Allegiance, by Timothy Zahn

March 13, 2011 at 02:21 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Mediocre Books, Star Wars Saturday!) (, , , )



Beneath the surface of this book, it is possible to see a wild war being raged.  Zahn alternates between writing gently, and almost sympathetically, about the Galactic Empire. His heroes are staunchly Imperial stormtroopers, and his book ends with a glowing and stirring commendation of the best kind of Imperial officers; honourable, wise, kindly and dutiful. At the same time, this book seems to take perverse delight in painting the Empire as a sort of Interahamwe paramilitary force, bent on slaughtering pretty much everyone else in the galaxy. It is hard to reconcile these two extremes: whether Zahn was being leaned on hard by Lucas Licensing, or whether he himself has grown either disillusioned with the starkness of heroes and villains, is hard to tell. It makes characters difficult to cheer for, and somewhat muddies the storytelling.


The “classic” storyline, detailing the pre-Empire Strikes Back antics of Han, Luke, Chewie and Leia somewhat misses its mark. Instead of either character development or even unadulterated action, we have a muddle of different hurried diplomatic missions; Leia ends up spending a great deal of time simply in hiding, while the other trio of original characters play a distinctly second fiddle to the rabble of rebellious stormtroopers, and largely follow their lead. If Zahn had intended to write about the ‘twixt-movie doings of the Rebels, he ought to have chosen to focus on them. If a cameo was all he sought, he should have cut their scenes down significantly. A hit, and a palpable hit, but with plenty of dross that ought to have been cleaned away.


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