The Black Fleet Crisis

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The Black Fleet Crisis is a trilogy in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, consisting of Before the Storm, Shield of Lies, and Tyrant's Test. Written by Michael P. Kube-McDowell, this is known to be one of the more Military Science Fiction books in the SWEU, with great attention paid to ships and their positioning.

Luke Skywalker shirks his responsibilities to go on a wild bantha chase to find his mother, and meets an all-female group of Force users. Han Solo and Leia, meanwhile, have to deal with the bigoted Yevetha. At the same time, Lando heads off on an even wilder bantha hunt, chasing after a wandering ship called the Teljlkon Vagabond which ends up being as essential to the plot as Luke's mother.

Tropes used in The Black Fleet Crisis include:
  • Exclusively Evil: The Yevetha, who have no consideration for other species concepts of civilians, kill everyone else living in a star cluster they consider theirs, and use captured prisoners as living shields.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Yevetha apparently have their brains in their chests.
  • Cool Ship: Yevetha thrustships.
    • And the Intimidator, a modified version of the Executor-Class Star Dreadnaught.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: The Yevethan Genocide. The yevethan fleet utterly obliterates the populations of over a dozen worlds in one swift attack, losing only one starfighter in the process.
  • Darker and Edgier: For its release date it was pretty dark and edgier than any previous EU works- the language is rougher (Han gets to drop both a "son of a bitch" and a "bastard" on the Yevetha's leadership, and neither expression had been used in the EU before this), the violence is more graphic (the first EU decapitation that actually contained blood, as well as a very descriptive evisceration), and Akanah asks someone whether they've ever had sex in hyperspace (the first use of the word "sex" in the EU that was referring to action rather than gender).
    • Two words: Castration knife.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Chewbacca vanishes for the first two books and the reader might think McDowell was simply quietly getting rid of him due to not knowing how to write him, the way many other EU authors do. But then he returns to have a major role in the last book, bringing his whole family with him to save Han, and even gets dialogue!
  • Deus Exit Machina: Luke.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anybody reading the trilogy today knows that Luke's search for his mother really is a wild bantha chase from the moment her supposed name is revealed, but the books were written in 1996.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: After three books of waiting for a chance, Plat Mallar finally gets to participate in the final battle, and saves a New Republic cruiser from destruction by ramming an enemy bomber. However, he'd used a starfighter belonging to the cruiser's captain, so no one knows it was he who did it.
  • In My Language, That Sounds Like...: Inverted; Etahn A'baht's subordinates nickname him "Eating-A-Boat".
  • Last of His Kind: Plat Mallar is the only known survivor from Polneye, the largest of the worlds that fell victim to the Yevethan Genocide and the only one able to put up a fight, but still utterly annihilated.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Replace father with mother, and deconstruct. Nashira doesn't exist.
  • Master Race: The Yevetha.
  • Mauve Shirt: McDowell loves to do this with his soldiers, particularly Tuketu and Skids, the trilogy's equivalent of Wedge.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: McDowel gave Luke super-construction powers (with intense concentration and lots of meditation). Not only was he able to find the shattered, scattered, buried remains of his father's fortress and reassemble them in midair with the Force, he was able to make broken edges fuse and shuffle the mineral content to build a tower out of those remains, and then he was able to resculpt the stone at will and play with light and gravity inside. All other EU material tends to ignore this power.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: When he was first introduced in The Thrawn Trilogy, Admiral Drayson was portrayed as a stuffy bureaucrat who, in a space battle, is merely "competent." Here, the stuffiness is revealed to be an act, and his expertise (or lack of thereof) is shown to be largely unimportant, since his real job is to head up the New Republic's intelligence division. And he's good at it, scarily so.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Not like the Wookiees, this PWR is evil.

"Your wars are decided by the death of a tenth of a population, a third of an army. Then the defeated surrender their honor and the victors surrender their advantage. This is called being civilized. The Yevetha are not civilized, General. It would be a mistake to deal with us as though we were."

  • Recycled in Space: The main plot is very much that of a Tom Clancy-style political/military techno-thriller In Space. Arguably a lot of the continuity issues with the books stem from the fact that this didn't mesh well with the status quo of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Chewbacca's family from the Star Wars Holiday Special gets A Day in the Limelight, and a particularly badass one.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The SWEU tends to have three broad categories which enemies fall into: 1) Imperials, 2) Sith, and 3) evil alien hordes. Guess which one this is.
  • Single Gender Race: A single-sex sect, subverted because they allow men in.
  • Slave Race: Tarkin enslaved the Yevetha. On top of destroying Alderaan and cheating on his wife.
  • Spheroid Dropship: The Yevetha's thrustships are spherical, based on the surface area argument quoted on the trope page.
  • Status Quo Is God: These books attempt to move on from the status quo by suggesting technological evolution, saying X-wings have become outdated and even Luke now flies an E-wing, and introducing a whole host of new ships. This is ignored by later books, though there are sometimes justifications used, like an upgraded model of X-wing being produced so it regains supremacy.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Nil Spaar manages to maintain this for a while.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Chewbacca's son Lumpy accompanies the crew of the Millennium Falcon so he can prove himself to his father.
  • X Days Since...: The Republic has a counter saying how many days the galaxy has been at peace. In a poignant scene, they are ordered to take it down when the fight with the Yevetha begins. This doesn't fit with the later timescale of the Expanded Universe, but it's a nice idea.