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[The Dark Times]
Events that occur between 19 and 2 years before the Battle of Yavin.

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[Random House, Inc.]

Imperial Commando: 501st
Karen Traviss
Del Rey [US]
Arrow Books
Story published as:
Paperback Novel (2009)
e-Book (2011)

If you have read this book, please rate it:
2 reviews [Average review score: 4 / 5]

The Clone Wars are over, but for those with reason to run from the new galactic Empire, the battle to survive has only just begun....
The Jedi have been decimated in the Great Purge, and the Republic has fallen. Now the former Republic Commandos, the galaxy's finest special forces troops, cloned from Jango Fett, find themselves on opposing sides and in very different armour. Some have deserted and fled to Mandalore with the mercenaries, renegade clone troopers, and rogue Jedi who make up Kal Skirata's ragtag resistance to Imperial occupation. Others, including men from Delta and Omega squads, now serve as Imperial Commandos, a black ops unit within Vader's own 501st Legion, tasked to hunt down fugitive Jedi and clone deserters.
For Darman, grieving for his Jedi wife and separated from his son, it's an agonizing test of loyalty. But he's not the only one who'll be forced to test the ties of brotherhood. On Mandalore, clone deserters and the planet's own natives, who have no love for the Jedi, will have their most cherished beliefs challenged. In the savage new galactic order, old feuds may have to be set aside to unite against a far bigger threat, and nobody can take old loyalties for granted.

This story occurs months after Revenge of the Sith (19 years before the Battle of Yavin).

Related Stories (in chronological order):


Review by Bones, UK, 2011:
"It may now be called an Imperial Commando novel instead of a Republic Commando novel, but it is essentially the same beast in slightly different clothing. Karen Traviss continues her story of Clan Skirata in the wake of Palpatine’s usurpation of galactic power and in some ways this lessens the reading experience, as there is a definite sense of déjà vu. However, by injecting a few new characters, as well as some new PoVs, she maintains a level of interest and freshness. As with previous volumes in her series, the main point of the story is doesn’t revolve around specific events but more around how the characters evolve in order to deal with them: Darman is a very different character, given that he watched his wife die and then effectively abandoned his son for the sake of his brother; Jusik is struggling with the dichotomy of being a Mandalorian Force-user and seeks a balance between his past and his present; Ordo and Skirata are both juxtaposed against one another, with the dutiful son admiring the selfless generosity of his adopted father whilst Skirata has to come to terms with the hypocrisy of his own double standards and the lengths that he finds himself going to in order to defend his clan. For outside perspectives, Traviss chooses Ny Vollen, the freighter pilot who inevitably falls in with Skirata and his clones, and the former Separatist scientist Ovolot Qail Uthan – this is a particular treat, as we see the former villain from Hard Contact in a very different light.
"There are several other things that make this a satisfying read. There are several references that tie the novel into the Expanded Universe, including (but not limited to) the Prophets of the Dark Side, Callista, Scout and even a cameo by Lord Vader. Additionally the exploration of Mij Gilamar and the introduction of Kina Ha are both fascinating, Kina Ha being a particular delight as the personification of everything Skirata abhors, yet simultaneously being the exact opposite of what he expects, knocking him sideways and forcing his to consider the depth of his prejudices.
"It inevitably has its flaws. Darman’s prevarication, whilst unexpected and yet understandable, does seem to slow things down a bit, and with Kina Ha being as intriguing as mentioned already it is a shame that the character was not developed further. Also, with the cliff-hanger ending and the knowledge that ImpCom 2 has been cancelled, there are a very large number of unresolved plot points.
"Traviss’ trademark introspection and some unexpected events make this a solid read, but the future of the series remaining indefinitely postponed makes the ending more than a little frustrating."
4 / 5

Review by Pip, UK, 2010:
"If this is the first Traviss book you're thinking of buying don't bother starting here; go back to Hard Contact and work your way through.
"This book is an Empire Strikes Back moment - Some people will think it's the best thing ever, but really it's just the one in the middle(ish). Don't get me wrong, the book is good - it develops the characters and sub plots running through Star Wars. But if you're looking for lots of action or insight into Vader's Fist then you'll be bitterly disappointed as there's really very little in this book to do with them (or Niner and Darman).
"Throughout the book I felt a sense of dread waiting for the moment when Kal and friends are uncovered and receive Palpatine's attention - perhaps this is to come?? Disappointment aside, I look forward to the next instalment. Will it all work out ok or will they all die in a blaze of glory or futility like Etain?!?
"Only read this book if you're following the Republic Commando novels or you're likely to be lost, skip it and you'll miss out."
4 / 5

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