Really I started off reading Choices of One. I had been looking forward to reading it. I knew it was about Mara Jade when she was working for the Emperor as "The Emperor's Hand". It takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. About 2 chapters into Choices of One I realized I was missing something! Something came before this book... characters I have never heard of were too well established. It didn't take me long to figure out it was Allegiance. And as I said before I already had a copy. I had not looked at it sooner being the cover of storm troopers and I had never seen anything about the book being about main core Star Wars characters. I thought it was about some pack of random storm troopers. But it was a Zhan novel so I picked it up at some point in my adventures of Star Wars book hunting.
The only other novel that takes place in this time period is Splinter of the Mind's Eye. Splinter of the Mind's Eye is a good book. I recommend reading it if you're a Star Wars Fan but it was written as an alternative sequel had A New Hope not done well in theaters. It's a good "what if" but doesn't work with Star Wars as it later became. I have to wonder if the next movies by Disney are going to turn this EU into something similar... we shall see...
Why is it that Zanh is the only writer that is able to capture Mara and Luke dead on. I mean yeah, Zhan created Mara Jade but other writers can not capture her spirit, fire, and strength very well. He seems to understand Mara and Luke so well. I love the super hero type character Mara is in this novel. In the Thrawn Duology a point is made that Mara believes Luke has willfully gone to the dark side in the past and therefore effected in his life up to that date. But you're thinking, she has a lot of room to talk! She was the Emperor's Hand! But she claims she never willingly went for the dark side. The explanation seem to be that she is young, idealistic, and ignorant about what is going on around her. She repays kindness with kindness... you have to wonder if Darth Sidious is aware of Mara's rebellious nature for doing good.
And what about Vader? They went to all that trouble to destroy the Jedi but now Sidious is training this young girl. Could the plan be to use her against him to take his place or at least make him uncomfortable that Vader could be replaced. After all he used Luke against him later on... and hey, they are Sith, they like mind games. It is clear Vader does not like the girl but there is no clear answer as to exactly why.
I wish I could recall if Mara had a light saber ever before Luke gave her his father's. In this book she does carry one. The color being magenta. An interesting color choice being she's sort of a bad guy cause it's in the red spectrum but yet it's not red either. Ah, symbolism!
One inconsistency I noticed, correct me if I'm wrong, was Mara being able to put herself into a healing trance. In the Thrawn Duology Mara is injured but she was unable to put herself into a healing trance so Luke had to put her in it. As he does so she remarks that is something she needs to learn how to do.
There were a few other flaws in the story but hey, don't really care. That was just the one that really jumped out at me.
So... is Disney going to do away with Mara??? She is one of the most loved EU characters in the Star Wars EU galaxy! And she is such a strong female hero... I don't know if Disney will use her but it's a sad for those of us who love her if they don't. We can only hope they can create an equally dynamic female to replace her with... let's have it Disney.... gives us what you got!