Review: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

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Here we go. The Big One. The One You’ve All Been Waiting For. It’s the Thrawn trilogy!

I’ll admit my mind was somewhat pre-blown coming in to this series. Whilst I try not to read too many spoilers before reading books, I couldn’t help but see all the glowing reviews these books get, so I had high expectations coming in to this trilogy. I’m now massively feeling the pressure to put together coherent reviews of these books without just fangirling all over the place! Sooo here we go:-

I think Star Wars owes SO much to Zahn – he reignited interest in the franchise which had been dimming since Return of the Jedi came out. He has also given us so many characters (mostly non-canon #wah) who become the backbone of future EU books – Thrawn, Mara Jade, Winter, Pellaeon, Talon Karrde – heck we even got Coruscant from Zahn! (And we get to keep it too because, as we all know, Coruscant snuck it’s way through to canon!)

First up, Heir to the Empire. This takes place about 5 years after the Battle of Endor and our favourite trio are therefore a little bit older and maybe a tiny bit wiser. The New Republic tentatively controls the galaxy although, it’s politics, so nothing is ever straight forward ya know! (I’m looking at YOU Fey’lya! *shakes fist in his general direction*) Meanwhile on the edges of the galaxy, the delicious Grand Admiral Thrawn, a cunning, brilliant commander and a tactical genius is gathering his Imperial forces to strike out at the New Republic. He enlists the help of a mad clone of a long dead Jedi Master plus unearths the emperor’s hidden weapons vault in order to strike chaos in the fragile peace
which has settled across the galaxy.

The good:

Everything! Haha – ok I will try harder. Zahn writes extremely well, he is an accomplished author who weaves a great story and completely grasps the all important Star Wars ‘feel’. If you didn’t know any better you would think these are the sequels to the original trilogy, everything fits in so well with the galaxy. I’m obviously not very far in this journey through the Star Wars Expanded Universe, but so far Zahn is the first author to really get Han, Luke and Leia, not once do any of them act out of character.

Zahn is also responsible for introducing my favourite new character – Mara Jade. I love everything about her – she’s strong and smart with enough depth to stop her falling into that ‘token feisty female character’ shoehorn. I love the back-story Zahn gave her. I really believed that she was there in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi, just hiding out of shot in the background! Her interactions with Luke in this book were the highlights for me, and the awesome chase through the forests of Myrkr isn’t something I’ll forget in a hurry.

Luke also gets one of my favourite fights to date in this book when he takes on the sinister Noghri assassins on Bimmisari (nope not a typo!). You know I love a good Luke fight scene and this didn’t disappoint! Using the force to turn off/on weapons is something I’ve always thought should have been done and we’ve never seen it in any of the films or books I’ve read – until now! It just makes sense that it would be possible to do and has deadly consequences.

The bad

Maybe some of the names were a little unnecessarily hard to pronounce! I can’t say Bpfassh in my head without it just sounding like a sneeze!

Overall – Zahn is a master of Star Wars literature. If you only read one Star Wars book make it this one! (And then read the rest of the trilogy. Immediately.) I can’t wait to get started on Dark Force Rising. Will sign off with my favourite quote from the enigmatic Grand Admiral himself – “All men want power. And the more they have, the more they want.”

Rating: 5 out of 5 Death Stars – a no brainer really!

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