This book reeeaaaally excited me not only because I had heard my brother rave about Prince Xizor and Black Sun for years, but also because this was the first book for me which I could read through Luke and Leia’s eyes.
In Shadows Steve Perry looks to bridge the gap between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi – and does a pretty good job at it too! Ever found yourself wondering ‘how the flip did Luke get so awesome and Jedi-like so quickly?’ or ‘where did that green lightsaber come from?’ or ‘but Lando was a massive douche to them at the end of Empire and now he’s on the team and they’re all just ok about this?!!’. Well question no more because this book deals with these and more!
Well I can’t really talk about Shadows of the Empire without singing the praises of Prince Xizor! He is such an awesome bad guy and what makes this book really interesting is to watch him go head to head with Vader – our other awesome bad guy. They are basically trying to bring one another down but have to do so in super sneaky, underhand ways because the Emperor kind of likes both of them and they really don’t want to hack him off by cutting down one of his favourite honchos! Actually, Vader would win in a fight hands down – Xizor really wouldn’t be much match for a rampaging Vader – but that’s what makes this book so interesting. We get to see Vader plot and scheme against Xizor and, although it’s kind of a given that the Falleen Prince will lose (I mean – SPOILER ALERT – he’s not in Return of the Jedi) but I found myself scratching my head wondering how Vader would end up outmanoeuvring Xizor because he’s just so gosh darn wily!
(I just want to add a side note that the little smattering of humour throughout the book was very well done by Perry e.g. Xizor, with the wealth of planets at his disposal and head of the largest criminal organisation in the galaxy winds up with a computer that can’t pronounce his name right?! It’s never not funny!)
Although it was great to see Luke start to hone his force skills and really start to grow into the Jedi we see walking with calm and confidence into Jabba’s palace in Episode VI, I actually found it was Leia who stole the show in this book. I don’t know if it’s the whole girl thing or because the films never really get into her head but I really enjoyed every scene she was in and the subtle hints that there is more to her then even she realises at this point.
I think Guri was a little bit underused – she was so sinister and creepy and I would liked to have seen more of her in action. Also, the whole ability the Falleen have for basically making women absolute putty in their hands was a little disturbing. It didn’t put me off personally (mainly because it gives Leia the awesome scene of fighting the effects off to give Xizor a solid knee right where it hurts!!) but it might be a tad adult for some.
Rating: a solid 4 ½ out of 5 death stars for this one!