Read Lately – Star Wars: The Old Republic – Deceived

March 29, 2011

We first met him in a Star Wars: The Old Republic game trailer — the mysterious masked Sith that brought down the Jedi Temple during the sacking of Coruscant. Darth Malgus, dark lord of the Sith, was the one who led this brutal assault and cut down countless Jedi on their own sacred ground. Now he is one of the main characters in Deceived, the second book in the SWTOR series by Paul S. Kemp, which tells the story of the attack as well as the calamitous events which came afterward.

On the surface, Deceived might just be another novel based on a video game, but after reading it, I admit the quality of the storytelling took me by surprise. Even as Star Wars novels go, I have to say it is better than most. Granted, it is still your standard Star Wars fare — you have your archtypal tale about a Jedi and her comrade pitted against a Sith Warrior and the dark side and such. But still, it was refreshing to read a game book for once and get the sense that the author is actually more interested in telling a good story rather than trying to write a blatant MMO marketing piece that attempts to showcase every single player class and their abilities (which, incidentally, was my main complaint about the first SWTOR book).

That is not to say Deceived is completely devoid of references to the upcoming MMO, just that I feel they are much less pronounced. In fact, in true BioWare fashion, what I think the book attempts to do is to set the stage for the type of light-side/dark-side interactions we can expect to see in TOR. Deceived does this by delving deeper into character motivations and ambitions, and treading the line of morality.

Instead of hobbling the story, the addition of this interplay actually made things better. Subsequently, I felt the characters of Deceived were more fleshed out than I would have expected from a video game tie-in or Star Wars novel, because of the personal reasons and internal conflicts that drive them. The angry and hate-filled Darth Malgus, for example, may surprise you with his tenderness towards the woman he loves. Similarly, the Jedi protagonist Aryn Leneer has her own reasons for turning her back on the Order and going rogue. The reader will also find the smuggler Zeerid struggle to make some difficult decisions, in the name of keeping his family safe.

As such, even though this book can be read as a standalone novel, if I have to relate it back to SWTOR, I want to say Deceived prepares us for the kind of moral dilemmas and questionable choices and we will no doubt face in-game. In the context of the novel, however, this also serves to provide in-depth characterizations for the heroes and villains, and helps readers connect to characters who are otherwise new to the Star Wars expanded universe and are thus relatively still unknown. It’s a win-win situation, really.

There were a few things that annoyed me about Deceived, and I feel I need to mention them. One of them pertains to Darth Malgus, who was the one I was most looking forward to reading about, but unfortunately he also turned out to be the weakest character for me. I felt that his evilness, anger, hate, and all that lust for destruction and melodrama was just a tad over-exaggerated, making him just another broody Sith Lord in the Star Wars line-up, overshadowing what depth he could have had. Aryn and Zeerid, on the other hand, were much more interesting to me.

The book also changes points-of-view very frequently, bouncing around, sometimes only after just a few paragraphs at a time. Word of warning, it can get taxing if you are unused to that. Thankfully, there are blessedly few subplots in this novel, which made the constant shifts bearable. I liked how the storyline in Deceived has a clear focus, and Kemp follows through with it very well.

I would recommend this book to fans of Star Wars, fans who are looking forward to the MMORPG, and even those who are just looking for a quick but fun video game-related read. If you enjoy scenes of lightsaber combat and space encounters, you will not be disappointed — in fact, you can even expect to read about the Sith attack on the Jedi Temple in all its glorious detail and appreciate it anew. However, there is also more to Deceived than just constant action; there is also a deeper poignancy and intensity behind the events that I honestly didn’t think I would find in a Star Wars game novel. Perhaps other readers will be pleasantly surprised as well.


  1. Great book. I loved it! Best Star Wars novel since Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy. I can’t wait for the next book. The audio book is very well done too? Great for long commutes.

    • It was better than a lot of Star Wars books I’ve read, especially since I was just coming off from a New Jedi Order binge at the time. I was sort of in a slump in that series, and I thought by the time I got to Deceived that I would be all “Star Wars’ed” out…but I wasn’t! It actually did the opposite and energized me…for MOAR Star Wars! LOL

  2. I think Deceived lived up to its billing as “BotE” to Fatal Alliance’s “ToP”. There seemed to be more emphasis on adding detail to a few layers, as opposed to trying desperately to cram as many layers as possible in there. It makes the novel a much more satisfying read.

    I think the build-up to the Sacking of Coruscant was one of the best aspects of the book, honestly. I love when stories elaborate on what led up to a great event. Plus, Malgus’ interactions with Eleena Daru painted a much different picture of him than I had before.

    For me, Malgus’ legacy–as it stands pre-TOR—will always tie into what happened at the Jedi Temple in Coruscant. That’s really where his legend grew (and also where he took the title of “greatest lightsaber combatant in the galaxy” undisputedly by out-dueling Ven Zallow.

    You know, if not for the obvious timeline inconsistencies, Aryn Leneer would have been a great candidate for the “Hope” Jedi.

    I also have to say, even though Malgus did succumb to a LOT of over-dramaticism, I still did love how he felt some sense of respect for Ven Zallow even after killing him. That sort of paints a picture of a more noble warrior than I imagine is the case with most Sith.

    While I still fully expect the Emperor to be the major villain of SWTOR, I still get the feeling Malgus is going to show up gangbusters on the scene again, someday.

    • I agree, he was such an arrogant, evil bastard in the trailer, I didn’t think I would feel any sort of sympathy for Malgus when I started reading the book. Unexpectedly, however, his tenderness towards Eleena endeared me to him. If his “Sithness” hadn’t been so overdone, he would have been my favorite. Maybe it’s because I’d recently finished reading the Darth Bane books, and the two reminded me a lot of each other. Like you pointed out though, I liked the fact Malgus seemed to be a little more introspective, like the way he gave respect where respect was due, and the tears he shed for Eleena at the end. I don’t him to become emo, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to see more of that side of Malgus!

      One other thing I liked about the novel — I liked how I wasn’t able to predict some of the character’s actions. Zeerid, for one…wow. I mean, his decision made so much sense, but it still shocked me in the end.

      • Malgus’ decision to purify his “weakness” was not all that surprising to me, especially after seeing something similar in BotE (Teneb ruthlessly, but emotionally, cutting down Maggot because he knew too much). That said, on the other side, Zeerid’s decision did kind of catch me off-guard. It was a much… bloodier… method to keep his daughter’s existence secret than I was expecting from him. There were hints that that was an important aspect of his character, but I still didn’t expect him to take it to such extreme levels.

        But hey, that’s what makes the characters so interesting: the moral ambiguity.

        -“Z-Man” isn’t above butchering people in the name of the safety of his family.

        -Malgus could admit that he loved someone, yet still have the—I really don’t want to say it, but—“fortitude” to assess his weakness and then eliminate it (ugh–damn you, Sith).

        -I’m pretty sure Aryn & Zeerid had something going on even BEFORE Zeerid lost his wife (which breaks a number of laws of Jedi morality, I would think).

        -Aryn, despite being a Jedi, certainly seems a prime candidate for falling to the Dark Side in the future (that Force Empathy looks like a curse-wrapped-up-in-a-blessing to me).

        -Eleena was just… Damn. I don’t know if she ever naively thought Malgus would actually choose her over his own ambition, but if so, she seriously got @#!$ed over in the end.

        Every character really had their own dimensions.

        Smugglers weren’t just arrogant, brash, suave gunrunners in Deceived—they can be downright brutal with the right motivation.

        Jedi Knights in TOR era, if Aryn is any indication, are not above being extremely lax with their moral code, both the one of their order and their own personal one.

        Malgus showed that even the most badass Sith in the galaxy can cry, yet still do what he feels is necessary. *Though if they ever make a full Deceived cinematic, I may just have to splice in Prince’s “When Doves Cry” just for the hell of it.XD*

        Eleena showed that having the love of a Sith DOES NOT exempt you from the killing tip of their lightsaber.

        Also, +2 pts for Angral & Baras appearances.

        Before this novel, I was starting to think the Republic was going to be SoL for interesting characters. It was nice to see some characters that didn’t just tip-toe along the morality line—some of them jumped rope with it.

      • Guess I’m just a hopeless romantic, but I was really rooting for Eleena and Malgus there 😦 I think if she had been a Sith herself, it would have turned out a lot differently 😛

  3. ….Sometimes i wish people would personally spoil a book outright through my email so it would save me the time of reading it 😦 sounds awesome though….

    • Aww 😦 Oh well, on the bright side, it’s not too long, and it is worth the read.

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