With all the goings on in the Star Wars universe since the prequels started coming out, I found it refreshing to get back to a classic tale of the Rebellion and the Empire. With soldier for the Empire, we see how the Empire's cruelty leads them to turn one of their own, Kyle Katarn, against them. Hunted by the Empire and distrusted by the Rebels, Kyle (star of the Dark Forces and Jedi Knight games) chooses to simply do what he feels is right. There are four main locations featured in the story; Sulon, where a group of Rebels fight an Imperial attack to the last man; Carida, where Kyle learns the ups and downs of being a soldier; the Queen Of Empire starliner, the ship where Kyle's life changes in a second; and Danuta, where Kyle must infiltrate an Imperial base to steal the plans to a deadly new weapon, the Death Star. The plot of this book brings the somewhat pre-packaged anti-hero of the Dark Forces games into the wider universe, showing his reactions to the battling forces around him and, in turn, their reaction to him. Being a novella, the tale is short (although wonderfully illustrated) and therefore the changes in Kyle's life are kind of rushed and simplified, but it's easily forgivable as towards the end you find your mind replaying the combat from the first Dark Forces game as the story follows it's first level. Also, Kyle's interaction with Jan Ors brings another facet to the story, as the two of them share an instant connection, but are forced towards conflict by their fears and their duty. In tone, this book, and the Dark Forces novellas in general, are quite dark, showing the atrocities that led the Rebellion to fight, and ultimately defeat, the Empire. Kyle's uncertainty cleverly demostrates that he is simply a young man who fate has put into the spotlight and who must now find his true path. The illustrations in the book perfectly reflect it's tone, with one picture being particularly moving and harrowing; the image of Kyle's father's head on a spike. To cameo fans, you'll be pleased to see appearances from General Rom Mohc and the Dark Jedi Jerec, both of whom feature in Kyle's later adventures. Also there's the Rebel Senator Mon Mothma and an all-too-brief appearance by that lovable rogue, Lando Calrissian. Oh yes, and a picture of that most intimidating of space stations, the Death Star. Verdict: Four stars - Not particularly epic or dynamic, but a worthy tale of a young hero in the making.
An excellent and interesting book if you are a fan of the Star Wars computer game Dark Forces and Jedi Knight. It tells you how the main character became who he is, with excellent but slightly odd illustrations. This is a highly recommended book if you are a follower of the games that it relates to. I am after the two sequels Rebel Agent and Jedi Knight.