*This story was first published as a free e-book; it, along with the rest of the stories in the series, have now been collected in a single book. I recommend the book because e-books are the devil.
*As this begins, we join Commander Yaru Korsin, already in progress. His ship is crashing, breaking apart, and he is desperately trying to hold it together.
*I have to say that I was just absolutely caught by surprise on the very first page of this series. And it wasn’t the last time either.
*But, anyway, he’s talking to his engineer via hologram and then, as Korsin watches, her head CATCHES ON FIRE and she staggers out of the picture, shrieking in agony. And Commander Yaru Korsin, even in the midst of his ship crashing, starts LAUGHING!
*Well, we are with the Sith; we know that now.
*So, I read the first page and as I was reading it, I was thinking, “Wow, this is very reminiscent of Crosscurrent. Another Sith ship is crashing.” I was kind of rolling my eyes over it, to be honest.
*And then on page two, it reminds me that Korsin is the commander of the Omen. So, Lost Tribe of the Sith is all about the other ship that was there when Relin and Saes clashed aboard the Harbinger.
*And that just reminded me of why I love reading the SW EU like this.
*So, this is essentially a short story, split into four chapters.
*Okay, so prior to this series, the only John Jackson Miller stuff I’d read was the first arc of KOTOR, Commencement. I was impressed with the set-up to Commencement, but got bored with it before it was over. So, I wouldn’t call myself a Miller fanboy.
*Since writing the above, I’ve read farther in the KOTOR series. I think you could call me a fanboy now as I think this is probably the best comic series the EU has yet produced.
*But regardless of that there is something here that is really great and also sadly rare in the EU: actual wit.
*So, long story short, the Omen crashes on a backwater planet named Kesh. Like the Harbinger, it jumped into hyperspace extremely damaged and ends up on Kesh because that happens to be where the hyperdrive fails completely.
*So, we are introduced to our cast of characters; the pragmatic Yaru Korsin; his half-brother, the arrogant Devore Korsin; Devore’s wife, Seelah and their young son, still an infant. There’s also Ravilan, a Red Sith . . .
*It took me a minute to remember that this was when some of the Sith were humans and some were the red skinned fellows of the comics. So, I thought this was like a Grey Jedi or something for a second.
*Then there’s Yaru’s right hand man, Gloyd.
*So, anyway, the Massassi start dropping dead as soon as the survivors have gotten out of the Omen. There’s something on Kesh that is fatal to them apparently.
*This leads to yet another hilarious and entirely inappropriate moment of brilliance.
* “To her left, another Massassi hacked mightily – and mutely regarded the result: a handful of dripping scar tissue. Korsin looked at the quartermaster and asked drily, ‘Is that normal?’”
*I rolled on the floor over that one.
*So, the theme of this series as a whole is time. It recurs again and again throughout the next few books in the series. In Precipice, the time that’s important is how little time Yaru has to gain control, to establish his leadership of the survivors before they turn on one another. “Not twenty standard hours since the crash and things were starting to get basic. Tribal.”
*So, Yaru returns to the wreckage of the Omen to see if it’s possible to send a transmission. He finds Devore there already, out of his head on spice. The two clash over the leadership of the group.
*It is to Miller’s credit that he is able to create such engaging and realistic characters in such a short time. Generally these kind of Original Character short stories don’t work very well. But this one does. In just thirty pages, Miller sketches Yaru, Devore and Ravilan all perfectly. They feel absolutely real and breathing.
*Yaru and Devore and their clash over leadership . . . Miller manages to make this brief scene feel like what it is: a culmination. You feel decades of tension in this battle. Miller has created an implied emotional history, which is something most authors of these kinds of stories aren’t able to do, at least not in a compelling way. You feel that this isn’t an argument happening out of context. This feels like the final argument in a long series of them between these brothers.
*And, of course, as we knew it would, the clash moves from the verbal to the physical as the two brothers take out their frustration and anger against each other.
*It concludes with a gripping moment when Yaru is able to set off an explosive in Devore’s face. Devore’s “I can’t see” is horrible, but then Yaru helps him up, walks him to the cliff and, with a quiet, “I will complete my mission,” tosses his blinded half-brother over the edge to his death.
*When Yaru returns to camp, there’s a great moment when Seelah knows that Devore was at the wreckage, but she can’t say that because she knows Devore went to the wreckage to kill Yaru. So, Yaru is able to pass it off that his half-brother has vanished; but he and Seelah both know the truth.
*And, as the story closes, Yaru keeps another secret; at the wreckage, he saw another one of the strange winged beasts that fly through the sky on Kesh. But this one, unlike the others he’s seen since the crash, carried a rider. Kesh, it seems, is inhabited.
*Well, as I say, Yaru is a great creation already. Even in just thirty pages, Miller has sketched a real person for us. He is neither a purposely perverse figure in the “Aw, the Sith weren’t all so bad” vein, nor a cackling, “Look at me I’m evil” villain. He is simply an absolute pragmatist, a man who takes duty seriously, and will not flinch when the time comes for tough decisions.
*Already, even just thirty pages in, I am anxious to read more. I call this a success.
*CANONICAL STATUS: The historical records of the Sith on Kesh are of superlative accuracy. This text should be seen as an exact accounting of the events it details. This work is RECOMMENDED as a historical resource.
*** ½ out of **** stars.
John Jackson Miller
*Okay, next time, it’s a new project that I’ll be using to break up this project. Every ten chronological posts (and, yes, we’re already at ten posts!), I’ll be dropping in a different kind of post. Look forward to that.