By Timothy Zahn
Del Rey Books
A continuing trend I am noticing as I continue to read through this mass of Star Wars books that have piled up next to my chair is the diligence the authors are showing in respect to the Stormtroopers. Since the inception of the Star Wars universe into the mainstream, the Stormtrooper has simply been the men in white — recently known, in some cases, to be Clones – who are the Star Wars equivalent of the Star Trek red-shirts.
This will reach its ultimate example when, this August, Star Wars: Clone Wars hits cinemas, and soon afterwards, TV screens.
But for the moment, a few weeks away from its release, we can continue on our journey through the Expanded Universe. This week, we’re focusing on the Rebellion Era books, those books which take place in and around the original three movies, and in particular, Allegiance by Timothy Zahn.
Set just after Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope, Allegiance is one of those wonderfully convenient stories that are obviously written in hindsight, and manage to subtly bring characters close to each other, but never have them actually meet. So that, in retirement, when a married couple are comparing stories, they will find that “Oh my goodness, that was you?”
Timothy Zahn, the man who revolutionized the Star Wars Expanded Universe (in novel form), once again returns to the Star Wars universe and tells a story that takes place across several storylines, diverging and intertwining like some sort of maypole dance. Main characters include Luke, Leia and Han, Mara Jade, and a group of five Stormtroopers.
For me, the lower points in the story were those when the attention was solely focused on the original three I mentioned, Luke, Leia and Han. I don’t dislike their characters, but when I have the opportunity to follow characters such as Mara Jade or a group of Stormtroopers, they fall quickly in favor.
And for me, this was the first time I had ever met Mara Jade, and though I had heard things about her, it was nice to finally meet her in person (so to speak). She is written with a flare and naivete which I like, especially considering the life that I feel is laid out for her. The young girl that we read is idealistic, and oh so very indoctrinated.
On the other side of that coin are the Stormtroopers, who know far too well the reality of the situation they are in, i.e., the Empire. World weary and sick to the teeth with the seemingly incontrovertible evidence that the Empire is rotting from the top down, these five Stormtroopers are forced into taking matters into their own hands.
Zahn has an unmistakable flare and genius for writing a convoluted story that, though disparate in the beginning, all comes together in the end. And though certain conceits must be taken at face value and a certain measure of convenience as well, the story is well written.
Allegiance easily warrants a 7 out of 10, as it manages to easily bypass the inability to do anything major with its lead characters, while still keeping you interested. And in doing so, Allegiance still managed to add a whole heap of information to the Star Wars universe. Definitely worth a read, and if you need to pick it up, head along to the Amazon List that I update each week. Lots to keep you busy!