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on 12 May 2017
Expanded Universe (or Legends as they are now called in the Disney era) never ring quite true due to the characters being outside of the original plots and translated into print rather than seen on the screen. But if you like Star Wars then you should get some entertainment from this. Kindle has unfortunately messed up the formatting, there are no gaps between paragraphs.
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on 3 September 2014
Shadows of the Empire is a Star Wars novel set between the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi movies. Luke, Leia, Lando, Chewbacca, and the droids R2-D2 and C3-PO are on Tatooine, awaiting the return of bounty hunter Boba Fett so they may rescue Han Solo. Meanwhile Luke Skywalker begins constructing a new lightsaber using the teachings left from Obi-Wan Kenobi. Much of the story is about a dark rivalry between Darth Vader and Prince Xizor of the Black Sun criminal organisation.

It was good to see familiar characters in a setting that started off similar to the movies, and I was intrigued by the villain Prince Xizor when he was first introduced, especially his fighting skills and ruthless way of dispatching traitors.

Despite this, I felt the motivations of the main villains weren’t very imaginative. For example, Prince Xizor’s linear thoughts were predictable and didn’t offer much more than his treachery and deception, which soon bored me. Further, much of the dialogue and interaction between the main characters was weak. Shadows of the Empire wrote about worlds and ways of life within the greater universe of Star Wars, but I found little that was original in the storyline. On that note I felt that if it wasn’t a Star Wars novel then it would have been even more difficult to grasp and enjoy.
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VINE VOICEon 14 October 2004
THE STORY:
Set between 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return Of The Jedi', Prince Xizor, head of the Black Sun criminal empire, is seeking to discredit his hated nemesis Darth Vader by assassinating Luke Skywalker, whom Vader has promised to turn to the dark side. Unable to recover Han Solo's carbon-frozen body, Princess Leia is further disturbed when Luke is almost killed and she seeks to root out the assassins with Xizor's help.
WHAT'S GOOD:
This book is the perfect bridge between the two movies, being both an interesting and original stand-alone story, but also linking into the films with such things as Xizor being with the Emperor when Vader speaks to him in 'Empire', Luke building his replacement lightsaber, and the story of "many Bothans died to bring us this information" revealed. The new characters are all of high quality; Xizor's cold patience being a good counterpoint to Vader's harsh temper and Dash Rendar bringing that element of cocky, honourable pirate that would otherwise have been Han. One of my favourite elements of the book, however, is that for the first time we get to read what Vader's thinking and understand what his motivations are.
WHAT'S BAD:
There's not much to complain about with this book, except perhaps the underuse of Boba Fett and the fact that Vader and Xizor never got to beat the hell out of each other (although I reckon Vader would've done most of the beating).
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 October 2016
This is an excellent contribution to the Star Wars mythos - presenting an original story that takes place between the events depicted in the films "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi". This novel 'fills the gap' between these two movies, and does so in an entertaining and exciting manner. The basic storyline involves Luke and Leia (along with their friends) seeking to locate the carbonite-encased Han Solo; while Darth Vader is engaged in tracking down Luke. Yet it's the new material - especially the new characters - that makes this a great book. Lord Vader finds himself competing for the Emperor's attention, as the evil Prince Xizor seeks to manipulate circumstances to his own advantage. And the rebels must rely on smuggler Dash Rendar in order to bring their plans to fruition.

This novel develops an epic-like feel to the story being presented. It was a major success, and "Shadows of the Empire" involved a tie-in videogame and toy-line. If you're a fan of the original trilogy then I highly recommend this book. It's one of the best Star Wars novels.
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on 16 August 2000
At last, something to bridge the gap between ESB and ROTJ. I sat and watched SW, then ESB again before reading the book (not that I needed a refresher, I already know most of the words off by heart)The book tells of how Leia, Lando, Luke, Chewie and the droids prepare for the rescue of Han, frozen in carbonite and in the hands of Bobba Fett on the way to Jabba. We are shown Leias growing feelings for Han, and the strange feelings she has for Luke which she cannot yet explain. The grouo are only just starting to trust Lando after he sold them out to Vader in ESB and he sytematically helps tham with his numerous "contacts" scattered around the seedier parts of the galaxy. We are introduced to new characters - Dash, another arrogant bounty hunter/smuggler who in the absence of Han, remind you of his character in SW doing all for money, and Xizor, who although we are not likely to hear of him again, showed subtle weeknesses in the Grip of Vador and the Emperor. The stoy has many twists and turns and explains without listing, how things fell into the hands of, how Vader managed to keep up with, and where Leia got the bounty hunter disguise idea from.
In short, an excellent book especially for those of you who like me, just cant help going over the original trilogy again and again.
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on 5 March 2006
Finally, someone had the brains to bridge the gap between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Shadows of the Empire tells of the struggle of Lando, Luke, Chewie, Leia and the droids to rescue Han Solo.
The powerful leader of the Black Sun, Prince Xizor, is trying to kick Vader out of power in order to be more powerful in the Empire. While Vader fights him and the Rebels, our heroes make several attemps to rescue Han, but fail. A new good guy, hot-headed Dash, also appears, much to Luke's annoyance. Prince Xizor also poses a problem as he almost seduces Leia... but I won't give that away.
It's a good book and I recommend it for any Star Wars fan.
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on 19 December 2010
Having read many Star Wars books based after Episode 6, I delved into this book with low expectations. Based between episode 5 and 6 I expected this book to "piggy back" an obvious storyline or two and rub your face in some cheap references to the films rather than stand on it's own. Admittedly the references are there from the cheesy (Leia gets a thermal detonator and decides "it might come in useful later") to the more informative (descriptive look around Obi Wan's house anyone?).
Overall I enjoyed the book alot more than I expected to. The storyline is reasonable strong and the action is continuous through out. Well written and worth a look if you are an avid Star Wars fan or just a fan of the original films.
No real negatives to report, it just isn't as good as other Star Wars books out there.
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on 4 June 1997
Shadows of the Empire is a wonderful, fast paced , and action packed addition to the Star Wars series. Perry's representation of the characters is marvelous, and I dont think I've ever seen a better supporting villian than Xixor, head of the infamous underground crime syndicate, Black Sun.
The way Perry usurps the role of transforming Luke from a young(and in some ways immature)man to a hardened Jedi Knight is done brilliantly. The plot couldnt have been written any better either. Perry does a great job of balancing out the many conflicts that seem to be occuring at one time(as seen in the Trilogy). Dash Rendar, the other new main character,is a piece of work as well. He is a smart-mouthed, arrogant, and fast talking smuggler who eventually drops the hard outer shell revealing that he is really a nice guy(kinda like Han Solo). This book, all and all, is great on many platforms. It combines the typical problem of the Star Wars Trilogy: The evil Galactic Empire, with the introduction of Xixor and his quest to be the Emperor's right hand man. And it combines them well. Fans like myself couldnt have asked for anything any better, and if you havent read it already, PLEASE DO.
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on 17 June 1998
I really enjoyed reading the book, but it was more out of nostalgia than being captivated by the author. There are times when a scene from ESB is re-created and the book takes you to another point of view not seen in the movie. It's neat to finally see that other side and fill in the missing pieces between ESB and ROTJ. HOWEVER, a reader should remember at the time the book was published it was leading a huge marketing charge to sell books, toys, comics, and video games. That's why generic characters like Dash are around (gee, does he live for a sequal?), and why Vader could possibly be challenged by some tall, ugly green guy who smells really nice.
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on 29 November 2012
Looking at my own reviews, I feel I've given too many critical reviews and not highlighted Star Wars books at their best. I guess it's easier to criticise than praise so here's a better one to balance it out.

This was the first Star Wars book I read and it's an excellent introduction to the expanded universe. Set between Empire and Jedi, it strikes a good balance between the familiar and the new. It's one of the few books to get inside Vader's head which deserves a big fat tick and his rivalry with Xizor is a perfect clash of opposing personalities. For me it really opened my eyes to the fact that the films are just a drop in the ocean.

Plot-wise there are three things going on: the Rebels are trying to free Han, Vader is trying to find Luke and crimelord Prince Xizor is trying to oust Vader from his position as Palpatine's right-hand man. The three-way tussle is more dynamic than a simple one-on-one and the book really benefits.

The holy trinity of Luke, Han and Leia are one short but it's not so bad as it's the attempt to rescue Han that moves their part of the plot. The surviving two are both in interesting situations: Luke is in a transitional phase, half way between the hot-shot pilot of his youth and the Jedi Knighthood of his future. He's still in command of Rogue Squadron but you can see him moving away from that: at the book's start he is literally finding his feet, experimenting with his abilities on a tight-rope walk. Leia, meanwhile, is coming to terms with her new-found feelings for Han, her confused emotions toward Luke and the romantic attentions of Xizor.

Xizor is one of the best villains in the Star Wars books. True, he's a little too good to be true being infinitely rich, smart, handsome and, thanks to his pheromones, irresistible to the opposite sex. Even his privately-designed starship is faster, tougher and more powerful than anything else. His complete perfection would normally be smack of lazy writing but if he's going to be a rival to Vader, he needs as much in his armoury as possible. His charm is palpable; you can feel it off the page. He's such a slick customer that the fact his bodyguard is a sex doll doesn't make him look silly.

The book includes a number of instances alluded to in Jedi, including Luke building his new lightsaber and the attack that won the Death Star plans. There's also a tantalising bit with Vader in his meditation chamber that makes you think what if?

Han has a substitute in the form of Dash Rendar, who has a name like a rushed masonry job but is pretty unoffensive. With his not-quite Millennium Falcon ship and not-quite Chewie droid co-pilot he's a wannabe shadow of the great man. He's the only thing that falls a little flat but he's pretty much a throw-away creation for the game of the same name and is pretty harmless (and better-developed than many of the main characters of other Star Wars books).

There's plenty of space-bound action and personal combat scattered throughout with lots of variety to the locations. The handling of the established characters does a good job of fleshing out their movie bones and the new characters are interesting and memorable. All-in it's an excellent place to start for anyone interested in the Expanded Universe.

(If you've got an N64, the tie-in game's worth a look too as it covers a lot of Rendar's off-page contribution)
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