Star Wars Short Stories:
In His Image & Two-Edged Sword
Author: Karen Traviss
Published By: The Ballentine Publishing Company
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
As The New Jedi Order storyline progressed, readers began to see changes in many a character, most notably Jacen Solo, who, after being captured by the Yuuzhan Vong and coached by former Jedi Vergere, had begun to see the Force in a different light. In the Dark Nest Trilogy and the Legacy of the Force series, the Jacen Solo that has emerged from the chaos of the Yuuzhan Vong Wars is a much different man, capable of doing things no one believed possible; capable of a deception none would have ever imagined coming from the Jedi who had been such an affable and honorable student in Luke Skywalkerís Jedi Academy.
In the wake of this new development in the Star Wars Universe, it was only fitting that the powers that be would see fit to publish two additional short stories in the very first novel of the Legacy of the Force Series, Betrayal. These two stories, In His Image and Two-Edged Sword, are about another man lured by the teachings of the Sith Ė Darth Vader, once known as Anakin Skywalker, grandfather to Jacen Solo. Not only it fitting that these two stories set in the early days of Darth Vaderís reign as a Sith Lord be placed in a novel about his grandsonís descent into the world of the Sith, but it is equally fitting that they are written by Karen Traviss, author of three novels in the Legacy of the Force series.
The first short story, In His Image, finds a young Darth Vader, finally becoming accustomed to the changes made to his body after his fateful battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi on the planet Mustafar left him horribly disfigured and near death. Although Vader has accepted that the man he once was is now dead, he canít help but wonder what it is that the Emperor has planned for him. The Emperor is worried that he may have chosen wrong when selecting Vader to be his apprentice. He believes that some of the ideals of Anakin Skywalker have not yet left his apprentice. These ideals make Vader weak in the Emperorís eyes and he has decided to test Vaderís abilities. The Emperor summons one of his ďHandsĒ to take on the task of making an assassination attempt on Vader. For those who are not acquainted with the Emperorís Hands, these individuals are Force trained assassins whose service is completely loyal to the Emperor. Each Hand is led to believe that they are the only one, the single assassin that the Emperor trusts for such matters when, in fact, they are numerous in number. The Emperor hopes that Vaderís reaction to this assassination attempt, should he survive it, will be the push Vader needs to become the apprentice that the Emperor has foreseen him to be, a Sith created ďin his image.Ē
Two-Edged Sword is set over a year after In His Image. The Emperorís hopes regarding Darth Vaderís response to the assassination attempt are rewarded. Upon Vaderís discovery that his own master had sent an assassin to destroy him, Vaderís trust in the Emperor vanished and his hatred for the man had grown. Vader has begun to relish the hate and anger he felt and this made him stronger in the Dark Side of the Force. However, there is something about Vader that the Emperor still finds unsettling. The fact that Vader exhibits compassion toward the troops that serve him is something that the Emperor believes to be another sign of weakness Ė one that must be driven from his apprentice as soon as possible. Therefore, master designs yet another test for apprentice.
Both stories were extremely interesting. Sure, after the prequel trilogy, we learned the major events that turned Anakin Skywalker into the dark and evil Darth Vader. However, these two short stories showed what Padmť and Luke always believed Ė Anakin Skywalker had once been a good man and this new incarnation of Anakin would retain some of the morals and values that made him intrinsically good. The stories also show how betrayal (incidentally, the very name of the novel in which these two stories are published) played such a great role in the twisting of a good man into a Sith Lord. Readers will enjoy a visit into the mind of Darth Vader as he struggles to become the apprentice his master wants him to be.
Author Karen Traviss shows remarkable insight into the character of Darth Vader and the twisting, maniacal ways of the Emperor. Reading these stories after reading Betrayal will give the reader an excellent idea as to how Jacen could be swayed toward the teachings of the Sith. In many ways, he and his grandfather are very alike. Both have outside forces attempting to mold who they will become. Both were very powerful Jedi with a thirst for knowledge toward a greater goal Ė the protection of the people they loved. Both were forced to give up the very ones they loved in order to become Sith. The comparisons are endless. Finally, events in Star Wars history have come full circle. After reading these two works from Karen Traviss, I canít wait to read the novels she contributed to the Legacy of the Force series. Well done!
For more about Star Wars, check out:
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: Book 1
Star Wars: Book 2
Star Wars: Allegiance
Star Wars: Survivor's Quest
Star Wars: Tatooine Ghost
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights: The Rise of the Shadow Academy
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order--Enemy Lines
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Destiny's Way
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Ylesia
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic Series
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: The Final Prophecy
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force
Star Wars: Dark Nest 1
Star Wars: Dark Nest 2
Star Wars: Dark Nest 3
Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Betrayal