Sunday, May 15, 2016

Review: Shadows of The Empire

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire By Steve Perry
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Release Date: January 1st, 1996
Format: Kindle edition, 413 pages 
My Rating: ★

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Here is the untold story of the events that took place between the movies The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi: a novel in which Darth Vader still lives--and battles a villain as powerful and evil as himself.


It is a time of crisis. Han Solo, frozen in carbonite, is being taken to the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt. As Princess Leia mounts a rescue mission including Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian, and a brilliant young pilot, Darth Vader pits himself against a cunning and ruthless rival. Xizor is the leader of a powerful crime syndicate who seeks to supplant Vader for the favor of their mutual master, the dreaded Emperor. Their target: Luke Skywalker. Suddenly Luke finds himself the potential prize of the two most evil entities in the galaxy--one who wants him alive...and one who wants him dead.
Shadows of the Empire is some old school Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Legends) so I had to remind myself whilst reading this that the Prequels didn't exist yet, and there weren't a lot of Star Wars novels on the market yet. So I took all of the "I have a bad feeling about this" comments with a grain of salt. In general I enjoyed this novel, and I found it as quick read but I felt at times it showed its age.

The major thing that I found interesting about this novel is that it gives us some background on what was happening in this universe in-between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. This novel is set before they go take down Jabba, and it does give a lot of insight on how they hatched that plan. If you are interested in how Leia got that Bounty Hunter outfit, that is explained in this novel. It also explains how Luke gets a new lightsaber, and it really shows the reader that Luke was pretty much winging everything. I love that about Luke because it always made him seem like such a realistic hero to me. I especially love when SW writers put him in a bind where he has to puzzle a way out without his lightsaber or the force.

This book introduces the universe to The Black Sun crime organization and its head Prince Xizor. I kind of love that his goal in this novel was to take Vader down, and I liked the fact that he just thinks Vader is such a chump. Xizor might be even more of a creep then the Emperor since he uses his weird pheromones to seduce women and he tries to use it on Leia. This was a particular part in the novel that I really enjoyed because as the reader I already knew that Leia was Luke's brother and I knew she was also force sensitive, but she didn't know any of that...yet. When Leia realizes what Xizor is doing she thinks, "Okay, I can fight this with my anger!" Oh honey, no that's the dark side of the force. I think the rhetoric in the SW's fandom has been arguing that Leia is more like Vader for a long time, so I found it extremely important that we saw a scene like this in a SW book written in 1996.

This book is good if you want some background and insight on what happened between movies, but as far as being a fan of the old expanded universe I didn't think it was something that I absolutely needed to read. I enjoyed it, and I wouldn't tell anyone not to read it, but just remember this was published in a time where there were little to no star wars books being published.

Happy Reads Everyone!