Matt's Reviews > Heir to the Empire

Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
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M_50x66
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Sep 01, 12

Recommended for: Any SW fans should read Zahn's books.
I own a copy, read count: 5+

I first read these when I was 13 or 14, back when they were the first licensed Star Wars books in 15 years or so. While I can't completely prevent nostalgia from coloring this review, I still believe Timothy Zahn is the best author to have penned a Star Wars story. In all honesty, Zahn's narratives are better than the movies. He has since wrote several other SW novels and short stories taking place before & after this, but while others are just as good, they can't top these three originals that make up the Thrawn trilogy.

Part of the trilogy's appeal is Zahn's introduction of three of the best characters to ever originate in the SWEU: Mara Jade, Talon Karrde and Mitth'raw'nuruodo, or as he's known here, Grand Admiral Thrawn. The only other EU characters anywhere near as engaging are Michael A. Stackpole's Corran Horn, and Aaron Allston's Wraith Squadron ensemble.

Mara Jade is a Force-sensitive with an Imperial background, a skill set worthy of Liam Neeson in Taken, and a bad attitude. She's currently under the employ of Talon Karrde and quickly establishes herself as a contender in the I-hate-Luke-Skywalker galactic finals. Talon Karrde is a smuggler chief/information broker with Han Solo's cunning and Lando's style, if lacking some of their ideals. He's profit-driven, but a good employer and honorable in a roguish kinda way.

And then there's Grand Admiral Thrawn: an alien whose tactical genius let him rise to the highest military rank in the Imperial armed forces, despite its distrust of non-humans. He's come back from the edge of the galaxy to overthrow the fledgling New Republic and re-establish the Empire. He's not a villain in the strictest sense; his motivation is not hatred, but ORDER; the galaxy must be brought to heel, for the good of all. Absent the Emperor's power-hungry madness, Thrawn believes the Empire to be the galaxy's best chance of survival, and his conviction & genius make him one of the greatest adversaries Han, Luke & Leia ever face.

I won't go into synopses of the three books more than I have. Suffice it to say, Zahn can craft a story that completely draws you in. I remember an excerpt from a review of one of these books: "You can almost hear the John Williams soundtrack." That's an apt description, no one but Timothy Zahn manages to make you feel as close as you do when you watch your favorite SW movie. I can't think of a higher recommendation.
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