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Star Wars – Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber #BookReview

When the Imperial prison barge Purge–temporary home to five hundred of the galaxy’s most ruthless killers, rebels, scoundrels, and thieves–breaks down in a distant, uninhabited part of space, its only hope appears to lie with a Star Destroyer found drifting, derelict, and seemingly abandoned. But when a boarding party from the Purge is sent to scavenge for parts, only half of them come back–bringing with them a horrific disease so lethal that within hours nearly all aboard the Purge die in ways too hideous to imagine.

And death is only the beginning. 

The Purge’s half-dozen survivors–two teenage brothers, a sadistic captain of the guards, a couple of rogue smugglers, and the chief medical officer, the lone woman on board–will do whatever it takes to stay alive. But nothing can prepare them for what lies waiting aboard the Star Destroyer amid its vast creaking emptiness that isn’t really empty at all. For the dead are rising: soulless, unstoppable, and unspeakably hungry.

Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber book cover

Title: Death Troopers | Author: Joe Schreiber | Publisher: LucasBooks | Pub. Date: 13 October 2009 | Pages: 288 | ISBN: 9780345509628 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Starred Review: No | Source: Purchased

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Death Troopers Review

With the recent success of the Disney+ show ‘The Mandalorian’, which blends the ‘Star Wars’ universe with themes and visuals more common in spaghetti westerns or samurai films, there been a bit of a resurgence in discussions of the genre-bending nature of George Lucas’s most famous creation. The original films borrow happily, affectionately and, most importantly, successfully, from a range of cultural sources: WW2 dogfight flicks, Arthurian legend, Buck Rogers and Greek mythology. One genre that ‘Star Wars’ has never really done, on screen at least, is horror. In his 2009 novel ‘Death Troopers’ Joe Schreiber attempts to right that wrong. 

Despite the fact that it tries something new, ‘Death Troopers’ isn’t going to win any awards for originality. It’s basically a viral zombie outbreak story set in the ‘Star Wars’ universe, but it’s none the worse for that. It’s an enjoyably tense and fairly gruesome tale that will entertain both ‘Star Wars’ and horror fans. On that point, it’s worth noting (if this kind of thing matters to you) that this is part of what Disney calls ‘Legends’. According my son (who that kind of thing does matter to), that means it’s not canon.

The book is set on an Imperial prison barge that gets infected with a suitably horrifying virus. It’s told primarily from the perspectives of a teenage prisoner, an Imperial guard and one of the prison doctors. There are also appearances from some characters fans will recognise and enjoy.

I’m a huge fan of genre mash ups that are done well, and ‘Death Troopers’ is fun even if it doesn’t completely nail things. It’s fast-paced, gory, and entertaining in a derivative sort of a way. It captures the ‘Star Wars’ vibe very well, but what it lacked for me was a real connection with the characters. I liked the story, but I never felt particularly invested in the outcome. 

You can purchase a copy of this book via your normal retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. It can be found here at Indiebound or at Bookshop. Please note the Bookshop link is an affiliate link and each purchase you make through it helps to support Sci-Fi & Scary and keep the site running.

Published inScience Fiction Book ReviewsUnstarred Reviews

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