With ‘From A Certain Point of View: A New Hope’ firmly on my list of Star Wars books I’m really not all that keen on, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ version gave me a bit of an internal debate. On the one hand, ‘Empire’ is and always has been my favourite of the films, it’s the one I hold the rest of the films up to in terms of perfect ‘Star Wars’, so to get a new look at the film is something I’d look forward to, but as a follow up to one of my least favourite books in the franchise (Canon, nothing could be worse for me than ‘Before the Storm’, the first part of ‘The Black Fleet Crisis’ Trilogy’) it was a tough one to settle on.
Well I needn’t have worried at all.
Where a group of the authors involved with ‘A New Hope’ decided to inundate the book with stories about the denizens of the Cantina, which slowed the book down to no end, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ doesn’t suffer from this problem.
There are two major locations that we spend a lot of time in, Hoth and Cloud City, where we get stories ranging from ‘Hunger’, or as I refer to it, ‘The Wampa’s Point of View’, and ‘This is No Cave’ that I could have happily skipped and may do in the future, and whilst I didn’t enjoy them, it’s not to say that they are bad stories, far from it, but just not my cup of tea.
For the most part I really engaged with this book and as a huge fan of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ I love that the stories shed light on some of those secondary and tertiary characters, even the Imperial Captain who dies in a hologram to Vader gets a story, which ties into another story featuring the fan favourite Rae Sloane.
Fans of the Bounty Hunters are in luck, they all get stories, Boba has his own, as does Bossk, whilst IG-11 and Dengar are thrown together, forming a very loose partnership and another details more about 4-LOM and Zuckuss in ‘STET’ by Daniel José Older which also features the return of one of my favourite characters from his novel ‘Last Shot’.
There are three stand-out stories for me that I would have to give 5/5, those are ‘Rogue Two’ by Gary Whitta, ‘Rendezvous Point’ by Jason Fry and Vergence by Tracy Deonn, which gives a voice (so to speak) to the Dark Side Cave on Dagobah, which as I read I could hear it in Sam Witwer’s voice as ‘The Brother’ from ‘The Clone Wars’, unfortunately for me, in the audiobook Witwer narrates ‘Disturbance’ by Mike Chen, which is about Palpatine (for the record I didn’t do the Audiobook for this one, just fan casting).
For me, this collection is a complete step-up from the ‘A New Hope’ version, probably because its my favourite film. For me the pacing of the book, the way the stories are arranged feels much better, they flow together and you never feel bogged down by a single location.
Whilst it’s not one of the best of the current Star Wars book series it’s far from the worst, it’s enjoyable and as I said before, engaging. Well worth a read for fans of the franchise but not one for a newcomer to the books to start with.
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