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Tales from the New Republic: Star Wars Legends Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1999
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Yet another Star Wars Tales collection, Tales from the New Republic rescues a sheaf of stories that never saw publication in West End's now-kaput Official Star Wars Adventure Journal, with the addition of a tag-team novella by Star Wars fiction demigods Timothy Zahn (Hugo-winning author of Specter of the Past) and Mike Stackpole (founding member of the Rogue Squadron). This above-average anthology delivers on the same promise as other Tales collections, fleshing out hidden details in the Star Wars universe, with notable appearances by Mara Jade, Senator Garm Bel Iblis, Hal Horn, Talon Karrde, Kyp Durron, and the book's only true heavy-hitter--Boba Fett, in a fun, comic-book style frontal assault on a not-so-invincible Imperial garrison. The stories prove to be winners for the most part, with a good mix of old-hand authors and new bloods, but the Zahn-Stackpole collaboration is undoubtedly the star of the show. --Paul Hughes
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The Stackpole/Zahn effort "Interlude at Darkknell" kicks off the book with Zahn contributing parts one and four and Stackpole taking the middle two. Bizarrely, considering the title of this story collection, the novella is set all the way before A New Hope and utilizes the Death Star plans as the driving plot device. Senator Garm Bel Iblis, known to many EU readers from the Thrawn Trilogy, is swept up in an attempted assassination which sets him on the path to opposing Palpatine's Empire. Ties to Stackpole's Rogue Squadron books and comics include Corsec inspector Hal Horn (Corran Horn's father) and Ysanne Isard, a malicious and ambitious field operative for Imperial Intelligence. Unlikely alliances and sudden double-crosses are liberally sprinkled through the four parts, keeping the pace brisk and the plot exciting.
In addition to the novella, Zahn's "Jade Solitaire" was also selected for this compendium. Mara Jade is in charge of the Wild Karrde while her boss Talon Karrde is away on business. Bloated industrialist Ja Bardrin captures the Wild Karrde's crew and hold them hostage; his demand is that Mara set off to rescue his daughter, who was kidnapped by Drach'nam slaver Praysh along with a valuable prototype ship. This story has a terrific action sequence as Mara does what must be done to the slaver organization and also fills in the backstory of her vessel Jade's Fire.
Patricia Jackson contributes two stories to this volume. "The Longest Fall" rhapsodically recounts the strangulation of an unlucky Imperial officer. "Uhl Eharl Khoehng" tells of a Dark Jedi and his plotting with his son to perform the hardest play ever. Having already read one of her stories in Tales from the Empire, I continue to dislike her pretentious storylines, overly flowery language, and heavy-handed fetish for evil. Lucas has never portrayed the bad guys as role models in the films, and while I don't mind some shades of gray being explored in the EU, in terms of overall theme I believe good should always be held as the ultimate ideal.
The remaining stories in the volume are largely high-quality and engaging. Chris Cassidy and Tish Pahl are featured twice and utilize the same core characters in both stories. They also work in an interesting appearance by Kyp Durron in a story set after the events of the Jedi Academy Trilogy. Paul Danner's "No Disintegrations, Please" is a fun over-the-top story of Boba Fett doing ridiculously impossible things to chase down a bounty. Danner also has a second story in the book, and authors Jean Rabe, Laurie Burns, and Kathy Burdette have one story each.
I've enjoyed reading collections of short stories that stray from the beaten path of the main film characters, but I admit, at this point in my chronological reading I'm ready to get back to some longer stories featuring more prominent characters. I still feel the Tales concept is a strong one and would like to see more collections in the same vein someday.