Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire

November 9, 2017 at 7:00 pm (Reads) (, , , , )

empireDark Forces: Soldier for the Empire by William C. Deitz


It’s hard to give proper credit for this title, since the original book was a graphic novel that should probably credit the artist, and the edition I “read” was the audio adaptation of the story, with a full cast and sound effects, which should probably credit the actors and adapters. The simple solution is to find the common element — the writer — and just stick with him. Just keep in mind that it’s hard to identify who to credit when it comes to my thoughts.

The story is the first of three parts, intended to tell us more about Kyle Katarn, the Rebel agent who becomes a Jedi Knight over the course of the video games Dark Forces and Jedi Knight. This volume reveals Kyle’s time spent in the Imperial Academy, training to be an officer against the Rebellion. We see why he joins, how he commands, and why he ultimately rejects the Empire for the Rebellion, as well as meeting other characters who will feature in the games.. Overall, it’s an interesting arc, but it moves so quickly we don’t get a real sense of emotion out of it all. Instead, it feels like we’re being told how things happen instead of being shown.

Part of it, I think, is the limitation of the audio format. Since we can’t see what’s happening, we have to hear about things through dialogue, and a lot of it doesn’t sound natural. Why, in the middle of a gunfight, would a character talk about what he sees if he’s not relaying that information to somewhere else? Why would they mutter to themselves about what they’re thinking when they’re walking through a crowd of people who aren’t sympathetic to him? It doesn’t make much sense, but I’m not sure how else they could have done it without having a third-person narrator talk over the action.

Also, I had a realization during this drama, and that’s the fact that writers should avoid using the phrase “As you know” in dialogue. It always follows a question (“Hey, you’ve read Moby Dick?”), followed by an affirmative response (“Oh, sure.”), followed by “As you know” to fill in the point the author wants to make to the reader. When I see them, they’re usually about something the writer wants to say to make his characters sound smart. Instead, they come across as condescending and less sympathetic. One of these moments appeared in the presentation.

Kyle is an interesting character, and this presentation is a good introduction to him, but I feel like I should have just read the book instead. I went with the audio because the books are out of print and expensive, but for other interested readers, I’d point you to your local library. I’m not sure that the graphic novel would present the story better, but it certainly can’t be as clunky as this drama.

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