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The dying Empire's most cunning and ruthless warlord—Grand Admiral Thrawn—has taken command of the remnants of the Imperial fleet and launched a massive campaign aimed at the New Republic's destruction. Meanwhile, Han and Lando Calrissian race against time to find proof of treason inside the highest Republic Council—only to discover instead a ghostly fleet of warships that could bring doom to their friends and victory to their enemies.

Yet most dangerous of all is a new Dark Jedi, risen from the ashes of a shrouded past, consumed by bitterness… and scheming to corrupt Luke Skywalker to the Dark Side.

439 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published May 1, 1992

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About the author

Timothy Zahn

280 books6,881 followers
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 became a professional writer. He and his wife Anna live in Bandon, Oregon. They have a son, Corwin Zahn.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,573 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
733 reviews3,392 followers
June 27, 2021
Switching into unknown and different antagonist perspectives has never been that much fun.

It shows that the true power lies in the background, that the light dark contrast of good and evil is the all controlling entity, that the stereotypical action heroes are just puppets of the true masters in the background, kind of politicians and media in the real world, and that the good ones can never reach the coolness and badassery of evil.

Thrawn just owns close to any Star Wars antagonist, because the has the calm, sociopathic mind of a master strategist and the reader is extremely motivated to continue to see what will happen next, how his plans might fail, if he has a hidden joker in the backhand, how he immediately reacts in even the most difficult situations, and in general any scene including him. Heck, one waits across the protagonists´ chapters to meet the bad one again, that´s truly a well developed character.

How flaw many of the Star wars protagonists have been written is especially obvious when contrasting it with Thrawn, although fangirls and boys will of course also enjoy the known stars of the show. Subjectively, maybe because I am in general closer to the dark side, I prefer well developed, understandable, motivated villains to generic and somewhat unrealistic and irresponsible heroes, but each one is free to choose her/his side and live with the consequences.

I am quite looking forward to all the, hopefully coming, fandom inspired works, because there will certainly come pearls and masterpieces that are not just better than the movie, or even series in general, but also own the standard grew with introducing or expanding already existing, amazing antiheroes.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,106 reviews3,542 followers
January 6, 2016
The Force is stronger in the second book!


DIFFICULT TO SEE THE CLONE WARS IS

There's your twice of nothing. Enjoy it.

This second book is better than the first one, while I still considering quite relevant and important the first book, just lacking of a climax of my taste.

However, again, due that the novel was written several years before of that any happened before Episode IV, so it was great to watch all the details and planning done by Timothy Zahn, the author, about the Clone Wars and events around that era, however, nowadays there are already some “timeline mistakes”, but...

...what is Star Wars without polemic for events that they don’t match with some movie anyway?

Even the movies have mistakes of storyline between each other and they are just six films (for now).

One good thing is to appreciate, even since the first book, how Timothy Zahn wasn’t only telling the story at hand but also planning a bigger scale of narrative, including names, places, events, etc... that he’d be telling in his future books during the following years (now they are already published).


CRAZY CLONES & DREADNAUGHTS

And what happens when we've bent the rules so far that they come around and stab us in the back?

In this second novel, of the Thrawn Trilogy, continues the Imperial efforts of stopping the territorial advance of the New Republic along with reclaiming the ones lost after the Battle of Endor.

To be able to do that, Grand Admiral Thrawn is putting into motion his plan involving old but quite powerful Dreadnaughts who can make a more than fair match of Imperial Destroyers and New Republic Heavy Cruisers.

Meanwhile, Luke will realice that this supposed Jedi Master lost more than one screw in the Force. At the same time, Mara Jade will faced troubles with her current boss. So, fate will make that Luke and Mara would need each other’s help in their own situations.

New alliances will be forged but old threats will get stronger, a dark force will rise...






Profile Image for Alex .
428 reviews97 followers
March 1, 2013
Did it take me two books to realise that Zahn can't write worth a damn. Ok, no, that took about 50 pages but these novels are apparently so important to the Star Wars expanded universe and so beloved of EU fans that I wanted to give them a fair shot. I enjoyed Heir to he Empire well enough as setup, even if its characterisation was crooked and its plotting a little unadventurous. However, Dark Force Rising takes whatever potential the series may have had and murders it brutally with a lightsaber to the groin.

Zahn doesn't know what to do with this story. At all. His attempt to be "dark" like Empire Strikes Back is quite laughable. The plot revolves around everyone in the novel trying to find a bunch of lost spaceships that are such an amazing prize because ... they can be manned by fewer people. Yep, you heard that. This is Star Wars. S.T.A.R W.A.R.S and Zahn invented a bunch of space ships that need smaller crew. Hey Timothy. Timothy ... why was the DEATH STAR fucking cool? Anyway it all ends on a Dark note because the practically beaten remnants of the Empire are a little less beaten.

Well, there's not much makes up for this faux pas. I don't particularly recognise the old charcters in Zahn's portrayal, they're just names with a shared history that he occasionally alludes to with a choice quote ("never tell me the odds" said Han. Ohhhh Cheers Zahn. ahhahahah good one!) The newer characters are flat like pancakes that don't even have jam or honey on them. Which is ridiculous. Mara Jade bores me to tears. Again, Zahn had the entire universe to fill with cool characters and he creates someone who wants to kill Luke Skywalker because he made her lose her job via killing the Emperor. As Emperor's Hand you'd think she'd expect this. Or have a contingency plan. Or something. You'd think she'd be badass and kill Luke on a hilarious whim. But no, Zahn makes her an incessant whinger. Not so great to read about! Talon Karrde, Yawn. A smuggler with no good dialogue ... scheming Bothan Feyl'Ya (or something) at least had a plot role and I'd have liked to have gotten deeper into political intrigue within the New Republic.

Oh, and I'm not even going to mention C'Boath. Evil Jedi extraordinaire who errrr does nothing except preside as court judge to a bunch of farmers. I'm not even kidding. Evil Jedi C'Boath who is so badass that he gets Luke to come and visit him and then MAKES HIM be judge to a bunch of farmers. And I'm not even kidding.

The drab, the bland, the dull writing, the boring plotting is too much to really need outlining to a great degree. This book is barely Star Wars. It's barely Space Opera. It's barely a book. It's a bunch of bland elements but into a bland blender and blanded up to created a a bland juice blend. I don't think I'm gonna read the third one.
Profile Image for Jerry.
4,616 reviews54 followers
April 23, 2022
An improvement over the first book.

EDIT: Just like the first installment of the trilogy, this novel is what Star Wars should be, not the dreck that Disney gave us.
Profile Image for James Trevino.
67 reviews32.7k followers
February 2, 2023
Bloody brilliant! Honestly the Star Wars Legends universe is better than the movies.
Profile Image for Gavin.
849 reviews384 followers
February 21, 2015
This second book in the Thrawn Trilogy was a slight improvement on the first. It had a bit more action and a tiny bit more humor.

The story continues on from where it left off in the first book. This time the main story arc sees the Empire and the New Republic in a desperate race to discover the location of the Dark Force, the Katana fleet of nearly 200 Dreadnoughts, that went missing under mysterious circumstances during the Clone Wars. The number of ships available could tip the tide of the war in favor of the side that discovers the location and retrieves the ships.

Princess Leia was the most improved of the characters and she had the most interesting story arc in this installment. She sought out the Noghri and attempted to win their loyalty away from Grand Admiral Thrawn. The Noghri proved and interesting race and it was great to see Leia more proactive in her actions.

Talon Karrde was as fantastic in this installment as he was in the last. His wit, charm, and air of mystery are always fun to read about. His companion Mara Jade was much improved from the first book. She was less whiny and involved in a few interesting action scenes and conflicts. Grand Admiral Thrawn remains an excellent villain, but his character was slightly weakened by the amount of blunders he made in this one. Luke's story arc was more interesting this time around. He finally had to face off against the Dark Jedi and spent less time drifting around aimlessly in his X-Wing. Han's character is still suffering. His character lacks the wit a roguish charm of movie Han Solo. Pairing him with Lando has helped a bit.

All in all this was a fun read that was slightly better than the first book.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

Audio Note: Just like the first book in the series Marc Thompson narrated as was assisted by a host of well known Star Wars sound effects.


Profile Image for Jerry.
4,616 reviews54 followers
May 2, 2020
The story that jump-started the Star Wars Expanded Universe continues here with more action and intensity. Even though I've read the entire trilogy more than once, I'm still excited to see what happens next! As good as this is, though, it's a painful reminder of how Disney committed an epic fail by relegating these books to "legends" status instead of making films out of them. Hopefully, someday, we'll get to see Mara Jade and Thrawn on the big screen.
Profile Image for JAIME.
378 reviews237 followers
February 20, 2015
Still needs more Lightsaber. I have a feeling the final book in this trilogy is going to be cracking!
Profile Image for Nathan.
98 reviews11 followers
February 20, 2015
I don't have a lot to say about this one. This book picks up where the first one left off. The characters really stay the same. Han is still too dry, overprotective, and worried. Mara Jade shows a lot of depth. Karrde is quickly becoming a great character with a lot of sarcasm. And Thrawn is almost too smart for his own good.

My favorite plot line was actually Leia's and I thought it was extremely fun to learn about her and the Noghri people. And the end was full of action that was fun and gripping. Overall, I have to say I like this better than the first one, enough to up it to 4 stars. I liked the plot and the searching and racing between the two parties. I enjoyed the escapes and close calls and felt that it pulled me in slightly more.

And... Let's just say, I have a feeling the next one is gonna be the best one of the series. Really getting ready for some true full out Star Wars battles!! :D
Profile Image for Savasandir .
193 reviews
May 16, 2021
Quando la situazione è precipitata per via di un bonifico fraudolento addebitato sul conto bancario dell'Ammiraglio Ackbar ho capito che mi ero messo in un gran bel pasticcio, decidendo di leggere questa trilogia. -_-

Profile Image for Paul Luttor.
4 reviews
September 20, 2013
This review applies to all three of the Thrawn Trilogy novels

It might not be entirely fair to these books that I first started reading them expecting them to be masterpieces (touted by more than a few people I know as the very best of Star Wars EU fiction), because to be quite honest, I was more disappointed than I was impressed with them. I say that this might not be fair because in reality, they aren't that bad; the plot is certainly interesting enough to hold your attention, especially if you're a Star Wars fan. However, there are several aspects of these books that just irked me the entire way through, and ultimately prevent the series from getting any more than a "read it if you've got nothing else better to read" recommendation from me.

The first and biggest problem with the Thrawn Trilogy is the portrayal of the central characters from the original Star Wars films. Luke, Han, Leia, Lando, C-3PO; even Chewie and R2-D2 all fall extremely flat when compared to their movie counterparts. Han and Leia get the shortest end of the stick, possessing very little of the wit and charm (and absolutely NONE of the romantic chemistry) that made their characters shine on screen. All the pair ever seem to do in these novels is worry about things; Leia about the success or failure of her political endeavours, and Han about the well-being of Leia. Luke comes off as the most faithfully portrayed; essentially remaining at the same level of mild stoicism and virtuosity as he was at in Return of the Jedi (which wasn't very interesting to begin with). C-3PO and R2-D2 are basically just parodies of themselves, and worse, barely contribute a thing to the story despite at least one of them being present at nearly every major event (See: The Prequel Trilogy). Chewbacca and Lando are boring cardboard cut outs. This is all made worse by the fact that returning characters seem to feel the need to constantly remember (and very often quote) parts from the original films, and reflect on how similar or dissimilar that particular event was compared to their current situation. It's as though you as the reader are constantly being turned towards and winked at every few chapters, in case you forgot you were reading a Star Wars book.

Another big problem is the new characters. While thankfully the books are all but saved by the presence of interesting newcomers Talon Karde and Mara Jade (despite their being fairly transparent Mary-Sues), virtually every single other new character is flat and boring. Grand Admiral Thrawn (the titular villain of the series) would have been an interesting new character if we'd ever been given a look at him through his own mind, and not through the eyes of his bland and annoying first officer. Thrawn is essentially omniscient; whenever there is any kind of trickery afoot he automatically knows that something is up (and often exactly what the trickery is, who is orchestrating it, and why) even when he would have absolutely no reason to suspect anything normally. Again, this would be interesting if we were ever given a look at his supposedly ingenious thought process, but every time it happens, it seems to do so only because the plot needs it to. This is very, very lazy writing. Jedi Master Joruus C'baoth is intriguing as a concept, but is mostly left on the sidelines of the story from the beginning of the first book until very late in the third book, and is given little to do in between. The other new characters such as Senator Garm Bel Iblis, Winter, Niles Ferrier, Councilor Fey'lya and Ghent are all one-note characters with a single defining characteristic each.

Finally, author Timothy Zahn's writing style simply isn't very good. Particularly when characters are conversing with one another, there seems to be only a few different types of responses (which often sound awkward and hard to envision) that characters are able to give one another, such as: "grunted", "retorted", "countered", and "conceded". Zahn also uses the word "sardonic" incorrectly on a few occasions, and by the end of the third book it was really getting on my nerves how often characters tended to "mentally cross their fingers", or admit defeat in an argument by simply saying "Point."

Over all, I may have made this book seem awful, but it really isn't. As I said, the plot is interesting enough to hold your attention (even though the pay-offs to established mysteries usually somewhat underwhelming), and its cool to see some of the concepts from the movies expanded upon in greater detail than in the films (such as the logistics of using The Force, or how space battles and hyper-drive technology actually work in the Star Wars universe). Though you may find yourself, as I did, skimming over more than a few redundant character conversations or internal debates. For my part, however, I'll definitely try to avoid Star Wars EU books which prominently feature characters from the films as their protagonists, as the discrepancy between screen and page portrayals was the biggest obstacle for me.

Hope this review was helpful!
Profile Image for TS Chan.
691 reviews851 followers
January 1, 2018
This instalment of the trilogy suffered a bit from middle-book syndrome. There's just a whole lot of setup going on between the many players as Leia, Luke and Han together with Lando went their separate ways before they are drawn back together with a common goal as they managed to gather information separately about a certain lost fleet.

Thrawn continued to impress as the main antagonist of the series, without whom the books would pretty much fall flat in my opinion.

While Luke sometimes grated on my nerves by being too goody-two-shoes, a few other characters begun to shine in this book. Even though he didn't have much airtime, Wing Commander Wedge Antilles of Rogue Squadron was becoming a character which I really liked. Same for Talon Karrde, a smuggler of well-deserved great renown.

Oh, I also docked half a star for lack of Artoo. Just sayin'.
Profile Image for Alberto Palomino .
83 reviews23 followers
November 8, 2020
Pues en esta segunda entrega de la famosa Trilogía de la Nueva Republica nos encontramos con nuestro trio protagónico de la Trilogía Original (junto con Chewie y Lando que nunca falten) enfrentándose a las maquinaciones de Thrawn que llegan hasta la cúspide de la Nueva República en forma de agitación política. Ackbar ha sido detenido por la presunta introducción de dinero sospechosamente imperial en su cuenta bancaria, mientras Fey´lya gana poder político aprovechándose de este acontecimiento para quitarse de encima a su mayor oponente dentro de la jerarquía republicana.
Mientras Luke va en busca de ese supuesto Maestro Jedi el cual no para de llamarle en la Fuerza y del que tendrá que tener cuidado pues no es nada más y nada menos que el loco de Joruus C'baoth. Mara Jade junto con Talon Karrde están huyendo del Imperio que les ha puesto dinero por sus cabezas tras la ayuda que proporcionaron a nuestros héroes en la anterior entrega y Han y Leia siguen buscando alianzas e intentando exculpar a Ackbar de sus acusaciones.

A ver, entretenida es, eso no lo puedo negar, y entiendo que en su día esta fuera una trilogía bestseller porque hablamos que aquí se empezó el Universo Expandido de forma seria como lo conocemos y aquí se presentan muchos personajes y tramas que serán importantes en el futuro. Zahn introduce conceptos que en su día y aun hoy resultan novedosos y refrescantes para Star Wars, como Coruscant (que fue este tío quien le dio desarrollo a la capital que luego Lucas añadiría en las precuelas), Jedis Oscuros, la Flota Katana (también llamada Fuerza Oscura, que es una flota de la Republica pre-Guerras Clon perdida), que las espadas laser protejan de los rayos de la Fuerza (ahora lo vemos normal, pero aquí fue la primera vez), los Noghri, etc.
Gracias a estos libros, Star Wars volvió a ser de moda en los 90 tras el vacío dejado por las películas y muchos autores se unieron de forma pasional a escribir y expandir el telón que George Lucas dejo “incompleto”, a veces con errores, la mayoría de veces con aciertos y con una libertad creativa que desgraciadamente no tenemos ahora con Disney al mando.

Pero tras esto, llegan mis quejas. Esta trilogía es demasiado dependiente de la Trilogía Original, entendedme, me encantan las pelis antiguas de Star Wars, el Imperio Contrataca es mi favorita junto a la Venganza de los Sith. Pero me crie con las precuelas, Clone Wars (la de 2-D, no la otra), los videojuegos de la época 2000/2010, los comics de Tiempos Oscuros y las Guerras Clon.
Y esto me sabe a poco, estos libros me parecen que se merecen el reconocimiento que tienen pero para mí no es suficiente. Los buenos siguen siendo los buenos, los malos los malos (y tiene otra escenita a lo el Hobbit de que se van a enfrentar los “buenos” entre si, y de repente viene una nave de los malos y hace que se unan para defenderse antes este peligro… odio este recurso, aunque aquí está justificado) y el máximo peligro que tienen los protagonistas es que se les acabe el combustible en el espacio porque quitando eso son inmortales. Si, el libro está bien escrito, los personajes nuevos molan, y dentro de lo que cabe intenta mostrar un poco más de grises entre los rebeldes y no poner a todos los Imperiales de malosos (Pellaeon un grande), pero se nota que es hija de su tiempo y que esto es solo el principio y que sigue demasiado la estela de las primeras pelis que eran mas aventuras todo el rato de Han, Leia y Luke.

Realmente yo lo que quiero leer es la saga de la Nueva Orden Jedi hacia adelante, donde las tramas se vuelven más enrevesadas, los personajes mueren a manos de enemigos implacables, la política está mucho más desarrollada y los héroes lo pasan muy mal. Un poco más de chicha hombre, y como se por encima que pasa en sagas como el Nido Oscuro o Legado de la Fuerza pues como fan estoy deseando leerlas. Pero claro, como fan que soy, me gustaría leerme todo lo esencial antes de llegar allí, saber más o menos quien es cada personaje y ver cómo crecen y evolucionan antes de verlos sufrir más adelante y la era de los 90 es lo que tiene. Aun así estoy seguro que habrá novelas que disfrutare más aún que las de Zahn (y menos seguramente, habrá cada mierda ahí...), y pese a todo tengo curiosidad saber cómo termina la trilogía, así que no os fíes totalmente de mí, leerlas.

PD: Las estoy leyendo en la antigua traducción de Martinez Roca y perdón que lo diga pero menuda putisima mierda de traducción. No solo hay objetos o definiciones que en Star Wars son clásicas como “Blaster” que aquí lo traducen como Desintegrador, si no que cosas más penales como traducir “Speeder” como Bicicleta… BICICLETA. No me extraña que en parte no disfrute de la escritura de Zahn por culpa de la traducción que es horrible. Por lo que tengo entendido en las demás traducciones de Martinez Roca contrataron a otros traductores y estos errores se subsanaron gracias a dios porque es doloroso a veces leer ciertas cositas. Aun así para los que adquieran esta trilogía en las nuevas ediciones de Planeta, la traducción es otra así que no os rayéis.
Profile Image for Crystal Starr Light.
1,335 reviews811 followers
July 11, 2010
"We who remain must stand together against those who would destroy everything"
Book two in the thrilling Thrawn Trilogy! (Who woulda thought that a C'baoth clone would get the title of this review!!)
The Empire may have been foiled, but only just barely. And now things get worse as Admiral Ackbar, member of the Inner Council, is accused of treason. Han and Lando go to attempt to sniff out the source; Luke discovers that a Jedi named C'baoth may have escaped the Jedi Purge, and Leia goes to meet the Noghri and work on some sort of resolution.

I Liked:
Golly, I almost wish I could copy and paste my review from Heir to the Empire! But, to be original, I'll try to come up with different things I like.
Timothy Zahn continues to show his Star Wars writing prowess in book two. Many other authors flounder at this point. Not Zahn. He continues the Star Wars feel with this entry, from the characters, to the actions, to the theme.
To his character repertoire, Zahn adds Garm Bel Iblis, a former Senator from Corellia--and rival to Mon Mothma. Through him, we learn more of the beginnings of the Rebellion...and how Mon Mothma, that red-haired lady from Return of the Jedi, can be a little pig-headed and temperamental. A fight between him and her forced him to leave the Rebellion, and he, being too proud and Corellian to boot, is unwilling to rejoin. Garm Bel Iblis does wonders for adding to the Corellian culture (we even learn he met Han Solo when Han was a kiddo!) and giving a new dimension to the Rebellion and Mon Mothma.
The action continues to be high, with his characters spread in five different dimensions. You would think it would be overwhelming, but Zahn handles it nicely, reminding the reader where Leia is, what Han is doing, what happened to Luke and so on so you don't ever go, "Wait a minute, it's been forever since we heard from Mara...where is she?" I've read other authors who drop viewpoints randomly and make me wonder that exact thing.
Lastly, I love how Zahn, in between his characters and plot, manages to tweak on our views of the Jedi. As this was pre-prequels, we get to see his (now obsolete) views on the Clone Wars, how C'baoth became a Jedi (he went to the University before training as a Jedi!), and C'baoth's subtle twisting of Luke to embrace the power of the Jedi. Also, here is hinted the first time in EU that the Senate took part in the destruction of the Jedi (which, honestly, is what they did...they certainly didn't mind the Emperor's movement to destroy them).

I Didn't Like:
I guess I have a few more complaints about this one than the last. They aren't huge, but I should bring them up.
Zahn creates the Calamari (no, not the Earth food!) as a peaceful race forced into war when they were enslaved. My problem? That theme is repeated ad nauseum in EU. Yeah, I know, Zahn technically wrote this before the Camaasi, before the Mandalorians (according to the Clone Wars TV series), before the billions of other "peaceful races forced into war". But it is still freaking annoying.
Also, Zahn is guilty of speciesism, specifically of Borsk Fey'lya and the Bothans. Borsk isn't the problem, he's cool. But then Zahn goes and sets up the entire race full of back-biting, knife-plunging power seekers. Not cool. I prefer a little more grey to my aliens, a little more depth besides the one word stereotype. Too many books make this mistake. Rodians are idiots and lawless. Hutts are always involved in crime. Wookiees are always good; Trandoshans always bad. Twi'Lek females are always sex slaves, and Jawas are scavengers that apparently can be found off their homeworld of Tatooine (weird, eh?). I could go on and on and on, but I think you get my point.
Lastly, the book does have that middle part of a trilogy feel. You know, no beginning, no end, makes you wonder, "What am I doing here?" We all know, by book three, we'll be like, "Oh, yeah, that's why that was important," but still, while we're reading it, we wonder.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Foul language? Can't recall anything off hand!
Sexuality is minimum to none.
Lando is injured at one point and can't receive medical attention because of triage. Really have to stretch to find ANYTHING to put here!

Overall:
Zahn doesn't fail to please with entry number two! There were a few things that perturbed me, but there were some moments that nearly brought tears to my eyes. When Leia unveils the Empire's poisoning of Honogr (even if I adore the Empire and hate how it is always shown in such a bad light), when the smugglers come to Han and Luke's aid at the end battle. Not many books can do this to me. This is Star Wars. Five stars.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
255 reviews109 followers
November 20, 2011
Dark Force Rising, the sequel to Heir to the Empire, continues the new Star Wars saga. The action of this book centers around the titular Dark Force, the Katana fleet, a group of two hundred capital ships that were lost in the blackness of space when their crews all went insane simultaneously (due to a hive virus). The New Republic and the Empire both want the Katana fleet, as the extra two hundred Dreadnoughts may turn the course of the war. Meanwhile, Leia Organa Solo continues to investigate the Noghri, a strange alien race that has been attempting to capture her and her unborn twins.

As with Heir, the strengths of the book are Zahn's original characters, particularly Karrde, Mara Jade, and Grand Admiral Thrawn, and his plotting. Multiple threads of the plot work together to bring five disparate groups to the remains of the Katana fleet at the same time to finish off the book with a giant space battle.

Zahn has a few annoying "tics" to his writing, such as unusual dialogue choices made by nearly every character (imagine that you're writing a story about people from all over the world, and every character who isn't a bad guy says "y'all" and "fixin' to") and the insistence on describing every lightsaber ignition as snap-hiss, but I can generally ignore those and simply enjoy the story.

I recommend the Thrawn trilogy for science fiction fans. I think you have to have seen the Star Wars movies so that you know what Jedi are, but I don't think you have to be one of those people who knows the name of every alien in the Mos Eisley cantina to enjoy the books. (Admittedly, it's hard for me to say, since I'm one of the people who (a) noticed and (b) was disappointed when the brief glimpse of the Shistavanen was cut from the Special Edition. I also know that Grand Admiral Thrawn's full name is Mitth'raw'nuruodo, and I don't have to look up the spelling. Yes, I am ashamed.)
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,517 reviews10.8k followers
August 27, 2008
4.5 stars. The Thrawn Trilogy, of which this is the second book, set the standard for "non-canon" star wars books and is still among the best in that group. This is a great universe (i.e., star wars) written by an excellent author (i.e., Zahn). The result is a very good read.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,551 reviews1,632 followers
February 7, 2017
The second book in the Thrawn trilogy picks up several weeks after the end of Heir to the Empire. Warning: spoilers for book one ahead. Thrawn has escalated his plan to the next stage, having successfully captured several of the Emperor's assets, including his very secret storage facility on Wayland. He also has the ysalamiri, strange creatures that project anti-Force bubbles, and which are very handy for dealing with Jedi. And of course, he's now after the infamous Katana Fleet, also called the Dark Force, a lost fleet of Dreadnaught class Old Republic warships. For most of the book, Han and Lando are also on the trail of the Katana fleet, trying to find it first and keep it out of the Empire's hands. This also leads them to Corellian General Garm Bel Iblis, whom they try to bring over to the New Republic.

Luke and Leia have their own troubles. Luke follows the trail set for him by Joruus C'baoth and Thrawn, and ends up in the clutches of C'baoth. Luke's interactions with him are a little frustrating, as he's clearly insane, but Luke is in such a vulnerable place as a Jedi that he's willing to admit he may be wrong about what he knows, and concedes to C'baoth. At least, until he betrays himself and turns violent, and Luke ends having to be rescued by Mara Jade, so that they in turn can rescue Talon Karrde from the clutches of the Empire. It's really interesting to once again watch Mara Jade admit to herself that she needs Luke, and Zahn begins the process with her of starting to essentially deprogram her from her time as the Emperor's Hand. Her impressions of Luke in the present do not mix well with her ingrained hatred of him, making for some really interesting interactions. I especially love Luke in these moments, because he treats her with such respect and kindness, even as he knows she wants to kill him.

Leia actually has the most interesting story in the book, though, as she and Chewie are purportedly on the run, trying to keep Leia and her twins safe from Joruus C'baoth and Thrawn's assassins, the Noghri, who are tasked with delivering them to the insane Jedi. What ends up happening, though, is that when Leia makes contact with a surviving Noghri, it becomes clear that they are as much victims of the Empire as anyone, and it becomes Leia's mission, if not to turn the Noghri from the Empire, at least to right some of the wrongs done to them in the rebellion.

Thrawn continues to be a terrifying and competent enemy. In fact, at times I would get very annoyed whenever he would be smart enough to thwart our heroes. Like, can this guy please for once just fail to realize something and our heroes get away, even just once? In reality, this does happen, and it's all the more satisfying when it does happen, since it happens so infrequently. There's nothing worse than a stupid villain to ruin the tension of a story.

The ending is great.

It's a bleak place for the book to end on, but I feel it's fitting as the middle piece, especially since The Empire Strikes Back is famous for its bleak ending. But all this bleakness will make it all the more satisfying when our heroes inevitably triumph.

[4.5 stars]
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,462 reviews927 followers
June 3, 2013
[7/10]

Dark Force Rising follows the structure of the original Star Wars trilogy, as the resurgent Empire forces led by Admiral Thrawn go on the offensive, the Alliance heroes go each on his / her own quest, and in general things get complicated in a way that will set up a big confrontation in the last book of the series. Luke meets the wild Jedi Master C'Baoth on his own turf, Leia does a an interesting sidequest on a planet with a grave ecological problem (reminding me a bit of Dune and Paul Atreites), Han and Lando Calrissian investigate smuggler activities, Mara gets involved in prison escape from a Star Destroyer right under the nose of Grand Admiral Thrawn, who gets himself quite a build up as the greatest strategic mind of his generation. And of course, there's the Dark
Force itself: a whooper of a McGuffin in the form of a huge fleet of battleships who can tilt the balance of forces decisively between Empire and Alliance, depending on who gets to them first.

A good filler for the middle of the series, developing the new characters (Mara, Thrawn, Karrde) and exploring several new planet systems, but still derivative and, for me, lacking in humor. The series continue to benefit from all the groundwork set in the movie version and makes for an easy summer read.
Profile Image for Amelie.
168 reviews25 followers
October 16, 2021
Every time I encounter Thrawn in the Star Wars universe, I’m impressed with how excellent of a villain he is. Many of the Star Wars villains/antagonists are either simply foolish or incredibly emotionally-driven by their rage, fear, power-hunger, etc. Thrawn actually thinks critically, makes logical choices, and is open to his cohorts’ suggestions. Stories are always so much more enjoyable when a formidable character is heading the opposition.

Talon Karrde and Mara Jade are still favorites, and I’m looking forward to seeing their roles in The Last Command!

Also, I absolutely loved the prolife themes and the theme of loving and raising children well as Leia thought about her future with her unborn twins. And there seemed to be a subtle theme of loving your enemies woven into Leia’s interactions with the Noghri.

Overally, this was such an intriguing, enjoyable book (and, since I listened to the audiobook, Marc Thompson’s narration remained simply excellent). I’m looking forward to finishing this series! I haven’t been disappointed.

Content: mild violence, one use of d**n, one use of h**l. Again, as this is Star Wars, the dualistic entity/philosophy of the Force is very prevalent.
Profile Image for Ruel.
130 reviews15 followers
February 11, 2014
It took me 20+ years to get to this highly regarded Star Wars series, but I'm enjoying it. Some of it is hokey and contrived, some of it is brilliant and inspired, and some of it just seems a bit dated, thanks to Episodes I-III.

Zahn is a solid writer and he's created an action-packed space opera that would be terrific on the big screen, even though Disney would have to re-cast the main roles. The new characters that Zahn has introduced in the first two books of this trilogy have actually been better than the main trio, but it's still a lot of fun following the exploits of Luke, Leia, and Han. Lando, Chewie, and the droids are also here, so it's like a reunion in the written word.

If I wasn't such a Star Wars fan, I probably wouldn't like this as much as I did. Since I am, though, I find myself eagerly scouring used bookstores for a copy of the third book. Find it, I will.
Profile Image for Malum.
2,177 reviews129 followers
November 5, 2018
*Review of the 20th anniversary audiobook*
I am still really enjoying this trilogy. If I had one complaint, it would be that I wish Zahn had included more force/saber action. Besides that, however, these books are heavily in the spirit of the original movies.
Profile Image for Lance Shadow.
222 reviews13 followers
March 3, 2017
In preparation for Timothy Zahn's upcoming Star Wars novel Thrawn, I have decided to finally continue reading the beloved Thrawn Trilogy.

I was pleasantly surprised to how much I enjoyed Heir to the Empire. I know that seems crazy because of how much people love these books, but here's the thing. Before reading Heir, I read another beloved Star Wars Expanded universe book that is considered one of the best ever, Path of Destruction. While it had good intentions I think the execution was really lacking and afterwards I just could not understand why people considered it to be so good.
Anyways, I went into Heir to the Empire with a little bit of skepticism. After all, the book is over 25 years old now, so I had the suspicion that maybe the reason people loved the Thrawn books so much was because of blind nostalgia. But I was wrong, for the book still holds up reasonably well. While I don't love it as much as other people do, I still would consider it a great book and it's reputation as a ground breaking classic for the Star Wars franchise is very well earned.

Dark Force Rising is a reasonable follow up, but I was left wanting a lot more. Don't get me wrong, Dark Force Rising does a lot of things right, and I am still pretty excited to read The Last Command. I just think that this book could have been much stronger after how great the first book was.

THE STORY: The battle against between the fledgling New Republic and a resurgent empire lead by Grand Admiral Thrawn continues as a political shakeup on coruscant occurs and our classic heroes of Luke, Han, and Leia search for answers, all while progressing in their own personal adventures and quests.
Crafty politician Borrsk Feylya has made a nasty power play on coruscant, unseating Admiral Ackbar from his military command and accusing him of treason. Things wouldn't be so difficult if he didn't have a sizeable cohort of support from other members of the military. Han Solo and Lando Calrissian travel the galaxy to investigate.
Luke Skywalker continues his quest to restore the Jedi order by seeking out the surviving Jedi master known as Joruus C'Baoth.
Leia Organa Solo travels to Honoghr with Chewbacca and the noghri Kabarakh to try and pry the noghri species' loyalties from the manipulative empire.
Meanwhile, the empire has driven Talon Karrde and his organization from Myrkyr. As they are fleeing, Karrde and Mara Jade stumble across the long lost Katana Fleet, also known as the Dark Force. This discovery triggers a race between the Mew Republic and the Empire to obtain the fleet's dreadnaughts, in order to gain the upper hand in the current battle for the galaxy.

THE BAD: Here's the thing: technically this book doesn't do anything worse than the first one. It's either about the same or better. The problem is the part that's the same.

My biggest problem with Dark Force Rising is the pacing. It took me a really long time to get into the book because it was such a slow burn. Heir to the Empire was also a slow paced book but it worked well. Zahn was able to keep the first book so interesting because he was setting up the excellent story, introducing us to new characters and worlds, and getting us up to speed on our old favorites from the original trilogy. Here though, we already know these characters and this new setting so the slow pace just makes the first ~100-150 pages boring.

I was also pretty let down by Thrawn in this book. Don't get me wrong, the character is still really interesting and he still manages to get some great dialogue, but he's not as threatening in this book. Again, it's another case of it's not that Thrawn is any worse here, it's just because it's the same Thrawn we got in Heir and I wanted Zahn to up the ante.
People complain that Thrawn has been a disappointment on Star Wars Rebels and that because he is underused and hasn't done major damage yet, it's a betrayal to the character. While I agree that he should have caused more damage by this point, the portrayal is actually very close to the Thrawn books so far. And after this book, maybe even too close. So the point I want to make to those people is this: whether you like Thrawn's portrayal on rebels or not, don't act like his portrayal in the novels is perfect either.
Maybe it would have worked better if we got inside Thrawn's head this time but it's still the same thing where it's all through the point of view of captain Palleon.
Which brings me into my next problem, Palleon. He worked well in the first book as an insert for us the readers- he was an officer from the time period of the original movies and Thrawn would tell him how he makes such brilliant deductions. But now that I have been introduced to Thrawn and know how awesome he is, so the novelty of this has worn off. If we can't get into Thrawn's head, maybe give us more about Palleon as a character, what makes him tick. Maybe through that we could learn more about how Thrawn works.

Those that read my review of Heir know what I thought of Talon Karrde. Well, he's just as bland here as he was before, but this time he's more central to the story.
His opening scene also felt way to similar to the Hoth attack from empire strikes back so that didn't help with the immersion.

Han just can't seem to get a break from lackluster subplots in this trilogy. While better than before, Han Solo once again had the weakest subplot by far in this book.

Finally, the climax once again was underwhelming. While I give credit that the action itself was improved, the outcome was disappointing, and it felt like just the same thing from before- just with all the advantages for the villains OFF SCREEN. Come on! You're an awesome character Thrawn but you need to up your game.

THE GOOD: technically, Dark Force Rising DID give us progression, even if it was just a little more rather than a lot more.

The problems I had with Han and Leia in Heir to the Empire were solved. In the first book I thought Han and Leia lacked romantic chemistry despite being married and expecting twins. But here, their romance was much more believable, and I am beyond happy for that.
Han and Lando had more interesting things to do this time around because they got anew character to work with: Senator GArm Bel Iblis. While they were stuck with the blandjob Talon Karrde in the first book, Garm Bel Iblis is much more interesting. I really like how Hans idolization of him and it makes Han more complex. I also like the nuance added to the rebellion, and the diversity of perspectives he adds. I don't know if he'll return to canon because Saw Guerrera largely fills his same role, but I think he would be a nice inclusion especially if they used him to flesh out Han Solo.

I also like how Luke's story advanced, especially with Cbaoth. I really enjoyed how it advanced Cbaoth's subplot as well. Overall I found Luke training under Cbaoth a pretty clever twist on the relationship between Luke and Yoda.
Speaking of which, Joruus Cbaoth becomes more interesting as we spend more time with him and his plan is further revealed. Of all the villains in this book, I think he was the best.

Once again, Leia gets an interesting subplot, and it works very well as a progression from the first book. I loved learning about the history of the Noghri leading up to this book and felt the tragedy of it. I also really liked how Leia had to use her dark heritage like it was something positive, and she didn't take it lightly at all.

Zahn also did a great job with the cliffhanger at the last chapter of this book. It made up for the underwhelming climactic space battle and gave us something dark and ominous. Probably one of the best uses of the line "I have a bad feeling about this" I have seen in Star Wars.

And now something you probably have all been waiting for. If there is one aspect of the first book that was a bit disappointing, it was Mara Jade. People hype her up as this amazing and complex character, but in Heir to the Empire she seemed rather one dimensional to me. While getting more interesting by the end and very entertaining when paired with luke skywalker, the scenes with her and Karrde were snorefests.
But I have to say, now that I finished dark force rising I like her quite a bit more. Zahn does a really good job fleshing her out and making her work much better as a character on her own. If you asked me what I was looking forward to the most in this trilogy after Heir to the Empire, Mara Jade could be forgotten about and I would not have really cared. Now, she's one of the things I want to read about the most in The Last Command.

THE CONClUSION: Dark Force Rising could have been a lot better, but I still found it to be a good book. Even though I rated it a 3 stars, it's more like a 3.5 and It was mostly because I was a bit disappointed after how great Heir to the Empire was. Most importantly, I still am excited to read The Last Command.
If you didn't like Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising is definitely not going to change your opinion on the Thrawn Trilogy, but if you liked it you'll probably find this to be a decent follow up.
Regardless, I'm confident it's going to build up to something spectacular, and I can't wait to find out how this trilogy resolves.
Profile Image for C.T. Phipps.
Author 45 books575 followers
May 10, 2017
Dark Force Rising is the sequel to Heir to the Empire, it's also the first Star Wars book I ever read. Dark Force Rising was pretty nonsensical to me the first time I read it but improved tremendously once I had a context for who Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, and Grand Admiral Thrawn were. It's one of the best Star Wars books ever written and I encourage anyone with a love for the setting to read it.

The premise of Dark Force Rising is a mythical two hundred Dreadnaughts, lost like the Flying Dutchman, are within reach of the Empire. These two hundred ships are enough to change the balance of power in the galaxy and our heroes are, of course, anxious to keep them out of the hands of the Empire.

This book was made before the Star Wars galaxy was quite as big as it eventually became. In the movies, we only saw a fleet of about twenty-five Star Destroyers at Endor and the entire rebel fleet was overwhelmed by them. A rebel fleet, I point out, which is enough to cause the Empire considerable distress.

In the WEG RPGs, by contrast, there were 25,000 Star Destroyers spread throughout the Empire. With those kind of numbers, two hundred Dreadnaughts could be either a game changer or something that's nice to have but ultimately unimportant. I think the current Star Wars universe has grown to the point that two hundred Dreadnaughts would be considered little more than a drop in the bucket of the galaxy's military reserves but what do I know?

Dark Force Rising, like the Empire Strikes Back, is a good deal darker than Heir to the Empire. We get to meet the Noghri at length, who are basically a people inhabiting a Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland and who show just how easily it is to destroy a planet in Timothy Zahn's conception of the Star Wars universe. Admittedly, this is more "realistic" with how fragile eco-systems really are but it kind of makes the Death Star redundant. We also get to hear Joruus C'boath's philosophy, which is about as Anti-Jedi as it can get.

As a digression, I'd like to point out I really didn't like what George Lucas did with the Jedi Knights. Back in the 1980s, I felt role-models were distinctly lacking for a lot of kids. George provided me a couple in Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker, two fictional characters which helped shape who I am. By making the Jedi have feet of clay and lionizing sociopath basket case Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars Prequels, I wonder if he unwittingly did kids a diservice.

Despite this, the Jedi Knighthood's philsophy remains one of humility and patience. Joruus C'boath nicely shows a person doesn't have to be a cackling madman like the Emperor or Sauron to rip out the heart of what a Jedi is supposed to be. Instead, he just sets a Jedi Knight up as a superior being who lords over lesser people. It's particularly notable as Luke has come to Joruus in hopes of learning how the old Jedi dealt with having a position of respect and authority.

If only, in real life, our leaders approached their task with as much humility as Luke does. We'd live in a much better world.

The quest for redemption by Mara Jade continues in this book, following her as she's forced to choose between Talon Karrde and Grand Admiral Thrawn. A choice which, amusingly, Grand Admiral Thrawn doesn't really care to indulge. I found this to be an interesting dynamic between them, highlighting the subtle differences between the Empire as Mara Jade remembers it versus the Empire that Grand Admiral Thrawn is trying to build.

Back in the nineties, the Empire was still a stand-in for the Nazis and it's easy to see Mara as a sort of confused Post-War Hitler Youth. She's the kind of person who saw Palpatine as a godlike figure who served as her father substitute. Grand Admiral Thrawn is aware of this and seems to hold both Palpatine and Darth Vader in disdain, much like many German military officers considered Hitler and Himmler. If you object to my portrayal of Vader as Himmler, I agree, but it's the best analog I can think of.

(Bizarrely, I think of Vader as a Rommel analog. Which is amusing because Thrawn is ALSO Rommel.)

One of the interesting things that Prequel fans will note is that the book is strongly tied to the Clone Wars and Old Republic despite the fact George Lucas hadn't created either yet. This can lead to a lot of inconsistencies to fans determined to keep a straight continuity in their heads.

The Dark Force fleet, for example, is something that Lando Calrissian dreamed of searching for as a child despite the fact that the Republic didn't have a military less than twenty years prior. The character of Garm Bel Iblis is a legendary Corellian Senator seemingly from a different time when we know the Republic ended fairly amicably on the Senate's part. Finally, the heroes look at clones with a mixture of revulsion and horror when we know the Republic used them as opposed to fight against them.

Really, a running theme of Dark Force Rising is the futility of trying to recapture the past. Garm Bel Iblis and company are living in the days of the early rebellion, predating A New Hope. Mara Jade is living in the glories of Palpatine-era Imperial glory, probably equivalent to the heyday of Hitler's rise to power. Luke Skywalker is trying to look to the Jedi Masters of old for guidance when Obi Wan Kenobi obviously wanted him to found his own order with its own rules (even more obvious with the Prequels establishing Luke is not trained REMOTELY like other Jedi).

Even Grand Admiral Thrawn and Captain Pellaeon are living in a fantasy world constructed around rebuilding the Empire, when the entirety of the galaxy is just glad they're gone. Hell, it's questionable whether Joruus C'boath realizes the Jedi Knighthood of old was nothing like he remembers it but he certainly wants to rebuild the organization. Only Princess Leia and a few others are looking to the future and it requires their efforts to liberate the galaxy from a (in-universe) crippling nostalgia.

Maybe I'm biased but Dark Force Rising is one of my all-time favorite Star Wars books. Everyone should read it who loves Star Wars.

10/10
Profile Image for Diba Tano.
65 reviews32 followers
October 12, 2021
I expected the second book to be better than the first one and I was not disappointed in the least. This one had a better pace and was more coherent, plus it ended the plot lines at the perfect place every time and it had all the good qualities of the last book.
The subtle details of the similarities of Luke and Leia, both getting twitches in their cheekbones when they are under stressed, for instance, were amazing.
I said that Mara Jade's character was too raw and cliché in the last book and this book completely redeemed that. I like how her redemption arc doesn't start from Luke showing her compassion or whatever but from realizing herself that she had been lied to by the person she was most loyal to, plus I like how she stands alone and isn't easily intimidated.
The descriptions are again so vivid, I felt like I was watching a movie. The main characters are, as in the first book, breathtakingly accurate. Thrawn was scarier and more developed throughout this book, I also really like how he sometimes would come to the wrong conclusions from the leads that he has, but those conclusions, and his plans in regards to them are smart and foolproof nonetheless.

The only things I didn't like were 1) the fact that we got the same team-ups as the first book. Han and Lando, Leia and Chewbacca, Luke and Mara. I was hoping we'd see the dynamics between different characters from the last time.
2) The fact that a lot of reliable assumptions are made by the characters on another characters loyalty and way of thinking merely because of the species of the latter. Mainly the Bothans in this book. I just... can't see that being the case. Even if you want to bring traditions into it, there are always rogues amongst all groups. And it's not even about culture at all here, but greed and way a certain race or species sees the world, and I find that lazy, to be generous. I mean, can you find one single shared trait in the way all humans think or act?
Again I enjoyed how the title of the book is a pun, or at least misleading.
Reading about the political mind games that are happening is also really interesting (god, how many times have I used the word "interesting" and "like" in this review? Well, I don't know what else to say! It's all so good!)
And something else that I really really liked was the difference in Luke and Mara's approach. With Mara not having any problems with killing and Luke, obviously, seeing it only as a last resort, being kinda soft and even somewhat, what is traditionally known as, feminine.
I also enjoyed the plotline with C'baoth on Jomark, however short that it was, seeing how such a twisted and dark view of the world can easily be excused, if it's covered up by acting like a snob and superior to everyone, and seeing how Luke is having doubts but doesn't know whether he should voice them or not, and if so, how, was very realistic and interesting.
8.5/10 Excited for the last book and finally having the face off.
Profile Image for Ben Dutton.
Author 2 books30 followers
February 6, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Luisa Knight.
2,718 reviews650 followers
November 4, 2022
In my humble opinion, this is a great series!
I do wish this storyline would have staid cannon ...

Cleanliness:

Profanity
Mild Obscenities & Substitutions - 3 Incidents: d*mn, h*ll
Scatological Terms - 2 Incidents: bl**dy

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Profile Image for David.
Author 4 books30 followers
January 4, 2023
3.5 stars

It's funny. When I started this series, I thought that the titular heir to the Empire was supposed to be Grand Admiral Thrawn when, in fact, it's the windbag-pretending-to-be-a-Jedi Joruus C'baoth. In my defense, C'baoth's storyline tends to take a backseat to all the other storylines that run through the first two books of this series. So it didn't click in my head until this book drew to its conclusion.

Zahn's characters continue to be better developed than the familiar characters from the Star Wars original/middle trilogy of films. They still seem off to me. I think that they're stuck in Return of the Jedi mode. Luke tries to treat C'baoth like Vader. Leia thinks that she can broker diplomacy with the Noghri like she did with the Ewoks. Han and Lando aren't the rogues that they used to be, but they think they still are. Chewie is still Chewie though. And they all get away with it because, well, they do. I guess I'm expecting too much. It's been 40 years for me, but these books are only a couple years removed from the battle of Endor.

As I said, Zahn's original characters are better. Mara Jade struggles with her hate/he's ok relationship with Luke. Captain Pellaeon dutifully serves Grand Admiral Thrawn, who is always a step ahead of everyone else. It comes close to straining credulity at times, but I let it slide. Talon Karrde remains the likeable smuggler. Fey'lya demonstrates that Bothans are really frenemies, and former Senator Bel Iblis reveals some history about the early days of the Rebellion that would make for a great addition to Andor.

As for the storylines, after the surviving special ops Noghri, Khabarakh, informs Leia that he knows she's Vader's daughter, she agrees to accompany him to the Noghri homeworld in hopes of clearing things up and putting these attempted kidnappings to bed. I admit that while this started off like a fool's errand, Zahn built up Noghri society rather well.

Han and Lando try to uncover proof that Admiral Ackbar was set up and find a lost fleet of ships that could turn the tide of the war. I wasn't sure that they were doing anything more than stumbling around from one planet to another, but they eventually got there.

Luke seeks out the rumors of a Jedi Master in hopes of continuing his education, but as this storyline involved C'baoth it was pretty much a nothing burger. Luke eventually leaves to rescue someone and things pick up from there.

So despite my complaining, I am enjoying this series. It's good popcorn fare or a beach read.
Profile Image for SR.
130 reviews6 followers
March 13, 2022
I really, really don’t like the Noghri storyline, which was like 1/3 of the whole book. I basically slogged through it. But I adore Luke and Mara, so it was worth it. Mara is the best girl🤌
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