This book could be entitled: Actions Have Consequences. Whether that’s Talon Karrde’s action (or inaction as the case may) be coming back to haunt him in the form of a rather hacked off Grand Admiral, or Leia’s earlier promise to return to the Noghri homeworld – events of Heir to the Empire, and even those in Return of the Jedi, start to catch up with our heroes.
So Leia heads off on a secret mission to Honoghr, the homeworld of the Noghri with the goal of winning over this proud and deadly alien race to the side of the New Republic. To do this she must convince them that the devastation wrought on their world was carried out by the Empire, rather than the New Republic (or then Rebellion) as the Emperor was having them believe.
Meanwhile, Han is trying to track down leads on Delta Source – the code name for the source which they believe is feeding back information to Grand Admiral Thrawn. (Along with Lando who has been slightly unwillingly dragged along for the ride – (nothing new there!) 🙂 We get a welcome appearance from a legendary figure in the Rebellion’s history – General Garm Bel Iblis. Bel Iblis was one of the founding members of the Rebel Alliance along with Bail Organa and Mon Mothma and ended up turning his back on the Rebellion due to irreconcilable differences with the latter. Pay attention to him, he’s important later!
Finally, Luke and Mara Jade form a reluctant and unlikely partnership to rescue Talon Karrde who has fallen into the clutches of the Grand Admiral.
It wouldn’t be a review of a Zahn book without more huzzah-ing over Mara Jade now would it?! Mara gets more development in this book and we start to learn more about her fascinating past in the employ of the Emperor. Although I don’t think it justifies her hell bent desire to kill Luke (I mean, it’s Luke – who would want to kill him he’s adorable?!) I certainly understand her motives more. In fact as I was reading this I kept thinking how much I wanted a book, written by Zahn, all about Mara’s time as Emperor’s Hand. Then I realised Choices of One was out there – squeeeee! Can’t wait to read it later!
I also love Zahn’s references to the power of the dark side – even when the Sith aren’t around anymore. He deftly explains how Yoda was able to use this residual dark force energy emanating from the cave to hide from the Empire for so long (something I’ve always wondered about) and I also particularly liked the scene where Leia, whilst orbiting the forest moon of Endor passes through the spot where the second death star blew up and where the emperor died. This is the second time I’ve read this book and it’s given me
chills both times!
On the second read through I also found I was a billion times more interested in Talon Karrde this time round. I don’t know why I didn’t pick up on this on the first read, maybe because I was just going ‘oh wow, Han, Luke and Leia are done so well!’ and ‘ohhh Mara Jade is awesome…!!!’ and ‘Thrawn is such a badass – Pelleaon is right, the Battle of Endor would have ended veeerrry differently had Thrawn been in command!’ and ‘ohhh Mara Jade is awesome…!!!’. Anyhoo, this time round however I found Karrde just jumped right out of the page to regard me with a carefully constructed expression of disinterest. I would love to read a book just about Talon Karrde and his organisation! Can Karrde make it into canon? I feel like he could……pretty please?
Another thing I am enjoying is Zahn’s portrayal of Lando. Up until now I’ve always had a certain degree of ambivalence towards him as a character – but Zahn has made him interesting and appealing – so much so I’ve found myself looking online for some Lando books! Haha! Do you see a pattern here? One book leads to me wanting three more and so on.
Plus Leia’s arch in this book was the most interesting part for me – as mentioned above, she’s on a mission to the devastated Noghri home world of Honoghr and has to use all her wits and diplomacy skills (skills which separate her from her brother and husband.) to try and 1. win them around and 2. survive – this is not a safe situation she has handed up in! Zahn’s portrayal of her is wonderfully subtle and complex – she’s becoming much more of an onion!
Overall, this is a totally solid book, which, although continuing on from Heir to the Empire, it still feels like a self-contained story in it’s own right and doesn’t suffer from that ‘middle book syndrome’. It races along at breakneck speed and leaves you on such a cliffhanger you will be reaching for book 3 immediately!
Rating: 5 out of 5 death stars – you’ve just got to sit through my gushing of The Last Command then we should be back to slightly more un-biased reviews!