Author: Timothy Zahn
Copyright: 2007 (Del Rey); pgs. 400
Series: Star Wars Expanded Universe
ERA: Empire – Shortly after the Battle of Yavin (Star Wars: A New Hope)
Summary: 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. Among those standing against them are Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia Organa. The three have been sent to mediate a dispute between Rebel Alliance factions in Shelsha Sector. At the time, Mara Jade — all of eighteen and years away from her fateful meeting with her future husband, Luke — is serving her evil master, Palpatine, tracking suspected treachery in the Empire. And then a once-loyal Imperial stormtrooper, Daric LaRone, commits a sudden and violent act of defiance. Each of these actions, whether sanctioned or secret, will expose brutality and corruption, spur upheavals destined to shake the Empire to its core, and shape momentous events yet to come.
Comments: Like with Outbound Flight, I never thought I’d be rooting for characters that are normally viewed as the bad guys in the Star Wars universe. The five stormtroopers, ordinary young men who joined the Empire because they wanted to keep the peace and protect the citizenry, get a rude awakening when they are ordered to kill innocent, and unarmed, civilians. One, Daric LaRone, kills an Imperial officer in self-defense and he is forced to flee. His four friends choose to go with him. Before the reluctant deserters can make any long-term plans, they prevent a pirate gang from stealing equipment from an unarmed farmer. They continue to get involved wherever they go and can’t seem to let go of their sense of duty, even to save their own lives.
Meanwhile, we get to see a different side of Mara Jade: young, somewhat idealistic, compassionate. Her mission is to investigate a moff who is suspected of embezzling from the Empire. The trail leads to Shelsha Sector. She crosses paths with Captain Ozzle, who thinks she’s hunting his missing stormtroopers, and Darth Vader, who thinks she’s hunting for Princess Leia. It’s ironic that Ozzle, who shouldn’t be afraid of her if he’s loyal to the Emperor and up front about the deserters, tries to kill her; yet the stormtroopers come to her aid even when it was in their best interest not to help her. I liked this Mara, and I wish we could see more of her.
I had no problem following the multiple story lines. The blurb implies that Luke, Han, and Leia are all on the same mission. They are not. Leia’s mission, though in the same sector, is separate from Han and Luke’s. Eventually, the lines converge, and Mara just misses meeting Luke and the others.
I enjoyed this book, even with all the wincing and grimacing going on. Oh, and the total lack of R2-D2 and C-3PO. Not one R2/C-3PO or Han/C-3PO quip in the whole book. Thank goodness for Han and Leia. 😉
“Is this before or after I take you to this Grand Royal Elite Privileged Ball”
— Han to Leia
“What? You mean I had the Falcon fumigated for nothing?”
“Don’t worry, I’m sure it needed it.”
“I ordered new carpets, too.”
— Han, Leia
Started: 6 July 2008
Finished: 21 July 2008