It’s time to get on with the next book in my collection to be reviewed one chapter at a time. As usual, do not put spoilers for later chapters but if you haven’t been following along there will be spoilers up to whatever chapter I’m at.
With Star Wars returning to theaters in December, starting a whole new trilogy that reports say will focus on the Skywalker legacy (George Lucas had planned for the final trilogy to be about Han & Leia’s kids and you can assume Luke would train them), I would be foolish not to use the opportunity to “cash in” on that. I’m not a very good self-promoter but even I can see the opening here. The question is which book should I do? I don’t have the Thrawn trilogy and trying to do three books in a row would hijack this article series something fierce. This also leaves out the trilogy I do own, The Black Fleet Crisis. So single novel it is.
If you have been reading this site recently you should have already guessed what book I’ve chosen. I not only brought it up in the comic reviews but I’ve technically reviewed the story already. However, there’s something to be said for presentation and the strengths and weaknesses of adapting to different formats, and this book was adapted all over the place because that was the idea. Ladies and gentlemen, our next Chapter By Chapter book is…..
Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire
by Steve Perry
Not to be confused with the lead singer of Journey…as far as I know anyway. Shadows Of The Empire was a unique project, succeeding where Robotman and his friends failed. The novel was I believe was the core, but there were also the comics I’ve already reviewed, an audio cassette, soundtrack (I have it, it’s quite good), video game, and of course toys (I won’t link to those last two because they’re old, out of production, and hard to find cheap, but the other links in this sentence are Amazon affiliate links so if you order through them I get a little kickback). The idea was to pretend there was a movie and all of these were adapted from that movie. It works because the story is good. But how good?
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.
That’s why it’s a shame that this is not considered canon, as the now-Disney owned Lucasfilm decided to ignore the entire Expanded Universe that has popped up after the first trilogy. Some stories probably should have been kept, like this one, the aforementioned Thrawn trilogy, and characters like Mara Jade, who became Luke’s wife in the EU. The interesting thing is that Xizor’s organization, Black Sun, does appear in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and is still considered canon as one of the two animated series to remain so. (Droids is still headcanon to me!) However, there is no entry for Prince Xizor on the official website, although Black Sun is. That needs to be fixed.
There’s only four pages of prologue. It’s simply the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Vader and the Emperor discuss Luke. Only this time it’s from the Emperor’s side, and Xizor is there witnessing the discussion. We learn of his hatred of Vader, how old the Emperor looks to him and how he keeps his chamber’s air filtered so nobody can sneak poisoned gas in there, and that he is only just learning of the events of A New Hope, Luke, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. He’s convinced Vader wants to keep Luke alive because of how he can read people’s voices. This scene establishes Xizor’s hatred of Vader, some facts about his race, the reptilian Falleen, that will come into play later, and that he sees potential opportunity in the son of Anakin Skywalker. I do wonder why the Emperor wanted him to be there to hear the conversation, because Palpatine is a master manipulator and there has to be a reason besides Xizor’s thought that it’s a show of trust. Maybe it will come up as the book goes on.
If things go well (which would be a shock this year above others) I hope to have the first chapter up this or next Sunday. Yes, Sunday. In the past I’ve tried to do it every two weeks, under the thought that I want to have fun reading these books and not make it a chore to get the review out. However, the timing is rather important here, I really want to get to the book I planned for this spot, and I can always sit down, read a few chapters and buffer the reviews without giving up one of the four “free days”, even after Batman: The Animated Bible wraps up next week. So join me this or next Sunday for our first chapter. No named chapters in this book.