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TFN Review: Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide From Becker & Mayer

Posted by Adam on November 24, 2014 at 11:58 PM CST

With Star Wars Rebels now in full swing, fans are being reminded once more of the oppression of the Empire, so it seems like the perfect time for becker&mayer! to release the Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide, the latest in their series of deluxe in-universe instructional manuals.

As with the previous releases, the Imperial Handbook is packaged in a rather nifty case, which in this instance is emblazoned with the Imperial insignia. When the case is opened, it is accompanied by the now-customary lights and sounds, the two halves separating with a pretty swish gliding motion to reveal the black-bound book. The cover of the book also shows the Imperial insignia, this time debossed along with the title, with both in contrasting silver. Nestled underneath the book is an Imperial Order of Glory medal. Contained within the book's pages is a Rebel Alliance artifact registration sheet that provides a number of pertinent details such as the date, serial number and description, and who it was filed by, which in this instance is a certain Commander Luke Skywalker of Alliance Command. On the back, additional notes describe some background to the Imperial Handbook, including its origin and references to some of its contents, along with the names of the other high-profile officers who will be commenting on the information contained within. Step forward General Rieekan, General Madine, Commander Wedge Antilles, Alliance Commander-in-Chief Mon Mothma, General Leia Organa and General Han Solo.

As one would expect with the Empire, absolute fealty is to His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Palpatine. In his introduction he describes his version of how the Republic came to be transformed into the Empire and the edicts that are to be celebrated, namely one ruler, one code of law, one common tongue and one education in social progress. Furthermore, he makes it abundantly clear that any opposition whatsoever shall not be tolerated and shall be met with violence.

The rest of the book is divided into five parts (describing the Imperial Military, Navy, Army, Stormtrooper Corps and Imperial Doctrine), rounded out by a concluding note from His Imperial Majesty. The first four parts each include corresponding historical commentaries, with the section on the Imperial Military written by Admiral Wulff Yularen, opening with The Empire's New Order, before covering topics such as the structure of the military, spies & secret police, Imperial policies, and military recruitment.

Admiral Conan Antonio Motti is tasked with composing part II, the section devoted to The Imperial Navy, with contributions from Captain Kendal Ozzel, Grand Admiral Martio Batch and Captain Soontir Fel among others, while the Mission Report for the Battle of Turkana has been prepared by Captain Firmus Piett of the Star Destroyer Accuser. Among the topics covered in this section are Imperial Navy Uniforms, Naval Officer Rank Insignia, Structure & Organization and Imperial Navy Ships of the Fleet.

Part III, which is the section that covers The Imperial Army, has been compiled by High General Cassio Tagge, and includes topics such as Imperial Army Uniforms, Formations & Deployment, Imperial Garrisons, Mounted Creatures and Vehicles of the Imperial Army, written by Colonel Maximilian Veers, who also delivers the Mission Report for the Pacification of Salline.

TX-5532 has the honour of providing information relating to the Stormtrooper Corps, and after a brief introduction, he provides a history of the Stormtrooper corps, which discusses cloning and recruitment, before moving on to cover Academies and Training, Structure and Organization, Stormtrooper Specializations and Elite Stormtrooper Units, before concluding with a Mission Report that recognizes Negastrike platoon, 501st Central Garrison Sector M777, Mid Rim, and their heroism in the Emperor's service.

Last, but by no means least, Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin details the Imperial Doctrine in part V, with sections devoted to The Projection of Power: The Empire's Right to Rule, The Tarkin Doctrine: A Blueprint for Supremacy, four pages focusing on The Rebellion, and finally Superweapons, with one in particular being singled-out, The Death Star.

There are many points of interest throughout the book, such as an illustration that shows someone wearing the same uniform and headgear as Agent Kallus from Star Wars Rebels (presumably a fellow member of the Imperial Security Bureau), but what I personally find most intriguing is part of Luke's comments on the back of the artifact registration sheet where he refers to the Empire as being on the defensive after the Rebel Alliance's win at Endor. This, coupled with text on the box that describes how members of the Rebel Alliance intercepted the manual in the wake of the Battle of Endor, points to the fact that the notes scribbled in the handbook represent the first post-Return of the Jedi canon that has been written since the reclassifying of the Expanded Universe as Legends!

The illustrations in this book feature the work of Chris Trevas, Chris Reiff, Joe Corroney, John Van Fleet, Maciej Rebisz, Russell Walks and Velvet Engine Studios, and many of them are nothing-short of spectacular. Similarly, the annotations that are liberally sprinkled among the pages, range from the formal, matter-of-fact responses of a respected high-ranking officer to the flippant remarks that one would associate with a smuggler that's flown from one-side of the galaxy to the other. As he has done before, Daniel Wallace has once again delivered a fascinating in-universe guide to a particular aspect of A Galaxy Far, Far Away... and the level of detail and depth of content make this a hugely-enjoyable read.

The Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide is out now and available directly from becker&mayer!, as well as all good bookstores, with a suggested retail price of $99.99.

A big thank you to Cara at Wunderkind, and be sure to listen to Jay & Chris interview author Daniel Wallace in October's episode of Jedi Journals, and keep checking back every month for your monthly roundup of Star Wars publishing news, commentary, and discussion on the latest releases in the realm of novels, comics, and magazines.

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