Allegiance is a novel by Timothy Zahn, set approximately five to six months after the Battle of Yavin. It was released on January 30, 2007 in hardcover and on December 26, 2007 in paperback along with a preview of Darth Bane: Rule of Two. Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Mara Jade are the main characters, with Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine making a few, yet major appearances. As the title would suggest, the book's subject is, according to Zahn, "...three different people and groups with allegiance issues." A sequel, Choices of One, was released in July 2011.
Five idealistic but fed-up Imperial stormtroopers led by Daric LaRone share the stage with young Rebel Alliance crusaders Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca in this politically fraught but still rollicking early years Star Wars adventure from Hugo-winner Zahn (Star Wars: Outbound Flight). Emperor Palpatine's favorite Sith, Darth Vader, has a new rival, the 18-year-old Countess Mara Jade Claria, whom Palpatine has schooled in the Force to assume the special agent role of "Emperor's Hand." Zahn depicts the intrepid Rebel quartet and the turbulent development of the Alliance while revealing the Human faces behind the stormtrooper armor of Daric and company, who become unexpected allies of Han and friends once the troopers are on the run after killing a superior officer. The author also underscores Mara Jade's tough-girl charm and blossoming Imperial clout against the background of Palpatine's dedication to Imperial domination and his insidious influence on his minions. This episode will please fans wondering about events between the first and second movies in the original Star Wars trilogy.
When the battle lines are drawn, and the enemy engaged, pledging your loyalty may mean laying down your life.…
Never before has the incendiary mix of action, politics, and intrigue that has become Timothy Zahn's trademark, been more evident that in this new Star Wars epic. On the heels of the stunning events chronicled in Star Wars: A New Hope, the newly minted heroes of the Rebellion—fledgling Jedi Luke Skywalker, smuggler turned reluctant freedom-fighter Han Solo, and Princess Leia Organa, a bold leader with a world to avenge—must face the harsh realities of the cataclysmic conflict into which they have so bravely plunged. From this point forward, legends will grow, treachery will abound, and lives will be irrevocably altered, in the long, hard fight to counter the fist of tyranny and restore hope to a galaxy too long in darkness.
The destruction of the Death Star by the Rebel Alliance was a decisive blow against the Empire, but Palpatine and his monstrous enforcer, Darth Vader, are no less of a threat. The brutal extermination of Alderaan not only demonstrated the magnitude of their murderous power, but served as a chilling testament to their resolve to crush the Rebel uprising. Standing against them, Skywalker, Solo, and the Princess remain uncertain opponents. Luke is gifted and brave, but unschooled in the power he possesses. Han has doubts about waging someone else's war—and his contentiousness is one more burden for Leia to bear as she struggles to help keep the Rebellion alive. The three have been sent to mediate a dispute between Rebel Alliance factions in Shelsha Sector—agitating matters by forcing Han to deal not only with pirates, but with his more dreaded enemy, politics. At the same time, Mara Jade—all of eighteen and years away from her fateful meeting with Luke—is serving her evil master, Palpatine, well in her role as the Emperor's Hand: tracking suspected treachery in the Empire to what may be high places—while trying to stay out of Darth Vader's way.
But the Rebels will prove to be only one of the Empire's concerns. For Imperial Stormtrooper Daric LaRone, his faith in the Empire shaken by the wanton destruction of Alderaan, will commit a sudden and violent act of defiance, and take four other enforcers with him, in a desperate bid to elude their masters' wrath.
Each of these fateful actions, whether sanctioned, secret, or scandalous, will expose brutality and corruption, spur upheavals destined to shake the Empire to its core, and shape momentous events yet to come.
Part One Edit
Six months after the Battle of Yavin, Han Solo and Chewbacca are assisting the Rebel Alliance with what Han swears will be their last unpaid favor for them: helping to evacuate a tech team from the planet Teardrop. Their departure unluckily coincides with the arrival of the Star Destroyer Reprisal, but Han manages to bluff his way past them, pretending the Millennium Falcon is a medical relief ship approaching the planet, and is brusquely ordered to turn around and head for home, since Teardrop is now under military interdiction.
The Reprisal lands a contingent of soldiers on the planet, under the command of ISB Major Drelfin. While dropping, Trooper Daric LaRone tries to ignore his growing misgivings about Imperial service. He joined the Imperial Army to help keep order and make a difference to ordinary people's lives - but more often than not, especially recently, he has found himself playing the role of an oppressor. The recent rumors that Alderaan's destruction was not provoked by any Rebel action have only made things worse.
Landing on the planet, LaRone's first impression is that the Rebels are already long gone, but to his horror, Major Drelfin orders the local civilian town exterminated as Rebel sympathizers. Unable to complete this duty, LaRone does his best to "accidentally" miss his targets, but is unable to stop the town's inhabitants being wiped out.
Meanwhile, Mara Jade is on one of her first missions as the Emperor's Hand. Undercover as "Countess Claria" at a posh reception thrown by Moff Glovstoak, she slips out of the party and sneaks into the Moff's private office, quickly discovering evidence of his embezzlement. Reporting back to the Emperor, she asks for, and receives, permission to investigate the matter further, having discovered that some of the priceless artworks in which Glovstoak invested his embezzled funds were missing from his collection, possibly being used to fund further criminal activities in Shelsha Sector.
Returning to the Alliance's latest interim base (since having to abandon Yavin 4), Han continues to question how he got "suckered" into working for the Alliance, in stark contrast to Chewie and Luke Skywalker, whose sympathy for the cause only deepens with each mission. In the midst of his ruminations, Han runs into Princess Leia Organa, reminding him of at least one thing he likes about working for the Alliance.
Mon Mothma and General Rieekan task Han, Luke, and Chewie with their next mission: escorting Leia to a diplomatic meeting in Shelsha Sector, with a local leader, Chivkyrie, who has promised to bring substantial support to their side.
Back on the Reprisal, LaRone and his four closest friends - Taxtro Grave, Saberan Marcross, Joak Quiller, and Korlo Brightwater - are off-duty, watching the ISB's contingent board the hangar bay. Without warning, they are confronted from behind by Major Drelfin, who first demands to know why they are not in uniform, and, on learning LaRone's identity, plans to bring him up on charges for disobedience of duty. LaRone stands his ground, pointing out that the ISB has no legal authority over Army troopers. A scuffle ensues, and Drelfin draws a small hold-out blaster, forcing LaRone to kill him in self-defense. Quickly realizing that his chances of a fair hearing are slim to nonexistent, LaRone decides he has no choice but to desert from the ship. Knowing that they will be implicated as accomplices, the other four - who already share LaRone's misgivings about Imperial service, especially after the massacre on Teardrop - agree to go with him. They commandeer the ISB's specially-outfitted Suwantek freighter and, by impersonating Drelfin, LaRone manages to bluff the bridge crew into dropping the Reprisal out of hyperspace just long enough for them to escape. Quiller, their pilot, sets a course for Drunost, just so they can ensure they have adequate supplies. While en route, the five deserters search the ship for stowaways and are stunned to find a cache of weaponry, espionage gear, and hard currency, sufficient to keep them supplied for months.
Part Two Edit
While shopping for supplies, LaRone and Grave witness a Swoop gang attack a pair of civilian farmers hauling heavy equipment. LaRone - remembering the pirate gangs that plagued the rural inhabitants of his homeworld - angrily summons the others to bring the Suwantek's firepower to bear, allowing the civilians to escape. In an odd twist of fate, the "civilians" are actually Alliance operatives transporting weapons and supplies. One of them, Porter, recognizes the gangers from a patch on their clothing as members of the BloodScars.
Porter's report finds its way back to the Alliance's temporary base, where Leia and General Rieekan puzzle over why Imperial troops - whom Porter clearly recognized their rescuers as, despite their civilian clothing - would help Alliance couriers, or if they even realized they were doing so. They also agree that they need more information on the pirate presence before she meets with Chivkyrie. Luke suggests that they give the job to Han and Chewbacca; they and their skills are undoubted assets, but they will probably leave soon if the Alliance can't carve out specific roles for them.
Leaving Drunost, the former stormtroopers journey to Ranklinge to finish their purchases, only to find the spaceport of Janusar under the control of a corrupt police force, extorting money and goods from incoming travelers and holding the local populace as virtual prisoners. The five rogue stormtroopers feel obligated to stop the corruption, and LaRone reasons that a show of Imperial force will be enough to compensate for the fact that the patrollers outnumber them by several hundreds. Sure enough, the sight of fully-armored stormtroopers is enough to cow most of the patrollers and energize the oppressed people, and a few well-aimed blaster shots dispatch the corrupt chief, Cav'Saran, and his top lieutenants, when they try to resist arrest. LaRone reinstates the former police chief, Colonel Atmino, who asks for their unit number so the people can send their thanks to the Imperial sector governor. LaRone implies that he and his men are a covert unit, acting unknown to the sector authorities, but "mostly we're known as the Hand of Judgment." Atmino passes on intelligence that Cav'Saran had links to a local pirate gang, if they want to investigate further. Privately, LaRone and the others agree that they do. Almost without conscious decision, their original plan of fleeing to the Outer Rim to escape punishment has morphed into a plan to continue their sworn duty and impose Imperial justice on those in the sector most in need of it.
Mara's surveillance of the auction house that was handling Glovstoak's illicit artworks leads to her stowing away on a pirate ship. When the ship attacks the civilian freighter Happer's Way, she emerges from hiding and subdues the pirates. Since the freighter is carrying out a military contract, transporting fifty AT-ST scout walkers to an Imperial base, she asks the ship's captain to patch her through to the nearest Imperial Navy presence, which happens to be the Reprisal. Using her override code as Emperor's Hand, she orders the Reprisal to divert from its current mission, pick her up and assist her in locating the pirates' base. Unknown to her, Mara's message sparks panic aboard the Reprisal by its Captain, Kendel Ozzel, and the deceased Major Drelfin's superior, Colonel Vak Somoril. The two of them hurl blame at each other, but eventually agree that both their careers will be ruined if an Imperial agent boards the Reprisal and discovers the desertion of five stormtroopers and the theft of the Suwantek. They collaborate to cover up the crime, starting with the "disappearance" of the technician and medic who discovered Drelfin's body.
Part Three Edit
Serendipitously, Han, Luke and Chewie arrive on Drunost for their meeting with Porter at the same time the Hand of Judgment returns there to pick up the Bloodscars' trail. As Han and Porter talk, Luke hears Ben's voice warning him of danger. He realizes that a trio of local toughs are preparing to contain a squad of off-duty security guards from Consolidated Shipping while their compatriots rob the bank across the street. Luke insists on thwarting the robbery, and creates a distraction with his lightsaber that allows Han and Porter to subdue the thugs. LaRone and Grave, planning to thwart the same robbery, notice the very distinctive trio in conversation with one of the "farmers" (Porter) they saved earlier, and wonder if the Bloodscars are linked to a Rebel cell.
Following the same trail, the Falcon and the Suwantek ambush the Bloodscars' next pirate raid in space, forming an uneasy alliance. The two prisoners taken alive in the attack cannot offer any information beyond the facts that they are part of a smaller fringe group, one of many that the Bloodscars are absorbing, apparently planning something big in Shelsha sector.
With the reluctant help of a captured pirate, Tannis, Mara appropriates two Imperial troops from the Reprisal to act as her assistants while she infiltrates the Bloodscars' base undercover, posing as an expert ship thief. What she doesn't know is that the two troopers are ISB Agents, with orders from Ozzel and Drelfin to ensure that she doesn't contact Imperial Center with anything she has learned, until Ozzel and Drelfin can arrange for her death "in the line of duty." With her new crew, Mara takes the Happer's Way to Gepparin.
In space, Leia meets with Chivkyrie and two other Shelshan faction leaders, Slanni and Vokkoli. Chivkyrie explains that his plan is quite simple, and already 90% accomplished: Barshnis Choard, the Imperial Governor of Shelsha Sector, plans to secede from the Empire and bring his entire sector and all its resources over to the Alliance. To Leia it sounds too good to be true, and Chivkyrie assures her that he has proof of Choard's intentions from the governor's own right-hand man, Chief Administrator Vilim Disra. As long as the Alliance can coordinate simultaneous attacks in other parts of the galaxy to soften Imperial Center's retaliation when Choard secedes, Shelsha sector can be made into an impregnable bastion for the Alliance. Leia insists on visiting Choard's capital on Shelkonwa to see for herself.
What none of the Rebels know is that Choard is planning to secede, but has no intention of joining the Alliance. What Choard himself does not know is that Disra, while meticulously overseeing the details of his master's consolidation of power, is preparing to betray the governor to Imperial Center when the time is right, expecting a rich reward for exposing treason.
But when Chivkyrie drags Disra to a meeting with his fellow Alliance members, the Chief Administrator is enthralled to see Leia among them, knowing that any rewards he may earn for exposing Choard will pale next to those he can earn for turning over one of the galaxy's most wanted fugitives to Lord Vader in person. Disra tries to maintain a calm facade during the meeting, but Leia senses something wrong and cuts the meeting short. Chivkryie starts to reprimand her for her rudeness, until one of his agents in the city informs him that Disra has returned to the governor's palace and locked down the spaceport, trapping them on Shelkonwa. Disra immediately contacts Imperial High Command, delivering his news directly to Vader aboard the Executor.
Leia goes to ground, posing as a tapcafe waitress and waits for a chance to slip out.
Mara, on the other hand, boards a pirate ship and kills or subdues its crew as it attacks a military transport. Calling for help from the Reprisal, she boards the Dreadnaught and borrows two ISB stormtroopers to help her pilot the military transport back to the pirate base on Gepparin. Captain Kendal Ozzel, thinking she is onto him due to the five deserters, aids her, but also takes the Reprisal to Gepparin to attack the base. Mara had infiltrated the pirate base when her ISB stormtroopers betray her, causing the whole base to also attack her. Just as she defeats most of the pirates who haven't fled, the Reprisal attempts to kill her by blasting the base.
The Hand of Judgment and their Rebel companions have also tracked the pirates to Gepparin, and the Reprisal attacks them also. Thanks to stunt flying by Chewie in the Falcon, the two ships escape after tricking Ozzel into going to the Alderaan system. Mara Jade, relieved of the attack, takes a pirate ship to journey to Shelkonwa after seeing a transmission from the pirate base to the governor's office there. However, the Hand of Judgment and the Falcon also journey to Shelkonwa, the Rebels to rescue Leia and the Hand to find the pirate connection.
Mara Jade meets up with Darth Vader in orbit and informs him of her intentions. Landing on the planet, she is attacked by an AT-ST controlled by a pirate named Caaldra. The Hand of Judgment comes to her aid, leaving Han, Luke, and Chewie to find Leia. Mara commandeers the five men to take down the AT-ST and advance on the governor's palace, correctly believing Governor Barshnis Choard to be a traitor to the Empire.
Han, Luke, and Chewie meet up with Leia and escape the planet while Mara and the Hand of Judgment take down Choard. Mara, although she later learns the story of the deserters, pardons them and tells them to discontinue their actions. The ex-stormtroopers leave the planet as the Rebels escape in the Falcon back to the Rebellion.
According to Timothy Zahn in a TheForce.net interview, the most significant change that he was forced to do in his original Allegiance story by Del Rey and Lucasfilm Ltd. was to shorten some of the interactions between Mara Jade and Darth Vader with some dialogue edited out.
Both parts of the dust jacket that indicate the publishing era have the novel placed in the Rise of the Empire era. This is incorrect, as it should be in the Rebellion era. This error was, however, corrected in the paperback re-release.
Although an outside summary identified the Emperor's Hand as "Countess Mara Jade Claria," the book itself made no reference to "Countess Claria" being anything but an alias used by Mara Jade in the course of her professional duties.
- ISBN 0345477383; January 30, 2007, Del Rey, 336-page hardcover.
- ISBN 0345477391; December 26, 2007, Del Rey, 448-page paperback.
- ISBN 9780345477392; Del Rey 419-page paperback.
- ISBN 9780804148191; Random House Audio; Unabridged Audiobook Download; June 2013
- ISBN 978-80-252-1341-4; November 18, 2009, EGMONT ČR, 269-page Czech paperback (Oddanost).
- ISBN 9788324130498; Amber, 376-page Polish paperback.
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