It's always a pleasure to make the acquaintance of Mara Jade, Admiral Thran and Corran Horn, with the later two working together in a short Timothy Zahn-Micheal Stackpole novel.
(I feel like the rest of my year is going to be reading non-stop Star Wars EU and Animorphs rereads, sorrynotsorry. And I deeply apologise to everyone whose feed got spammed by my adding everything to my to-read a few days ago...) The delightful story behind my obtaining this book is that I randomly found it at a used bookstore on vacation in North Carolina, picked it up for like 25 cents, and then came home to discover that it was, specifically, this exact book that made my roommate start writing when she was a wee one -- specifically "Tinian on Trial", because the that story's blank spots and tantalising setup basically leave you shaking the book, shrieking "BUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT???". This is the sort of thing that's my jam, considering my usual love for minor characters, the randoms and bit players filling out the rich tapestry of a world like this. It's also appropriate that my own personal introduction to these tie-ins would be Tales from the Empire, considering my thematic love of well-intentioned people who end up on the wrong side & trapped in the gears of a corrupt system (I JUST WANT TO READ ABOUT THE LIFE OF A STORMTROOPER, WHERE CAN I SCRATCH THIS ITCH?); there's quite a bit of that in here, with tales that circle around Imperial characters and ones who play along with the Empire's system, because that's what they've been raised into. Stackpole - "Retreat from Coruscant" by Laurie Burns - "A Certain Point of View" by Charlene Newcomb - "Blaze of Glory" by Tony Russo - "Slaying Dragons" by Angela Philips - "Do No Harm" by Erin Endom - Side Trip by Timothy Zahn and Michael A. The characters are really well-painted for the short time you spend with them, and the way it ends leaves you hankering for more. "Retreat from Coruscant" (Laurie Burns): Dude, this one was so cool and stirring and it absolutely unfolded in my mind's eye like a movie. "A Certain Point of View" (Charlene Newcomb): I didn't like the writing style so much here (it was honestly a little cringe-inducing), but I liked the content and themes a lot -- the main character has a brother in the Imperial army and who is killed by rebels, and she eventually has to come to terms with the fact that the system she believes in isn't exactly what it seems from a distance. Endom's prose was probably the most stylish and flat-out lovely in the entire anthology, which bums me out because it seems like it's the only one she's ever written. The writing/events themselves were really engaging and exciting, but I couldn't quite follow the convoluted plot and didn't really get it, plus it turned into exposition-city in the final chapter (like Poirot gathering everyone in the parlour to explain what you've just read) and tied into things that I had no idea what they were talking about. Some favourite quotes below: "Millions of people, like pawns," Kaileel said, pointing at the characters on their gameboard, "for the Emperor to do with what he will." "But, Chief--" "I fear the game is up," Kaileel said softly.
Not sure time period, but guessing probably before Return of the Jedi. Stackpole): looks like a may have messed up my order because I read the story in "Tales from the New Republic" 1st (oops). Wait - read Story 10 ("Side Trip" by Timothy Zahn & Michael A. Stackpole) before X-wing series which begins 2 1/2 years after Return of the Jedi.
Introduction Peter Schweighofer 3/5 WAY too detailed on the RPGs and other nerd-dom, but how the Expanded Universe came into existence and how he came to know the other writers is interesting. First Contact Timothy Zahn 4/5 Simple story of the introduction of Mara Jade and Talon Karrde. Retreat from Coruscant Laurie Burns 5/5 A fun little action story with some smaller side characters, but equally important mission, and a "what do I really want out of life" kind of story, and some grudgingly earned respect along the way. Blaze of Glory Tony Russo 4/5 Several characters that I'm not familiar with, either because this is their only story or because I just haven't been introduced to them elsewhere, but a group of friendships that would be interesting to explore in a longer setting of pages. Lots of intrigue and layers upon layers of playing one group against another, although a little confusing for quite awhile.
Like any anthology, Tales from the Empire is a mixed bag of quality, with some well-written stories (Patricia A. One thing I did like about the anthology is how the stories focused on characters outside of the Skywalkers. Still, I like that the authors recognized that there were other characters in the universe worthy of their own stories.
it's alright, way better than tales of the bounty hunters which I read immediately before this.