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Literature: Death Troopers

A somewhat Darker and Edgier Star Wars Legends horror novel by Joe Schreiber from 2009 that utilises one of the horror genre's most beloved elements - zombies.

Aboard the Imperial Prison Barge Purge, the engines break down in the middle of nowhere. Only place to repair them is a seemingly-deserted Star Destroyer nearby. After a team is sent over to find the parts half of them go missing, and the other half bring back a deadly and seemingly-incurable plague to the rest of the guards and inmates. Flesh-eating zombies ensue.

The story follows six characters - young brothers Trig and Kale Longo, resident doctor and sole female occupant Zahara Cody, sadistic Captain of the Guard Jareth Sartoris and Han Solo and Chewbacca, who are found halfway through the novel locked in solitary confinement. Together they attempt to escape Purge without succumbing to the ravenous horde of the undead that is roaming both the barge and the nearby Destroyer.

In 2010, it was followed up by a prequel, Star Wars: Red Harvest, which delves into the origins of the virus over three thousand years ago at a Sith Academy.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Always Save the Girl: Appears to be subverted when it is assumed that Zahara has died, but it then turns out the corpse they thought was hers just belonged to an underfed, girly-looking Imperial cannibal.
  • And I Must Scream: Pretty much everything that happens once the security team returns from the Star Destroyer. Screaming is also used by the zombies as something of a communicative measure between them.
  • Apocalypse How: Initially a Type 3, with everyone except the six protagonists either dead or zombified, but then moves into a Type 3A when it turns out the virus was manufactured as a bioweapon by the Empire.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The Twitter accounts used in the novel's marketing, including one used by an eventually-zombified stormtrooper as he describes each step of the virus infecting his body.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Used with Warden Kloth, who is, quite simply, a nasty bastard.
  • Asshole Victim: Everyone except for 6 people end up dead. The people who die are the warden, the inmates, and the guards. A number of these people were assholes who totally deserved what they got.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: It is inmplied that Sartoris's unbridled brutality is part of the reason he leads the guards on Purge.
  • Ax-Crazy: The zombies, to the point that they learn how to use rudimentary weapons and even get as far as flying X-Wings before they're halted.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Used in the chase between Trig and a zombified Kale.
  • Cool Old Guy: Von Longo was apparently one of these.
  • Cover Drop: Characters split up from Zahara and Kale come across two Stormtrooper helmets as they trek through the Star Destroyer, and one of them hangs on a hook as depicted on the cover of the novel.
  • Darker and Edgier: In every way possible. This is not your average Star Wars novel.
  • Death Is Cheap: Well, we are dealing with zombies here...
  • Driven to Suicide: As the Longo brothers make their way past the quiet prison cells, they see that some of the sick inmates ended their suffering by killing themselves.
  • Dual Wielding: At one point, Zahara does this with syringes in order to administer an antivirus to an already-zombified victim. It only works temporarily, but she gets a computer password out of him before he turns back.
  • Eye Scream: Zahara defends herself from a zombified scientist by stabbing him in the with a syringe. The contents of the syringe bring back some of his past intelligence, and he plucks it out of the eye socket and tries to use it as a pen.
  • Five-Man Band: Han is The Hero, Chewie is The Lancer and The Big Guy, Zahara is The Smart Guy, Sartoris is The Other Big Guy and the Token Evil Teammate, and Trig and Kale take turns being The Chick.
  • Guns Akimbo: Sartoris picks up two blasters from their sick owners as he make his way to Warden Kloth's office, where he intends to collect the datapad required to operate the escape pods.
  • Heel Realization:
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sartoris jumps off the lifter used to save Trig, Han and Chewie, down to a hoard of literally thousands of zombies, just so the lifter has enough weight and thrust to escape. It helped that he was slowly being zombified.
  • The Immune: Implied with all of the main characters. It's a natural occurrence, although less than one in a hundred are immune. However, Zahara makes an antivirus from her blood, just in case.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted in a very gruesome way when an infant Wookiee is devoured by its parents. It's off-page, but jeez...
  • Kick the Dog: Trig and Kale find the only escape pod remaining onboard. Just as they are about to enter it they are cornered by Sartoris, who threatens both of them (keeping in mind Trig is merely 13 years old) with a mouthful of blaster bolts if they take the pod. He then uses it to escape himself. First he kills their dad, then he leaves them to die at the hands of the ravenous undead. What a dick.
  • Killed Off for Real: Seemingly done at least three times with Aur Myss. Eventually it sticks.
  • Meaningful Name: Meta example: The writer is Joe Schreiber- which, incidentally, is archaic German and Yiddish for writer (not in modern German though).
  • Mercy Kill: Trig is forced to do this to Kale after he becomes a zombie.
  • No OSHA Compliance: As always for a Star Wars story, there are rail-less catwalks above bottomless chasms in the Star Destroyer. Here, however, the threat of the drop is enough to make Trig seek an alternate route.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: This has been happening aboard the Freebird before Sartoris arrived, as Gorrister and his men have been trapped there for over two months, and they have been eating their weaker members to survive. They later try to include him.
  • No Zombie Cannibals: There are hundreds of hungry zombies prowling between the two large ships, and they are only content with the flesh of the uninfected.
    Gorrister: Too bad they can't eat their own.
  • Non-Human Undead: While different species have their own reactions to the zombie virus (humans start vomiting uncontrollably and Wookies' throats are clogged with liquids to the point of bursting), they all rise from the dead as mindless things looking for living flesh to devour.
  • Not Using the Zed Word: Averted. Han Solo uses the term once, but it's within the last ten pages after everyone's escaped.
  • Once Is Not Enough: Subverted. When a zombie is discovered in the escape craft and gets shot, Zahara is smart enough to keep the blaster on it — not that it matters, since when they reach a certain distance from the source of the virus, the zombie dies naturally. Still, points for trying.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Oh boy is there ever. Major spoiler alerts ahead: While not necessarily fast, they are by no means slow. Unlike most zombie outbreaks, this one is airborne, and it seems less than 1 in 100 are immune, as in a prison barge with 500 prisoners and an unknown amount of crew, only 4 people are immediately immune. Get bitten and immunity means jack. Shooting them in the head does not kill them. The zombie does not need to have to have died from the virus to reanimate. The fact the virus seems to be SENTIENT, alluding to a virus that is possibly force sensitive. Last, but not least, they LEARN. Oh boy do they learn, seeing as how they go from not knowing how to fire a blaster to deadly accurate within minutes. An antibody can actually be made, preventing you from getting infected from the airborne virus (though possibly immunity from bites as well, we never see someone with the antivirus get bitten). Finally, unlike most outbreaks, if they get too far from the source of the virus, they die.
  • Recycled In Space: This is basically a mixture of elements from Left 4 Dead and Dead Space transferred to the Star Wars setting using a novel and not a video game as the medium. Darker and Edgier indeed.
  • Red Shirt Army: The crews of both the Purge and the Star Destroyer.
  • Saved by Canon: Han Solo and Chewbacca will survive to help Luke Skywalker and others to blow up the the Death Star a year later. Though they do get a taste of horror when Chewie becomes briefly infected by the zombie virus.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A few real-world examples - for starters, the vessel that the cannibal Imperial officers find is called the Freebird.
    • Not to mention that the leader of the aformentioned cannibals is named Gorrister.
    • The penultimate chapter of the novel is called "Death and All His Friends". This also ties into the soundtrack listing Schreiber put on his website, where it is one of the tracks mentioned.
    • There are two engineers named Phibes and Quatermass among the four that accompany Sartoris to the derelict Star Destroyer.
  • Slashed Throat: Aur Myss informs the Longo brothers that an unfortunate accident befell on the previous leader of the Face Gang: he was discovered in his cell with his throat slashed.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Trig, right after he kills his zombified brother Kale.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Rare gender-flipped example: Kale, the more spirited, proactive, generally pretty Badass Longo gets his face half blown off and turned into a zombie; Trig, the more useless, tag-along brother, survives
  • The Virus: The reason all but six of Purge's occupants become undead. Turns out to be a new bioweapon developed by Imperial R & D that gets way out of hand.


The Han Solo TrilogyRecap/Star Wars Expanded UniverseThe Lost Jedi
Death TranceHorror LiteratureThe Demonata
Death StarLiterature of the 2000sDeception Point
The DeadZombie StoriesDeath Trance

alternative title(s): Death Troopers
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