The Road to Solo… Star Wars: Death Troopers

Publisher: Del Rey Books
Author: Joe Schriber
Pages: 304
Price: £5.99

When the Imperial prison barge Purge–temporary home to five hundred of the galaxy’s most ruthless killers, rebels, scoundrels, and thieves–breaks down in a distant, uninhabited part of space, its only hope appears to lie with a Star Destroyer found drifting, derelict, and seemingly abandoned. But when a boarding party from the Purge is sent to scavenge for parts, only half of them come back–bringing with them a horrific disease so lethal that within hours nearly all aboard the Purge die in ways too hideous to imagine. And death is only the beginning.

The Purge’s half-dozen survivors–two teenage brothers, a sadistic captain of the guards, a couple of rogue smugglers, and the chief medical officer, the lone woman on board–will do whatever it takes to stay alive. But nothing can prepare them for what lies waiting aboard the Star Destroyer amid its vast creaking emptiness that isn’t really empty at all. For the dead are rising: soulless, unstoppable, and unspeakably hungry.

After the Disney purchase of Star Wars one of the biggest concerns of fans became what was and wasn’t canon anymore. The stories that came after Star Wars: Return of the Jedi were pretty much assumed to be going as this was the area that Disney would be wanting to make films about, but the pasts of the characters was something that could still draw upon the stories that are now considered Legends. Solo: A Star Wars Story is set to fill in some of these gaps for the beloved character of Han Solo, but the Legends stories are full of interesting histories, one of which is a strange departure for the Star Wars universe. Star Wars: Death Troopers.

Set before the events of Star Wars: A New HopeStar Wars: Death Troopers tells the story of Han and Chewie as prisoners of the Empire aboard the prison ship Purge. It being a prequel, and Han and Chewie being free men in the first film, it’s clear that the two of them won’t stay prisoners for long. But if you’re expecting a daring prison break story you’re very much wrong. This book is a pure horror story.

The book introduces the audience to the stark reality of the Imperial prison ship through two of our main characters, the teenage Kale and Trig Longo, prisoners of the Empire. We see the brutal conditions that they have to survive in; the sadistic nature of Jareth Sartoris, the guard responsible for their fathers death; and Zahara Cody, the ships medic that isn’t really cut out for a life in the Empire thanks to having a heart.

Things begin to go wrong when the Purge suffers from engine failure, leaving the ship in desperate need. Thankfully, they come across a Star Destroyer, however, it’s just floating in space. After bio-scanning the ship they discover that there are only 10 life reading aboard; on a ship designed for 10,000. Sending a team onto the Star Destroyer looking for parts they inadvertently bring back an infection that turns everyone but the Longo brothers, Sartoris, Cody, and a handful of other into what can only be described as zombies. Yes, Star Wars: Death Troopers is a zombie horror.

Freeing the two uninfected prisoners in the maximum security cells, Han Solo and Chewbacca, the survivors must try to find a way to escape the thousands of flesh eating monsters that now infest both ships.

Star Wars: Death Troopers is a big departure for any other Star Wars book I’ve read, and it may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s a surprisingly interesting and engaging mix of the sci-fi fantasy universe we’ve come to know and love, and traditional horror story scenarios. The survivors creeping their way through the tight, dark halls of the disabled ships whilst trying to avoid the ravenous undead is surprisingly tense, and the lack of any Force users makes the story feel a lot more grounded and real.

It’s not just tense corridor creeping though, there are moments of face paced action as hordes of hundreds of infected come charging at the desperate survivors, leading to some interesting and inventive moments. One particular part of the story that stood out was the zombie Wookies, that’s definitely something that isn’t in any other Star Wars story.

Whilst it might not be to everyone’s tastes Star Wars: Death Troopers is an interesting an unique Star Wars book, and a odd look into what was once a part of Han Solo’s back story. With Alden Ehrenreich apparently signed on for more Star Wars films, maybe we’ll get to see Han Solo fight zombies on the big screen one day – though I wouldn’t put my money on it!

Do you read Star Wars tie-in fiction? Let us know what you think of this book.

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