Shadows of the Empire Influence

Shadows of the EmpireShadows of the Empire was the first multimedia event. Everything was tied in but an actual movie.

The story takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The mission: to find and rescue Han Solo before Boba Fett gets him to Jabba the Hutt. The complication: someone has put a hit out on Luke Skywalker. The puzzle: The Black Sun crime cartel may have the answers. But they also might be the problem.

The Shadows of the Empire video game for Nintendo 64 and the PC focused on Dash Rendar, a rogue like Han who is hired to help out. As yet it has not had a rerelease anywhere. It was created by LucasArts.

The comic books and graphic novel by Dark Horse focuses more on the Boba Fett who is trying to get Han to Jabba, while fellow bounty hunters and the rebels try and stop him.  John Wagner was the author and Kilian Plunkett illustrated.

The novel Shadows of the Empire focuses on the criminal mastermind Prince Xixor and his competition with Vader and our heroes. Steve Perry was the author

There was also a junior novelization by Christopher Golden.

The story answers several questions brought up by Return of the Jedi. Where did Luke get a new lightsaber? Where did they get the idea for Leia to infiltrate the palace as the bounty hunter Boussh? What was Luke doing if he didn’t go back to Yoda before Return of the Jedi? The story of the bothans who stole the Death Star plans is here too.
Check out the original Commercials:

Shadows of the Empire Influence
Shadows of the Empire Influence
Shadows of the Empire Influence
Shadows of the Empire Influence
Shadows of the Empire Influence
Shadows of the Empire Influence
Shadows of the Empire- back -canon

Here is the untold story of the events that take place between the movies The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Introduced Characters

Dash Rendar: Smuggler and sometimes bodyguard who occasionally helps out the Rebel Alliance. Dash has a grudge against the Empire. He receives his own novel, Shadow Games, set right before A New Hope. Dash shows up in Galaxy of Fear series and some of the other video games as well. He has his own novel, Shadow Games, set right before A New Hope.

Prince Xixor: Criminal kingpin and rival of Darth Vader, Xixor appears in the Han Solo Trilogy novels by Ann Crispin, manipulating the Hutt Besadii clan. He also appears in Coruscant Nights I and The Last Jedi. (pronounced /shē’zōr/) according to the audio book Shadows of the Empire and  the game Empire at War, Forces of Corruption.

Guri: A human replica droid owned by Prince Xixor. She has a follow up story by Dark Horse Comics  ‘Shadows of the Empire: Evolutions.’

Wrenga Jixton: A human agent who works for Darth Vader, sent to protect Luke Skywalker from Jabba the Hutt and capture him if possible.. Jix gets his own single issue Dark Horse comic, Shadow Stalker. Jix’s story ties into the events in Classic Star Wars comic strips.

Expanding Main Characters

Luke Skywalker: In this he is building his new lightsaber and practicing his skills. But he has put off returning to Yoda in order to rescue Han. He is also wrestling with Vader’s revelation and what to believe.

Darth Vader: Is torn between his desire to find Luke and his concerns that Prince Xixor is up to something. On top of that, Palpatine has ordered him to work with Xixor.

We actually see some comparison moments of Luke and Vader in this, for instance, in their love of flying.

Princess Leia: She’s stepped aside from her Alliance duties for Han, and for her this is a very big thing. She’s also dealing with Black Sun to investigate who is out to get Luke killed, and misleading them into thinking it’s the Alliance who wants dealings.

Lando: He’s out to redeem himself but it’s clear Leia and the others finally understand his reasons. Without Han available, he is now the only link they have to the underworld connections.

Chewbacca: We see here how seriously how he takes Han’s request to take care of Leia.

R2 and C3PO: They get to fly the Falcon. No kidding. Really. And since C3PO had a memory wipe long ago and doesn’t recall learning to help Padme fly…well, it’s messy.

The Emperor: Not a big part for him, but given Heir to the Empire and Mara were long ago introduced, one has to wonder what his goal was in letting Xixor hear some of his conversations with Vader.

Affects on other Media

Dash Rendar’s ship the Outrider can be seen added into A New Hope Special Edition, Mos Eisley Tatooine scenes.

Events from Shadows of the Empire are mentioned in the Return of the Jedi radio drama.

A mini figure of Prince Xixor is helping populate the crowd in The Phantom Menace podrace arena.

YT2400 ship from Miniatures Game

YT2400 is the class of freighter invented for Dash Rendar’s Outrider. This is from the X-Wing Miniatures Game

The Star Wars miniatures game still includes the Outrider in it’s addons.

Xixor’s ship, The Virago had a model kit made by AMT. Xixor himself was also available, as was the Emperor.

Micro Machines also made a set of the ships with mini figures.

The Falleen species introduced by Xixor go on to appear in stories all the way from the Old Republic era (books, comics, game) to the prequel era (Jedi Quest and Clone Wars comics) to New Jedi Order and Fate of the Jedi (decades after Return of the Jedi.)

The Black Sun Criminal Organization  was apparently founded sometime in The Old Republic era as it appears in the Old Republic era novel Fatal Alliance. It was partially dismantled by Darth Maul in the Dark Horse Comic of the same name. It goes on to have characters involved in the X-Wing novels and tries to resurrect itself in the Young Jedi Knights series. Black Sun is also mentioned in The Clone Wars TV series. In the Bounty Hunter Wars books, Prince Xixor is described as building, it presumably due to the events in Darth Maul and the clone wars that nearly destroyed it. How Durga the Hutt ends up working for Xixor is detailed in the Han Solo Trilogy by Ann Crispin.

A complete set of action figures plus ships was released to go with this, as well as trading cards with art by Greg and Tim Hildebrandt and a soundtrack by Joel McNeely.

Action figures included:
Luke in Imperial Guard Disguise.
Chewbacca as Snoova the Bounty Hunter
Leia as Boussh (she gets the outfit in this)
Prince Xixor
Dash Rendar
Swoop Trooper

Comic Packs with figures:
Boba Fett VS IG 88
Xixor VS Vader

Vehicles:

Outrider (Dash Rendar’s ship)
Slave I (Fett’s ship)
Swoop

Follow up Stories:

There is a sequel series: Shadows of the Empire: Evolution starring Guri and a one shot,  Shadow Stalker starring Jix, Vader’s Agent. Big Gizz and Spiker, members of Jabba the Hutt’s gang, see more action in The Jabba Tapes.

There is also a non fiction book, The Secrets of Shadows of the Empire by Mark Cotta Vaz on the creation of the entire project.

Rogue Squadron, the video game, was born of the popularity of flying with Rogue Squadron in Shadows of the Empire.

Tusken Raiders Expanded

Our first look at the sandpeople AKA Tusken Raiders, is a brief violent attack in A New Hope. For a very long time, that was it. Beyond Kenobi’s comments that they are easily startled by krayt dragon calls and ride in single file to hide their numbers, we knew little.

And of course, they rode on giant, hairy steeds with curly horns, known as banthas.

McQuarrie Tusken Raider storyteller

McQuarrie Tusken Raider storyteller from the Illustrated Guide to the Star Wars Galaxy

The Illustrated Star Wars Galaxy changed that. Using McQuarrie illustrations, we were taken into their world from the point of view of anthropologist and shapeshifter, Hoole. The tuskens showed no difference between the sexes, all wrapped in the same garb and sharing duties. The very young became full members of the tribe at around ten years old. Most important, they never shed their masks or clothes. It was anathema and would lead to the perpetrator being cast out. It was said in legend it came of one of the suns (the brother) attacking the other, and showing his true face. So now the one eternally pursued the other.

Based on hints in Dawn of the Jedi and others, this may have been based on the use of a super weapon on the primitive natives of Tatooine, which turned it’s lush beauty into the desert millenia ago.

Also fatal was to lose a hand or limb in combat. Combat with a creature like a krayt dragon was a rite of initiation. But there is no mercy for the weak or maimed. Those so crippled committed ritual suicide. Often, their banthas, with whom they formed a special bond, would mourn to the point of wandering alone into the desert to die as well.

Years later, the new Dark Horse Comics Star Wars series, set in the Prequel era fires up and gives us new views.

Soon to be called Star Wars Republic, it visits Tatooine early on. It turns out the former Jedi, Sharad Hett is living among the tribes, with a son, and calling himself a war leader. It’s more than simple settler vs tusken fighting: the Hutt’s are involved, stoking the conflict to sell weapons. Sharad’s tribe fairs badly at the hand of the Hutt’s and this begins a cultural change. Asharad Hett, his son, goes on to join the Jedi.

The few tusken raiders seen without masks are gray faced with feline like muzzles. (Dark Forces 2. These are outcasts and were taken off world by Dark Jedi.) They cannot interbreed with humans, so the matches among tuskens have to be carefully chosen to allow the tribe to flourish. Hence Asharad’s parents were both human.

Attack of the Clones revealed what appeared initially to be conflicts with our established views of Tuskens. We saw them as having brutally tortured Shmi Skywalker to death. But we see woman and children are garbed differently, unlike those Hoole encountered. This incident too, would have a profound effect on the tusken culture. Anakin Skywalker took his revenge on the entire tribe.

Between the loss of Hett’s clan and then the clan Skywalker decimated, the numbers remaining of the Tusken warriors were fewer. Losses which would’ve have been absorbed before were no longer easily accepted. They had long kidnapped people to add to their numbers, but it was no longer enough.

Kenobi, the novel of this character’s life on Tatooine, reveals much.

 Tribes, adapting to the loss had finally accepted their woman as warriors, explaining the differences Hoole discovered from the tuskens of Attack of the Clones era, as well as the other apparent conflicts in the Expanded Universe. 

Between this, and opportunities in the Knights of the Old Republic game, one sees that the sandpeople can, on occasion, be negotiated with. One man even came close to succeeding in brokering peace but was stopped by the Empire (Tales of Mos Eisley anthology.)

There are even a few cases of Tusken Raiders being taken off world to act as security to places like Sulon. Given their nature, I suspect these may have been outcasts even of their own people. However it’s also possible they were kidnapped, as they were in Children of the Jedi.

Famous members include:

Alkhara (rogue human?)

Sharad Hett (Former Jedi, adopted human)

Asharad Hett (Former Jedi, born of adopted humans)

Plug Eye (Leader of a small tribe, a rare female)

Tahiri Veila (Jedi, adopted human)

Find Out More about Tusken Raiders:

  • Illustrated Star Wars Galaxy
  • Dark Forces Jedi Knight 2 (game, novella)
  • Knights of the Old Republic (game)
  • The Last One Standing (an Obi Wan story by Jude Watson)
  • Drawing the Maps of Peace: The Moisture Farmer’s Tale (Tales of Mos Eisley short story)
  • Dark Horse Comics: Empire: Darklighter story arc
  • Dark Horse Comics: Republic: Outlander story arc
  • Tatooine Ghost
  • Children of the Jedi

 

Read More about these characters:

Alkhara

Illustrated Star Wars Galaxy

Tahiri Veila

Tahiri – The New Jedi Order – The Final Prophecy by Gregory Keyes
Japanese cover art: Tsuyoshi Nagano

Tahiri Veila

Junior Jedi Knights

  • The Golden Globe (First appearance)
  • Lyric’s World
  • Promises
  • Anakin’s Quest
  • Vader’s Fortress
  • Kenobi’s Blade

New Jedi Order

  • Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse
  • Edge of Victory I: Conquest
  • Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
  • Star by Star
  • Dark Journey
  • Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
  • Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand
  • Destiny’s Way
  • Ylesia
  • Force Heretic I: Remnant
  • Force Heretic II: Refugee
  • Force Heretic III: Reunion
  • The Final Prophecy
  • The Unifying Force

Dark Nest

  • The Joiner King
  • The Unseen Queen
  • Swarm War

Legacy of the Force

  • Legacy of the Force: Betrayal
  • Legacy of the Force: Inferno
  • Legacy of the Force: Revelation
  • Legacy of the Force: Invincible

Fate of the Jedi

  • Fate of the Jedi: Outcast
  • Fate of the Jedi: Omen
  • Fate of the Jedi: Abyss
  • Fate of the Jedi: Backlash
  • Fate of the Jedi: Allies
  • Fate of the Jedi: Vortex
  • Fate of the Jedi: Conviction
  • Fate of the Jedi: Ascension
  • Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse

Other

  • Crucible

Plug Eye

  • Kenobi

Sharad Hett

Dark Horse Comics: Republic:

  • Outlander story arc

Asharad Hett

Asharad Hett, Dark Horse Comics

Asharad Hett, Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse Comics:Republic:

  • Outlander story arc
  • Emmisaries to Malastare story arc
  • The Hunt for Aurra Sing
  • Battle of Jabiim part 4
  • Enemy Lines
  • Siege of Saleucami

Dark Horse Comics:

  • Obsession

Fate of the Jedi:

  • Apocalypse

Other

  • The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi
Spoiler for Dark Horse Comics, Legacy

 

 

 

 

The Thrawn Trilogy Influence

The Thrawn trilogy was a big bang in the creation of the Expanded Universe. For years there had been no new Star Wars. Even the ewoks and droids cartoons had faded away.

Then came the Thrawn trilogy, set 5 years after Return of the Jedi. The Alliance to Restore the Republic has succeeded in creating a new one. But remnants of the old Empire still exist, and they seem to have a new leader, a tactical genius with mysterious gray assassins, and the aid of a crazed old Jedi Master.

The Thrawn trilogy kicks in after Han and Leia are married and Luke is seeking information on the old Order to restore it.

Introduced are new characters that will be in multiple story arcs for years to come, including Borsk Fey’lya, the bothan politician, Winter, an old friend of Leia’s, Thrawn, a rare alien risen to the rank of Imperial Grand Admiral and Pellaeon, an Imperial Officer, who started his rise in the Clone Wars.

More importantly the recurring characters Mara Jade, former Imperial known as the Emperor’s Hand, a secret Force sensitive operative would become very important in Luke Skywalkers life and Han and Leia have twins, Jacen and Jaina, bound to follow in the family tradition of always being in the center of things.

Influence on the Overall Story:
Outbound Flight, Thrawn, Art by Dave Seeley

Outbound Flight, Thrawn, Art by Dave Seeley

Thrawn:
Thrawn’s influence affected the condition of the New Republic and how it responded to threats in future stories, due to the damage inflicted by his campaigns. His species, Chiss, was relatively unknown before hand.

He also left behind a reputation that others sought to exploit, including a con artist who was encouraged by an Imperial governor to impersonate him and a clone, who died still in the cloning facility.

In addition to the original trilogy, Thrawn’s backstory is told in ‘Outbound Flight’, another short story tells how he was found, a duology called the Hand of Thrawn reveals the clone and the secret Empire he left. Lastly, Survivor’s Quest tells of how the remnants of Outbound Flight are discovered by the Chiss and his people are finally formally introduced.

Mara Jade, comic version

Mara Jade, comic adaptation version

Mara Jade
The former secret agent and Force sensitive, Emperor’s Hand, goes on to be a reluctant, on again off again ally to the New Republic even as she remains a smuggler. Her backstory is told in Allegiance and Choices of One. The comic book story arc ‘By the Emperor’s Hand’ tells of what happened during and directly after Return of the Jedi and short stories explain how she met her smuggler chief, Talon Karrde.
Her future includes appearing in Jedi Academy and I, Jedi, with a bigger role in the Corellian Trilogy. By the Hand of Thrawn series, her last encounter with Luke has him asking her to marry him. The comic book story arc Union shows us this, with many a cameo of old friends. She is a full fledged Jedi Knight in the New Jedi Order series, acting as Jaina Solo’s Master. She fights alongside Luke in Swarm Wars and finally, in Legacy of the Force defends her teenage son, Ben, against the Sith.

Talon Karrde:
the smuggling chief Talon Karrde is one of the ‘go to’ smuggler’s who gets sucked into our heroes wake. Like Han Solo before him but with an organization, Karrde becomes a recurring information broker in later stories.

Borsk Fey’lya:
A bothan politician, this character is a thorn in the side of our heroes as he refuses to concede that not everyone has his type of determination to put his own advancement over the greater good. He continues in this role through many stories, causing much chaos through his political style in Black Fleet Crisis, disaster in New Jedi Order and others.

Garm Bel Iblis:
This cornelian politician is retroactive introduced as one of the founders of the Corellian treaty which initially created the Alliance. Due to differences in opinion on tactics, he’d left. He continues as an Alliance leader in future stories and has a short story that explains his involvement, though it does contradict the later ‘Force Unleashed’ story which also involves him.

Pellaeon:
An Imperial Officer who began in the Republic Judiciary Force, his backstory comes up in The Clone Wars: No Prisoners, and after the Thrawn trilogy he becomes increasingly influential, but still seeking a leader for the Empire to whom he can place his trust. It’s Pellaeon who is first broached by a third party about a peace treaty with the New Republic in Crimson Empire 3 story arc by Dark Horse comics, seeks to implement it in The Hand of Thrawn trilogy and who even steps up and aids the Republic during the New Jedi Order’s Yuuzhan Vong war.

Winter, from Star Wars X-Wing Dark Horse comics

Winter, from Star Wars X-Wing Dark Horse comics

Winter:
This childhood friend of Leia’s from Alderaan turns up in Jedi Academy as the nanny of her children, but also sees action in the X-Wing comic book series as the Intelligence agent known as Targeter, later X-Wing books, and eventually marries Captain Celchu of Rogue Squadron.

Wedge Antillies (Expanded): A mere background player in the movies, this trilogy moves him to a bigger role and he quickly becomes the action star of the X-Wing comic books and novels. He features prominently in any story told in this later era where military action by the Alliance is in play. Oddly, he was absent in the Corellian Trilogy, but reappeared in The Hand of Thrawn Duology, New Jedi Order, and Legacy of the Force when Corellia sought independence from the Republic.

Jacen and Jaina Solo
The twins are born in these stories and start life with an instant kidnapping attempt. They appear again in Dark Empire comics, Jedi Academy, Crystal Star, The Hand of Thrawn duology, Union, Young Jedi Knights series (all about their adventures) New Jedi Order sees them take on adult Jedi responsibilities during war, with appearances in the Invasion comic, Swarm Wars see them caught in a border war and Legacy of the Force has them at odds.

Vornskrs and Ysalimiri, native animals to Myrkr will come up again in new stories but their appearance will return with a vengeance in the New Jedi Order books.

Noghri from Star Wars: Republic, Dark Horse Comics

Noghri from Star Wars: Republic, Dark Horse Comics
Penciller :Jan Duursema
Inker: Dan Parsons

Noghri:
The gray assassins used by Thrawn worship Vader as a hero and only Leia, his daughter, can convince them they were deceived by a man who deceived Vader as well: the Emperor.  They are so grateful they reappear in future novels such as Planet of Twilight and The New Jedi Order as her body guards. The backstory of how their world was poisoned into needing the Empire’s aid is told in Republic, Clone Wars comic books. Noghri appeared in Dawn of the Jedi, Into the Void and indications from the comic books show they worshipped the Rakata, giving them KOTOR connections.

Outbound Flight:
This mission of Jedi to explore outside the Republic was led by the original C’baoth. It’s story was afterward told in full in ‘Outbound Flight’. It’s crashed remains were explored in Survivor’s Quest.

Chimera:
An Imperial Star Destroyer, this ship saw service at the Battle of Endor, became Thrawn’s flagship and was captained by Pellaeon. It continued to see use through numerous campaigns in the novels right up into the Swarm Wars.

Spaarti Cloning:
Set before the prequels, these explained how early clones when mad, to fast growth with too similar minds in proximity. This initially seems contradicted in Attack of the Clones, until Republic Commando series leads to the discovery that Palpatine secretly was using them to grow a secret army even the Jedi knew nothing about. It also explains the difference in quality and results.

The Katana Fleet:
This lost fleet of dreadnaughts will have mention in Dark Horse Comics, Clone Wars era comics.

The Chiss  home world isn’t actually encountered until Dark Nest Crisis, after the Yuuzhan Vong War but the people are seen in other stories.

Sluis Van shipyards appears again repeatedly as a point of contention in the various galactic conflicts, from Imperial to Yuuzhan Vong.

Praesitlyn Communications Center becomes the focus of a major battle starring Anakin Skywalker in Jedi Trial during the Clone Wars.

Coruscant: This center of galactic government continues to be so through all eras of books, comics and even movies that follow.

Rishi: The planet Rishi’s first appearance is in Dark Force Rising. The Essential Atlas confirms Rishi is the gateway world to the Rishi Maze, that Obi-Wan sought out in Attack of the Clones.

Wayland, the planet of the Emperor’s storehouse also appears in later stories, including Dark Horse comics ‘Legacy’.

Influence on other Media:

The Thrawn Trilogy was also adapted to comic book/graphic novel format.

Mara Jade and Thrawn both had action figures made of them and appeared in video games including Star Wars Galaxies and Dark Forces Mysteries of the Sith.

Jacen and Jaina Solo also get action figures, based on their New Jedi Order appearances.

Coruscant itself, made it into the prequel movies as the Capital of the Republic and then the Empire.

The Marg Sable Maneuver used by Thrawn appears in The Clone Wars episode ‘Storms Over Ryloth’.

The Chiss as a species have appeared in games including Jedi Knight 2, Jedi Outcast, Star Wars Galaxies, and The Old Republic. A boy of a lost group of Chiss is a Jedi padawan in the clone wars era in children’s books.

Coincidence or not:
Han & Leia’s quoted their own lines from The Empire Strikes Back as a shortcut to remind them of a past argument and acknowledge each other’s opinion. (Han: There wasn’t time to discuss it in commitee. Leia: I am NOT a commitee.) In Attack of the Clones Anakin and Padme do something similar, using the term ‘aggressive negotiations’ to bring back a pleasant reminder of their feelings for each other in the midst of the Geonosis arena.

The first time Artoo Detoo is mentioned as piloting a ship by himself is in these stories. In The Clone Wars TV Show episode: “Artoo Come Home” Artoo goes for help in Anakin Skywalker’s fighter when Anakin is trapped.

 

Allegiance Review

Star Wars Allegiance Book Cover Star Wars Allegiance
Timothy Zahn
sci fi/fantasy
Del Rey
2007
Hardcover

Never before has the incendiary mix of action, politics, and intrigue that has become Timothy Zahn’s trademark, been more evident that in this new Star Wars epic. On the heels of the stunning events chronicled in Star Wars: A New Hope, the newly minted heroes of the Rebellion–fledgling Jedi Luke Skywalker, smuggler turned reluctant freedom-fighter Han Solo, and Princess Leia Organa, a bold leader with a world to avenge–must face the harsh realities of the cataclysmic conflict into which they have so bravely plunged. From this point forward, legends will grow, treachery will abound, and lives will be irrevocably altered, in the long, hard fight to counter the fist of tyranny and restore hope to a galaxy too long in darkness.

The destruction of the Death Star by the Rebel Alliance was a decisive blow against the Empire, but Palpatine and his monstrous enforcer, Darth Vader, are no less of a threat. The brutal extermination of Alderaan not only demonstrated the magnitude of their murderous power, but served as a chilling testament to their resolve to crush the Rebel uprising. Standing against them, Skywalker, Solo, and the Princess remain uncertain opponents. Luke is gifted and brave, but unschooled in the power he possesses. Han has doubts about waging someone else’s war–and his contentiousness is one more burden for Leia to bear as she struggles to help keep the Rebellion alive. The three have been sent to mediate a dispute between Rebel Alliance factions in Shelsha Sector–agitating matters by forcing Han to deal not only with pirates, but with his more dreaded enemy, politics. At the same time, Mara Jade–all of eighteen and years away from her fateful meeting with Luke–is serving her evil master, Palpatine, well in her role as the Emperor’s Hand: tracking suspected treachery in the Empire to what may be high places–while trying to stay out of Darth Vader’s way.

But the Rebels will prove to be only one of the Empire’s concerns. For Imperial Stormtrooper Daric LaRone, his faith in the Empire shaken by the wanton destruction of Alderaan, will commit a sudden and violent act of defiance, and take four other enforcers with him, in a desperate bid to elude their masters’ wrath.

Each of these fateful actions, whether sanctioned, secret, or scandalous, will expose brutality and corruption, spur upheavals destined to shake the Empire to its core, and shape momentous events yet to come.

Shannon McRandle as Mara Jade

Shannon McRandle as Mara Jade

My View:

The story jumps between the main trilogy heroes, Luke, Leia and Han,  Mara Jade (AKA The Emperor’s Hand), and the Imperial Stormtrooper group who find themselves on the wrong end of the Imperial Security Bureau. Forced to go rogue, the Stormtroopers name themselves the Hand of Judgement and set out to right the wrongs of corruption.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this is that its a story about trying to do the right thing for the little person, no matter how hard it is. In this respect, while Mara Jade and the rogue Stormtroopers all believe in the Empire and Emperor, they also recognize their are times corruption has set in. So in their own way, while still not turning into Rebels, they seek to help the little guy. This sets them on a collision course with each other as well as the Rebels. As it turns out…they all have the same enemy this time around.

I really enjoyed how Luke and Leia, both trying to keep a low profile, can’t resist someone in need and take action. It showed that on some level, they think alike. It’s very appropriate for twins. And how Leia is expected to keep a low profile shows a whole new side to her. Luke meanwhile has to deal with the spirit of Kenobi whispering in his ear and guiding him…which also doesn’t help with the low profile business. Their allegiance to doing the right thing by the little guy is the core of being a Jedi, whether they know it (and whether the Jedi always remembered it) or not. Han’s attitude was very much of a guy who doesn’t yet want to admit that he’s really in this, because he believes in it, as opposed to just out of friendship.

The stormtroopers were a nice change, giving face to the faceless and revealing how people honestly believed in the Empire and yet could still end up in trouble with them. And their determination to keep helping the innocent while wearing the armor is heroic. They know, eventually, what may happen when the ISB catches up. Yet they don’t blame the entire Empire for the ISB’s corruption.  They were individuals, definitely not clones, with their own preferences and quirks. Each one had to face the question of what to do when you are given orders you know are criminally wrong. Each one had to decide between loyalty to one friend who was in trouble (and in the right) and whether going along with him was worth their careers and lives. Truly, where does their Allegiance lie? With the government and citizens they are sworn to serve or with it’s corrupt leaders?

Mara Jade’s relationship with Vader gets introduced. They aren’t together much but for those who know how Palpatine groomed Anakin Skywalker, one can see how Vader might react to this girl being treated the way he once was. Of course, she doesn’t know that.  And its also clear when it comes to his passions (Luke), Vader is, to use 3PO’s term ‘not entirely stable’ emotionally. Anyone who gets in between Luke and his father, even the Emperor’s Hand, is in serious danger.

The ending was a nice twist. Just when you think you figure out the stormtroopers, one surprises you. There is also a nice tie in to The Empire Strikes Back, as we see how ‘Ozzel’ ends up under Vader and hints that he’d been given just enough noose to…well, choke himself.

Other Stories about these Characters and Places

This book ties into the sequel ‘Choices of One’.

Mara Jade was introduced in the post ROTJ book Heir to the Empire as the Emperor’s Hand. This story is set before that. She is young in this, no older than Luke, but better trained.

Other stories with Mara:

  • Choices of One
  • Sleight of Hand: The Tale of Mara Jade
  • By the Emperor’s Hand
  • First Contact (Adventure Journal/Anthology)
  • Jade Solitaire (Adventure Journal/Anthology)
  • Heir to the Empire
  • Dark Force Rising
  • The Last Command
  • Jedi Academy Trilogy
  • I, Jedi
  • Mysteries of the Sith (Video Game)
  • Ambush at Corellia
  • Assault on Selonia
  • Showdown at Centerpoint
  • Specter of the Past
  • Vision of the Future
  • Union (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Judge’s Call
  • Survivor’s Quest
  • New Jedi Order Series
  • Dark Nest Crisis Trilogy
  • Legacy of the Force Series

The character Disra, appears in:

  • Specter of the Past
  • Vision of the Future.

The way Mara is treated by the Emperor reminded me of how he treated Anakin Skywalker, in:

  • Jedi Quest, the False Peace
  • Labyrinth of Evil
  • Secrets of the Jedi
  • Attack of the Clones
  • Revenge of the Sith

In these, he acted the part of benevolent adviser to Anakin.

Luke, Leia and Han:

Dark Horse Comics

  • Empire Series
  • Rebellion Series
  • Shadows of the Empire (comic adaptation)
  • Evolution

Bantam

  • Shadows of the Empire

Del Rey

  • Han Solo Trilogy (Ann Crispin)
  • Han Solo Trilogy (Brian Daley)
  • Razor’s Edge (Leia)
  • Honor Among Thieves (Han)
  • Scoundrels (Han)
  • Rebel Forces (YA)

 

The appear in nearly anything post Return of the Jedi