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Shadows of the Empire (Star Wars) Mass Market Paperback – March 3, 1997
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From Library Journal
Xizor, the Dark Prince and underlord of the criminal organization Black Sun, plots to kill Luke Skywalker to usurp Darth Vader's position with the Emperor. Perry is the first novelist authorized by George Lucas to reveal what happened to the familiar Star Wars characters between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Highly recommended for fans of the series.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Yet another prolific action-sf writer has been recruited to labor on the Star Wars series, George Lucas' stupendous mingled-media creation. The results are something of a mixed bag but, on the whole, more agreeable than not. The story takes place between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and those of Return of the Jedi, with Luke continuing his self-training as a Jedi knight and everybody else trying to track down and unfreeze Han Solo before Boba Fett delivers him to Jabba the Hutt. Unfortunately, Darth Vader is looking for his son (Luke--remember?), to turn him to the dark side of the Force, and a nonhuman criminal mastermind who makes Jabba look like a shoplifter--Prince Xizor of the Black Sun--is also after Luke, to take vengeance on Darth Vader for killing his family. We see a good deal of Vader's ambivalence toward both his son and his emperor, which led to the conclusion of Return, and Perry handles the multitudinous details of the increasingly complex Star Wars universe as competently as he deals with characters and pacing. A solid rather than an outstanding effort in the reliably popular SW canon. Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Readers get a peek into Vader's thoughts and emotions as he searches for Luke and competes with his rival, Prince Xizor, a formidable foe. I always hesitate when new major characters are introduced -- never sure if I will like them. Xizor was an excellent addition. I would have loved to see him in the movies.
Leia is despondent over the loss of Han. She searches the galaxy for him, finally finding herself with Xizor, whom she must struggle to resist. I feel her pain.
Lando, Chewie, and the droids play good supporting roles -- not just cameos.
Steve Perry does an excellent job with this book. It is believable in the realm of Star Wars. Its characters do not stray from what's established. His prose is easy to read and the pacing keeps the story moving. "Shadows of the Empire" is right up there with Vision of the Future (Star Wars: The Hand of Thrawn, Book 2) as my all time favorite Star Wars novel. I do believe he can rival (gasp) Timothy Zahn, and I love Zahn.
None of the new characters are particularly interesting. Xizor comes across as an overconfident playboy rather than a genuine villain. As another reviewer said, it would have been more interesting if we had seen Xizor actually succeed at something before he fails. As it stands, it looks like he's just playing out of his league with Vader and the Emperor. Dash Rendar is more interesting, but at the end of the day is just too much of a stand-in for Han Solo. His character takes a few interesting turns, but at the end it's hard to care too much about him. It would have been better to explore a completely new personality.
More tellingly, 15 years on, neither XIzor nor Black Sun have made much of an appearance in other Star Wars Expanded Universe works (Dash Rendar hasn't either, but he will feature in a book coming out later this year called Shadow Games). Rereading this novel really makes one wonder how Xizor and Black Sun were so powerful in Shadows of the Empire yet never mentioned elsewhere. In retrospect, this only highlights the lack of impact the Shadows of the Empire novel has had on the Star Wars universe.