Science Fiction

Star Wars: Imperial Commando: 501st

Author: Karen Traviss

Published By:
The Ballentine Publishing Company

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Iím a huge fan of the Star Wars: Republic Commando series and have read every book thus far.  Karen Traviss is one of those authors that makes her characters so believable and so likeable, the reader canít help but fall in love with them.  I couldnít wait to get my hands on the final book in the series, Star Wars: Imperial Commando: 501st  to find out what would happen to the Skirata clan after Order 66.

                When we last left our heroes, Order 66 had been implemented by Supreme Chancellor, now Emperor, Palpatine.  Darmanís Jedi wife, Etain, had been killed while trying to save a clone trooper from the sword of a Jedi.  Their son was in a safe haven for clone deserters in Mandalore.  Ninerís back was broken during the extraction of Omega Squad by the Nulls and Darman stayed behind on Coruscant to take care of him.  Kal Skirata vowed to rescue the squad members he was forced to leave behind.

                In Star Wars: Imperial Commando: 501st, Ninerís injury has been repaired and he, Darman and a number of Republic Commandos have been absorbed into the 501st, Darth Vaderís elite squadron of stormtroopers.  Palpatine hasnít advertised that he is a Sith, but he has let people know that Vader is his enforcer and the fact that his enforcer is carrying a red lightsaber is rather telling.  Darman hasnít been the same since losing Etain, shutting himself off from his emotions so the pain of losing his wife and losing track of his son and brothers.  Niner is worried about Darmanís mental state and feels guilty that his injury has kept Darman from being with his son.  He resolves to reunite Darman with his son as soon as he can sort out the details.

                Meanwhile, Kal Skirata has his hands full in Mandalore.  He is still grieving the loss of Etain, a woman he had come to treat as his own daughter.  His actual daughter is still something of a mystery to him, but she has no intention of leaving his side now that they have been reunited after all these years.  Two of his boys are still in Coruscant and he has to find a way to get them out.  Jango Fettís sister Arla is still rather psychotic and showing no signs of coming around any time soon.  And now, he finds himself host to an ancient Kaminoan Jedi who may hold the genetic key to finding a way to stop the accelerated aging process of the clones in his care.  But even if the key is there, his genetic scientist may not be able to work on the cure after watching her homeworld destroyed by Palpatine Ė destroyed by the very virus she created before meeting the clones.  Add to all of this signs that the Death Watch may have returned to MandaloreÖand they may be working for the Empire.

                The clock is ticking down for the Skirata clan.  Can Skirata and his family find a way to extract Darman and Niner from Coruscant, find a cure for the accelerated aging process of the clones, discover what has caused Arlaís psychosis and rid themselves of their Jedi stowaways without revealing the location of their clone haven?

                As with every single Karen Traviss Star Wars novel I have read so far, I was completely riveted to this book.  Next to the Skywalker/Solo clan, the characters from the Republic Commandos novels are some of my favorites.  Traviss writes the book in such a way as to give the reader the distinct impression of a clock ticking down in the background.  You are always aware of that clock as the action unfolds.  There isnít quite as much action in this novel as in previous ones, but the action that is included is intense.  In fact, the whole novel is intense, with a deep emotional base, full of angst and anguish.  Secrets are revealed, alliances made and enemies forged. 

                And it will all be resolved in the next novel, right?  Wrong!  When Karen Traviss and the powers that be at Lucasfilms parted ways, the promise of more Republic Commando novels went up in smoke.  Despite rumors that some fine day, Matthew Stover may come along to finish the series, I have yet to see any serious discussion about that taking place.  Iíve been left hanging here and Iím angry!  Sure, I know what happens to former Jedi Bardan Jusik and Etain and Darmanís son, Kad, in the future thanks to the Legacy of the Force books, but what happened in the years between?!

                So while I loved the progression of this series, loved the storyline of Star Wars: Imperial Commando: 501st and loved how the book ended, I am frustrated andÖwellÖfurious that there will be no further books to tie up the events between the years a decade before Star Wars: A New Hope and the events of the Legacy of the Force series.  Yet, I have no regrets.  501st is a great follow up to the rest of the Republic Commando series.  I can only hope that the rumors of its completion by Matthew Stover are true.


For more about the Republic Commandos, check out:

Star Wars: Republic Commando: Hard Contact

Star Wars: Omega Squad: Targets

Star Wars: Republic Commando: Triple Zero

Star Wars: Republic Commando: Odds

Star Wars: Republic Commando: True Colors

Star Wars: Republic Commando: Order 66

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