Shadows of the Empire, Chapter 32

z: Hello, gentlebeings, and welcome to Chapter 32 of Shadows of the Empire, in which connections are made, and by the way, who wrote this, it’s actually good.

In personal news… there’s still more recording and editing, and I’ll have somewhat exciting news next week on that front. And yes, I am ignoring everything else, thank you very much.

will: A very understandable life choice.

z: We open the chapter with Luke, settling down into a meditative pose, quieting his mind, and reaching out to Leia. There’s a bit about how Dash has gotten him new clothes (what he’s wearing at the opening of Return of the Jedi), close enough to the “uniform of a Jedi Knight,” which… whatever.

will: In fairness, I read that “uniform” line as a bit more ironic or self-aware.

z: He calls, in his mind, “Leia…” A breath, then “Leia, I’m here. I’m coming for you.”

will: And if this was Luke’s idea from last chapter, points. It actually is clever. Almost.

z: Scene shift, to Leia, who is trying to find a map of Xizor’s “castle” on the computer in her room, but apparently the IT security is good enough not to leave one where she can get it. But then suddenly:

Leia…

It was not telepathy so much as empathy, and since it had happened before, on Bespin, she recognized the sensation quickly.

Luke.

So I have some problems with the “not telepathy but empathy” thing, in that it sounds a bit too pat and not entirely accurate, and creates an “I don’t think empathy means what you think it means” situation, but let it pass.

will: I can see it either way.

z: Interesting thing: She quietens her mind in response and also tries to give no outward sign that she’s got a connection with Luke.

…because that would be the first thing anyone watching her over the cameras would think if she went glassy-eyed and muttered “Luke,” after all, they’ve all seen The Empire Strikes Back, right.

I never said this was a perfect chapter, it’s just… relatively good.

will: I can buy this–Leia knows she’s being watched, so she’s going to act accordingly.

z: She gets the rest of what Luke is saying (“I’m here, I’m coming for you”) but not in words; more like she has gets that as a feeling. But she also senses more: That he’s calmer, more confident, more powerful. It actually gives her hope that he would be able to rescue her and they’d survive.

And then something <I>very</I> interesting happens:

Leia…

She smiled. Luke, I’m here…

Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, smiled.

I’m not entirely at peace with the implications here either. For one thing, Leia is able to reach back–sure, fine, of course she is because we know who she is–but then nothing of the implications of that seems to hit either of them.

Also, maybe, just maybe, managing to calm his mind enough to meditate and reach someone he knows very well does not a Jedi Knight make, and yes, right, we’re supposed to consider this the culmination of Luke’s journey throughout the book, except… that journey resembled nothing as much as a hopscotching game constantly interrupted by way, way too many scenes on Xizor and his AWSUM EBUL, topped off with one (1) epiphany in the last chapter.

It wasn’t well written, is what I’m trying to say.

will: Agreed. I suppose the way to describe this is more that this is why Luke introduced himself as Jedi Knight to Jabba. We, however, know he isn’t. Yet.

z: But if we hadn’t read up to this point, this chapter would have been very nice.

…yes, I’m aware of the inherent problem there.

Scene shift, and the last one! To Vader. Who feels the ripple in the Force, and naturally, recognizes it as Luke. It’s a shock to realize Luke is on the Imperial Center. Then he reaches out and tries to contact Luke and… “He frowned. The way was… blocked.”

…yeahno, Luke isn’t anywhere powerful enough. Sorry.

will: It’s not powerful that is the problem, I think.

z: “It was not only as if Luke’s power had increased: it seemed also to be in two separate places.”

How is that the conclusion you reach, Vader? He himself agrees with me: “Impossible. He was interpreting the energies wrong.” He dismisses the idea that there might be someone out there as strong as Luke, which, he’s of course completely correct in that: Leia’s way beyond untrained, at that point. He decides it’s an “echo effect.”

will: My read is that’s why Vader can’t get a bead on where Luke is–he doesn’t know which point is Luke.

z: Anyway, the important thing: Luke is there. He starts to put on his armor, intending to find the boy and turn him to the Dark Side.

And scene.

And chapter.

No, really, this is it.

And that’s partly why this is a good chapter: It’s short. It’s completely devoid of any Xizor anything. The writing is way less clunky than usual, too, although a few “…why is this there” and “not sure that works like that”s sneak in here and there. But frankly? Would that all of the book was of this caliber.

Yes, my expectations are crawling on the floor right now.

Will?

will: Yeah, expectations are critically low, cap’n. But for all that, there is a starkness and cleanness to the writing. More like that would have made the book less a mess.

That’s all from me. Week after week, we try to do better. Too bad the same isn’t true of the book…

Until next week, may the Force be with you.

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