The Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back novelization, written by Donald F. Glut, is the official novelization of the film of the same title. Like other novelizations, Empire contains many scenes and details cut from the film. Original printings of the book do not bear the label "Episode V" anywhere.

Publisher's summary[edit | edit source]

Although they had won a significant battle, the war between the Rebels and the Empire had really just begun. Soon, Luke, Han, the princess and their faithful companions were forced to flee, scattering in all directions…the Dark Lord's minions in fevered pursuit…

Continuity[edit | edit source]

The book is the same as the film, with a few minor differences or changes in detail or plot. A few are listed below.

Differences from the film[edit | edit source]

  • The novel begins with Luke riding through the frozen wastelands of Hoth on his Tauntaun, rather than the traditional Star Destroyer flyby in the film. It was originally planned that the opening crawl should be at the Hoth landscape via helicopter view, but the idea changed to the traditional space scenery.
  • In the novel, the wampa attacked Luke before the Imperial probe droid emerged from the ice after its arrival on Hoth.
  • The novel has more scenes with the probe droid and its journey to locate the Rebel base on Hoth. One of them is the droid's encounter with a wampa, which attacks it. The probe droid reacts by disintegrating the creature with its blaster.
  • Han Solo never says, "And I thought they smelled bad on the outside." He does however mention that if he doesn't get the shelter built in time, "Jabba won't need those bounty hunters."
  • The novel featured more wampas emerging from within the walls of the Hoth Rebel base, codenamed Echo Base, and attacking Rebel personnel and killing a couple Tauntauns. The Rebels managed to capture and contain the wampas in a secure room. Those scenes were filmed for the movie but cut from the final product.
  • In the novel, during the Battle of Hoth when Han, Leia, and C-3PO are trying to reach the Falcon, C-3PO stops and walks towards the door which leads to the room where the wampas are contained and tears off a large portion of the small warning label on the door and rushes back with Han and Leia. When the Imperial snowtroopers stopped by the quarantined room, one snowtrooper opened the door and tried to enter the room, only to be ambushed and dragged in by a wampa, with the door automatically closing, and is mauled. Darth Vader then enters the scene to check in on the progress, only to realize that they were slowed down by a makeshift trap. This was also cut from the film.
  • After the Rebels' shield generator is destroyed, Hobbie crashes his crippled snowspeeder into the head of General Veers' AT-AT, killing himself, Veers and everyone aboard. It was cut from the film.
  • Admiral Piett goes down to Hoth with Darth Vader's landing party instead of remaining aboard the Executor.
  • Yoda has blue skin, which was originally intended for his character design, instead of his recognizable green skin. (The Marvel Comics version of Yoda also depicted the character with blue skin.)
  • Luke sees scrolls of what look like handwritten manuscripts in Yoda's house.
  • Luke doesn't bump his head in his hurry to tell Obi-Wan and Yoda he is ready to become a Jedi.
  • Han and Leia's kiss is not interrupted by C-3PO, but Chewbacca witnesses part of the scene.
  • While training Luke, Yoda throws a metal bar into the air and Luke cuts it quickly into four sections with his lightsaber as a test of his reflexes.
  • There are only five bounty hunters aboard the Executor; 4-LOM is omitted, and Zuckuss is a "human type" instead of a Gand.
  • Captain Needa's death is not directly described. The scene merely begins with: "A pair of white-armored stormtroopers lifted Captain Needa's lifeless form from the floor of Darth Vader's Imperial Star Destroyer." In the film, Imperial Navy troopers, not stormtroopers, carry him away.
  • When greeting the Millennium Falcon on the landing platform, Lando Calrissian's entourage includes aliens. Also all of Lando's men are armed, whereas in the film none of them have weapons drawn.
  • The protocol droid Threepio encounters never says, "E chu ta!"
  • The Ugnaughts are throwing scrap into a pool of molten metal instead of putting them onto a conveyor belt that carries them into an incinerator. Chewbacca also has far less trouble in forcing them to relinquish Threepio's parts.
  • Han attempts to shoot Vader after Lando says "I'm sorry," and Han replies, "I'm sorry, too," rather than immediately after the dining room door opens as in the film.
  • Boba Fett doesn't enter the room as Vader says "We would be honored if you would join us."
  • Vader's lightsaber during the cave scene on Dagobah is blue rather than the usual red.
  • Luke sleeps in Yoda's house, and experiences his friends' pain through the Force in the form of a nightmare that wakes him up.
  • During Chewbacca's rampage in the carbon-freezing chamber, the stormtroopers attempting to subdue him keep accidentally hit Threepio, much to the droid's distress and annoyance.
  • Following Chewbacca's rampage, the binders are placed on the Wookiee's wrists at Han's suggestion lest he hurt himself, telling the Imperials to remove them once "it's over."
  • The novel's description of the carbon-freezing chamber doesn't match its depiction in the film. It was a rather small chamber instead of a huge chamber, the carbon freezing silo platform is trap door-based rather than elevator-based, and Han was not emplaced in a carbonite frame which controls the victim's condition and unfreezing system (which was used to free Han in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi).
  • Han never says "I know" in response to Leia's "I love you," which was due to Harrison Ford's ad-libbing the line. Instead, Han reassures Leia that he'll be back.
  • Vader's alteration to his and Lando's deal is different. Instead of insisting Lando take Leia, Chewbacca and Threepio to his ship, he sticks to the agreement that "they must never again leave this city," however reveals he's leaving Imperial troops behind to ensure Lando cooperates.
  • Vader briefly chokes Lando with the Force to demonstrate his fate if he betrays him.
  • When Luke is attacked by stormtroopers in Cloud City, he returns fire with his blaster, unlike in the film, where he doesn't fire a shot.
  • Vader says "Bring my ship in," instead of "Bring my shuttle," in the original 1980 release of the film before it was changed in the Special Edition.
  • Luke falls from the weather vane at the bottom of Cloud City before the Millennium Falcon intercepts him.
  • The nebula at the end of the film is a red-orange star.

Discrepancies with the Expanded Universe[edit | edit source]

There are discrepancies between the novel and the later Expanded Universe material:

  • The book describes Rebel pilot Hobbie (Luke's wingman during the Battle of Hoth) flying his snowspeeder into the head of General Veers's AT-AT in a suicide run after he had been wounded. However, Hobbie is alive and well in books and comics set after the battle.
  • In the Expanded Universe, Veers survived as well.

Media[edit | edit source]

Editions[edit | edit source]

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  • ISBN 0-345-28392-9; May 1980, Del Rey, 214-page paperback
  • (No ISBN) 3863; 1980; Del Rey; Science Fiction Book Club Edition[2]
  • ISBN 0722156537; 1980, Sphere, 215-page paperback (with color photos)
  • ISBN 0-345-40078-X; September1995,Del Rey, 216-page Hardcover
  • ISBN 0-345-29209-X-225; Del Rey, First Special Printing August 1980, 214-page paperback

Foreign[edit | edit source]

  • ISBN 0-7278-0629-7; 1980 British Severn House Publishing, 215-page Hardcover
  • ISBN 0-316-88205-4; 1996 British Little Brown Publishing, 213-page Hardcover
  • ISBN 1-85723-946-6; 1999 British Orbit Publishing, 213-page Hardcover
  • ISBN 5699126643; Eksmo Publishing, 352-page Russian hardcover (Империя наносит ответный удар)
  • ISBN 978-954-528-850-0; 2008, Trud, 197-page Bulgarian paperback (Империята отвръща на удара)
  • ISBN 978-954-528-851-7; 2008, Trud, 198-page Bulgarian hardcover (Империята отвръща на удара)

Cover gallery[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

By type 
Characters Creatures Droid models Events Locations
Organizations and titles Sentient species Vehicles and vessels Weapons and technology Miscellanea



Droid models



Organizations and titles

Sentient species

Vehicles and vessels

Weapons and technology


Collected in[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Essential Reader's Companion
  2. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Science Fiction Book Club Edition

External links[edit | edit source]

Star Wars film novelizations
Original trilogy
Episode IV A New Hope · Episode V The Empire Strikes Back · Episode VI Return of the Jedi
Prequel trilogy
Episode I The Phantom Menace · Episode II Attack of the Clones · Episode III Revenge of the Sith
Sequel trilogy
Episode VII The Force Awakens · Episode VIII The Last Jedi · Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker
The Clone Wars · Rogue One · Solo
Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
Full adaptations
Novel · Junior novelization (Updated Edition) · So You Want to Be a Jedi? · A Storybook · Choose Your Own Star Wars Adventure · Golden Book · Illustrated Screenplay · Mighty Chronicles · A Pop-Up Book · Classic Star Wars · Read-Along · Shakespeare · Step-Up Movie Adventures · Script fascimile · Storybook · Golden Book · The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight · Star Wars in Pictures: The Original Trilogy · The Original Trilogy Stories · Star Wars Treasury: The Original Trilogy · The Power of the Dark Side · Studio Fun
Partial adaptations:
The Hoth Adventure · I Want to Be a Jedi · Meltdown on Hoth · Use the Force! · AT-AT Attack! · 5-Minute Star Wars Stories · 5-Minute Star Wars Stories Strike Back · The Chewbacca Story · A Leader Named Leia · From a Certain Point of View
Legends Comics:
Marvel: 39 · 40 · 41 · 42 · 43 · 44 · Marvel Illustrated Version
Marvel Special Edition 2 · Marvel Super Special 16 · Annual 1980
Classic: 1 · 2 · (TPB) · The Special Edition
Infinities: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · (TPB) · Manga: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · PhotoComic
Canon Comics:
Cinestory · Graphic Novel Adaptation · The Original Trilogy – A Graphic Novel · Screen Comix
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Arcade game · 1982 video game · 1991 video game
Mobile · Super
Activity books
Book-and-record · Classic Star Wars book-and-tape · Read-Along Storybook and CD · 1980 Coloring Book · 1982 Coloring Book · Mix or Match Storybook · Ultimate Sticker Book · Activity Book
Behind the scenes
Annotated Screenplays · The Art of · The Making of · Notebook
A Journal of the Making of
· Portfolio · Sketchbook · Behind the Magic · Official Collector's Edition · Empire Building: The Remarkable Real Life Story of Star Wars · Chronicles · Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy
Guide and reference books
The Movie Trilogy Sourcebook · Trilogy Sourcebook, Special Edition · Who's Who
The Visual Dictionary (Complete · (Updated Edition)) · Incredible Cross-Sections (Complete
The Complete Saga · Star Wars in 100 Scenes· Complete Vehicles) · 20th Anniversary Commemorative Magazine
100 Defining Moments · The Best of · Galaxy Guide 3 (Second Edition) · Super Official Game Secrets
Other material and merchandise
Funfax · Official Collectors Edition · Panorama Book · Radio drama (NPR Dramatization)
Soundtrack · LEGO · Toy line · Trading card game · Illustrated · Widevision · Who's Who
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