Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice, out July 7, is the third installment in the young reader tie-in series to Star Wars Rebels. The first book, Edge the Galaxy, introduced us to Zare Leonis, his sister Dhara, and soon-to-be girlfriend Merei Spanjak in the year before Zare entered the Imperial Academy on Lothal. Rebel in the Ranks picked up the story with Zare as a new Imperial cadet and followed him as he tried to learn the truth about what happened to his sister. In Imperial Justice, Zare has to contend with antagonistic fellow cadet and superior officer Roddance, who want to prove he’s a traitor. Meanwhile, Merei is in trouble of her own, working for a criminal boss on Lothal as payment for him helping her snoop into the Imperial network in Rebel in the Ranks. Not to mention, her security genius mother is the one assigned to investigate the breach.
Does Imperial Justice live up to the previous to installments? Definitely! Like the previous book, this one is told from both Zare and Merei’s points of view, which makes sense because they again spend the majority of the book apart. Ranks ended with Zare pretending to be Force sensitive as a way to find out what happened to his sister. He continues the charade in Imperial Justice, as well as pretending to be the perfect Imperial cadet. His goal in this book is to get a transfer to Arkanis, the officer training academy, which is where Dhara disappeared to.
Meanwhile, Merei is stuck playing errand girl for a crime boss, as well as trying to figure out how to stop her mother from figuring out she was responsible for the security breach. I really felt terrible for Merei all throughout this book, as she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. She’s grown into such a compelling character.
One of my favorite things about this series is getting to learn more about how the Empire works, specifically the academy system. And Jason Fry isn’t scared to shy away from big, important topics in what is essentially a children’s series. Zare and Merei have the kind of problems that would plague any adult relationship, and Zare has to contend with the risk of actually becoming the perfect Imperial cadet in order to find out what happened to his sister. And still the consequences of rebellion are a looming threat, as well as examining exactly what sorts of events make otherwise law-abiding citizens revolt against the government.
The Ghost crew doesn’t show up much in this book, just a cameo by Zeb and then the scene with Zare and Ezra in “Vision of Hope,” but the events of “Empire Day” as well as their message to the citizens of Lothal are also mentioned.
While Imperial Justice suffers from some common middle book problems, Part 2 really ramps up and the end had me clawing my face with worry. I cannot wait for The Secret Academy and the prayer circle for the survival of Zare, Merei, and Dhara starts right over there. I give Imperial Justice, and the rest of the Servants of the Empire series, a very rousing GO.
An advance copy of this novel was provided by Disney for review purposes.