Zare Leonis seems destined to become a poster boy for the Empire. His sister Dhara has been accepted into the esteemed Imperial Academy on Lothal and Zare is confident he'll join her in a year's time. But a year can bring plenty of unwelcome changes. Not only does he begin to uncover the Empire's destructive plans for Lothal and the livelihood of its people, but his unease hits home when Dhara goes mysteriously missing. Zare is forced to question everything and rethink what it means to be a good servant of the Empire.
Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy is written by Jason Fry. The events of the book are concurrent with the events of the animated television series Star Wars Rebels but take place prior to the first episode involving Zare Leonis, the main character of the book. Because the book is a prequel to Leonis' first episode, Fry was given the freedom to write the character's backstory and how he becomes the character that will be depicted on screen. The book will also give insight into Lothal, the primary planet of Star Wars Rebels, and what kind of impact the Galactic Empire has had on it.
In writing the book, Fry collaborated with the Lucasfilm Story Group, as well as Rebels executive producer Greg Weisman. Fry felt that Weisman's feedback in particular made Edge of the Galaxy "a stronger story and a better book."
Zare Leonis, the fourteen-year-old human son of two agricultural scientists, is on track to enter the Imperial Academy on Lothal. Before submitting his application on his fifteenth birthday, he must spend one year preparing at the nearby Junior Academy of Applied Sciences preparatory school. A man named Janus Fhurek controls everything at the school, despite only being the athletic director, and he is not fond of the alien races being accepted at the school.
At AppSci, Zare befriends a girl named Merei Spanjaf, and the two join the school's grav-ball team, the SaberCats. Zare is made captain and placed in charge of the team. One of the other team members is Beck Ollet, the human son of local jogan fruit farmers. When the Imperials arrived on the planet, they bought up all the farms in the area with the stated goal of managing and improving production. Beck, Zare, and Merei decide to visit the farms one day, only to learn that the harvest of the delicate fruits is being handled by clumsy droids which are destroying the plants and the harvest. They report the incident to the Imperials, but nothing is done to rectify the situation. Zare shares his worries with his older sister Dhara who has already entered the Academy. They communicate via datapad and she sympathizes with his plight, but tells him he should keep his head down as he only needs to get through the one year at AppSci.
Months later, Beck and Zare head back to the farm only to see that it is no longer a farm and instead the area has been turned into strip mines. To make matters worse, the Imperials are using old equipment and not repairing the earth which will cause long-term ecological destruction. Near the mines are displaced farmers awaiting a meeting with the Imperials to protest their treatment. Beck and Zare watch from afar as the Imperials arrive, but rather than hearing the refugees' problems the Imperials open fire on them. The two race back home, and the next morning Zare hears on the HoloNet reports that the refugees instigated a fight forcing the Imperials to respond in kind.
The SaberCats make it through the season to the grand finals. One week before the match, Janus Fhurek has the two alien children on the team transferred to another school. Zare protests, but is forced to use backups from the practice team in the final match. To get back at Fhurek, Merei hacks into the school's network and learns that Fhurek has a bet on the final game that the SaberCats will win without alien help and by at least 8 points. When the final match arrives, Zare carefully guides the team to a victory of only 6 points.
Merei received a message from Beck thanking her for being his friend. Zare goes out to see what Beck has planned, and picks up a bag of detonators near Beck's old orchard. He spots Beck being chased by an Imperial transport and uses one of the detonators to knock the transport off the trail. Beck escapes but was spotted by the Imperials and goes into hiding. When Zare tries contacting his sister, he and his family learn that Dhara has supposedly run away from the Academy and can not be found.
Zare is fed up with the Imperials on the planet, but sees no better options for himself and applies to the Academy. Months later while at a market, he watches horrified as a group of Imperials break into a building and cart off Beck and two accomplices. Zare resolves to himself to work as a rebel from within the Academy, and that it will be the best place for him to learn what happened to his sister.
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