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.
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 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.
On Drunost, a swoop gang attack compelled the squadron to defend civilians, who in an odd twist of fate actually turned out to be members of the Alliance. Leaving Drunost, they journeyed to Janusar to finish their purchases, only to find that it was under the control of a corrupt militia with links to pirates. The five rogue stormtroopers feel obligated to stop the corruption. After their resounding success in liberating the citizenry from their corrupt leaders, they dubbed themselves the Hand of Judgment when asked for details regarding their unit designation. With the militia defeated and justice restored to Janusar, they returned to Drunost.
Serendipitously, Han, Luke, and Chewie met up with their contact on Drunost, unaware that the Hand of Judgment was also there. Luke helped stop a bank robbery, using his lightsaber in the process, getting the attention and curiosity of the Hand of Judgment. This led LaRone and his squad to follow them to where the Rebels had planned to ambush a group of pirates. After the Falcon and the Hand of Judgment defeated the pirates, the ex-Imperials and Rebels worked out an uneasy partnership.
Leia, who was on Shelkonwa trying to unify three Adarian resistance groups, met with Administrator Vilim Disra, who had allegedly wanted to join the Alliance. However, seeing much personal gain in turning Leia over to the Empire, and specifically Darth Vader, Disra shuts down the spaceports, starts a massive manhunt for Leia, and contacts Imperial High Command. 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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