Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Heir to the Empire (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, #1)” as Want to Read:
Heir to the Empire (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Heir to the Empire

(Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy #1)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  74,583 ratings  ·  3,198 reviews
Alternate Cover Edition can be found here.

It is a time of renewal, five years after the destruction of the Death Star and the defeat of Darth Vader and the Empire.

But with the war seemingly won, strains are beginning to show in the Rebel Alliance. New challenges to galactic peace have arisen. And Luke Skywalker hears a voice from his past. A voice with a warning. Beware th
Paperback, 404 pages
Published May 1st 1992 by Bantam Spectra (first published May 1st 1991)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Heir to the Empire, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Jessica Hi! This book doesn't contain any 'inappropriate' material, by my standards. It isn't much more violent then the movies, but deaths are discribed. Pri…moreHi! This book doesn't contain any 'inappropriate' material, by my standards. It isn't much more violent then the movies, but deaths are discribed. Princess Leia is Pregnant, and she does spend some time thinking about the Children she's carrying, but there is nothing graphic. It's a heavy read though, lots of details and new characters, if he is a good strong reader he'll do great! The characters do swear from time to time, but they are mostly made up 'in universe' swear words. I read these books when I was about 12-13 and found them fun! I was an advanced reader, but this is a great novel to start him on! There is also an Audio Book version of this book.

I would also suggest the 'Junior Jedi Knights' novels. It's a series that focuses on Han Solo and Princess Leia's Son Anakin as he goes through Jedi training and his adventures. These books are meant for younger readers, so a little easier to read. I read these when I was about 10 and loved them!

None of the Star Wars books I've read have anything other then some violence, a kiss or two and a few made up swear words. None are any worse than Episode 3 (the darkest and most violent Star Wars). I certainly haven't read all of them, but Lucas/Disney makes it a habit to keep things pretty family friendly.

Wookiepedia has a whole bunch of detailed plot descriptions about all of the books/characters. It's a good place to 'pre-skim' the books before he reads them.

BTW I would like to thank you for taking such an interest in your Son's reading! I had a parent like you who wanted to make sure I read things that would be wholesome/age appropriate. I can't thank them enough for that. Good luck!

May the force be with you!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  74,583 ratings  ·  3,198 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Heir to the Empire (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, #1)
Mario the lone bookwolf
One of the coolest, most badass, best written antagonists, not just in a universe far, far away, but also in the known realm of sci-fi literature.

That´s not just pure joy for every Star Wars addict, that´s even something for the enemy fandom war fraction of Trekkies, because that´s not the usual, loveless adaption authors are writing with the restriction, and less motivation, of having to match to the famous movie, game, or already established series. That´s an author loving his antagonist and d
A long time 20 years ago, in a galaxy publishing house far, far away looking to suck the monetary marrow out of a popular franchise and develop the next big income stream............
Episode IV Expanded Universe Novel I
It is a period of civil war declining profits and brand recognition. A revitalized Star Trek franchise Rebel spaceships, striking from a
hidden base
rival studio Paramount, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Luc
Unforgettable characters born and even a whole world too!


When you understand a species' art, you understand that species.

One of the strongest issues on this book are the creation of characters since it’s where Mara Jade was first introduced and only for that, it’s already an epic moment in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, but also you have the introduction of other characters such as Talon Karrde, Gilad Pellaeon, Borsk Fey’lya, Joruus C’Baoth, Winter Celchu, and ob
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
"History is on the move, Captain. Those who cannot keep up will be left behind, to watch from a distance. And those who stand in our way will not watch at all."

Five years have passed since the destruction of the second Death Star and the fall of the Emperor. The New Republic is rising from the ashes of the Galactic Empire. The old Imperial Starfleet is in complete disarray, and the greatest of the Emperor's warlords, the Grand Admirals, are all gone. Except for one. And that lone one will give t
Jan 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“My word, Thrawn, do you mean … Skywalker??”

“Elementary, my dear Captain.”

Zahn’s Grand Admiral Thrawn channels Sherlock Holmes and steals the show in a 1991 Star Wars expanded universe novel set five years after the end of the canonical film Episode VI Return of the Jedi.

The Ewoks have finished dancing and singing, the fireworks over Coruscant have long since faded and the Darths Sidious and Vader are pushing up daisies. But all’s not yet well amongst the leaders of the New Republic. There is wo
I read this when it was released in the 90s. I still think George should have adapted this whole triology then when the cast was the right age. Timothy Zahn did a great job taking the story forward with General Thrawn and Mara Jade. These characters need to be on screen.

Disney should have made these movies instead even if they had to put in Luke, Leia and Han as CGI characters and de-age them. They are a fantastic story. I should re-read them someday. I wish Disney would have kept this as canno
Will M.
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Star Wars fans
Recommended to Will by: Ashley
Shelves: sci-fi, space, 2016, star-wars
"But you must never relax your guard. The Emperor is gone, but the dark side is still powerful. Never forget that."

As we all know, Episode VII came out a few weeks ago. I watched it a few days after the premiere and was amazed. I watched it for the second time a week ago, and was still amazed. I've been a Star Wars fan ever since I was a child, but my love for the series slowly degraded because no new movies came out. I'm back to loving the series now all thanks to the release of episode 7
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
I hope I will not need to tell what happened in the original Star Wars trilogy. I also feel I do not need to use any visuals for my review as practically everybody knows what the main characters look like. So, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Five years after the evens of the Return of the Jedi things seems to go smooth for the Rebel Alliance. What remains of the Empire is driven farther to the remote parts of the space, the territory of the new Republic is expanding and war is repla
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
From the first paragraph of Heir To The Empire:
“It's five years after Return of the Jedi: the Rebel Alliance has destroyed the Death Star, defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and driven the remnants of the old Imperial Starfleet to a distant corner of the galaxy. Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting Jedi twins. And Luke Skywalker has become the first in a long-awaited line of Jedi Knights.”

Not a bad opening but it works much better when tilted like this:

Not easy reading a
May 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Science fiction (esp. Star Wars) fans
Recommended to Werner by: My brother-in-law, Nelson
Note, Oct. 16, 2015: I edited this just now to correct a misspelling.

Books that are spin-offs or sequels to movies or TV shows (or sometimes direct fictional adaptations, or "novelizations"), as the Thrawn trilogy is, often don't command much critical respect; it's taken for granted by critics that movies can be made by adapting books, and that the results can be great art, but any inspiration that's drawn in the other direction is automatically discounted and the results classified as hack garb
As a warning, the actual review doesn't start until halfway through this ridiculously large block of text. I felt I should warn you, I'm about to get self-indulgent up in here.

So you know how when you're sixteen, you're an idiot? Well, about some things. I like to think I was an abnormally stable teenager. I certainly gave my parents ZERO trouble, but I feel like that's a thing that happens when parents luck into having extremely geeky children who would rather stay home on a Saturday night and,
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Five years after Return of the Jedi, the leaders of the rebellion have formed the New Republic and are trying to establish it as well as they possibly can. The Empire is a shell of its former self, but not everyone considers it defeated. A Grand Admiral named Thrawn has become the leader of The Empire and he intends to crush the Rebellion for good.

Heir to the Empire wasn't very interesting. I wanted to stop reading it multiple times and now that I finished I realized I should have listened to my
Jan 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This was my first foray into the Star Wars expanded universe and it did not disappoint. It reads like a sequel to the original movies.

Set five years after the happenings in Return of the Jedi this followed well loved Star Wars characters like Luke, Han, and Leia as they and the rest of the Rebel Alliance fought against the remains of the Imperial Empire. Darth Vader and the Emperor might be dead, but the Empire itself is not. A new leader has emerged in the form of the intelligent and ruthless
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
3.5 Stars



I must confess—I’ve never considered myself a huge Star Wars fan.

I watched all the movies multiple times as a child, (who didn't?) but usually only after prodding. But I’m young enough the prequels were already out by the time I was old enough to watch them, and I missed all that hype. I even saw The Force Awakens at a midnight premiere, due to the more zealous members of my family—but still didn’t consider myself a “fan.”

The Star Wars universe is huge. Filled with dozens o
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, sci-fic, audio
The novel that brought the Star Wars mythos back to the forefront during the 90s.

That New Republic era was interesting, if not a bit bloated continuity after a while, but it sure was fun to imagine what Luke and Leia and Han were up to after the third movie. In this the beginning of the Thrawn trilogy, much of the mythology was expanded upon well in creating a deeper sense of this world. There was Coruscant, for example!

I just miss the old Expanded Universe... yes I understand that Disney did wh
It's been five years since the second Death Star exploded. With the Emperor and Darth Vader both dead, the remaining bastions of the Galactic Empire have fallen easily before the Rebels, now the soldiers of the New Galactic Republic.

Luke Skywalker is rather busy, being the last surviving Jedi, who is now instructing his sister in the ways of that ancient practice. Leia Organa Solo is a stateswoman, a Jedi apprentice, and an expectant mother of twins. Han Solo uses his smuggling background to neg
Buddy read with my fellow Star Wars fanatics over at Fantasy Buddy Reads.

You guys have no idea how excited I was to read about my favorite Star Wars characters. I hyped myself up for two weeks in preparation for reading this book.'s absolutely crazy that I'm only able to give this three stars. I'm going to try my best to explain this unfortunate three star rating.

What I Liked
Obviously the characters. The new characters that I really enjoyed were Thrawn and Mara. I actually liked Mara'
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am not going to try to objectively review this as I am a seventies kid so star wars is an immense part of my coming into adulthood.

Zahn has given fans a worthy successor to Vader as the big bad in thrawn.

if I was to nitpick Mars Jades hatred of Skywalker free a little annoying.

overall a great continuation of the mythology of the star wars universe I would give 3.5 stars rounded up.
Crystal Starr Light
"A Jedi can't get so caught up in matters of galactic importance that it interferes with his concern for individual people"
It's had a permanent space on my top books of all time, and there is a reason. Considered by most Star Wars fans to be the best Star Wars Expanded Universe novel and the birth of Expanded Universe itself, Heir to the Empire takes off about 5 years after Return of the Jedi.
Han and Leia are married and expecting twins. Luke is a Jedi Knight. And the New Republic is in its begi
Executive Summary: Mostly lived up to the hype for me. Certainly more enjoyable than the prequels that Lucas put out, but that's not hard.

Audio book: Do this in audio. Not only is Marc Thompson a great narrator who does a great job with almost all the voices, there is music and sound effects too that makes this more like a radio play than just an audiobook.

There was no way I was going to read this after seeing Marc Thompson did this series, and I was not disappointed.

Full Review
There is a lo
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better than I remembered it being. A great way to kick off the month of May.
Chris Dietzel
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was thinking again about Zahn's trilogy of books after reading that Disney and Lucasfilm have set an "official" canon for the Star Wars universe. (A truly absurd idea that some fictional stories are 'official' and some fictional stories are illegitimate). For me, these will always be the best three Star Wars books. It doesn't matter if they are 'canon' or not. If you liked the original trilogy of movies and haven't read these books, do yourself a favor and read them right now. ...more
May 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
If it wasn't for Grand Admiral Thrawn, I might not have even finished this book. I just found it all so uninteresting. Not sure if I will finish this trilogy or not. Side note: the audio version of this is fantastic. It plays sound effects and Star Wars music and narrator does really great voices. ...more
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: star-wars
Believe the hype!

I have always been resistant when it comes to reading novels based on shows/movies. But with Trek novels like Imzadi and Wars books like Heir to the Empire, I am quickly being converted.

So you know what the plot is and you probably already know if this is something that you will like or not, so let me just talk about the amazing 20th anniversary audiobook edition. First of all, they have sound effects and music, which I normally don't like in an audiobook but, hey, we are talki
Dare I admit that I’ve never seen the Star Wars movies? And despite that gap in my experience, I still know enough of the plot lines and character details to be able to appreciate this book.

Thrawn is a great foe—alien, cool under fire, an intellect to be reckoned with, and a planning mastermind. It’s difficult to stay one step ahead of him, but somehow Luke, Han and Leia manage to do so.

My sense is that it would be best suited to a younger audience. Like the movies, things are not very nuanced,
TS Chan
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read, audiobook
It's been so, so long since I've read these Star Wars tie-in novels. A friend of mine had been highly recommending the audiobook production of these novels and hence, gave me the impetus to reread them in the said medium.

In summary, it was really enjoyable! With the ability to make use of the library of sound effects from the movies, the audiobook almost sounds like a Graphic Audio production. Artoo, Threepio and Chewbacca sound exactly like in the movies! I especially love the scenes with Arto
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Think of a book series that changed your life.

Now, imagine if you could hear behind-the-scenes information straight from the author and editor responsible for the series' launch.

That's what this was for me. The Star Wars Expanded Universe helped me rediscover reading; without it, I wouldn't be the ardent bibliophile I am today. While it wasn't until well after I discovered this series that I first read this book, the franchise would not be what it was today if not for Timothy Zahn and Heir to th
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I LOVE THESE AUDIOS. What fun they are. The fact that the narrator can do the iconic voices is such a bonus. This book, I think, has got to be one of my favorites so far but then I always think that after reading one and end up liking it. The personalities of these well known and well loved characters rang true. So 4 stars.
Jan 19, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-books, star-wars
...nah. I have no trouble believing that this book was the shit in the 90's, because people just didn't know any better. But reading it today, it feels more like the prequels than the original trilogy — boring and poorly characterised. I am more than happy with the new Disney movies (The Last Jedi was fucking rad and I don't care if you disagree, internet!) instead of the Thrawn trilogy. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Star Wars Legends...: February 2021 Legends Group Read: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn 86 43 Apr 17, 2021 02:48PM  
Star Wars Legends...: The Thrawn Trilogy: Heir to the Empire (Book 1) 21 25 Apr 03, 2021 08:16AM  
Star Wars #1 Fans: Grand Admiral Thrawn: Hero or villain? 12 97 Jul 23, 2020 01:07PM  
Star Wars Books 16 116 Jul 17, 2018 01:33AM  
Mentor Texts: Mentor Texts 1 4 Dec 19, 2016 07:00AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Jedi Search (Star Wars: The Jedi Academy Trilogy, #1)
  • Dark Apprentice (Star Wars: The Jedi Academy Trilogy, #2)
  • Champions of the Force (Star Wars: The Jedi Academy Trilogy, #3)
  • Path of Destruction (Star Wars: Darth Bane, #1)
  • Rule of Two (Star Wars: Darth Bane, #2)
  • Dynasty of Evil (Star Wars: Darth Bane, #3)
  • Darth Plagueis
  • The Truce at Bakura (Star Wars)
  • Light of the Jedi (Star Wars: The High Republic)
  • Rogue Squadron (Star Wars: X-Wing, #1)
  • Kenobi (Star Wars Legends)
  • Shadows of the Empire (Star Wars)
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia (Star Wars)
  • Revan (Star Wars: The Old Republic, #1)
  • Ahsoka (Star Wars)
  • I, Jedi (Star Wars)
  • Revenge of the Sith (Star Wars: Novelizations, #3)
  • Wedge's Gamble (Star Wars: X-Wing, #2)
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy (3 books)
  • Dark Force Rising (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, #2)
  • The Last Command (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, #3)

Articles featuring this book

Dystopias, alien invasions, regenerated dinosaurs, space operas, multiverses, and more, the realm of science fiction takes readers out of this...
601 likes · 533 comments
“If you don't want to be noticed, you don't use a Star Destroyer.” 165 likes
“You're not the last of the old Jedi, Luke, you're the first of the new” 59 likes
More quotes…