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As the title suggests, this book features people and groups who are having allegiance issues. Han Solo is resentful about how it seems like everyone is assuming that he's committed himself to the Rebellion, although he hasn't left yet, and while Luke Skywalker is utterly committed, he worries about Han and is very green. The five stormtroopers who form the Hand of Judgment desert and form a sort of vigilante group believing that the Empire has abandoned the ideals that they signed up for. Consciously, Mara Jade is absolutely certain of the rightness of the Empire, but she is on the hunt for traitors and there are numerous tiny hints that she's against various aspects. Meanwhile, Leia is sent to negotiate between various Rebel leaders who are threatening to leave, and speaks with a district head who claims to want to secede, but is really doing all of this to gain power.
It's a Zahn plot, so a lot of things are happening at once, and the plotlines tangle together. Luke and Mara don't meet until The Thrawn Trilogy, so it's the stormtroopers who interact with both Mara and the Rebels. This is notable as being the first Zahn Star Wars novel to never mention Thrawn. Not once. There's a fleeting mention of Grand Admirals, but that's it.
Not to be confused with the computer game Allegiance.
This book provides examples of:
- Awesome By Analysis: The Commodore tries this, enduring mild sensory deprivation in order to concentrate on voices. Doesn't work on Mara.
- Body Motifs: Mara Jade: the Emperor's Hand. The 501st Legion: Vader's Fist. Five idealistic stormtrooper deserters: the Hand of Judgment.
- Zahn uses the hand motif a lot. There's also the Empire of the Hand and the Hand of Thrawn. It's an easy metaphor.
- Lampshaded; LaRone, the leader of the five stormtroopers, when asked for what his squad is called, goes blank and ends up blurting "Mostly, we're known as the Hand of Judgment." Away from everyone else, he gets ribbed relentlessly by the other stormtroopers.
Quiller: "You could have just picked a unit number at random. It's not like he could have checked before we got offplanet."
LaRone: "Fine. Next time you can be the officer and group spokesman."
Quiller: "Great. Does that mean you're promoting me from finger to thumb?"
Grave: "No fair. I want to be the thumb."
- Lampshaded again later, when Mara saves them from Vader and the 501st and hears out their story. She lets them go, but tells them to
"Lose the name. There's only one Hand in the Empire, and that's me.
- Ironically this is not true at all, much to Mara's displeasure in future stories.
- Bullet Holes and Revelations: LaRone shot first.
- Call Forward: Villim Disra has apparently always had connections to criminals.
- There's also Mara Jade watching Vader get defensive over something he's looking up at a terminal, and her musing that the Emperor won't be pleased if Vader's been looking up Prince Xizor and Black Sun again.
- Luke and Leia learning to operate a couple of acquired speeder bikes.
- Catchphrase Interruptus: Hilariously deployed
- Chekhov's Gun: Or at least his drainpipe.
- Continuity Nod: Disra, possibly the only Imperial who is a Complete Monster in a Zahn book. Also, we see the official debut of the Executor.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: After refusing to kill unarmed civilians, Daric LaRone is confronted by an ISB officer who pulls a blaster on him. LaRone knows this is typical ISB threatening and he'll probably be let go, but when the officer takes it a little further, jabbing the stormtrooper with the muzzle and letting his finger tighten on the trigger, LaRone's training kicks in and he kills the officer. Oops.
- Exploding Barrels: The Commodore's men try to kill Mara and Tannis with these.
- Fandom Nod: The very brief appearance of an X-Wing pilot named Stacy is a nod to the Pink Five fanfilms.
- Five-Man Band: In order:
- Fix Fic: Stormtroopers who are not only useful, but badass? Also, their armor is actually effective against small arms fire.
- Survivors Quest — also by Zahn — did it first with the four stormtroopers of Aurek Seven, who are a deeply Badass Crew. Since Choices of One confirms that Thrawn hired the Hand of Judgment to train his own elite squadrons, it's to be expected.
- It isn't just the Hand of Judgment — the narrative in Allegiance also goes out of its way to remind the reader that the stormtroopers on the Death Star were under specific orders to let the heroes go...
- Good Feels Good
- Incest Subtext: Luke and Leia explicitly feel oddly close to each other. If you didn't know they were twins, this closeness might be predictably interpreted.
- It Works Better When Loaded
- Horrible Judge of Character: While in his presence Mara Jade thinks of the Emperor as "a good and wise man". Of course, she is his agent, connected to him by the Force, and there are a lot of subtle cues that she subconsciously knows how evil he is. Plus, her snap judgments of everyone else are pretty sound.
- Ho Yay: LaRone catches Luke Skywalker looking at him in a bar. "There had been something in the kid's look that had set his skin tingling."
- Human Shield: Attempted, but Grave just shot past the hostage.
- Honor Before Reason: When Leia sees burglars breaking into a house that has a child in it, she barely thinks about the fact that she's hiding out and firing shots will probably call official attention to her. She's seen what burglars can do when they run into someone.
Chivkyrie: "That was a brave and honorable thing you did. We must hope it will not in turn bring destruction upon us."
Leia: "It might. But it was something I had to do."
- Informal Eulogy: Mara for Tannis.
- Interservice Rivalry: The ISB and the Stormtrooper Corps really don't like each other.
- Most fans go on the Stormtrooper Corps' side. Of course, it's Star Wars; fans naturally look for the good Imperials.
- Mara and Vader don't like each other, either. Their relationship seems to range from Vader trying to kill Mara to both of them calmly trading their impressions of a possibly-corrupt governor, and Mara asking Vader to keep an eye on Ozzel, since she doesn't trust him. She does muse that at least they both hate the ISB.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Obi-Wan patiently guides Luke through using the Force to figure out the combination for the room he's been locked into.
- Not in This For Your Revolution: Han. But he doesn't leave.
- Six Lines No Waiting: It's a Zahn book. Of course it's going to have multiple intertwined Plot Threads.
- Spirit Advisor: Obi-Wan.
- Sure, Let's Go with That: Amazing sometimes, how hindsight enables people to jump to such incredibly wrong conclusions.
- Sympathetic POV: Zahn likes portraying Imperials who aren't Complete Monsters.
- All Star Wars fans do. Everyone's played "good Imp, bad Imp".
- True Companions: The Hand of Judgment may argue a lot, but they stay together. Han Solo isn't willing to throw himself fully into the Rebellion, but Luke and Leia are his friends, and he won't simply abandon them.