Science Fiction

Star Wars: Death Star

Author: Michael Reaves and Steve Perry

Published By:
Ballantine Books

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                I’ve been trying to catch up on my Star Wars reading, but it’s nearly impossible to do considering how quickly the books in the Expanded Universe hit the shelves.  That being said, I have owned Star Wars: Death Star for quite a while now and have actually been putting off reading it.  I was worried that the book would be too technical, boring me with more than a few details about the building materials used to create the Death Star.  There was also a part of me that thought there might be some continuity issues.  But I do own the book, so I might as well read it, right?

                From the authors of the Star Wars: Medstar duology, Star Wars: Death Star takes place sometime after the events of The Force Unleashed (if you even subscribe to that novel being a part of the continuity) and before and during the events of A New Hope.  We are offered a view of the construction of the Death Star through vastly different eyes.  Grand Moff Tarkin sees a battle station with the power to bring an end to rebellion through fear, a project that he has been pushing for since before the end of the Clone Wars Admiral Motti sees it as a ways to a means – his rise in the Imperial Navy Darth Vader sees this as his master, the Emperor’s pet project.

                Those who work on and live in the Death Star, see things differently.  For Zelosian smuggler Celot Ratua Dil, the Death Star is just the lucky destination he ended up with while attempting to escape the prison world of Despayre.  Mirialin architect Teela Kaarz also sees it as a way to get off of the planet Despayre.  Guilty by association (with someone whose political leanings didn’t suit the Emperor’s taste), Teela sees the Death Star as a project that may eventually win her freedom should she do it right.  To Twi’lek bar owner Memah Roothes and her Ragithian bouncer Rodo this is an opportunity to succeed, having lost the bar she owned in the lower levels of Imperial City due to a suspicious fire.

                Then there are the enlisted crew like Tie Fighter Pilot Villian Dance, a crack shot who would like to try his skills against real fighter pilots instead of defenseless shuttles.  Or Tenn Graneet, an Imperial Navy master chief gunnery officer who longs to be in charge of firing the biggest gun ever imagined.  To Imperial Navy Commander Atour Riten, this is the opportunity of a lifetime – to be the Chief Librarian on a battle station the size of a small moon.  Then there’s Dr. Kornell “Uli” Divini, an Imperial surgeon who had thought his tour would be over when the Clone Wars ended, but discovered he had been re-enlisted by the new government…one that is less than willing to let him go.  Nova Stihl, an Imperial Marine guard was not exactly jumping to join the crew on the Death Star either…and persistent bad dreams have him wondering whether this move was bad for his health.

                As the new Death Star undergoes construction, the powers that be do their best to root out saboteurs bent on preventing the battle station’s completion.  Unfortunately, thanks to the assistance of Darth Vader and Admiral Daala, the Death Star moves closer and closer to becoming a fully functioning work of destructive menace.  The very first test of the Death Star gives some bouts of elation while others wonder just what they are doing on this killing machine. 

                Now we all know what happens after that – Princess Leia gets captured, Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi receive her distress call, Han Solo and Chewbacca are enlisted to save her, Obi-Wan and Vader have their long awaited final battle and Luke Skywalker eventually blows up the Death Star.  But what about the behind the scenes stuff?  What happens to the people who unwittingly found themselves on the universe’s most deplorable killing machine ever created?  Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

                Why did I wait so long to read this book?!  What a great read!  There were so many things I enjoyed about this book, like bringing Uli back – I always wondered what happened to him after MedStar – like seeing more of the relationship between Admiral Daala and Grand Moff Tarkin, like all new characters who were so appealing to the reader that their survival becomes important to us.  But the most enjoyable moments?  The ones that mirrored those of A New Hope.  I could actually picture and hear these moments taking place, like the duel between Vader and Kenobi, the chase scene in the detention level, the destruction of Alderaan.  The fact that we get to see these moments as they were in the film and through the eyes of various characters with their differing points of view and emotional reactions was a terrific plus.  Sure, we know how Leia felt when Tarkin gave the order to destroy Alderaan, but what about the guy who actually pulled the trigger...or the Alderaanians on board the Death Star...or the average civilian trying to eke out a respectable living on board? 

                I am so glad I finally read Star Wars: Death Star - I had no idea what I'd been missing.  I only hope that, with the powers that be deciding to write more novels that take place during the Rebellion years, that they include some of the characters in this novel. 


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