Shadows of the Empire, Chapter 33

z: Hello, gentlebeings, and welcome to Chapter 33 of Shadows of the Empire, wherein building up to a confrontation doesn’t work if you don’t care about the events in the build-up or the characters involved within, or both.

But in personal news…

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life… for the US… and I feel good.

Okay so maybe that’s not strictly personal, but you know that the personal is political, and we’ve spent the last several decades learning that lesson over and over again. So yeah, that happened. And nice, competency-demonstrating, goodwill-demonstrating things have been happening since then. We are all kind of “don’t know what to do with that information,” I have to say.

will: Pretty much same for me here. We all have collective post-traumatic stress, and we’ll be a long time in recovering.

z: Opening section: Xizor is eating a fruit that is the equivalent of fugu fish, which costs $TOOMUCH and is $TOORARE and for which he has a chef on staff for because of course and of course and of course, except he leaves half of the plate uneaten because he’s got a feeling that something is wrong and he knows to trust such feelings.

Turn the “irritating” and “we get it” and “shut up” coefficients up by like seven, add four more pages to that paragraph, that’s what’s in the book.

will: Plus, a comparison to Xizor fighting Vader, because like eating this fruit, it has the risk of danger, and that adds interest to an otherwise boring oh who cares.

z: Scene shift to Luke, and Lando and Chewie and Lando, eating at a hotel restaurant (i.e. sitting in a public place, keep that in mind, there’ll be a quiz). Verbal shorthand definition: from here on, whenever I say “Dash introduces them to…” please take it for granted that I mean it literally, and the other three react like this is brand new information, and even if Lando is just reacting sarcastically, not enough of that comes through. So now you know what’s irritating for this section.

First, Dash introduces them to the concept of the Empire as a large, corrupt bureaucracy. Then he introduces them to the concept of how things like building plans have to be kept in multiple copies and reviewed and permit-approved etc. in large bureaucracies. Then he introduces them to the concept of how typical it is for officials in large, corrupt bureaucracies to accept bribes. Then he introduces them to–I am not making this up, hand to Wedge–the concept of sewer systems. Perry actually makes a point of showing when Luke, Lando and Chewie understand this. I somehow don’t launch my tablet across the room, again. Next is the concept of how large sewer pipes may be guarded less strenuously than normal entrances. At last, Chewie is allowed to show two brain cells’ worth of intelligence and say that the sewer system must be a massive maze, how are they going to find their way once they’re in? Dash says not to worry, he knows a guide.

will: Siiiiiigh.

z: Scene shift before I hurt myself screaming about how the way to make your own original character stand out is not to reduce all the previous-canon characters to wet cardboard cutouts, ref.: Zahn, Stackpole, or even Tyers whose out-of-character tendencies got horrific sometimes but still managed to leave the characters as three-dimensional characters. And then whisper harshly, because I’d have lost my voice, about how they went through an entire bribery/infiltration plan talking out loud in a public restaurant.

will: Yeah, I can’t really say anything to make this seem less ridiculous.

z: We’re with Vader. He’s trying to develop his Dark-Side-healing skills, so as to be able to breathe without a mask and apparatus. He’s feeding his power with anger, fighting any sense of relief he may feel at his success, concentrating on how it’s not fair that he can’t do this all the time so he can stay angry, and manages to keep things going for almost two minutes, which is a new record. But then he thinks of how he would grow stronger, which leads to the thought of how he’d add Luke’s power to his own, which leads to the thought of Luke, period… and he can’t stop a smile, and that collapses the whole thing because he can’t maintain his anger when he’s filled with paternal pride.

will: In addition to Lando not (except here) being a complete idiot, one of the consistent bright spots of this book has been Vader, as a character and as Luke’s father.

z: Awwwww.

But he thinks that he’s making very good progress after all, two minutes will become ten, ten will become an hour, eventually he’ll be able to breathe on his own.

This is a nice scene and therefore naturally only like 1.5 pages long.

Scene shift to Leia, who’s still cooped up in her room and is feeling impatient and full of pent-up energy. She can’t plan escapes on her own with as little information as she has. She eventually decides to do some exercises in the floor space she has available and works out until she works up a sweat, then turns off the lights to shower in the dark, and feels better. She starts considering ways to escape again or at least what she can do to help Luke with whatever break-out plan he has. And the last two sentences of the chapter do make me throw my tablet, although luckily just to bounce on the couch and not, say, across the room at my flat-screen TV:

She was worried about [Luke], but on another level, pleased that he would come for her. It was nice to know somebody cared that much.



And if what you wanted to write was “It was nice that there is someone out there who cared that much,” you should have written that; “It was nice to know somebody cared that much” reads like she just figured that out, which does make sense since we’ve established that she’s a doppelganger, but. Better yet, write something like “She was glad Luke found her; she had known he’d come looking.” Because also remember Bespin?!

But then we’re not the best stylist here either, are we.

Anyway, that’s the chapter, and look, I managed not to yell through the Xizor bits so we’re making progress. Will?

will: Instead you yelled through the Leia bits, though I admit with cause.

Not much to add here. The Xizor scene is just more bullshit, the Luke scene is character assassination, the Vader scene is sweet in a twisted way, and the Leia scene is pointless. So 1 out of 4, minus several million for good thinking.

About average, really.

Join us next week for me getting five words into a chapter before I get my intelligence insulted by an author’s idea of cleverness.

Until then, may the Force be with you.

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