Spoiler Level: Medium - High
Ahh, now this is more like it. This is what I wanted from the previous Old Republic novel, Fatal Alliance.
I thought that this book was going to climax with the attack on the Jedi Temple and Coruscant as seen in the "Deceived" game trailer, but instead it uses it as a launching point. Perhaps author Paul S. Kemp figured that at this point we've all seen that trailer a zillion times and it might be anti-climactic. And he might be right; as excited as I was for this book, I did find that I knew that battle too well already.
Instead we get to learn much more about Darth Malgus, the Sith Lord who kicked so much butt in the trailer, and the Twi-lek girl that's with him as the battle begins. And he is a much, much more interesting subject that the Sith we saw in Fatal Alliance. This book works much better at showing us the political machinations that come with a Sith Empire, as Malgus, while high up in the Sith hierarchy, isn't quite high enough to make sure things are done his way. It helps that Malgus isn't particularly good at politics; we see his frustration at being outmaneuvered by his fellow Sith Lords who are a bit more cunning, and more interestingly, in their different interpretations of the Dark Side of the Force; while Malgus believes that war and chaos are essential to burn away the weak and strengthen those who remain, others believe that the Force serves power for power's own sake, and that ruling half a galaxy is preferable to eternal war.
Just like his previous book Crosscurrent, Kemp shows us a Jedi who feels so enraged by a particular Sith that (s)he's willing to throw away everything to kill him. In this case it's Aryn Leneer, former padawan of Ven Zallow, the Jedi Master we see killed in the trailer. After what the Sith have done to the Jedi Temple (and Zallow in particular) Aryn feels that the Sith must be punished, but the rest of the Jedi instead are willing to continue peace talks.
And so we have Aryn on one side and Malgus on the other, each feeling that they've been let down by their respective orders, and with only one thing in common-- a burning hatred of each other. Kemp crafts a wonderful tale showing us the parallels between the two characters, with Aryn walking too close to the dark out of a need for justice, and Malgus walking too close to the light (by Sith standards) by his love for his Twi-lek slave, both feeling betrayed and deceived by their respective orders.
I'll probably still wait to read any more Old Republic books until I cycle back around to that part in the timeline (and that's gonna take me a few years), but I'd really welcome more books about Darth Malgus, especially since he has such a rich backstory. Although not as cool as Darth Bane, he is one tough Sith, and it would be great to see his origins, especially if they're written by Paul S. Kemp. So far I've really enjoyed both of his Star Wars books, which makes me look forward to his Crosscurrent follow-up Riptide all the more.
In addition to the game trailer, this book has its own trailer, along with links to preview the first three chapters at http://www.swtor.com/news/news-article/20110304-1.