So I’ve been reading something new lately – new, that is, for me – the Dark Forces saga. Released back in the late 90s, the trilogy was written by William C Dietz and featured full-page illustrations along with the text. The novellas are a bit of a departure from Dark Horse in this way.
A tie-in to the 1995 FPS video game of the same name, the most important thing about this series is the introduction of Kyle Katarn, who has become something of a legend in the expanded universe.
There is a whole slew of new characters introduced in this series, including the rebel Jan Ors, and the Dark Jedi Sariss, Yun, and of course, Jerec.
The story follows Kyle as he moves from training in the Imperial Academy to joining the rebellion when the Empire kills his father. The rebels don’t entirely trust him, however, and assign Jan Ors to ensure he does the job he is assigned – steal the plans to the Death Star. Weird, right? Why would they send him on such an important mission if they didn’t trust him? I don’t know, but anyway.
The next book, Rebel Agent, sees him on another mission, to discover the Valley of the Jedi, the purported location of great power. Again, the rebel hierarchy doesn’t trust him, though Luke appears to have some degree of belief in him, but anyway. Lots more dashing about and whatnot, and Kyle and Jan begin their awkward romance. Whatever.
The finale, Jedi Knight, continues directly from the last, with Kyle and Jan racing Jerec to the Valley. After some shenanigans with the locals, Kyle and Jerec face off in the Valley.
An iconic series in the lore, but I wasn’t entirely convinced by this series. Dietz has some annoying habits in his prose, the most annoying being the fact he changes POV characters very quickly, which can be really very disorientating. Something else that was hard to cope with was his use of “the agent/the rebel” instead of character names, which is too confusing when he’s referring to both Kyle and Jan with “the agent” in the same sequence. It was just annoying.
The story itself was actually quite disappointing. I mean, it was quite fun to see some classic Star Wars once more. There was definitely that sense of the original series of Star Wars here, and I must say, it was really nice to finally read all about the Kyle Katarn origin story. And Kyle is a pretty good character, really. Okay, so he’s a bit like Corran Horn in that there’s the whole “he’s just a regular guy no wait he’s a Jedi” thing going on, but it’s not as obnoxious as that. The awkward romance with Jan was a bit, well, awkward, but it’s nothing too major so it’s not much to moan about.
Jerec was a bit underwhelming, I thought. He seemed to be all mouth and very little substance. I wasn’t particularly impressed, I have to say, but I suppose he wasn’t all that bad as an opposing force. But still, not exactly a three-dimensional villain.
To read the Dark Forces storyline, after all these years, was a bit of a disappointment if I’m honest. I suppose this is because of the iconic stature it has taken on within the EU. I get the impression that I would perhaps have enjoyed it a lot more if I’d have played the video game back in the 90s, but I didn’t. So, yeah…
Currently, the Dark Forces novellas are really hard to find, and some places have them priced ridiculously highly. Hopefully, Marvel will reprint them in due course.
Anyway, such are my thoughts on this…