BOOK REVIEW: Star Wars Imperial Handbook A Commander’ Guide

I have been handed Imperial secrets.

The ‘Star Wars Imperial Handbook- A Commander’s Guide’ is impressive. Authored by Daniel Wallace, this handbook has been intercepted by the Rebel Alliance and has been passed to the likes of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo for their annotation. Not only has Wallace created a book of really exquisite detail, ‘hand written’ reactions from Skywalker’s colleagues enrich this handbook all the more. Funny and insightful they bring life to what could be a relatively dry, while fascinating, reading experience.

This is an imposing tome, reflective of the importance of external appearance to the hierarchy and role allocation of the Imperial regime. Beautifully presented as a black shiny hard back reminiscent of a Naval Trooper helmet or that of Darth Vader himself, the commitment to detail starts from the absolute outset of this book. Each type of officer and trooper from all arms of the Imperial force is here in elaborate detail alongside all the ships and weapons used in vast numbers across the Star Wars universe. Written by high ranking officials from each branch of the military, these are secrets that should not be in Rebel hands.

While the films are expressive visually of the sheer numbers available to the Imperial Forces, the book lays bare just how much the Rebel Alliance is it a disadvantage in this war and therefore quite how much courage would have been involved in taking up the fight. Working in small cells, they were against a truly imposing force.

Also detailed within the manual is the extent of the cold ambition that runs throughout the Imperial leadership structure. In describing Storm Troopers, ‘general citizens and our foes see only a united and implacable face. When enemies witness a Stormtrooper fall only to watch a duplicate take his place, they lose the will to fight’. Another paragraph is annotated by Leia chillingly concurring with the overall pride of the Imperial troops in their callousness, she says ‘Stormtrooper ideology is terrifying in its thoroughness. They can’t be reasoned with which means they can’t be deprogrammed’. The Ailon Nova Guard is used as a disposable asset because they run into battle regardless of the odds at single command. TIE pilots are sent out in ships without shields or life support demonstrating a terrifying commitment to their cause.

There are troopers and weapons for every environment and each one is scrupulously described, the killing power and the unabashed ambition is clear to see on every page and whets the appetite for the new Disney film about to hit our screens. Stunning art work on every page is a reminder of the awe with which the special effects were met each time a new film hit the silver screen. The size and diversity of the ships and weapons available to the army is stunning not only in the force behind the Imperial Army but also the time and patience of Wallace in the collation of all this material. Having already written ‘The Jedi Path’, ‘The Art of Superman Returns’ and other similar works, it is unsurprising that this book is as good as it is. This book joins the growing series of Star Wars guides and handbooks from Titan Books.

Not only is this the ultimate geek’s encyclopaedia in all things Imperial but also a beautiful book to own. An absolute pleasure and one to be returned to again and again.

GS Rating: 5/5

GS Blogger: The Aviator

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