Literature / Shadows of the Empire

Shadows of the Empire is a part of the Star Wars Legends, coming out in 1996. Conceived as an interquel between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, it's a multimedia project, like The Force Unleashed after it, designed to have all of the media that would surround a new movie without actually making a movie. There is a novel, a video game, a six-issue comic series, a soundtrack, a toyline, and trading cards. Not all its elements overlap - to get the full story, readers would have to see each story-related component.

The novel tells the overall story, focusing on the main characters. The comic book series has generally the same focus, but includes interludes to bounty hunter Boba Fett's battle to keep possession of the frozen Han Solo, and the antics of Wrenga Jixton, a spy sent by Darth Vader, as he infiltrates Jabba's swoop gang and ensures they are unable to kill Luke Skywalker. The video game allows players to control new character Dash Rendar, whose adventures in the game weave in and out of the overall storyline.

Throughout each of these, Prince Xizor, the head of the criminal organization Black Sun, finds out why Darth Vader, his bitter rival for the Emperor's favor, wants the Rebel hero Luke Skywalker. In order to gain the Emperor's favor and punish Vader for killing Xizor's family, Xizor plans to kill Luke, while the Rebels try to find Han.

This provides examples of:

  • Abandon Ship: When the heroes need to escape from Xizor's palace, Lando decides the best way to do so is amidst the associated confusion of a mass-evacuation of the building (not entirely unlike their escape from Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back). He invokes this trope by tossing a thermal detonator down a garbage chute.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: How Luke, Dash and Lando sneak into Xizor's palace.
  • The Ace: Han Solo's Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Dash Rendar. He's annoying even to the characters, but they do acknowledge that he's a good pilot. Luke once thinks "This guy was so full of himself it was a wonder he didn't explode and spew ego all over the place".
  • Adaptational Heroism: The novel and comic has Dash abandoning the other heroes on Gall as soon as trouble arrives, because they didn't pay him to fight. The video game instead has him going into Gall alone and blasting his way through the Imperial outposts to do the job.
  • Ascended Extra: Durga the Hutt, who previously appeared as the Big Bad of Darksaber the year previous (set years after this novel), shows up as a Vigo of the Black Sun ('The Han Solo Trilogy'' explains how he got there). Xizor pulls a Blofeld Ploy on him to remind him not to have any ideas of taking over.
  • The Cameo: Jabba the Hutt makes a brief appearance when Xizor talks to him via holoprojector in the novel. Jix's story in the comic version focuses more heavily on him and the thugs he commands.
  • Baddie Flattery: Xizor is impressed with Luke batting at shots with his lightsaber. "Well, he is related to Vader."
  • Been There, Shaped History: Subverted, actually. There's a mention of Vader once altering records to make it seem as if Prince Xizor was present on the Lars homestead when Luke's aunt and uncle were killed, but he wasn't there.
    • Dash Rendar, however, was at the battle of Hoth. A brief mention in the book, but a playable event in the game, which was notable in that, thanks to how well the level turned out, every Star Wars game set in or after the classic trilogy since then has had a Hoth level if the devs could find an excuse to add one (plot relevance and doing something other than just adapting the battle from the film optional).
    • We learn in the video game that luring the Rebels to the Death Star II to wipe them out in the Battle of Endor was all Xizor's idea, not the Emperor's. Xisor even provided the ships to construct the new station.
    • Dash was also integral to the theft of the Imperial super computer containing the plans of the Death Star II.
  • Berserk Button: The novel explores the notion of Luke absolutely hating losing men under his command, especially since he's lost some in every mission he's led up and including to this point. In unleashing More Dakka to disable the freighter, the narration explicitly mentions him being too enraged to use the Force.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Rogue Squadron shows up during the escape from Coruscant at, of course, a dramatic moment when the Falcon and the Outrider are being hemmed in by Xizor's private navy.
    Wedge: "Hey, Luke! Mind if we join your party?"
  • Boss Corridor: There's one before the AT-ST in Echo Base, one before Boba Fett and the Slave One, and one before the Gladiator Droid.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Prince Xizor is attacked by a young man named Hoff, who yells "You Killed My Father" to him, to which Xizor replies "I'm sorry. Have we met?" It's subverted, however, since Xizor does remember the father once Hoff tells him the father's name.
  • Butt Monkey: Lando, just a little bit. "It's not my fault!" is practically his catchphrase.
  • Camera Screw: The game boasts a "Cinematic" mode which has no practical application whatsoever besides allowing you to see Dash's face. Even the normal camera modes are hellish when it comes to the game's platforming segments.
  • Captain Obvious: "There seems to be a slight problem, my prince." "So I noticed. Why are your ships blowing up, Commander?"
  • The City Narrows: Coruscant's seedy underground districts.
  • Collapsing Lair: The heroes escape from Xizor's palace just before it implodes on itself.
  • Continuity Nod: The radio drama for Return of the Jedi makes an offhand mention of these events, namely the trip to Coruscant and allowing the droids to fly the Falcon.
  • Cool Chair: Xizor's "Myostim unit". You sit in it and it makes you buff.
  • Cool Starship: The Outrider is a later model YT-series freighter (it's a 2400 to the Millennium Falcon's 1300) with plenty of modifications in the form of better engines and extra weaponry.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Xizor.
  • Death Mountain: The canyons of Gall.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Luke tries to save his dying Bothan friend, but it doesn't work, and Luke winds up getting captured anyway.
  • The Dog Shot First: A mechanic in an unknown enemy's employ tries to shoot Luke and misses, then is shot by Wedge. Luke is dismayed, since he wanted to question her and find out who paid her - he doesn't think it was Vader - but Wedge shrugs and says that the second rule of self-defense is to shoot first, ask questions later. The first is to be elsewhere when the shooting starts.
  • Down the Drain: The Imperial City sewers.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Luke and Lando liberate some elite stormtrooper uniforms for their jaunt to Imperial Center.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: If you beat the game on Easy Mode, you don't get to see if Dash survives. The novel implies that he dies at the end, so you have to play the game to find out what really happens. He lives.
  • Eternal Engine: Xizor's Palace.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Vader doesn't like politicking, spying, mucking around with double-dealing and triple-crossing, which is how he's forced to handle Xizor. He'll do it, but he feels soiled.
    Striking a man down with your blade was clean and honorable. Shooting him in the back from the darkness of an alley and hurrying to blame it on another was something else altogether.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Xizor and Vader... don't play well together.
    • It's implied in the novel that Palpatine sets situations like this up so that his underlings would become rivals and work even harder to gain his approval by trying to outdo the other in obedience to the Empire. Nothing gets results like a threat to job security.
  • Expy: Dash Rendar is an expy of Han Solo.
    • The Human Replica Droid Guri is basically a Terminator. Simulates all human functions, so perfectly imitates a human that special tech or the Force is needed to tell otherwise (dogs probably wouldn't work), implacable, Nigh Invulnerable, faster and stronger than any human, and there is no being which can best her at hand-to-hand. Except Luke Skywalker. Yet she's also starting to understand emotion, particularly the search for challenge. A later-set comic has her looking for ways to reprogram herself so she's not so violent.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Xizor, especially around Leia.
  • Foregone Conclusion/Doomed by Canon: Xizor is trying to kill Luke. Also, Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, and Lando are trying to rescue Han, still in carbonite, from Boba Fett before Boba turns him over to Jabba. Since Luke is still alive in Jedi, where he finally rescues Han from Jabba, you can guess how well those plans work out.
  • Good Is Not Soft: When it is time for the heroes to make good their escape from Xizor's palace, Lando takes a high-yield thermal detonator and drops it down a garbage chute. This earns him a What the Hell, Hero? from the others, but he justifies it by pointing out that anyone working there had to know how evil their boss was.
  • Groin Attack: Leia explains to Xizor that no really does mean no. Immortalized on a playing card.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • Rendar gets one of these when he fails to shoot down a missile and twelve Bothans on his side are killed by it; previously he'd thought he was invincible. It turns out the missile was made of diamond-boron.
    • Luke gets one at the same time, but his anger snaps him out of it, even delivering a Big "Shut Up!" to Dash to stop whining and start shooting.
  • Hero of Another Story: Shadows of the Empire was a multi-media mini-franchise, with a game, a novel, and comic books each centering on different characters running through the same plot in parallel. Wherever any two versions of the story intersect, this trope is brought into play.
  • Heroic Willpower: Leia's righteous anger, once Chewie awakens it, lets her resist Xizor's supposedly irresistible pheromones; she feels a ghost of attraction still, but can shrug it off. Xizor is disbelieving. Possibly her latent Force powers also helped.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Spearing two fleek-eels with the same trident.note  Another day, another credit - before taxes, of course.note  Going to entropy in a turbolift.note  What I know about programming you could inscribe on a microdiode lead with a dull sword.note  Like shooting snakes in a shoebox.note 
  • Honor Before Reason: Luke refuses to leave a dying Bothan ally and run for cover; this leads to him being captured.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Luke is depicted as still learning to become a Jedi, and there are several times when he struggles to use the Force. He does build his own lightsaber, though.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Gladiator boss. The AT-ST counts as well, given that it's fought inside a hangar that can barely fit it and there are none of the larger AT-ATs around to dwarf it.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Jabba the Hutt apparently can speak Basic perfectly well, as well as understand it. He just chooses to speak Huttese most of the time.
  • Idiot Ball: Xizor, which ultimately led to his undoing. He wanted to curry favor with the Emperor by delivering Luke Skywalker alive, but only succeeded in bringing down the combined wrath of Rogue Squadron and Darth Vader upon him.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Not the main point of Xizor's Evil Plan, but definitely a side benefit along with Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Xizor is an incredibly good shot who practices marksmanship constantly. However, he can't bring down a Jedi.
  • Insecurity Camera: Lando comes up with the idea of destroying the surveillance network in Xizor's palace to help them escape.
  • Interspecies Romance: Xizor, a Falleen, tries to seduce Leia with his pheromones. Chewbacca interrupts.
  • I Owe You My Life: Luke comes to respect Dash a lot more after the latter shows up to help him fend off the swoop gang on Tatooine.
  • It's All My Fault: Luke blames himself for the twelve Bothans are killed by a missile and is convinced he's a lousy commander since he always loses men when he's in charge. He has a brief Heroic BSOD, but it quickly turns into anger, causing him to unleash More Dakka on the ship they're trying to capture to disable it. The narrative outright states he was too angry to bother using the Force, light or dark side.
  • It's Personal: On Prince Xizor's home world, when Xizor was off ruling his criminal enterprise, there was a lab that a biological weapon escaped from, and Darth Vader had the city around it and the two hundred thousand people in that city, "sterilized" (i.e. incinerated with turbolasers) from orbit. This included Xizor's mother, father, brother, two sisters, and three uncles. The way this is phrased actually makes it seem like a comparatively benign decision on the Empire's and Vader's parts - this spared the billions of people on the planet, potentially trillions if it escaped into the rest of the galaxy, from "a horrible, rotting, always fatal infection for which there was no cure".
    • It Makes Sense in Context: Xizor describes the laboratory as one of Vader's "pet projects". It's actually not clear that Vader was personally responsible for the cleanup that killed Xizor's family or if it was just the Imperial officers at hand, but either way Xizor blaming Vader makes sense since if it wasn't for his lab, the planet wouldn't have needed sterilizing in the first place.
  • I Want Them Alive: Subverted. Xizor orders his forces to shoot down the Millennium Falcon, adding that capturing it and securing its crew and passengers would also be acceptable.
    • Vader himself, as expected, wants Luke taken in alive - it's intercepting Xizor's order to kill him that gives Vader the justification he needs to just blow him up.
  • I Will Find You: Vader's personal mission is to find Luke before Xizor does.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Luke fumbles his way through doing this to make the guard to his cell open the door, let Luke out, and go to sleep. Later, with fewer mistakes, he gets a suspicious but not currently hostile Imperial officer to follow him into a refresher, strip, and go to sleep. Seems to be Luke's thing in this book.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dash Rendar. Early on he leaves the Falcon to fight its way out of an ambush alone because the Rebels had paid him to guide them, not to fight Imperials. Later on, his arrogance gets several allied Bothans killed and this shakes him.
    • After he seems to die, Wedge informs Luke that Dash didn't actually miss and the missile that destroyed the Bothan ship was an experimental diamond-boron weapon invulnerable to blasters.
  • Kingpin in His Gym: Xizor has an "exercise chair" that strengthens his muscles while not having him actually exert himself since he considers exercise for its own sake to be boring, though it's also established that he does practice martial arts and is a crack shot. Vader cuts down large numbers of lightsaber-wielding droids.
  • Leitmotif: Listen to the soundtrack. Vader's leitmotif is played a few times and Xizor has one of his own. The composer has expressed regret that he didn't include Leia's Theme.
  • Literal-Minded: An obstructive droid clearly is this.
    Droid: Master Melan is a very busy Bothan. Perhaps I can arrange for you to see him in, oh, perhaps a standard week? Your names?
    Dash: Okay, Goldie. My name is Man with a Blaster About to Cook You. Either you open the door or your busy Bothan is going to have to get himself a new receptionist.
    Droid: Oh dear. Very well, Man with a Blaster About to Cook You.
  • Locomotive Level: The hover trains in Ord Mantell Junkyard.
  • Love Is in the Air: Xizor's creepy, creepy pheromones.
    An excited Falleen who loosed his full pheromonal arsenal was, for all practical purposes, irresistible to a member of the opposite sex. It did not matter what a woman's stance was on fidelity, that she had been a faithful partner to another for years or decades. Falleen pheromones were more potent than the strongest spice. Leia might want to resist him with her mind, but her body would ache for him. There was no antidote save one.
    Xizor smiled. He would enjoy administering the single antidote to Leia. He would enjoy it very much indeed...
  • Macross Missile Massacre: In the video game, the final boss - the gladiator droid - can fire clouds of seeker missiles towards you.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The battle droids encountered in many levels of the game.
  • Mighty Glacier: Wampas are slow, but one swipe from them can take out a third of your health.
  • Mildly Military: Rogue Squadron, even moreso than in the X-Wing Series. Here, they apparently have free rein to help Luke with whatever, and other than Leia the Alliance High Command is nowhere to be seen.
  • Mob War: Between Black Sun and the Empire.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Guri. Despite this, Lando notices there's something not quite right about her.
  • Never Found the Body: Dash Rendar.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Darth Vader's eleventh hour arrival and destruction of Xizor's skyhook.
  • Not Worth Killing: While destroying a Rebel base, Vader allows an X-Wing to escape, as he sees the entire battle as beneath him.
  • Oh Crap!: Xizor's reaction to Luke parrying blaster bolts.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The first part of "Xizor's Theme", and "The Destruction of Xizor's Palace", the climax of which is used in the final stage of the video game.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: Prince Xizor's Skyhook.
  • Papa Wolf: Vader is... displeased about Xizor's efforts to kill his son.
  • Parrying Bullets: Naturally, Luke is able to parry blaster bolts with the lightsaber he builds.
  • The Pornomancer: Xizor's pheromones allow him to boink any woman without so much as a struggle.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Vader to Xizor.
    Vader: "I will risk the Emperor's displeasure. However, you will not be there to see it."
  • Punch Clock Villain: The Barabel who captures Luke insists it's only business, and she has nothing against him personally (in fact, Barabels generally have a great respect for Jedi).
    Luke: "You'll excuse me if I take it personally."
  • Racing Minigame: Mos Eisley & Beggar's Canyon; Get to Luke before the biker gang does, or kill all of the bikers before they reach Luke.
  • Reactor Boss: The Skyhook core.
  • Redheaded Hero: Dash Rendar.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Xizor is a reptilian-humanoid Falleen. Subverted since the Falleen are generally thought to be one of the more beautiful races of the galaxy (their pheromones help). Double subverted since the only Fallen we meet is Xizor, and he's a duplicitous creepy bastard.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Xizor wants Luke dead and Vader in disgrace as payback for Vader killing his family. And neighbors. And anyone else within a hundred-mile radius of Xizor's old home...
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Guri, Xizor's very expensive Human Replica Droid. She breathes, she has muscles and a heart that pumps fluid...
    As [Xizor] watched her walk away, he briefly considered telling her to disrobe and join him in the water. He had made her do that a few times when he wanted company he could trust absolutely, and she had demonstrated to his satisfaction that she could pass for a woman in virtually every way during those times.
  • Robosexual: Xizor and Guri.
  • Running Gag: None of the voxchips in any of Prince Xizor's Cool Chairs seem to be able to pronounce his name to his satisfaction.
    • Spell My Name with an "S": Xizor is apparently pronounced "SHEE-zor," with the X pronounced as in Portuguese. This issue is still being debated almost 15 years later.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Lando tosses a thermal detonator down a garbage chute, Xizor barks at his men to find it. 'We're not paid enough', comes the reply.
  • Sex Slave: Guri sometimes serves as this for Xizor, in addition to his personal assistant and assassin.
  • Shout-Out: "Thix? What is going on down there? Thix? Come in, sector one-one-three-eight, come in-"
  • Smug Snake: Xizor's certainly clever and he's got style, but his arrogance leads him to make several mistakes that end up biting him hard- most notably underestimating Darth Vader.
  • Standard FPS Guns: In the video game, the blaster, seeker missiles, flamethrower, pulse cannon, stunner, and disruptor take the roles of Pistol (complete with Bottomless Magazines), Rocket Launcher, Flamethrower, Automatic Weapon, Gimmicky Weapon, and BFG respectively. Plays all associated tropes relatively straight, save for the seekers, which are actually fairly weak for a rocket launcher (their main strength is their heat-seeking abilities).
  • Super Reflexes: Luke gets this when he opens himself to the Force during his fight with Guri - the narration says that he "felt as if he were moving at normal speed, though there was a crackling feeling to his motion, a sound like strong wind whistling about his ears."
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Dash Rendar in place of frozen Han Solo. Several characters actually comment on his similarity. If anything, though, Rendar is even cockier.
  • Tank Controls: In the N64 game, to an extent - pushing the joystick to the left or right causes Dash to rotate rather than just face that direction.
  • Turns Red: In the video game - as you destroy the Gladiator from the feet up, its attacks become deadlier.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Xizor has one near the end.
  • Villains Out Shopping: The book once cuts to Xizor trimming a six-hundred-year old bonzai tree while thinking that he will reveal this patient, cultured side of himself to Leia, among other things. Later it cuts to him luxuriating in a bath, having invited Leia to join him (he was rejected), thinking that soon his pheromones will overcome her willpower.
    • There's quite a few of these cuts in the novel — one shows Xizor inspecting a mansion he bought for his mistress as a good-bye gift, and in another he's contemplating his navel while dining on the Star Wars equivalent of fugu.
  • We Will Not Use Stage Makeup In The Future: Subverted, as with nearly all disguises in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
  • Wham Chapter: Vader of all people is on the business end of one when he figures out why Xizor is hell-bent on killing Luke: Xizor knows Luke is Vader's son, and he wants to kill Luke in revenge for Vader killing Xizor's family. It's notable as one of the few times in the old canon that Darth Vader is caught on the wrong foot. But, true to form, he takes zero chances in dealing with Xizor after that moment.
  • Wicked Cultured: Xizor. Part of the reason the heroes know he's dead is that he never shows up again at any of Coruscant's most expensive restaurants, one of which he co-owns.
  • You Got Spunk: Xizor to Leia.
  • You Have Failed Me: After learning that a rescue party broke into his palace, Xizor plans to replace his entire security staff - and those other than foot soldiers, the supervisors, would find their dismissals particularly painful.
    • On the other hand, when it comes time to flee the palace, Xizor takes note of the two guards who kept watch over his personal fighter, the Virago and decides that they would keep their jobs when the situation was taken care of (and possibly even earn a promotion).
  • You Killed My Father: Comes up quite often, actually. Vader killed most of Xizor's family, Xizor drove a would-be assassin's father to his death, the Empire killed Melan's schoolteacher father for espionage... Also, Dash's parents were exiled and he was expelled from the Imperial Academy because his brother crashed a ship into one of the Emperor's personal museums. Vader wants to kill Xizor over his attempt on Luke.

Alternative Title(s): Shadows Of The Empire