Ben Dutton's Reviews > The Last Command

The Last Command by Timothy Zahn
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Feb 06, 12

Read in October, 2010

I’d been reading children’s stories I should have read when I was eleven: Sherlock Holmes, Jules Verne’s adventures – when I came across, in storage, the books I was reading when I was eleven. In fact, Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, appeared the year I turned eleven, and at that age I thought it excellent – so much so I kept buying Star Wars novel right through until 1996, hoping each time that they would be as good as Zahn’s original trilogy. They never were. They say you should never go back: and it is true. Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy is fun, and this, the first volume gets things off to a cracking start: it reintroduces us to the classic figures, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo et al, and some minor characters, and gives us a menacing new villain, yet the writing is never as strong as I recall, and all the nods to the classic films becomes a little tiring.

I did, however, plough through all three novels with such speed, and enjoyed them immensely while reading them, that I can see what eleven year old me enjoyed in them, and why fans of the Star Wars world still read them today. Interestingly it is not the main characters that shine in this series, but the new ones: smuggler Talon Karrde, and his secretive companion, Mara Jade, who has one subconscious command: Kill Luke Skywalker. The Grand Admiral Thrawn is an enigmatic and genius villain – he learns a species flaws by studying their art. Then there is the insane Dark Jedi, Joruus C’Boath, whose megalomania threatens to engulf the universe as a new Emperor. I kept wondering: would these adventures be better without the need to conform to George Lucas’s original vision? Perhaps Luke et al should have just been background.

Nevertheless, Timothy Zahn is a great writer for these sorts of things, and he sows seeds that he surprises us with later – the true nature of Delta Source, the secret behind Mara Jade’s desire, and he makes parents of Han Solo and Princess Leia – and that is the right ending for the love story that begun way back in 1977 with Star Wars.
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