Star Wars: Dark Forces - Soldier for the Empire
Illustrated by Dean Williams
Star Wars: Dark Forces - Rebel Agent
Illustrated by Ezra Tucker
Author: William C. Dietz
Review by James Walton

These are the first two of a trilogy of illustrated novellas based on the Lucasfilms computer games Star Wars: Dark Forces and Star Wars: Jedi Knight. The games are, in turn, based on the extremely popular Star Wars movies.

As the games filled in background and fleshed out the universe of the movies, the books fill in the games.

Kyle Katarn, a young farm boy, realizes his dream of attending the academy and becoming an Imperial Stormtrooper but is soon disillusioned. Using his knowledge of Stormtrooper tactics, Katarn eventually turns traitor and becomes a successful Rebel agent, though he is not completely trusted. His first assignment, stealing the plans for the original Death Star, almost sees him executed by both sides.

We soon learn there are a lot more Dark Jedi working for the Empire than just Darth Vader. (This and several other points seem to contradict the movies.) These Jedi are, of course, a danger to Katarn, who is developing his own Jedi powers.

The action is more comic bookish than really exciting as if deliberately written for a young audience. (Dark Horse is a comic book company but their writing standards are usually pretty high.)

Several times while reading these books I wondered why none of the Stormtroopers can shoot as straight and none of the imperial pilots can fly as well as Katarn. I guess because he is on the correct side of the Force.

For no apparent reason, Dietz places characters from the movies in cameo roles. This adds nothing to the books and contributes to the feeling of "contradiction." Why is Lando Calrissian here gambling when he should be somewhere else running a mining operation?

Neither of these books are great literature though they are quite nice to look at. They are for heavy duty fans of the Star Wars universe.

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