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Rebel Agent by William C. Dietz
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0399143963, Hardcover)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:00 -0400)

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