Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: Tales From The Empire

Tales from the Empire (Various)

Tales From The Empire features ten short stories, including the four part Side Trip. I will review each on a scale of one to eight, with an additional 20 points for the anthology as a whole, adding up to one hundred total.

First Contact (Timothy Zahn)

The opening story in the collection details the first meeting between EU standouts Mara Jade and Talon Karrde. The tale is fairly simplistic, but there are enough twists and mysteries to keep readers interested. It also tells a fairly important story, and more tales featuring Karrde are always appreciated.

Sub Score - 7/8

Tinian on Trial (Kathy Tyers)

This story, one of the only in the book to successfully evoke the Empire's truly menacing presence in the galaxy, is the tale of Tinian I'att's coming of age as a result of an Imperial raid on her grandparent's armor making facility. The ending is a bit cliche, but there is plenty of action packed into the book, and Tinian is an above average character, especially compared to many of the others in this book.

Sub Score - 7/8

The Final Exit (Patricia Jackson)

A pretentious, unexciting story detailing a Jedi Knight's fall from grace. The protagonist, a Corellian pilot named Ross, doesn't connect to the reader and the story itself is somewhat boring. It does give us an interesting look at what Jedi used to be perceived as (it is a bit hard to accept this story as accurate post Phantom Menace) but otherwise, it is a lacking addition to the collection.

Sub Score - 3/8

Missed Chance (Michael A. Stackpole)

A story detailing Rogue Squadron's Corran Horn and his pre Rebellion years, Missed Chance primarily takes place through the eyes of a tiny rebellion cell on the world of Garqi. The story is simple but fun, with some good dog fighting sequences and banter between Horn and his astromech, Whistler. The villain is kinda stupid, plus the original characters are uninspiring, but overall this is a solid adventure worthy of inclusion in the anthology.

Sub Score- 6/8

Retreat From Coruscant (Laurie Burns) 

One of the most endearing aspects of this story is the one of a kind protagonist- Taryn  Clancy. Taryn is the captain of an intergalactic mail carrier, and her rounds are interrupted by the Empire's invasion of Coruscant. What follows is a good, tense story as Taryn is forced to smuggle New Republic materials from Coruscant and to an outlying system. She is accompanied by a rebel soldier and her co-pilot, and the animosity between these two is just one of the enjoyable elements of the story. They also have their share of close calls, and the ending made complete sense. A surprisingly good inclusion.

Sub Score- 8/8

A Certain Point of View (Charlene Newcomb)

This brief story details a woman's struggle to choose a side in the ongoing war between Empire and Rebellion. After some tragic/unexpected events occur, she is forced to reevaluate her view of each side. Unfortunately, there isn't much that actually happens here, besides a rather boring action scene at the very end, and the ambiguous nature of said ending bothered me. This is quite a nondescript story.

Sub Score- 4/8

Blaze of Glory (Tony Russo)

An action packed short featuring a commando raid on a slaver base. There isn't much to any of the characters featured here, but the fast paced action and interesting conclusion make this one of the better stories in the collection. The story is pretty cheesy, intentionally so, with character names like "Lex Kempo" and "Sully Tigereye" but overall this is a perfectly competent action story.

Sub Score- 6/8

Slaying Dragons (Angela Phillips)

One of my least favorite in the collection, Slaying Dragons details a young girl's entry into the Rebellion. The whole premise is more young adult oriented, though it was interesting to see how the girl's guardians reacted to her growing interest in the Rebel movement. The girl's situation is intriguing, but her character is poorly written, and the end is fairly predictable. Not terrible, but not a great story either.

Sub Score- 4/8

Do No Harm (Erin Endom)

The story of a prison raid from the point of view of the squad's medic, Do No Harm is an interesting character study and action packed piece. The protagonist, a medic struggling with the thought of having to kill-something explicitly against her code of beliefs- is one of the more memorable original characters in the collection, and the climactic moment is extremely well written, as is the rest of the piece.

Sub Score- 8/8

Side Trip (Timothy Zahn and Michael A. Stackpole)

This novella, co-written by two of Star Wars' most prolific authors, is an excellent conclusion to the anthology. Told in four parts, Side Trip uses established characters Thrawn and Corran Horn, with cameos by Darth Vader and Colonel Veers, to tell a complex, multi faceted tale of the Empire's efforts to capture criminal mastermind Zekka Thyne. Some original characters are thrown in, but they are extremely bland and readily forgettable, especially compared to our central cast. Thrawn and Corran are great in this novel. Thrawn is every bit the calculating genius seen in the books, whereas Corran and his dad, fellow detective Hal, have a great relationship that fleshes out both characters.

There is plenty of action here, and the author's writing styles (Zahn writes part 1 and 4 while Stackpole writes 2 and 3) compliment each other well. Interestingly, Thrawn takes a backseat in Stackpole's parts, while Zahn avoids spending too much time with Horn. This balances the character's exposure really well and prevents mischaracterization, leading to a fantastic adventure to conclude the collection.

Sub Score- 8/8


Tales from the Empire has its share of solid to great stories, with only a few clunkers in the bunch. One of the only complaints I have with the collection is that nearly every story deals with a member of the Alliance/Republic or someone who joins by the end of the piece. Most stories are also set after the events of Return of the Jedi, leading to a more diminished Empire. Some (First Contact, Blaze of Glory) have very little to do with the Empire. It was disappointing to see the Empire in their traditional antagonistic roles- there was no reason that this collection couldn't have focused more on the beings that make up the Empire, rather than those who oppose it. I still recommend the collection, but the title is somewhat deceptive.

Sub Score- 12/20

Final Score


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