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-cancelled 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
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 story begins with Bane and his new apprentice Zannah who were still on Ruusan after the destruction of the Brotherhood of Darkness during the Seventh Battle of Ruusan. The prologue features the apprentice of Githany, Darovit, who was curious as to how he survived the thought bomb's effects so he went down to the cavern where the thought bomb had been activated. When he came in contact with a strange orb, he was easily repelled by it and was fearful about all the thoughts in it that were the souls of those who died in the thought bomb.
Bane began Zannah's instruction by making her relive her memories of her friend Laa's death and begin learning how to channel her anger at will. They headed rapidly toward the former Sith encampment, where Bane attacked and killed most of a group of mercenaries who were looting the camp, but allowed the last two to escape. When a confused Zannah questioned his motives, Bane told her that there would have been no purpose in killing all of the mercenaries. He explained that the Sith's continued existence would depend on secrecy but that rumors about them were inevitable; and that the more questionable the source of the rumor, the easier it would be for people to dismiss it.
In Qordis' tent, Zannah found and handed over to Bane 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 led Zannah into the cave where the thought bomb detonated, wanting to show her what Kaan's beliefs led to. Zannah was horrified by the feelings emanating from the orb, but a contemptuous Bane easily shrugged off its effects. Bane derided Kaan's philosophy of equality and told Zannah that the dark side was meant to be embraced by the strong, not the weak, and that Kaan failed the Sith with his teachings. Zannah questioned what would happen to her if she failed Bane, but before he could answer, Zannah's cousin Darovit stumbled upon them, and thinking that he is protecting Zannah, attempted to attack Bane. Knowing that her new master would kill Darovit in an instant, Zannah instead stopped him by destroying his right hand with the Force, telling Bane that the boy's death would serve no purpose.
After Bane and Zannah left the cave, Bane informed her that he would meet her on Onderon in ten days, and that she was to find her own way there. When an upset Zannah protested, he told her that she had the potential to become more powerful than him, and would one day challenge him for the role of Master: a battle only one of them would survive. Bane told her finding her own way to Onderon from Ruusan was her first test, and if she did not do so, she would have proved herself unworthy of being his apprentice. Bane then boarded the Valcyn and left Ruusan, headed for Nadd's tomb on Dxun, Onderon's moon.
Meanwhile, Johun Othone, former Padawan of General Hoth, didn't believe all the Sith Lords died. When he heard the two surviving mercenaries story of being attacked by Bane, Johun attempted to convince Jedi Master Valenthyne Farfalla that a Sith Lord had survived, but Farfalla quickly casted doubt on the mercenaries story, saying that they had been around the Sith enough to manufacture any manner of tale. He then told Johun that he would take Johun on as his apprentice, and they were to return to Coruscant and meet with the Chancellor.
Now alone, Zannah managed to locate a Galactic Republic shuttle crewed by a soldier, a farmer, and his two sons. She accepted a meal, and told them, when questioned, that she had to get to Onderon, where she had family. When the shuttle prepared to rejoin the Republic fleet, Zannah made her move, intending to hold the crew hostage in exchange for passage to Onderon. One of the farmers' sons saw her stealing a blaster, and in the ensuing struggle Zannah killed him by shooting him with it. She then killed the farmer by shooting him as well and ordered the soldier to set an autopilot course for Onderon. She then killed the woman when she didn't comply, along with the other boy. After she killed the boy, who pleaded for his life by saying Zannah was just a kid like him, she declared, "I'm not a kid. I'm a Sith."
In the aftermath of the thought bomb, Bane hae been seeing hallucinations of Kaan and Qordis, and as he flew to Dxun, the vision of Qordis began to goad him, causing Bane to lash out with the Force and seriously damage the Valcyn. Crash-landed and badly injured, Bane managed to treat his wounds before he headed toward Nadd's tomb. Bane entered the tomb and found a chamber containing Nadd's holocron. As Bane retrieved the holocron, he was attacked by orbalisks, parasitic creatures native to Dxun. Two of the creatures managed to attach themselves to his body before he could escape the holocron chamber and reseal it, and Bane quickly realized that he cannot remove them. Nadd's holocron described his own experiences with the orbalisks; that they fed on the dark side and released enzymes that increased physical strength and the power to draw on the dark side, granting incredible regenerative powers, and that their shells protected the area they covered from any weapon up to and including a lightsaber. The constant pain the creatures inflicted concerned Bane, as did Nadd's warnings that they would eventually multiply and spread over his entire body and even his face if he didn't protect it from their progress as Nadd had done. He also learned that if one died, it would stay attached even in death and 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 then mentally dominated a drexl, a flying reptile, using the Force to encase it and himself in a cocoon of dark side energy and flying the few hundred kilometers through open space to Onderon.
Zannah had landed her stolen shuttle on Onderon, and was confronted by a group of Onderon beast-riders who threatened her. Bane made his appearance at that moment, killing the riders and rejoining his apprentice before they took the shuttle and left, also introducing Zannah to the orbalisks and to what the holocron had told him about them. On Coruscant, the Galactic Senate had passed resolutions disbanding the Jedi's military forces. Master Farfalla assigned Johun to the Chancellor's personal guard and promoted him to be a full Jedi Knight.
Ten years later Zannah had 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. She had been sent on a mission by Bane to goad a separatist movement on the world of Serenno into acting before it was ready. Zannah seduced their second in command, an affluent Twi'lek named Kel, and fed them information about former Chancellor Valorum coming to Serenno. The group decided to kidnap him and Zannah left, heading back to her and Bane's home on Ambria. In her absence, Bane had attempted to create his own holocron and failed, destroying the camp when his anger at his failure allowed the orbalisks to drive him into a dark side-fueled fury. Concerned for her master's future and slightly conflicted over her physical attraction to Kelad'den, Zannah questioned whether the orbalisks were helping Bane or harming him now. She realized from Bane's reaction to her question that she had successfully caused him to begin to wonder about the orbalisks, and hoped that this would eventually lead him to finding a way to rid himself of them before he killed her in another outburst.
Back on Serenno, the Separatists attempted their kidnapping. Johun, however, was still Valorum's guard, and he managed to prevent the kidnapping and kill most of the Separatists, including Kel in a final battle. Zannah, for her part, was accosted by the two surviving members, Cyndra and Paak, of the movement when she returned to buy supplies and was taken to their financial backer, a middle-aged man named Hetton who had been trained in the dark side and askd to become Zannah's apprentice. After Zannah defeated Cyndra and Paak, Hetton showed her his library of rare Sith artifacts and told her of his master's stronghold on the planet Tython, where the Jedi and Sith first came to power. Zannah took Hetton and his eight Umbaran Shadow Assassins back to Ambria.
The assassins attacked Bane, who killed them and Hetton with his lightsaber, then, still enraged, turned on Zannah. She managed 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 got through to Bane and he calmed down. Bane wondered if perhaps the orbalisks were part of his inability to create a holocron and finally decided that the abilities they gave him were no longer worth the cost to his power and mental state. He headed to Tython to find Hetton's master's base and told Zannah to attempt to use her sorcery to enter the Jedi Temple Library undetected and find information about how to remove the orbalisks from the massive data archives by disguising herself as a missing Jedi and dying her hair black.
As a favor for Johun's saving his life, Valorum asked the Senate to commission a memorial to the Jedi forces who died on Ruusan. Darovit, living a reclusive existence as a healer, was angered by this and sabotaged the construction effort until Johun tracked him down. Upon questioning Darovit, Johun fond out 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 left him in the Library while attempting to convince Master Farfalla to seek an audience with the Jedi Council. Zannah found the information she was looking for and her momentary lapse of concentration at her victory broke her spell just long enough for Darovit to sense her true identity. When she fond out that he had told the Jedi about her and Bane, Zannah demanded that he accompany her to Tython so that they could warn Bane and then escape. Johun and Farfalla reached the library and were unable to find Darovit, but questioned the Archivist, who heard Darovit and a young woman refer to each other as 'Tomcat' and 'Rain' (the childhood names they've given to each other), the names Johun's research had found in the records from Ruusan. They then found the terminal Zannah had used and saw that she had looked up a hyperspace route to Tython. Farfalla was finally convinced the Sith were still alive and dispatched Johun to summon other Jedi who had served in the Army of Light to go to Tython and try to destroy the Sith once and for all.
On their way to Tython, Zannah disdained Darovit's attempts to sway her from the Sith, momentarily choking him into submission before ordering him to study the data she had copied and find a way to free Bane of the orbalisks. On Tython, Bane was learning how to successfully create a holocron from Hetton's master Belia Darzu's holocron after fighting off her creations that combined animals and machines, but was interrupted when Zannah and Darovit arrived. She informed Bane that the Jedi were on their way, but before they could leave, the Jedi ship entered the atmosphere. With no choice but to stand and fight, Zannah shut Darovit in a small closet and she and Bane faced their opponents. Echani Jedi Weapons Master Raskta Lsu and Master Farfalla dueled Bane, while Johun and human Jedi Sarro Xaj went up against Zannah. Bane and Zannah were unable to do more than hold their own, as the Jedi were empowered by Ithorian Master Worror Dowmat's battle meditation. Bane, however, was formidable enough that Johun had to join Lsu and Farfalla, leaving Zannah overpowered against the much larger Xaj. During the lightsaber duel, Johun happened to strike at a part of Bane's body not covered by any of the orbalisks, giving Bane another dark side tantrum in which he used the Force to throw his Jedi opponents away. Bane attempted to kill Worror next, but Johun managesd to shove the Ithorian out of the way using the Force, breaking Worror's concentration long enough for Zannah to use one of her mind-altering spells on Xaj. Confused and terrified, he was easily slain by Zannah, who then went to join Bane, killing Lsu from behind by impaling the Jedi with her lightsaber and severing Johun's hand. Bane killed Farfalla by decapitating him, then leapt toward Worror and slit his throat. Bane then turned to finish off Johun with Sith lightning, but the dying Worror used his last power to create a shield around Bane that turned the lightning back on him. Zannah killed Johun before going to Bane's side, his injuries too horrific even for the orbalisks to heal, with several of them actually having been killed by the energy. Zannah demanded that Darovit remove the orbalisks, but he protested that he didn't have the right equipment, medicines, or understanding of the process. While knowing that Bane's death would make her the master in the Sith Rule of Two, Zannah realized that she had no idea as to the extent of his manipulations or financial arrangements and holdings, and most importantly, has yet to learn everything he can teach her. Desperate to save her master's life, Zannah took Bane and Darovit to Ambria in search of the healer Caleb, who had saved Bane from Githany's assassination attempt ten years prior back in Darth Bane: Path of Destruction.
On Ambria, Zannah easily found Caleb, but he refused to help, having sent his daughter away years prior without even knowing where she was going so that he could not be forced to aid Bane again. Zannah threatened him with physical pain and her sorcery and his death, but Caleb still refused. Darovit again tried to dissuade Zannah from being a Sith, telling her that Caleb had agreed to help Bane on the condition that Zannah sabotaged their ship and sent a message to the Jedi Council telling them of Bane's location. Zannah finally agreed, and Caleb removed the orbalisks and healed Bane's injuries. When Bane was strong enough to understand, Zannah told him of the bargain she had made to save his life. Bane ordered Zannah to kill him rather than become a prisoner or be executed. Zannah refused, and a still weak Bane collapsed back onto his bedding. Realizing that Bane's mental faculties are undiminished, she rose from his side and activates her lightsaber.
A Jedi strike team landed on Ambria, disembarking from their ship to see a mutilated body left in pieces. They approached Caleb's shack and heared noises from within, then a one-handed man swinging Farfalla's lightsaber emerged and attacked them insanely. Although startled, the Jedi quickly overpowered and killed him, finding the others' lightsabers inside the shelter. Deciding 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, the Jedi gathered Caleb's remains in order to give him a funeral, and then left Ambria. They overlooked, as Zannah did at first in finding Caleb, the pit under the shelter where Zannah was now hiding herself and Bane with her sorcery.
Several days later, Bane finally awoke fully, grabbed Zannah and demanded to know what has happened. She informed 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 asked her why she saved him, and Zannah reminded him that he still has much to teach her. Bane admited that he underestimated her and that he was proud of her. Zannah then warned 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
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Behind the scenesEdit
- "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 Star Wars: Legacy 5: Broken, Part 4, 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."