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Dark Forces I – Soldier for the Empire

By | September 13, 2000

Set pre-ANH

Dark Horse Comics - 1997

This is a "graphic story album", a novella-length story (about 100 pages) illustrated with 25 full-page pictures. It uses characters from the 'Dark Forces' and 'Jedi Knight' interactive games, although you don't have to have any knowledge of the games to follow the story. This is the first book in a trilogy.

Story -- Kyle Katarn has just graduated from the Imperial Military Academy on Carida when he learns of his father's death at the hands of the Empire. It's enough to make a guy turn Rebel...

Artwork -- absolutely bloody brilliant! Gorgeous! One teensy complaint - the content is not always convincing. For example, what would a Tusken Raider be doing on Sulon, one of the moons orbiting Sullust?

Characters -- Kyle is excellent, very convincing and kinda cute... ;)  I have to admit to thinking "Oh, no - not another Force-sensitive", but this time it actually works. Jerec is a Dark Jedi answering to Emperor Palpatine and working with a young alien officer who goes by the name of Captain Thrawn. Yup, it's him! Lando and Mon Mothma get a little cameo each, and a couple of cool new droids show up, but no Luke, Leia, Han, etc.

Chicks -- Jan Ors - another great female character enters the Star Wars Universe.

Any good? -- excellent! One of the few 'un-put-downable' books I've read recently. Fast-paced and full of terrific characters for you to love, loathe, or even feel unsure about, it paints an interesting picture of both life in the Imperial Acadamy, and in the Rebellion pre-ANH days. My only quibble with the storyline is that it clashes with all the 'Maw Cluster' stuff from the Bantam novels, although I never found those ideas particularly convincing anyway... Oh, and - do Rodians speak basic? Answers in an email, please... :)

Read it? -- yes, especially if you can get hold of a copy cheaper than the US$25 cover price (mine cost me $5!). But be warned - it's not for the very squeamish or faint-hearted. People die, and not in the warm, fuzzy 'become one with the Force' sort of way. Distinctly gruesome in places, the story is designed to bring home the horror of war. Having said that, it's not too over-the-top, and if I can cope with it, I'm sure most of you can, too. Now, go read the book - it'll only take you a couple of hours!

Rating -- 8 out of 10

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