by William C. Dietz and Ezra Tucker
Published by Boulevard & Dark Horse
Steve's Rating: 2.5 out of 4
Scott's Rating: 3.5 out of 4
In the follow up to Soldier for the Empire, Kyle Katarn continues his search as to why the Empire murdered his father. Foiling an ambush attempt by 8t88, he finds that his father discovered the location to the Valley of the Jedi. Kyle must avoid Imperial & Bounty Hunter forces as he follows the tracks of the treacherous droid to decipher the message left by his father. As he hones his own burgeoning Jedi abilities, the Dark Jedi Jerec and his followers have schemes of their own to obtain the power stored in the Valley. This story paves the way for the third Dark Forces graphic story album, Jedi Knight.
Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors are two of my favorite characters because I see them as the more "blue-collar Rebel" types. They get into the more nitty-gritty stuff and while like most good guys they possess an incredible amount of luck, they are less immune to the injuries of battle. For both of these characters, Dietz expands upon their personalities nicely. The pace of the story was constructed well to fit in the limited space and Tucker turns in some impressive paintings of the Rebel duo and has a good eye for vehicles and droids.
If you liked the first book in the series, then you'll like this one as well. It continues to expand on the interesting characters of Kyle Katarn and Jan, plus adds cool new characters like the ghost Jedi, Rahn, and Jerec's henchmen. Lot's of action and it continues to explore new corners of the Star Wars Universe. It's definitely unique. Plus, the idea that there are more evil Jedi besides just Vader is very exciting. It leads to many new story possibilities that the Star Wars fan should enjoy. And there is an ever so slight glimpse of what we might see in the prequels here. The cameos were also neat, though the Boba Fett cameo seemed frivilous.
I really wanted to like this story. These less-common projects should be exploited more and the Dark Forces saga has a lot of potential. But someone has dropped the ball as far as characters go. Where did all these Dark Jedi (not to mention Rahn) come from?! Little background information is presented and this terribly distracts from the story. It just doesn't jive with other SW stories. If Jerec is such a powerful force, where has he been? Besides this major distraction, the only problem I have with Dietz's writing is that it sometimes jumps perspective suddenly. While it was probably a miscommunication, some of Tucker's art didn't match with the story: Maw shouldn't have been legless in the early pic and Kyle didn't have his saber when inspecting the ceiling.
Like the first novel, there is a distinct line between where the author has complete freedom and where he must tie it into the video game. Sometime it was so obvious that it was related to scenes in the video game, it became laughable. Even boring. I wish the author could have had total freedom to make the action however he wanted because he is obviously talented enough to take it in exciting directions. But I guess you can't call it "Dark Forces" for nothing. While I loved the dark Jedi, I thought they were too wimpy. For example, Kyle takes a hulking brute with an enormous lightsaber and Force powers out with one shot to the face. I kind of felt cheated. You'd think he'd put up more of a fight. It also got confusing because the author kept referring to them as "the Jedi". I thought bad ones were called "dark Jedi" or "Sith". I got confused if he was talking about Kyle or the bad guy. And then the author changed the point of view of the character from one paragraph to the next. It got REALLY confusing. But I definitely enjoyed the story.
The characterization of Boba Fett in his brief scene was horrendous. Maybe they can salvage it by saying it was Jodo Kast or something. That's not my Boba!
Cutting 8t88's head out of the guts of the critter. Uuuggghhh.