Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
So where were we?
For those of you new to the party, before my medical hiatus we were reading the above book, Steve Perry’s Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire. Set during the time between The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, the story we’ve seen an attempt by our heroes to rescue the carbonite-frozen Han Solo from Boba Fett. It didn’t go well. It went worse when an R2 unit took control of an X-Wing and tried to kill Luke. The unit was later destroyed to hide the evidence by the assassin, who was killed by Wedge when she decided to take Luke out herself, and not to dinner.
The problem comes from Prince Xizor, a Falleen who has a vendetta against Darth Vader. Leader of the organization Black Sun and playing both sides of the war to benefit his group and side with the winners, Xizor wants to be the Emperor’s hand after Vader. (If only he had heard of Mara Jade, but that’s for another time.) He also has a personal score against Vader because the Sith Lord wiped out his family. Xizor himself also relishes the power and “respect” that comes with leading Black Sun and has no compassion for anybody, trusting only his assassin droid, the human-resembling Guri. And now that we’re caught up it’s time to get back to our review.
The first segment has a meeting between Vader and Xizor. The Black Sun leader tells the Sith Lord about a Rebel ship yard, which just happens to be owned by a Black Sun rival. That’s how the prince’s mind works. He assumes the Emperor will send Vader himself to go after it, putting him out of the way as he continues his plan to frame Vader for Luke’s assassination and the price on the young Jedi’s head. He also gets to take out a rival without doing anything or risking his own men and position while gaining more of Palpatine’s favor. He also sends a bodyguard to pay off the gardener to come work on his place instead of the Emperor’s. You get a good sense of how well Xizor plays the manipulation game.
We next take a few moments with Luke. Really, this segment is just to remind us that Luke has been spending time at Ben Kenobi’s old place on Tattooine, building his own lightsaber after he lost his old one (belonging to pre-Vader Anakin Skywalker, Luke’s daddy) in the fight back in Cloud City on Bespin (as seen in the second movie). They also explain how Luke can take a shower on a desert planet and shows that the Star Wars Universe has air conditioners. Not much here, but considering how long we’ve been away from this book I can appreciate it. I wonder if Perry was thinking of this, that they may not have resumed the book in a while due to some incident or forgot during the failed rescue and assassination, what Luke was up to earlier in the story. Building a new lightsaber (seen in the third movie) is a mild but important story moment.
And then we catch up with the rest of our non-frozen heroes. Previously, Leia found out about the attempt on Luke’s life (well, two, but who’s counting?) and is looking for answers before they can find Han again. (They know at least that Fett will be delivering him to Jabba The Hutt, at least, but previously we saw an attempt to beat him to the punch. Too bad the bounty hunter is still friendly with the Empire.) They’re heading to Rodian, the planet where Greedo comes from. And if you don’t know who Greedo is with the “Han shot first” controversy in Star Wars, then I’m not sure what brought you here because you must not follow this franchise much. This is just setup for the future, including noting that Lando’s contact is Greedo’s uncle and might take it out on Han’s friends. Dun dun dun!
We bookend (no pun intended) with the Vader/Xizor plot. Xizor’s information has been confirmed and as he thought Vader will be sent to deal with the shipyards. Vader knows the Dark Prince is up to something and plans to end this quickly. This is also more setup and continues the rivalry between the two. It’s a good way to end the chapter.
I almost asked for this book while I was in the convalescent home after my surgery, but I wouldn’t have been able to do the reviews if I had. This continues to be a good book and hopefully chapter 12, which will be reviewed next week barring new complications, will continue the trend.