Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire

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Star Wars:
Shadows of the Empire
Author George Lucas (characters)
Steve Perry (novel)
John Wagner (comic)
Country United States
Language English
Series Canon C
Subject Star Wars
Genre Science fiction
Publisher LucasArts (video game)
Bantam Books (novel)
Dark Horse Comics (comic)
Publication date
Media type Paperback,
Computer and video games: Nintendo 64, Windows

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire is a multimedia project created by Lucasfilm Ltd. in 1996. The original idea was to create a story set between the films The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (a time no Star Wars novel had explored before), and to explore all commercial possibilities of a full motion picture release, without actually making the film. The venture paved the way for the theatrical release of the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition in the following year, and the later releases of the prequel trilogy.

Project overview[edit]

Several products were released, including a novel, a Junior novelization, comic book series, video games, trading cards, a soundtrack, role-playing games,[1] toy figurines, vinyl dolls, a series of Micro Machines toys,[1] statuettes,[1] model kits,[1] posters,[1] and a series of action figures and vehicles. The entire Shadows of the Empire project, along with The Force Unleashed, can be collectively considered the closest project to a film in the Star Wars continuity, without any actual film to support its place within the canon.[citation needed]


Cover of the Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire book featuring art by Drew Struzan

The main plotline is told in Steve Perry's novel, Shadows of the Empire, published by Bantam Books. It introduces Prince Xizor, the alien overlord of the largest criminal organization in the galaxy. His goal is to take Darth Vader's place at Emperor Palpatine's side. The novel also resumes the storylines of the usual characters. Han Solo is still frozen in carbonite, being taken to the gangster Jabba the Hutt by the bounty hunter Boba Fett. It shows Princess Leia's secret search for Boba Fett, the construction of Luke Skywalker's new lightsaber and Darth Vader's search for his son. It introduces a new character to the saga, Dash Rendar, a Han Solo-type smuggler, who acts primarily as a replacement for Han Solo and as a part of the action sequences.


Shadows of the Empire
Publication information
Publishing company Dark Horse Comics[1]
Subject Star Wars
Genre Science fiction
Release date(s) 1 May 1996 -
1 October 1996
Country United States
Language English
No. of pages 32 each
Expanded Universe
Era Galactic Civil War
Canon C
Preceded by The Water Bandits
Followed by The Darker
Script writer John Wagner
Cover artist(s) Hugh Fleming
Penciller(s) Kilian Plunkett
Inker(s) P. Craig Russell
Colorist(s) Cary Porter
Publisher(s) Nintendo Power Magazine

The comic book emphasizes the destiny of Boba Fett and his fellow bounty hunters, first seen in a brief scene on The Empire Strikes Back. It also tells the story of Jix, Darth Vader's assistant, who infiltrated Jabba the Hutt's gang of bikers to prevent that band's attempt to murder Luke Skywalker. The series was written by John Wagner and illustrated by Kilian Plunkett.

The comics were written and drawn at the same time of the novel, so the first issue could be released immediately after the book. However, the story told by the comics has many differences. The first, and most important one, is that the comics tell what happened to Boba Fett and his "friends", the bounty hunters hired by Darth Vader to find the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back. Steve Perry, author of the project's novel, was a consultant of the comics. While the stories in the book and comics seldom intersected, it was necessary that characters, scenes, and dialogue match when they did come together.

There was another mini comic published in Nintendo Power Magazine.


LucasArts's Shadows of the Empire was one of the first games available for the Nintendo 64, and later for Windows. The most commercial product in the Shadows of the Empire line, the game was first released in December 1996 as an exclusive N64 title five months after the console's launch.[2] The PC version came nearly a year later in September 1997.[3]

In the game, players control mercenary Dash Rendar in his efforts to help Luke Skywalker and rescue Princess Leia from Prince Xizor's hands. It is divided into four parts (or chapters):

  • Chapter 1: Dash is drawn into the Battle of Hoth.
  • Chapter 2: Dash Rendar confronts bounty hunters from the original films — IG-88 and Boba Fett — in an attempt to reacquire Han Solo.
  • Chapter 3: Boba Fett has escaped and the player's mission changes: you must now save Luke Skywalker's life by fighting a deadly gang of swoop bikers in Mos Eisley, then recover secret Imperial plans for the second Death Star with Luke's help.
  • Chapter 4: Dash Rendar, with Luke and Lando Calrissian, travels to Coruscant to rescue Princess Leia from Prince Xizor's stronghold.

Certain parts of the game contradict elements from the book and comic book, but the overall story remains the same.

The N64 and PC versions of the video game differ somewhat. The PC version has sharper and smoother gameplay graphics when using a 3D card. Both versions have slightly different cutscenes - the PC version has full-motion cinematic cutscenes with sound effects and voices, while the N64 version utilizes artwork with text at the bottom of the screen.


Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
Soundtrack album to the novel Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire by Joel McNeely
Released April 23, 1996
Recorded City Hall; Glasgow, 1996
Genre Classical
Length 51:27
Label Varèse Sarabande[1]
Producer Robert Townson
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars link
SoundtrackNet4.5/5 stars link
FilmTracks4/5 stars link
Soundtrack-Express5/5 stars link
iTunes4.5/5 stars link

Varèse Sarabande published a score composed by Joel McNeely, after a suggestion by John Williams, and performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus. Themes from the movies can be heard in tracks one (the main theme from Star Wars and "Carbon Freeze") and eight ("The Imperial March" and "The Force Theme"). The tenth track also contains credited appearances of "The Imperial March". The disc also includes an interactive track for personal computers, containing concept art and additional information about the project. The multimedia track includes an overview of the Shadows of the Empire project; a creative team gallery; information about McNeely, the orchestra, and the efforts to put together a soundtrack for the novel; and information about the book, the game, the comic series, and the toys based on the characters. The liner notes give plot summaries for each track's corresponding section of the novel. McNeely wrote, "Unlike with film music, I have been allowed to let my imagination run free with the images, characters and events from this story. I have also had the luxury to loiter as long as I like with a character or scene. Every passage represents some person, place or event in this story."

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Main Theme from Star Wars and Leia's Nightmare" – 3:41
  2. "The Battle of Gall" – 7:59
  3. "Imperial City" – 8:02
  4. "Beggar's Canyon Chase" – 2:56
  5. "The Southern Underground" – 1:48
  6. "Xizor's Theme" – 4:35
  7. "The Seduction of Princess Leia" – 3:38
  8. "Night Skies" – 4:17
  9. "Into the Sewers" – 2:55
  10. "The Destruction of Xizor's Palace" – 10:44


Kenner was one of the companies that made the toy line for the Shadows of the Empire project.[1] Their line contained action figures (including new characters such as Xizor and Dash Rendar), vehicles (from the Outrider to swoop bikes) and "two-pack" pairings of new and classic characters (such as IG-88 and Boba Fett). The classic characters figures were given a new spin with Chewbacca disguised as Snoova, a Wookiee bounty hunter, and Luke Skywalker costumed in an Imperial uniform (all the better to infiltrate Imperial City).

Lewis Galoob Toys, famous for their line of "Micro Machines" miniature toys and playsets, also developed a full Shadows of the Empire toy line. It included three sets of miniatures and a boxed Action Fleet set with two swoop bikes and riders and four miniature articulated figures. Also included in the sets are the classic Star Wars characters (Luke, Vader, the Emperor) as well as the new Shadows characters (Xizor, Dash Rendar, Guri and Leebo).

Kenner action figures[edit]

Kenner vehicles[edit]

The model making company Ertl released several plastic model kits of Shadows of the Empire, including the Virago (Xizor's spaceship), Prince Xizor, and the Emperor.

Collectible and gift company Applause released two vinyl figures, of Dash Rendar and Prince Xizor as well as a cold-cast resin statuette of the villains: Xizor, the Emperor and Darth Vader.

Trading cards[edit]

The Topps company developed the Shadows of the Empire trading card line.[1] The 100-piece Shadows of the Empire card set from Topps represents all three platforms that tell the story—the book, comic series, and game. The cards are the work of Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, the twin artists who painted one of the more popular original Star Wars release posters. The 100 card set featured double UV-coating and an extra-thick 20 pt. card stock, all with full-bleed painted images on a 21/2" x 31/2" card. The Shadows of the Empire card series is highlighted by 72 cards that virtually storyboard the events in Steve Perry's novel. The series also contains six cards dedicated to vehicles, another six to the comics, and six more keyed to the video game. Each pack came with nine cards.

Original Trilogy Special Edition[edit]

In the 1997 Special Edition re-release of A New Hope, Shadows swoop bikes and ASP labor droids make an appearance, as does Dash Rendar's ship, the Outrider. Though originally developed for the Special Edition of A New Hope, the Sentinel-class landing craft (also known as the "Imperial landing craft") also made its first appearance in Shadows of the Empire.


The cover of the graphic novel of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire Evolution.

A sequel was written to the original story by Steve Perry, the author of the Shadows of the Empire novel. The project is known as Shadows of the Empire: Evolution, and was created in the form of a series of five comic books. These books were later combined in a trade paperback.


The story is set around the time of Return of the Jedi. Xizor, the leader of the Black Sun criminal organization, has been destroyed, and Guri, a beautiful human-replica droid and Xizor's personal assassin, is left wondering what her future will hold now that she no longer has anyone to answer to. Throughout the ongoing struggle for underworld supremacy, Guri endeavors to uncover hints of her human side-if it even exists. But in her quest to alter her programming and gain humanity, Guri becomes the quarry of both bounty hunters and Rebels (led by a Jedi-to-be named Luke). Secrets lay buried in her android mind that make her such valuable prey. Shadows of the Empire: Evolution was Perry's first foray into comics.


There were five comic book installments that made up the overall story:

  • Chapter 1: After the Fall
  • Chapter 2: The Journey of a Thousand Light-Years
  • Chapter 3: Dark Fires of a Black Sun
  • Chapter 4: Metamorphosis
  • Chapter 5: Reincarnation


A prequel novel was planned to the original Shadows of the Empire story. The book was to be written by author Charles Grant. The novel was cancelled, apparently due to a Lucasfilm Licensing move from Bantam to Del Rey.



In the 1996 Return of the Jedi radio drama, Brian Daley makes several references to events from Shadows.


A tie-in comic book series was released from writer Ryder Windham in January 2000. The comic book series was known as Star Wars: Shadow Stalker, and was a prelude to the original Shadows of the Empire story. The new comic expanded on the adventures of the character, Jix, from the original story. The series also incorporated characters from the Archie Goodwin Star Wars newspaper strip story "Iceworld", reprinted by Dark Horse comics in Classic Star Wars.

Video game[edit]

Several missions in the X-Wing Alliance computer game refer to the Shadows timeline, including the missions to acquire the design schematics of the Death Star II. The game depicts assisting Dash Rendar in the capture of the Imperial freighter Suprosa, which was carrying the secret plans to the second Death Star. Also, Dash Rendar's YT-2400 Outrider can be seen in the game. The Outrider can also be seen very very briefly in the GameCube and PS2 game Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, in the sequence after the opening crawl and after The Dooku/Palpatine conversation. Once the space arena comes into view, the Outrider flies from the bottom middle of the screen towards the lower right side.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Shopping for Shadows". GamePro. No. 96. IDG. September 1996. p. 30. 
  2. ^ Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, MobyGames, accessed December 22, 2006.
  3. ^ IGN: Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, IGN PC, accessed December 22, 2006.

External links[edit]