I remember reading this when it first came out. I thought the artwork was beautiful and it had a really dark, gritty feel. Even looking back, I have to say Dark Empire really produces an emotional response like no other work in the Expanded Universe timeline. Some moments were really wonderful, such as Leia's use of the holocron and the approach of the Dark Side guards on Byss. They really brought back some of the sense of "ancient mysteries" in the Star Wars universe.
Unfortunately, overall the series is just too riddled with plot holes and half-baked dialogue. It seems like overnight everything that had been achieved after the Battle of Endor was all for naught. Meanwhile, I don't mind the fact that Luke goes over to the Dark Side for example, but it's never really clear why or how he takes that momentous step. It's like at one moment he's spying, the next he's switching sides. By contrast, despite all the criticism the prequels get, I think they did a good job of showing why Anakin turned to the dark side and that it was a consequence of specific choices. In Dark Empire, it's almost like Luke just slips out of character.
I think a lot of fans imagine that Dark Empire series never happened. It certainly diverted the Expanded Universe from Timothy Zahn's more sophisticated plots. However, I do think DarK Empire has some value, especially as one of the truly dark entries into the Star Wars universe. I suspect you'll enjoy it if you want to - and are willing - to see your favorite heroes in a new light. You might get frustrated though if you care about the plot and continuity.
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