Adam's Reviews > Specter of the Past

Specter of the Past by Timothy Zahn
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's review
Jun 30, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: star-wars, science-fiction

Specter of the Past delivers on the expectations Zahn set up with his original Thrawn Trilogy. The work is somewhat different in character from those books: it is, as many other reviewers have pointed out, dedicated to setting up action that I'll presumably get to in the sequel, and it's a lot more focused on politics and intrigue than on military strategy and character struggles. I expected myself to hate this, since I generally dislike Star Wars novels that try to 'replicate real politics' - they never work in two ways, since they don't really resonate with real world politics and neither do they make for tolerable reading or set up decent plots.

Speaking of the plot, I was familiar with it, as I was with those of all the Bantam EU novels, from the Essential Guide summarizations. I had little idea then of how wildly those plots varied in how effectively the author pulled them off compared to how good the idea seemed in abstraction. This plot, regarding ambitious Moff Disra, crafty former Royal Guard Major Tierce, and expert con-man Flim, always seemed like one of the more kooky ones (though of course not as bad as the Crystal Star). It seems, however, that Zahn is going to pull off both his kooky 'Thrawn is back' plot and the political annoyances he's crafting.

The one thing I really enjoyed about this book, something few other Star Wars books do well, is that it really brings to the fore how big and varied the GFFA is, and how there are lots of problems involved in integrating such different cultures and interest groups. In retrospect, this seems like something that should be more prevalent in other books. Zahn gives a fair explanation of the fact that it never comes up in Galactic Civil War era literature because the Empire quashed all the infighting with its tight military grip. But things set in other periods, especially the Old Republic era and other post-Empire EU stuff should probably make more of this. Even the first Zahn trilogy didn't go for it at all.

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