STAR WARS: DECEIVED Shows Old Republic's Bad-Ass Darth

STAR WARS: DECEIVED Review

In many ways, Paul S. Kemp’s Deceived not only gives us a closer, more personal view into the world of BioWare’s upcoming MMORPG epic Star Wars: The Old Republic, it also gives us a better feel about the personalities we will encounter in the game. We are presented with four main characters – Darth Malgus, a Sith Warrior, Aryn Leneer, A Jedi Knight, Zeerid Korr, former Republic pilot and now Smuggler, and Vrath Xizor, former Imperial sniper and now Mercenary. Among the main characters we have four of the available classes in the game – Sith Warrior, Jedi Knight, Smuggler, and Imperial Agent. We not only see these characters in action, which Kemp writes beautifully, but also what codes they live by. We see what is important to them – to the class – on a very personal level.

While Zeerid, Aryn, and Vrath are all great characters, full of complexity and interesting relationships, it is Darth Malgus and his rage that steals the spotlight. Not since Darth Vader have we been presented with a Sith so full of pure hatred, turmoil, and an intense desire to do what the – not the Empire – demands. I have spent four years studying what it means to be a great villain and this is what I have found: a successful villain is one that is both sympathetic and abhorred by the audience, one that they want to see victorious despite themselves. It doesn't hurt, either, that Malgus is the star of the two incredible cinematic trailers released for the game so far, titled "Hope" and... wait for it... "Deceived." (Yes, there's a reason for that).

The sympathy we feel for Malgus comes from his relationship with the Twi’lek, Eleena (see her in the trailer above), who is a slave he saved from “her owner for his brutality.” Even in the heat of battle where “there was only Malgus and his rage, and Zallow and his calm,” the Sith worried over the fate of his companion. Even before the destruction of the Jedi Temple, their intimacy is established. Eleena claims she knows Malgus “better than [himself]” and instead of striking her down, Malgus “slipped his respirator to the side and kissed her with his ruined lips.” The inner conflict we see in Malgus is not merely one of politics, but rather whether love can fit within the code of his lifestyle. In a confrontation between Malgus and Darth Angral and Adraas, two other Sith warriors at various levels in the order, it is clear that “Malgus did not play Sith politics well,” and his relationship with Eleena is used against him.

Until the end of the novel, Malgus is determined to keep Eleena in his life, while serving the Empire – “he had to square a circle.” By comparing Malgus to Angral and Andraas, Kemp is showing us that not all Sith are the same one-note bad guys. While Angral and Adraas are political and scheming, Malgus’s way of life is more religious and although he is violent, he is also honorable. In the fight with Zallow, he salutes the Jedi; Malgus “inclined his head in a show of respect.” In comparison, during the same battle, Malgus gives Adraas, a fellow Sith, “a mocking salute with his lightsaber.” All that matters to Malgus is the Force – both Adraas and Zallow use it incorrectly, but at least Zallow is honorable in his misunderstanding.

In the final chapters of the book, Kemp presents us with two battles: one between Aryn, who was once Zallow’s padawan learner, and Malgus and the other between Zeerid and Vrath. Here we have both Jedi vs. Sith and Republic vs. Empire. He shows the readers that one doesn’t have to be Jedi or Sith to make a difference in the war – that in Star Wars: The Old Republic they can choose to the Bounty Hunter, Imperial Agent, or Smuggler class and still have a large impact. He also shows us that while we might choose to be Sith, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be loyal to the Empire if we believe, as Malgus does, that it is deviating from the will of the Force.

Ultimately, the novels and comics tying into the game Star Wars: The Old Republic are meant to serve as appetizers to the main event. When your first course is as good as this one, you’re in for a hell of an entrée.

See Also:

Hands-on Preview: STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC

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