Author Jon Del Arroz and I were debating the relative merits of the Star Wars expanded universe (or what’s left of it) recently. We both agreed that Timothy Zahn and Michael Stackpole produced top-quality stuff, in comparison to some of the other, so-so tie-in novels that Bantam shoveled out over the years. Most all of that material was disregarded as non-canon after Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise in 2012.
With the publication of Zahn’s latest tie-in, Thrawn, they’re at least adding some of the better continuity back into the overall Star Wars universe. Who knows, maybe there’s hope that we’ll see some Rogue Squadron stuff, if not in the movies, at least in the tie-in fiction.
Which brings us to Shadows of the Empire. Great tie-in book that bridges the gap between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It was so popular that it spawned a spin-off game for N64 and PC. The Han Solo replacement that aided Luke and Leia went by the awesomely 90’s name of Dash Rendar. What’s not to love?
Shadows, of course, was written by prolific author Steve Perry. His main claim to fame for most people I’ve talked to has been his tie-in fiction. He’s done Conan, Tom Clancy, Indiana Jones, and (my particular favorite) some Aliens tie-in fiction with his daughter, S.D. Perry.
All of which is far surpassed by the sheer awesome that is The Man Who Never Missed.
In terms of story, it’s a simple one – in a universe ruled by an omnipresent, fascistic government, one man will take a stand for freedom. It’s Firefly with shades of Star Wars and a dash of Starship Troopers.
Man, I love those old-school covers.
I’m hesitant to say too much, but the book is just a marvelous – dare I say pulpy? – combination of martial arts, Jedi-esque mysticism, hardcore sci-fi, and action set pieces. It’s a fine setup for the remainder of the series, but is, in itself, a fully self-contained work.
I’m honestly curious though – if you’re reading this blog, have you read “The Man Who Never Missed”, or any of the following books? The series was such a big part of my younger years as a genre fan, and Perry’s hard-boiled style of writing action has been so influential on my own writing that the criminally low review numbers on Amazon break my heart just a little.
Give it a whirl – I think you’ll like it. And unless I miss my guess, you’ll want to read the rest of the series.