Soldier for the Empire, by William C. Dietz

February 26, 2011 at 23:15 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Mediocre Books, Star Wars Saturday!) (, , , , , , )


It might not have been wise to treat a novella-length recasting of a decades-old video game with much optimism. Dietz has moments where he writes like an average Star Wars author (that is, with confusing explosions of action where every shot and death is described in intricate detail, because that’s what’s interesting) and he has his moments where he seems frustrated by the tight scope of the game’s storyline. The peripheral characters are described only in the most superficial detail (even important ones, like Jerec) while we spend entirely more time in Kyle Katarn’s head than is comfortable.

Dietz had the choice between comprehensively explaining and delving into all kinds of backstory, and leaving Katarn’s origins half-mentioned and mostly guessed-at. The latter was probably not an acceptable choice for the publisher, and he tries to walk a kind of middle ground, offering barely enough information about Kyle and Mon Mothma, Morgan Katarn, Jerec and Sulon to satisfy the curious, but just enough to effectively kill any air of mystery.

This is a shame, because for what it is and considering the incredible brevity of the book, Dietz wafts into the Star Wars franchise like a breath of fresh air. His prose is not the best, but it is mostly believable and not self-indulgent at all. He displays patience in his storytelling (except when he is forced to expedite Kyle’s entrance into the Alliance) and honestly attempts to write a story about a character, not a story about Star Wars that happens to have a character in it. He is balanced in his depictions of flawed heroes and three-dimensional villains, and seems like a promising author.

Related Review:
Rebel Agent
Jedi Knight

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