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Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire is a part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, coming out in 1996. Conceived as an Interquel between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, it's a multimedia project, like The Force Unleashed after it, designed to have all of the media that would surround a new movie without actually making a movie. There is a novel, a video game, a six-issue comic series, a soundtrack, a toyline, and trading cards. Not all its elements overlap - to get the full story, readers would have to see each story-related component.
The novel tells the overall story, focusing on the main characters. The comic book series focuses on bounty hunter Boba Fett's battle to keep possession of the frozen Han Solo. The video game allows players to control new character Dash Rendar, whose adventures in the game weave in and out of the overall storyline.
Throughout each of these, Prince Xizor, the head of the criminal organization Black Sun, finds out why Darth Vader, his bitter rival for the Emperor's favor, wants the Rebel hero Luke Skywalker. In order to gain the Emperor's favor and punish Vader for killing Xizor's family, Xizor plans to kill Luke, while the Rebels try to find Han.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: How Luke, Dash and Lando sneak into Xizor's palace.
- The Ace: Han Solo's Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Dash Rendar. He's annoying even to the characters, but they do acknowledge that he's a good pilot. Luke once thinks "This guy was so full of himself it was a wonder he didn't explode and spew ego all over the place".
- Affably Evil: Xizor certainly tries to be this, especially around Leia.
- Ascended Extra/ The Cameo: Durga the Hutt, who previously appeared as the Big Bad of Darksaber the year previous (set years after this novel), show up as a Vigo of the Black Sun. Xizor pulls a Blofeld Ploy on him to remind him that he isn't trusted.
- Big Damn Heroes: Rogue Squadron shows up during the escape from Coruscant at, of course, a dramatic moment when the Falcon and the Outrider are being hemmed in by Xizor's private navy.
Wedge: "Hey, Luke! Mind if we join your party?"
- Bullying a Dragon: Xizor, granted that you're planning to kill Darth Vader anyway, is it really well-advised to go out of your way to Troll the man so many times while you're busy setting up your plan? He's really sort of infamous as the last person in the galaxy you want to fuck with, especially from within choking range.
- Sure enough, eventually this kills Xizor -- Vader might not have leapt at the flimsiest legal possible excuse to nuke Xizor's entire orbital space station, to the extent of allowing fleeing Rebel troops to escape by targeting Xizor instead, if Xizor hadn't spent so much time and effort earlier in the novel personally pissing Vader off.
- Xizor wouldn't have survived long enough to reach the second chapter if the Emperor hadn't put the brakes on Vader.
- But for Me It Was Tuesday: Prince Xizor is attacked by a young man named Hoff, who yells "You Killed My Father" to him, to which Xizor replies, "I'm sorry. Have we met?". It's subverted, however, since Xizor remembers the father once Hoff tells him the father's name.
- Butt Monkey: Lando, just a little bit. "It's not my fault!" is practically his catchphrase.
- Camera Screw: The game boasts a "Cinematic" mode which has no practical application whatsoever besides allowing you to see Dash's face. Even the normal camera modes are hellish when it comes to the game's platforming segments.
- Captain Obvious: "There seems to be a slight problem, my prince." "So I noticed. Why are your ships blowing up, Commander?"
- The City Narrows: Coruscant's seedy underground districts.
- Collapsing Lair: The heroes escape from Xizor's palace just before it implodes on itself.
- Continuity Nod: The radio drama for Return of the Jedi makes an offhand mention to these events, namely the trip to Coruscant and allowing the droids to fly the Falcon.
- Cool Chair: Xizor's "Myostim unit". You sit in it and it makes you buff.
- Cool Starship: The Outrider is a later model YT-series freighter (it's a 2400 to the Millenium Falcon's 1300) with plenty of modifications in the form of better engines and extra weaponry.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Xizor, obviously.
- Death Mountain: The canyons of Gall.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Luke tries to save his dying Bothan friend, but it doesn't work, and Luke winds up getting captured anyway.
- The Dog Shot First: A mechanic in an unknown enemy's employ tries to shoot Luke and misses, then is shot by Wedge. Luke is dismayed, since he wanted to question her and find out who paid her - he doesn't think it was Vader - but Wedge shrugs and says that the second rule of self-defense is to shoot first, ask questions later. The first is to be elsewhere when the shooting starts.
- Doomed by Canon: Xizor is not going to get to kill Luke. Like They Would Really Do It, anyway. Also, Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, and Lando are trying to rescue Han, still in carbonite, from Boba Fett before Boba turns him over to Jabba.
- Down the Drain: The Imperial City sewers.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Luke and Lando liberate some stormtrooper uniforms for their jaunt to Imperial Centre.
- Easy Mode Mockery: If you beat the game on Easy Mode, you don't get to see if Dash survives. The novel implies that he dies at the end, so you have to play the game to find out what really happens. He lives.
- Eternal Engine: Xizor's Palace.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Vader does not like politicking and spying and mucking around with double-dealing and triple-crossing, which is how he's forced to handle Xizor. He'll do it, but he feels soiled.
Striking a man down with your blade was clean and honorable. Shooting him in the back from the darkness of an alley and hurrying to blame it on another was something else altogether.
- Evil Versus Evil: Xizor and Vader... don't play well together. It's implied in the novel that Palpatine sets up his various underlings in situations like this For the Evulz.
- Actually, he set situations like this up so that his underlings would become rivals and work even harder to gain Palpatine's approval by trying to outdo the other in obedience to the Empire. Nothing gets results like a threat to job security.
- Expy: Dash Rendar is an unsubtle expy of Han Solo.
- The Human Replica Droid Guri is basically a Terminator. Simulates all human functions, so perfectly imitates a human that special tech or the Force is needed to tell otherwise (dogs probably wouldn't work), implacable, Nigh Invulnerable, faster and stronger than any human, and there is no being which can best her at hand-to-hand. Except Luke Skywalker. Yet she's also starting to understand emotion, particularly the search for challenge. A later-set comic has her looking for ways to reprogram herself so she's not so violent.
- Good Is Not Nice: When it is time for the heroes to make good their escape from Xizor's palace, Lando takes a high-yield thermal detonator and drops it down a garbage chute. This earns him a What the Hell, Hero? from the others, but he justifies it by pointing out that anyone working there had to know how evil their boss was.
- Groin Attack: Leia explains to Xizor that no really does mean no. Immortalized on a playing card!
- The Gump: Subverted, actually. There's a mention of Vader once altering records to make it seem as if Prince Xizor was present on the Lars homestead when Luke's aunt and uncle were killed, but he wasn't there.
- Dash Rendar, however, was at the battle of Hoth. A brief mention in the book, but a playable event in the game.
- Heroic BSOD: Rendar gets one of these when he fails to stop a missile and twelve Bothans on his side are killed; previously he'd thought he was invincible.
- It turns out the missile was.
- Heroic Willpower: Leia's righteous anger, once Chewie awakens it, lets her resist Xizor's supposedly irresistible pheromones; she feels a ghost of attraction still, but can shrug it off. Xizor is disbelieving.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: Spearing two fleek-eels with the same trident. Another day, another credit - before taxes, of course. Going to entropy in a turbolift. What I know about programming you could inscribe on a microdiode lead with a dull sword. Like shooting snakes in a shoebox.
- Honor Before Reason: Luke refuses to leave a dying Bothan ally and run for cover; this leads to him being captured.
- How Do I Shot Web?: Luke is depicted as still learning to become a Jedi, and there are several times when he struggles to use the Force. He does build his own lightsaber, though.
- Humongous Mecha: The Gladiator boss.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Jabba the Hutt apparently can speak Basic perfectly well, as well as understand it. He just chooses to speak Huttese most of the time.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Not the main point of Xizor's Evil Plan, but definitely a side benefit along with Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me.
- Implausible Fencing Powers: Naturally, Luke is able to parry blaster bolts with the lightsaber he builds.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Xizor is an incredibly good shot who practices marksmanship constantly. However, he can't bring down a Jedi.
- Insecurity Camera: Lando comes up with the idea of destroying the surveillance network in Xizor's palace to help them escape.
- Interspecies Romance: Xizor, a Falleen, tries to seduce Leia with his pheromones. Chewbacca interrupts.
- I Owe You My Life: Luke comes to respect Dash a lot more after the latter shows up to help him fend off the swoop gang on Tatooine.
- It's Personal: On Prince Xizor's homeworld, when Xizor was off ruling his criminal enterprise, there was a hazard lab that a flesh-eating bacteria escaped from, and Darth Vader had the city around it and the two hundred thousand people in that city, "sterilized" (ie. incinerated with lasers) from orbit. This included Xizor's mother, father, brother, two sisters, and three uncles. The way this is phrased actually makes it seem like a comparatively benign decision on the Empire's and Vader's parts - this spared the billions of people on the planet, potentially trillions if it escaped into the rest of the galaxy, from "a horrible, rotting, always fatal infection for which there was no cure".
- It Makes Sense in Context: Xizor describes the laboratory as one of Vader's "pet projects". It's actually not clear that Vader was personally responsible for the cleanup that killed Xizor's family or if it was just the Imperial officers at hand, but either way Xizor blaming Vader makes sense since if it wasn't for his lab, the planet wouldn't have needed sterilizing in the first place.
- Also, when your setting has easy space travel there is really no excuse for not putting your experimental biowarfare labs on asteroids or airless moons or other uninhabited rocks where, if the virus breaks containment and starts eating everything, you can just burn the rock and say 'Well, we still lost the lab crew but at least there were zero non-combatant casualties'.
- I Want Them Alive: Subverted. Xizor orders his forces to shoot down the Millennium Falcon, adding that capturing it and securing its crew and passengers would also be acceptable.
- I Will Find You: Vader's personal mission is to find Luke before Xizor does.
- Jedi Mind Trick: Luke fumbles his way through doing this to make the guard to his cell open the door, let Luke out, and go to sleep. Later, with fewer mistakes, he gets a suspicious but not currently hostile Imperial officer to follow him into a refresher, strip, and go to sleep. Seems to be Luke's thing in this book.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dash Rendar, eventually. Early on he leaves the Falcon to fight its way out of an ambush alone because the Rebels had paid him to guide them, not to fight Imperials. Later on - yes, for some reason he was hired again - his arrogance gets several allied Bothans killed and this shakes him, though it can also be read as him being horrified because he'd thought he never missed.
- After he seems to die, Wedge informs Luke that Dash didn't actually miss, and the missile that destroyed the Bothan ship was an experimental diamond-boron weapon invulnerable to blasters.
- Jet Pack: Though it's fuel is finite, so you, the gamer, has to learn how to manage it.
- Kingpin in His Gym: Xizor has an "exercise chair" that strengthens his muscles while not having him actually exert himself, though it's also established that he does practice martial arts. Vader cuts down large numbers of lightsaber-wielding droids.
- Leitmotif: Listen to the soundtrack. Vader's leitmotif is played a few times, and Xizor has one of his own. The composer has expressed regret that he didn't include Leia's Theme.
- Literal-Minded: An obstructive droid clearly is this.
Droid: "Master Melan is a very busy Bothan. Perhaps I can arrange for you to see him in, oh, perhaps a standard week? Your names?"
- Locomotive Level: The hover trains in Ord Mantell Junkyard.
- Love Is in the Air: Xizor's creepy, creepy pheromones.
An excited Falleen who loosed his full pheromonal arsenal was, for all practical purposes, irresistible to a member of the opposite sex. It did not matter what a woman's stance was on fidelity, that she had been a faithful partner to another for years or decades. Falleen pheromones were more potent than the strongest spice. Leia might want to resist him with her mind, but her body would ache for him. There was no antidote save one.
- Parodied in this comic strip.
- Mecha-Mooks: The battle droids encountered in many levels of the game.
- Mildly Military: Rogue Squadron, even moreso than in the X Wing Series. Here, they apparently have free rein to help Luke with whatever, and other than Leia the Alliance High Command is nowhere to be seen.
- Mob War: Between Black Sun and the Empire.
- Ms. Fanservice: Guri has this effect on males in-universe. Despite this, Lando notices there's something not quite right about her.
- Name's the Same: The novel was written by Steve Perry - No, not that Steve Perry.
- Never Found the Body: Dash Rendar.
- Oh Crap: Xizor's reaction to Luke parrying blaster bolts.
- Ominous Chanting: The first part of "Xizor's Theme", and "The Destruction of Xizor's Palace", the climax of which is used in the final stage of the N64 game.
- Papa Wolf: Vader is... displeased about Xizor's efforts to kill his son.
- Punch Clock Villain: The Barabel who captures Luke insists it's only business, and she has nothing against him personally (in fact, her species generally respect Jedi quite a lot).
- Racing Mini Game: Mos Eisley & Beggar's Canyon (Type 2). Get to Luke before the biker gang does.
- Reactor Boss: The Skyhook core.
- Redheaded Hero: Dash Rendar.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Xizor is a reptilian-humanoid Falleen. Subverted in that the Falleen are considered one of the more attractive humanoid species in the Galaxy.
- Revenge by Proxy: Xizor wants Luke dead and Vader in disgrace as payback for Vader killing his family. And neighbors. And anyone else within a hundred-mile radius of Xizor's old home.
- Ridiculously-Human Robots: Guri, Xizor's very expensive Human Replica Droid. She breathes, she has muscles and a heart that pumps fluid...
As [Xizor] watched her walk away, he briefly considered telling her to disrobe and join him in the water. He had made her do that a few times when he wanted company he could trust absolutely, and she had demonstrated to his satisfaction that she could pass for a woman in virtually every way during those times...
- Robosexual: Xizor and Guri.
- Running Gag: None of the voxchips in any of Prince Xizor's Cool Chairs seem to be able to pronounce his name to his satisfaction.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Xizor is apparently pronounced "SHEE-zor," with the X pronounced as in Portuguese. This issue is still being debated almost 15 years later.
- Shout-Out: "Thix? What is going on down there? Thix? Come in, sector one-one-three-eight, come in-"
- In the N64 version of the game, when Dash locates the supercomputer aboard the Suprosa. If the player steps far enough back and looks at it head on... Looks an awful lot like an N64 with a Shadows cartridge plugged in, doesn't it? Also, one of the Challenge Points is shaped like Max.
- Also in the N64 version, hidden text in the code contains the sentence "and Weena Merkatur [sic] as The Hopping Woman", a reference to Freakazoid!.
- Smug Snake: Xizor's certainly clever and he's got style, but his arrogance leads him to make several mistakes that end up biting him hard- most notably underestimating Darth Vader.
- Super Reflexes: Luke gets this when he opens himself to the Force during his fight with Guri - the narration says that he "felt as if he were moving at normal speed, though there was a crackling feeling to his motion, a sound like strong wind whistling about his ears."
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Dash Rendar in place of frozen Han Solo. Several characters actually comment on his similarity. If anything, though, Rendar is even cockier.
- Tank Controls: In the N64 game, to an extent - pushing the joystick to the left or right causes Dash to rotate rather than just face that direction.
- Turns Red: In the N64 game - as you destroy the Gladiator from the feet up, its attacks become deadlier.
- Villainous Breakdown: Xizor has one near he end.
- Villains Out Shopping: The book once cuts to Xizor trimming a six-hundred-year old bonzai tree while thinking that he will reveal this patient, cultured side of himself to Leia, among other things. Later it cuts to him luxuriating in a bath, having invited Leia to join him (he was rejected), thinking that soon his pheromones will overcome her willpower.
- We Will Not Use Stage Make-Up in the Future: Subverted, as with nearly all disguises in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
- Wicked Cultured: Xizor. Part of the reason the heroes know he's dead is that he never shows up again at any of Coruscant's most expensive restaurants, one of which he co-owns.
- You Got Spunk: Xizor to Leia.
- You Have Failed Me...: After learning that a rescue party broke into his palace, Xizor plans to replace his entire security staff - and those other than foot soldiers, the supervisors, would find their dismissals particularly painful.
- On the other hand, when it comes time to flee the palace, Xizor takes note of the two guards who kept watch over his personal fighter, the Virago and decides that they would keep their jobs when the situation was taken care of (and possibly even earn a promotion).
- You Killed My Father: Comes up quite often, actually. Vader killed most of Xizor's family, Xizor drove a would-be assassin's father to his death, the Empire killed Melan's schoolteacher father for espionage...