The Great Comics Con Queso Star Wars Expanded Universe Reading Experiment – Entry # 8 : Shadows of the Empire
I remember reading this book way back when the video game adaptation came out for N64. I was maybe ten or eleven years old at the time and I thought it was the most amazing thing in the world. It was pretty much the epitome of 90’s cool to me. I was one of the biggest Star Wars nerd kids you could find at the time, obsessed with collecting the old red and green card Power of the Force figures. I had a remote control that was a replica of Luke’s lightsaber from Return of the Jedi. So you can imagine how this book was like crack to me. It wasn’t intimidating in the way the few other Star Wars expanded universe novels I’d seen on the bookshelves seemed to be. It was light reading by comparison, and I tore through it fairly quickly.
It’s been a while since then and going back and re-reading it has cooled my opinion of it a little bit. Xizor isn’t the amazing villain I thought he was back in the day and the plot tends to drag on a little bit. It’s not that it’s a bad story it’s just that the telling of it seems to be a bit off kilter and has the pace of a record played just a little bit slower than it needs to be to sound right. There seem to be a lot of scenes that are just re-hashes of previous scenes that are left in only to fill out the page count and none of the characters are particularly well defined outside of Xizor. The new side-hero Dash Rendar is basically a Han Solo clone and nothing else is added to his character. He’s got a backstory and an attitude and that’s about it. The ending is also rather anticlimactic, given how hard the book works to establish Xizor as an ultimate badass you wouldn’t expect his eventual defeat to be so underwhelming.
But the end point of the book is basically to connect parts V and VI of the original trilogy and in that regard it succeeds by filling in the gaps that everyone needed to know, ie. how Leia got that bounty hunter costume.