The book begins with a young man named Darovit, a Force Sensitive on Ruusan, who survived Lord Kaan’s thought bomb. As it turns out he is Zannah’s cousin. He was brought to Ruusan as a Jedi, but eventually turned to the Sith. However, he fled the Sith instead of joining them in the cave to detonate the thought bomb.
Meanwhile Zannah, following Bane, goes to the cave to determine whether any Sith are left. Darovit stumbles across the two. Darovit senses the evil in Bane and draws his lightsaber to defend his cousin. Zannah saves her cousin’s life by detonating a force bomb that destroys Darovit’s hand. The Master and Apprentice leave the boy in the cave. Bane scavenges some of the Sith encampment and finds records from one of the Sith Masters locating the tomb of Darth Naga Sadow on Dxun. Bane is determined to acquire as much Sith knowledge as possible. Unsure of what he will find on the planet, Bane tells Zannah she must find her own way to the planet Onderon.
Bane locates the Sadow’s tomb. As he attempted to retrieve Sadow’s Holocron, creatures called orbalisks dropped from the ceiling of the tomb and attached themselves to his body. Once he accessed the Holocron, he discovered that the orbalisks would feed on his body, and grow to cover him from head to toe. Although the creatures would subject him to a lot of pain, they would also increase his strength in the Force not to mention provide him with impenitrable armor. Zannah proves her ingenuity and meets Bane on Onderon. Together they begin taking steps to bring down the Jedi once and for all.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Valorum and the Senate have signed a bill ending the Sith War. As part of the new legislation, the Jedi would become an arm of the Judiciary. Their army was to be disbanded.
TEN YEARS LATER
Bane has created a system of spies, mercenaries, and informants with the immense wealth the Sith Brotherhood had at its disposal. Bane’s plan is to lure the Jedi into a false sense of peace by eliminating threats that may bring War to the Republic. Here we see the Sith operating by shadow, using underlings for most of the dirty work.
During this time, Zannah has grown from a little girl into a beautiful woman. She still has not embraced the Dark Side completely as she is still experiences attachment for people. We discover that just like the Jedi, each Sith has individual gifts in the Force. Bane believed that Zannah had the potential for Sith Sorcerey which meant using arcane energies to twist and warp the world around her. The first mission we see her undertake is to manipulate Separatist factions into assassinating former Chancellor Valorum while Bane attempts to create his own Holocron. Bane had tried to create several Holocrons but was unsuccessful each time. We also see at this point that the orbalisk have a negative effect on Bane. While they increase his strength in the Force, it also deadens his ability to see nuances. It also causes him to lose control and become an animal when enraged. Zannah suggests that he find a way to remove the orbalisks. She plants the seeds in his mind that the orbalisks are preventing him from successfully creating a Holocron.
The assassination fails of course. In the aftermath, she is taken to the Separatish leaders and discovers another Force Sensitive, Hetton, who has a wealth of Sith data including the location of a Holocron by Belia Darzu, a Sith Alchemist skilled at creating technobeasts as well as Holocrons. In addition to extensive Sith knowledge, Hetton also has a group of Shadow Assassins. Zannah lures Hetton and the Shadow Assassins back to her Master who destroys all. Lost in the beserker rage, Bane nearly kills Zannah before he realizes that she has not come to betray him but rather help him. Bane realizes that the orbalisks are compromising him and he must find a way to remove them.
While Bane goes to Tython to find Belia Darzu’s tomb, Zannah goes to Coruscant to infiltrate the Jedi to discover a way to remove the orbalisks without killing Bane. (The orbalisks release poison into their hosts body when they die). Bane does find the tomb, fights off the decimated technobeasts, and successfully retrieves the Holocron. In it he finally discovers what he has been doing wrong with the Holocron- the orbalisks aren’t the problem.
We also discover that Tython, a world in the Deep Core, is the birthplace of the Jedi Order. The priests and philosophers of the world had the ability to access on energy they called Ashla which represented the all compassion and mercy in the universe. They were opposed by those that accessed their energy from Boga, which was raw passion and uncontrolled emotion. A war ensued and those who served Ashla won. The first Jedi knights were descendants of the survivors. The lightsaber was an initiation rite. Some of the Knights migrated to share their knowledge with the rest of the galaxy
Meanwhile Zannah discovers the information that she needs but unfortunately runs across her cousin Darovit, who has come to warn the Jedi that the Sith survived Ruusan. In the time since Zannah has left Ruusan, Darovit has become a healer to those remaining on the planet. Zannah flees the temple with Darovit, who she has determined has the ability to successfully remove the orbalisk from Bane. Unfortunately, Zannah doesn’t realize that the Jedi has discovered her presence and has followed her to Tython. Zannah and Bane destroy the five Jedi. However, Bane is mortally wounded. As a dying act, one of the Jedi Masters creates a force shield around Bane to prevent Bane from using Sith lightening against another Jedi. The electricity killed several orbalisks and essentially cooked Bane inside his orbalisk armor. Zannah and Davorit take Bane to the healer Caleb on Ambria who is the only person capable of saving Bane.
Zannah discovers that she cannot force Caleb to save Bane. He will only save Bane if she turns him over to the Jedi. At first Zannah goes along with this and summons the Jedi. Meanwhile, Caleb and Davorit successfully remove the orbalisk from Bane’s body. Before the Jedi arrive, Zannah realizes that she does not know enough to take over as the Master of the Sith and will not kill her Master. She uses her Sith abilities to make the Jedi believe that the Sith have been destroyed.
When Bane regains consciousness, she tells him that she will only kill him once she has learned all she can.