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Specter of the Past (Star Wars: The Hand of Thrawn, #1)
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Specter of the Past (Star Wars: The Hand of Thrawn #1)

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  14,050 Ratings  ·  238 Reviews
Hugo Award-winning author Timothy Zahn makes his triumphant return to the Star Wars(r) universe in this first of an epic new two-volume series in which the New Republic must face its most dangerous enemy yet--a dead Imperial warlord.

The Empire stands at the brink of total collapse. But they have saved their most heinous plan for last. First a plot is hatched that could des
Mass Market Paperback, 386 pages
Published September 1st 1998 by Spectra (first published November 1997)
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Dec 05, 2008 Ron rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ron by: Wendell Andrea
Zahn's return to the Star Wars genre was every bit as satisfying as his first foray. On the other hand, Specter is less of a stand alone than his first three novels. This volume serves as a four hundred page introduction to the companion Vision of the Future.

Excellent cover art by Drew Struzan.

After second reading: Zahn is so much better than the norm for SW writers that he should either train the others or be the only person allowed to publish until the others come up to his level.

I've raised
This book is still much, much, much better than a lot of the Star Wars novels I've read, but it's not as good as I remember it being. Granted, my standards weren't suuuuuper high in 2004. I was young, and very, very distracted by the whole THING of being a freshman in college. Plus, all I realllllly cared about was Luke/Mara Jade and kissing and such, and that is definitely something that this series is focused on (although most of it occurs in the second book, not this one). This one is all Zah ...more
Scott Rhee
Sep 04, 2015 Scott Rhee rated it it was amazing
Thank God for Timothy Zahn.

I don’t say that lightly, either, or ironically, as in “Thank God for burritos” or “Thank God for Internet porn”. It’s not a simple throw-away praise to the heavens. It’s heartfelt. And this from someone who doesn’t necessarily believe in the heavens or God or all that stuff.

I really mean it. Thank God for Timothy Zahn.

Because I’m not going to lie: when I decided several weeks ago to read all of the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels (post-”Return of the Jedi”), I did
Crystal Starr Light
Jul 11, 2010 Crystal Starr Light rated it it was amazing
Shelves: star-wars
"There are indeed some things that must never be forgotten"
Ten years have past since our daring trio has faced the masterful Thrawn. The New Republic is firmly established. Peace abounds...or maybe not? The Empire appears to want to negotiate peace, but a triumvirate within is working hard to continue the hostilities. And the New Republic may just destroy itself with the revelation of the Camaas Document, a document revealing the Bothans were involved in the destruction of Camaas many years befo
Dec 03, 2011 Kathryn rated it liked it
Specter of the Past doesn't get the extra nostalgia star that the Thrawn trilogy does because I didn't read it until college. It's still good stuff, though - certainly much better than the majority of the Extended Universe work. Timothy Zahn returns to Star Wars with his best (surviving) characters, Karrde, Mara Jade, and Admiral Pellaeon. Grand Admiral Thrawn is, alas, still dead - but a clever Moff and a former Imperial Guardsman have a con man prepared to impersonate him, and this impersonati ...more
Eliza Baum
I KNEW IT. Freakin' cliffhanger. This is one of those books that's obviously designed to not really be a complete story, and it really leads right into the next book, but for whatever reason the publisher decided it needed to be two books. I suspect, in this case, that it simply would have been too long. Ugh. But I hate cliffhangers.

That said, this book was still enjoyable. Not quite to the level of the Thrawn trilogy, but still fun. Marc Thompson is still the best narrator EVER. Probably at lea
Sep 06, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it
Audio book read by Marc Thompson

No one does Star Wars quite like Timothy Zahn. He knows how to play the characters just right and make good use of the different factions in the Star Wars universe to make for an interesting story. Zahn has added the most significant and lasting characters to the series after the movies themselves and is the author who really got people excited about Star Wars novels after his trilogy that starts with Heir to the Empire. Specter of the Past is a great book if you
Feb 05, 2012 Donovan rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
The Hand of Thrawn Duology is set about 16 years after Return of the jedi. It consists of:
Spectre of the Past
Vision of the future

This series is everything you expect from Timothy Zahn and is a great 'filler' that provides an important step from the outcast Empire becoming a viable political party within the new Republic. This short duology also further enhances the characters and defines the relationships of the main characters within the Star Wars universe - most notable is the blooming love be
Apr 14, 2014 Chad rated it liked it
Spectre Of The Past is the first of a two-book series and is the continuation of Timothy Zahn's Grand Admiral Thrawn Trilogy.

When I was in Junior High I was given a copy of Heir To The Empire, the first of the Thrawn Trilogy and the launching of the Star Wars alternate literary universe. I was blown away. Remember that at this point there was no such thing as episodes one through three. If you wanted to see the Star Wars films you had to be lucky enough to catch them on cable or you had to get
Darryl Dobbs
Nov 14, 2016 Darryl Dobbs rated it really liked it
So Thrawn is back, but not really. But thankfully the SWEU didn't dip into the 'clone' well again. That trick was growing tiresome. No, this novel was wonderfully written - riveting at times, with each branch of the storyline as interesting at the others. It had all the great characters from Luke, Han, Leia and Lando (Chewie was absent, but you likely wouldn't notice), as well as the classics who were introduced in the expanded universe such as Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, Admiral Pellaeon and even ...more
Aug 04, 2016 Rage rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
this was maybe not the best book to start with in terms of being new to reading star wars books. but, Timothy Zahn did a great job of introducing a ton of characters, all doing different things in different places, while explaining clearly who they were and where they were coming from, without the story getting bogged down (although someone who's already familiar with the characters might feel differently). there's political intrigue, action, children carefully shoved off-screen, curiouser and c ...more
Feb 14, 2017 Ilona rated it really liked it
Karrde: Mara is in danger and i need you to go save her.
Luke: I can't leave i'm busy doing Jedi stuff
Karrde: But-
Luke: Ok you have persuaded me i will go and save her
Karrde: *Ships it* Ok best be on your way then
Luke: *Heroicly sets off to save Mara*
Apr 26, 2014 Rob rated it liked it
I picked this up immediately after reading the Thrawn trilogy hoping for more cheesy Star Wars action. However, this second series just isn't as good as Thrawn. The bad guys aren't anywhere close to as interesting or satisfying. The struggles the New Republic are going through are pretty boring. And Zahn's reliance on coincidence to put the same characters miraculously into the thick of things over and over again is so heavy-handed that it makes it actually strains credibility even for a hard-co ...more
Sarah Maddaford
Nov 16, 2009 Sarah Maddaford rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 05, 2016 Jayly rated it it was amazing
Timothy Zahn is one of the best Star Wars authors by far. After amazing me with the Thrawn trilogy, The Last Command was even better. Even after his death, Admiral Thrawn still manages to cast a shadow over the New Republic. With this new season of Star Wars Rebels, I haven't been able to get my mind off of the EU Thrawn, I'm really glad he's Canon now, he's quite the villain.
Jun 09, 2014 Quill rated it it was ok
"Point," Insert-Character-Name conceded.
Wade Schacht
Jan 30, 2017 Wade Schacht rated it really liked it
Very good, but could not live up to the original Thrawn Trilogy, probably because Thrawn is dead.
Feb 08, 2017 Peter rated it liked it
I don't think this was as strong as Timothy Zahn's previous Thrawn Trilogy but it was still an enjoyable follow up. A few things bothered me along the way, detracting from the overall narrative, unfortunately.

Firstly, Spector of the Past is lacking a strong villain. Thrawn really was the most interesting part of the last series and his absence (kind of) is sorely missed here.
There also seems to be so many new characters, which leads to a lack focus on our original trilogy characters. I like the
Mar 23, 2017 Q. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I dropped this 3 hours and 10 minutes into the audiobook.

I was very excited for this book. Unfortunately, I read a plot synopsis and I just found the conceit of this book dumb.

The actual Hand of Thrawn is a disappointment.

The character of Flim is aggravating, which I guess is the point but I'm not putting up with it.

I was intrigued by Teirce because up until that point, I had never read about a character in the Royal Guard. (You know, those red soldiers that flank important people in the Empire.
Feb 02, 2014 MC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many, many, MANY entries in the so-called “Star Wars Expanded Universe”. This term encapsulates any books, comics, or games outside of the six films. After the “Expanded Universe” pretty much ended with the completion of Marvel's Star Wars run in the mid-1980's, there was a desire to see more adventures from the galaxy far, far away. This desire was fulfilled with the publication of the first new Star Wars novels in 1991.

Timothy Zahn, who wrote those novels, later called The Thrawn Tr
Jordan Bethea
Dec 10, 2016 Jordan Bethea rated it liked it
Pretty good, I never really like plots that involve large crowds behaving irrationally and beyond the control of the protagonists. I missed that this is part 1 of 2, and I don't have the second, and it ends with basically no climax at all, so not really worth it from that perspective.
Christian Digby
Jan 24, 2017 Christian Digby rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Not nearly as good as the original Thrawn trilogy but it did a good job of setting up the next book (Visions of the Future).
Ian Reay
Jan 15, 2015 Ian Reay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: star-wars
After reading Timothy Zahn's first Star Wars trilogy, and finding that it was good, I, being an avid SW fan, set my sights on the dozens of other books written afterward. They. . . weren't so good. In fact, some of them were downright bad, either using a tired device over and over again (superweapon anyone?) or destroying the characters. I began to lose faith in the franchise as literature-worthy.
Then Zahn wrote Specter of the Past, the first of The Hand of Thrawn Duology, and I believed again.
Jess Neuner
Feb 25, 2016 Jess Neuner rated it really liked it
It's been ten years since the Thrawn Trilogy wrapped up. Han and Leia are on holiday on Wayland with their three kids, Jacen and Jaina, the twins born in The Last Command, and their younger brother Anakin, when a document is discovered that brings up old rivalries and threatens to bring the New Republic to its knees through internal conflict. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker teams up with his old rival, Mara Jade, to take on some pirates. If that weren't enough, some mysterious ship keeps buzzing by, b ...more
Oct 05, 2010 Matt rated it it was amazing
Timothy Zahn returns to the Star Wars Expanded Universe after the blockbuster Thrawn Trilogy with a story that continues building on the story and characters he created in that masterful epic. "Specter of the Past" is the first book in "The Hand of Thrawn" duology, and while I suppose it could stand on its own it would definitely benefit the reader to tackle the "Thrawn Trilogy" prior to starting this one, and I would further recommend having "Vision of the Future" in hand- as you'll likely want ...more
Michael Otway
Feb 03, 2016 Michael Otway rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
4.5 Stars. Easily the best Star Wars book I've ever read standing above both of my other previous favourites 'The Thrawn Trilogy' and 'Lost Stars'.

Like many, I started reading the SW EU at The Thrawn trilogy, after reading all the praise heaped on them by everyone. And although I really enjoyed them, there were many SMALL flaws or annoyances that I felt warranted more of a 3.5-4 star rating for them than the 4.5-5 Stars I've given to this one. But with each book in that trilogy, I felt the next
Maico Morellini
Nel 1991 Timothy Zahn creò uno dei più carismatici e riusciti personaggi dell’Expanded Universe di Guerre Stellari: il Grand’Ammiraglio Thrawn. Lo fece confezionando una trilogia ambientata cinque anni dopo ‘Il Ritorno dello Jedi’ che rispettava, per tematiche e sviluppo narrativo, l’impianto del Guerre Stellari cinematografico. Nel 1991 la Nuova Trilogia era un sogno (o incubo) di cui ancora nessuno sospettava e la sete di Guerre Stellari era placata solo dai videogiochi della Lucasarts, dai fu ...more
Jan 09, 2011 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: star-wars, scifi, fiction
Sixteen years after the battle of Yavin, and eleven years after Thrawn’s final defeat, Admiral Pellaeon looks out over the dwindling Empire and draws the only conclusion left to draw: it is time to surrender to the New Republic and seek compromise that will end the continual bloodshed but also preserve the Empire’s thousand remaining systems. There is no other way for the Empire to survive, and he knows it. He sets in motion his plan to surrender, but he is not the only one setting plans in moti ...more
Jul 18, 2009 Zachary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I am a huge fan of Star Wars, and I also loved Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy. So when I found another Star Wars book by Zahn, and then found out it was one of two books in a duology which serve as a kind of sequel to the Thrawn Trilogy, I was kind of excited. So I got my hands on the second book of the series and (eventually) started through 'em. Specter of the Past is the first book (followed by Vision of the Future), and, while it starts off a little slow, is another gem by Timothy Zahn.

Eric Farr
Sep 20, 2014 Eric Farr rated it really liked it
With Specter of the Past, Timothy Zahn took everything great about The Thrawn Trilogy and improved upon it. There is epic plot, tight pacing, heroic adventure on the part of the Star Wars protagonists, and gripping political intrigue. In fact, the political intrigue was my favorite part of the novel. Old documents are recovered which show the involvement of the Bothans, significant figures in the Republic Senate, in the decades-old bombardment of the pacifist Caamas. This leads for calls of repa ...more
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Timothy Zahn attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1973. He then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and achieved an M.S. degree in physics in 1975. While he was pursuing a doctorate in physics, his adviser became ill and died. Zahn never completed the doctorate. In 1975 he had begun writing science fiction as a hobby, and he bec ...more
More about Timothy Zahn...

Other Books in the Series

Star Wars: The Hand of Thrawn (2 books)
  • Vision of the Future (Star Wars: The Hand of Thrawn, #2)

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