Soldier for the Empire
by William C. Dietz and Dean Williams
Published by Boulevard & Dark Horse
Scott's Rating: 4 out of 4
This is the first book in a three book series.
Kyle Katarn is a loyal Soldier for the Empire. He is an excellent Stormtrooper who happens to have excellent intuition, possibly from the Force. However, when his father, secretly a Rebel, is brutally murdered by a Dark Jedi named Jerec, Kyle vows to fight the Empire. He meets Jan Ors, a female Rebel, and joins the Rebellion. Since he is rather expendable and well trained, Mon Mothma sends him on a mission break into a high security Imperial Facility to steal the plans to the first Death Star.
This was an excellent story and well illustrated. I usually don't like such dark, abstract art like that Dean Williams does, but it fit in very well with this story. What will appeal to many readers is the dark tone of it. It shows a side of the Star Wars rarely seen - the perspective of our poor shooting friends, the Stormtroopers. It makes them a lot more human and gives you an idea of what kind of person becomes a mindless murderer like a trooper. We get an excellent look at how they are trained, their traditions, and what combat is like for them behind the scenes. I thought Dietz did an excellent job making you feel for Kyles father. And the progression of Kyle going from loyal trooper to Rebel was well thought out and believable. Dietz really is good at creating original characters that you care for in a short amount of time. He did a good job of taking the familiar SW Universe and adding to it. Also, Thrawn fans will be pleased with a short cameo of him as a captain.
As you may or may not know, this is based on the Dark Forces video game. And you can tell exactly where the video game comes into play. The story goes from a well thought out , character driven story to a boring shoot-em up. (Did I say that?! I LOVE action, though!) It basically reads "Kyle walked and shot, then a trooper jumped out, and he shot again, then he turned and shot the guy above him, then" It got old real fast. It was basically a description of the video game. Finally, I didn't really understand why Mon Mothma would send someone she didn't totally trust to steal the Death Star plans, or why shed send someone to follow him. Why not just send the one you have tailing Kyle? Anyway, other than these two minor gripes, I loved the story.
There's a picture of Kyle standing next to his father's head on a pike. Ick. Rather grim, eh?