’t evil. It’s more about individualism, which can actually be a very good and desirable thing. Self-improvement, confidence, attaining your goals through your dedication and hard work: these are noble traits. The trick comes in recognizing when this nobility becomes corrupted by greed or hate.

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