Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy is the first installment in a new young reader tie-in series to Star Wars Rebels. Told from the perspective of a teenage boy named Zare Leonis, it chronicles his final year in AppSci school before following his sister Dhara to the Imperial Academy on Lothal.
Jason Fry is no stranger to writing Star Wars, and he does a great job with Zare’s character arc. Zare starts out the story a teenage boy whose only concerns are succeeding in grav-ball and proving himself to be just as good as his sister, but due to the year’s events he starts to question the Empire he’d basically been born to serve. It gives a good insight into what causes some people to want to rebel against the Empire, and why others would be more resistant to speaking out. Despite it being set in a different universe, it’s a very relatable issue. Do you do what you feel is right and in the process risk your life and the lives of your loved ones, or do you keep quiet about wrongdoings and not cause any trouble? It’s easy to say what you’d do in that situation until you’re actually in it. And Zare’s problems start small, from issues with a school administrator, but eventually become much larger than he could ever imagine.
One thing I found interesting is that the Imperial Academy was actually located on Lothal, and not on a more populated world. I always had the impression from A New Hope that there was just one Academy, but upon reflection I realize that would be unrealistic in a universe as big as Star Wars. It makes me wonder which Academy Biggs attended, and which one Luke would have gone to.
Edge of the Empire has great little nods to the Legends EU, including mentions of caf, hot chocolate, and use of the swear words stang and kriffing. I was also glad that Dhara mentioned women going through stormtrooper training at the Academy. Fry also invents a new sport called grav-ball, which is a combination of soccer, football, basketball, and Quidditch (the sport in Harry Potter, for all you Muggles out there). I’m not a huge sports fan, but those scenes were well-written and tied into the plot and Zare’s character arc very well.
If you’re a fan of Rebels, definitely pick this up. Don’t be put off that its meant for younger audiences. It’s a fun, fast read and does a great job at depicting everyday life in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. And, as I’m sure was the intention, I’m now really looking forward the Academy episodes of Rebels–not to mention the future installments in the Servants of the Empire series. This book gets a GO from me.