Thursday, May 21, 2009

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back by Donald F. Glut

Having had such fun with the first novel contained in this omnibus volume, I swiftly ran straight into the second. After the events of the first novel, we shift to three years later, and meet back up with our characters. Now on the ice planet of Hoth, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, See Threepio, and Artoo Detoo are living in a Rebel ice cave until they are discovered by an Empire droid.

Darth Vader and company arrive at Hoth, and thus begins an epic land battle, as the Rebel troops and their snowspeeders take on the might of the Empire's devastating walkers. The clash leads off planet, with multiple hijinks on the Millennium Falcon, and the introduction of famous characters such as Boba Fett and Yoda.

While the first book is very much a self contained story, with a distinct plot line, beginning, and ending, the second book does not boast this. This makes sense, as the first book, based on the first movie, did not know if there would be a great reaction to the film or not, and on this basis, it had to be a full movie, as well as able to have a high budget or low budget movie. Interestingly enough, Alan Dean Foster's Star Wars novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye was to be the basis of the low budget sequel, in case Star Wars didn't take off.

The second book builds on the first, and is a far more open plot, with characters going in very different directions, as Luke trains to be a Jedi, the Rebel forces go to an unstated rendezvous point, and the rest of our crew run into an old friend on a floating city. The end is definitely a cliff hanger, and the whole novel feels like the first half of a story. This isn't inherently bad, just a difference in feel between the two books. This did lead to a slightly slower pace at times, however. The beginning of the novel was extraordinary, it was fast paced and exciting, and I couldn't put it down. Parts of the latter half lagged at times, but over all it still was fun.

One odd note: Darth Vader floats out into space at the end of Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, yet he is right back in the thick of things in this novel. While it wasn't a surprise to see him back after he floated away, but didn't directly die, it would have been nice to have some explanation as to what happened. I'm guessing that a couple of the novels that take place between these two novelizations may explain it, but a short hint would be nice for those of us new to Star Wars and starting with the omnibus.

While this novel wasn't quite as high quality as the first, it had moments that were truly exceptional, and it still wasn't terrible. If the pace of the first third of the novel had kept up the rest of the book, it would have topped the first. Regardless, I am looking forward to diving into the third novel in the trilogy.


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