Shadows of the Empire - Steve Perry "Stand back. Let's see if it will stop a lightsaber."
Han Solo is locked in carbonite, in the possession of Boba Fett. Luke, Lando, Leia, and Chewie are desperately searching for the bounty hunter, in the hopes of rescuing Han. Meanwhile, Prince Xizor of the Black Sun is angling to destroy his rival and destroyer of his family, Darth Vader.
NOTE: Based on the audiobook and what I remember of the novel I read years ago.

I Liked:
Steve Perry is given a difficult task: bridge the gap between The Empire Strikes Backand Return of the Jedi. This is difficult because he has to write an interesting book, yet keep continuity. Most authors just have to write a plausible future Luke, Leia, and Han; this job is far more difficult. And for the most part, Perry does an impressive job.
The characters were fairly strong, namely Luke and Leia. I liked how Perry lead Luke into being the sedate Jedi we see in Return of the Jedi, making him grow from the brash apprentice in Empire Strikes Back. One moment I particularly was fond of was Luke returning to Obi-Wan's hovel to build his lightsaber. I loved this little bit of continuity. Leia was also well done, conflicted about her feelings to Han, wondering how he felt, nervous, yet still strong even in the face of Prince Xizor's advances (which were fine to me as he was using pheromones on her--in fact, I thought it made her look stronger to be able to withstand his biological advances).
As for our bad guys, we rarely get to see Darth Vader in the helmet, and at the time, this novel was novel (har har) in that we got a Vader point of view. Since most Bantam books were strictly post-Jedi, Vader got omitted completely, which was a shame, as he was such an interesting character. Here, I enjoyed how Perry had Vader try to use the Dark Side to heal himself, but always fail, as his joy for being healed won out.
Lastly, I oddly liked how it was unclear whether or not Prince Xizor died (at least, that's the way I heard it).

I Didn't Like:
The first thing I didn't like was how much Dash Rendar was like Han Solo. Now, I've heard that the character was created for the game, so maybe Perry had very little choice in how Dash was supposed to be. Okay, I understand that. But still, couldn't Perry have tried a wee bit harder to make Dash unique and not so much like Han? I couldn't help but wince when I read him in a scene.
Xizor is often uplifted as this really great villain, and I am just unsure why. Sure, he plots and schemes in this book, but, partly because he is doomed to fail, nothing happens of it. All he does is exercise, change clothes, and seduce women. I wish Perry had allowed Xizor some way of winning something, just so I could be assured he was a real threat, instead of a dandified playboy. And I almost didn't even want to start reading the novel when Xizor miraculously knows that Vader is Anakin Skywalker. No one knows that! How does he?
Another problem I have is how this book feels like filler. Other than a few nice tie-ins (Leia getting the Boushh costume, the thermal detonator, Luke's lightsaber, the Bothan spies), the whole book is just filler. We all know the outcome, there is little suspense, there is little to engage us. It doesn't help when circumstances keep repeating themselves (Leia gets kidnapped to lure Luke to Coruscant, like done in Empire, Dash Rendar returns to help like Han returned to help Luke in A New Hope, Luke and Lando hide in a surprisingly dense asteroid field, and so on).

My last complaint is about Perry's writing style. I found it quite juvenile, filled with simple, embarrassing sentences. Here is one such example:
[Luke:] "Stand back. Let's see if it will stop a lightsaber."
The door would not stop a lightsaber. They went through and continued to climb.
Not only does the above excerpt contain an unnecessary and embarrassing line of dialogue made of pure cheese, the narration is boring, uninspired, and uninteresting. I have no idea how Luke sliced the door, where, if he cut a chunk or the whole thing off, if there were people right behind him or anything. In fact, all this scene does is give us filler, more padding to drag out the big escape.

Dialogue/Sexual Situation/Violence:
Light to none spattering of mild profanity.
Prince Xizor fancies himself a player and makes the moves on Leia.
We have space battles, attempted murders, lightsaber battles, rescues, kidnappings, etc.

One of the better Star Wars novels out there, Shadows of the Empire is entertaining but not hugely memorable. Not a bad book to put on your reading list, but I wouldn't rush out to read it anytime soon.