Imperial Commando: 501st
Author: Karen Traviss
Release Date: October 2009
For those that don’t know, this novel is a continuation of the Republic Commando series. Imperial Commando: 501st catches up with the remaining members of Omega squad, and the other major RC characters, including Kal Skirata, the members of Clan Skirata, Walon Vau, his strill Mird, and others.
By the end of the novel Order 66, the fourth in the Republic Commando series, many things had changed. The death of Etain Tur-Mukan came as a shock to me. I didn’t expect such a major character to be killed off, and obviously her clone commando husband Darman was caught off guard as well. In 501st, I felt Karen did an excellent job showing us the inner struggles that Darman dealt with on a daily basis. But not just him; it was nice to see that the entire clan was struggling with the loss as well. This definitely adds a personal touch to an seemingly impersonal being: Imperial troopers. Another obvious change is the fact that the commandos are now assisting Darth Vader in hunting down the remaining Jedi survivors and other “traitors”.
Another main story that continues is the research into the reversal of the accelerated aging. Time is definitely not on the side of the clones, and this becomes even more urgent as the members of Clan Skirata come to have families of their own. Unfortunately though, we do not see much of a development about this in 501st. Progress is made, yes, but the situation is about the same in the end as the beginning. This wouldn’t have bothered me if I knew the story would again be continued, but as we all know by now, Imperial Commando 2 was cancelled, much to the horror of the fans of this series. That in itself puts a damper on my enjoyment of this novel.
Again, for those that are unaware, Karen Traviss officially left the Star Wars franchise. She gives details about this in her blog. [Link] This was the focus of a major fan debacle when this all went down, and I’m not going to revisit it here. But I will say for the record that it’s a shame that this story, a story that spanned 5 existing novels, remains unfinished. Many out there, including myself, came to enjoy the Republic Commando novels, I think mostly because they are so character-driven and memorable. Karen Traviss is an excellent writer, and she did well in helping us to appreciate the routine struggles of a soldier.
I do have my complaints as well, including the overall unfavorable light that was cast upon the Jedi. All-in-all though, I would recommend the Republic Commando series to anybody. 501st even provides a jaw-dropper that I wont spoiler here. (Hint: we thought he was killed.)
We may never know what happens to the characters of the series, but Karen did provide an unofficial look at how she might have wrapped up an Imperial Commando 2. [Link] Guess that’s better than nothing.
Imperial Commando: 501st receives a 3 out of 5.