Rebel Agent (Star Wars: Dark Forces)

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9780399143960: Rebel Agent (Star Wars: Dark Forces)

The phenomenal success of the 1997 release of the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition proved beyond a doubt the timeless power of the much-loved story about the struggle between good and evil. Original enthusiasts of the films rushed to the theaters to see them again, joined by a whole new generation--young people discovering the wonder of George Lucas's vision for the first time. For those Star Wars fans--old and new--Rebel Agent, the second of the Dark Forces trilogy, adds a fascinating sidebar to the story told in the films. Kyle Katarn, former Imperial trainee, has put his past behind him. Now partnered with Jan Ors, the woman who recruited him, he is a valued member of the Rebel Alliance. Yet Katarn has one piece of unfinished business more important to him than his next assignment: tracking down the Dark Jedi Jerec, the man who killed his father. But in his search for Jerec, he finds instead what the Dark Jedi himself is after--the location of the fabled Valley of the Jedi. The power that waits there is beyond measure, and Jerec will stop at nothing to be the first to reach it. It is written, Luke Skywalker said, that a Knight will come, a battle will be fought, and the prisoners go free. In Rebel Agent, Kyle Katarn will discover that he is that Knight.

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Review:

A Knight shall come, a battle will be fought, and the prisoners go free."

Like The Empire Strikes Back, Rebel Agent is the middle story in an epic Star Wars trilogy (in this case, the illustrated Dark Forces trilogy that begins with Soldier for the Empire and ends with Jedi Knight). As a middle story, it is written with the expectation that you already know that the hero, Kyle Katarn, is an ex-storm trooper who defected to the Rebellion after his father was brutally murdered by the Empire. But Rebel Agent actually begins with a flashback to the years before the action of the trilogy. Kyle's father, Morgan, stumbles onto the legendary Valley of the Jedi while fleeing an Imperial crackdown on Sulon. The Valley is a resting place for thousands of ancient Jedi souls, and its potential power as a tool for good or evil will remind readers of the ark of the covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark. After making a map, Morgan hides his discovery since he knows that the ascendant Empire is likely to make use of it long before the struggling rebels can.

The story then shifts to the days after Kyle's first successful rebel mission (detailed in Soldier for the Empire). From a scheming droid named 8t88--and through communications with a ghostly Jedi named Rahn--Kyle learns of the Valley and is drafted by Luke Skywalker and Mon Mothma to find his father's map at all costs. The action intensifies as Kyle--now a Jedi-in-training--races with Jerec and his band of Dark Jedi to uncover the coordinates of the Valley.

One of the best parts of Dark Forces is Dietz's characterization of the Empire, and in this volume it is the power-hungry droid, 8t88, who steals the show with lines like: "The malfunction is in your skull, a difficult place to make repairs.... A CPU makes more sense." In the end, though, the book is not as strong as the first and third volumes. One wonders, for example, why the budding romance between Kyle and Jan is interrupted by their long separations. Also, while Ezra Tucker's paintings perfectly capture the tattooed, lined face of Jerec, they are often cartoonish in comparison to Dean Williams's hyperrealism in the first volume. And the ending finds almost nothing resolved: you'll want Jedi Knight in hand right away when you turn the last page of Rebel Agent. --Patrick O'Kelley

About the Author:

William C. Dietz grew up in the Seattle area, spent time with the Navy and Marine Corps as a medic, graduated from the University of Washington, lived in Africa for a year, and has traveled to six continents. Dietz has been variously employed as a surgical technician, college instructor, news writer and television producer, and currently serves as Director of Public Relations and Marketing for an international telephone company.

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