Recently, the anthology collection of stories paying tribute to the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back was released, and From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back lives up to the expectations by giving us 40 stories about 40 characters from the film, written by 40 different authors.
Like you would obviously expect from a collection like this (a format I absolutely love, by the way), I enjoyed some of the stories better than others. So I thought I’d list my ten favorite, but I want to make this clear: there were plenty of great options to choose from, so I’m just listing my subjective ten favorites.
I’ve also listed them in the order they appear in the book, so this isn’t a ranking, aside from these being my top ten. So here we go!
“Eyes of the Empire” (by Kiersten White)
The opening crawl of Empire tells us that Darth Vader has dispatched thousands of probe droids in search of the Rebels, and that’s how the film opens. But did you ever think about the people assigned to track the findings of those probes? This story tells of those people, especially Maela, who is the one to discover the Rebel outpost on Hoth. But more than that, it’s about how these probe droids give Maela eyes to the galaxy, allowing her to see and explore all that’s out there – including a very surprising find at the end that she hides from the Empire’s records.
“Heroes of the Rebellion” (Amy Ratcliffe)
Overall, the closer a story stuck to the events of the film, the more I seemed to enjoy it in this book. Because of that, I didn’t expect that a story about a journalist (Corwi Selgrothe) visiting Echo Base to report on the Rebellion would be a story that stood out to me, but it did. Corwi is sympathetic to the Rebellion and sets out to try to get quotes from the heroes like Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo while on Hoth, but due to a variety of events (that overlap with the events seen in the film), she isn’t successful. She grows frustrated, but grows to understand that the seemingly ordinary members of the Rebel Alliance would make just as compelling of a story and promotional material, for they too are heroes.
“Rogue Two” (Gary Whitta)
This story earns the title for the best title. It’s written by Gary Whitta, who was a writer who helped develop the story for Rogue One. Here, he writes about Rogue Two, and pays homage to the crew from the anthology film. But this story is about Zev Senesca, who flies under the callsign “Rogue Two,” as they get word that their leader, Commander Skywalker, has gone missing, and that Captain Solo has gone after him. The crew waits for the chance to go out in the Snowspeeders the next day, gets a pep-talk from Leia Organa, and then heads off to find the heroes on Hoth.
“Rendezvous Point” (Wedge Antilles)
This is one of the longest stories in the book, and it doesn’t directly tie-in to the events of the film, but it addresses a very key question that arises: what does the Rebellion do when their heroes go missing? The story focuses on Wedge Antilles in particular, but the Rebellion arrives at the rendezvous point and waits… but after days, there’s no word on Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, or Han Solo. Nobody knows what happened to them, and the Rebellion can’t wait forever. So Wedge is tasked by Mon Mothma and Contessa with forming a new squadron and eliminating a band of pirates in order to allow the Rebels to stay at the rendezvous point in hopes that the famous heroes might still appear.
“The Final Order” (Seth Dickinson)
One of the wonderful things about Star Wars is how it can take a very minor background character and give him a compelling backstory. This is true of Willrow Hood, of course, but it’s also true of Captain Canonhaus. Who’s he? Well, he’s the Imperial officer seen in the film only momentarily via hologram, before his hologram disappears as he was taken out by an asteroid hitting his Star Destroyer. This story picks up right before that happens, as he shares his thoughts – though not all of them – with his second-in-command, before then sending her below just in case something were to happen on the bridge.
“Disturbance” (Mike Chen)
Want to read about Emperor Palpatine discovering the identity of the boy Darth Vader was fascinated with finding? Here you go! Palpatine probes the Force, determined to find out what the Force tried to hide from him. Palpatine has a vision that haunts him of Luke and Anakin, he learns that Luke’s last name is Skywalker, the son of Anakin, and now understands Vader’s fanatic search for the boy – but also understands that he could be a new apprentice. The story ends with Palpatine contacting Vader to talk, as seen in Empire.
“Vergence” (Tracy Deonn)
How interesting could a story about a cave be? Well, it turns out it was one of my very favorites from this whole book. “Vergence” is told from the perspective of the dark side cave on Dagobah, which over the years has seen a number of visitors. Particular attention is given to Yoda’s repeated ventures into the cave, but then we also get the cave’s perspective on Luke’s journey.
“Tooth and Claw” (Michael Kogge)
Darth Vader enlists a number of bounty hunters to try to track down the Millennium Falcon, and one of those is Bossk. But Bossk is on another mission when he gets the call from Vader, and this mission turns out to be far more than he bargained for. He thinks he’s hunting down a wookiee, but comes to a surprising find of who the mastermind actually is. This encounter challenges his assumptions and prejudices towards wookiees… but in the end, he decides to take Vader’s offer to hunt down Han Solo and his wookiee co-pilot, Chewbacca. This story is only very loosely connected to Empire, but it was an interesting-enough story that I’ve included it here. It’s a good story that is well-told.
“Faith in an Old Friend” (Brittany N. Williams)
L3-37 was not created until Solo: A Star Wars Story, which was made nearly four decades after The Empire Strikes Back. But she is the focus of one of these stories, and that’s part of what I really love about these books. For example, in the previous book, we got stories from the perspectives of Doctor Aphra, Emperor Palpatine, and Yoda. In this one, we get a stories from the perspectives of Rae Sloane and L3-37. It’s great. And this story is a compelling one; L3 is a part of the Falcon, and we read the inner dialogue between the Falcon’s three droid brains making up its central computer. It’s the story of L3 meeting Lando again. It’s the story of L3 and the droids aiding the heroes in Empire.
“Right-Hand Man” (Lydia Kang)
If any title could rival “Rogue Two,” it’s this one – because this story is told about the droid that gives Luke Skywalker his new right hand, 2-1B. Luke struggles with an inner pain and wrestling with his newfound identity, and while the droid can’t understand all of this, he winds up offering some very deep and poetic insights and advice that make this more than just an ordinary tale but a profound and thoughtful one too.
Honorable Mention: “Hunger” (Mark Oshiro)