Ashley's Reviews > Dark Force Rising

Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn
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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. (view spoiler)

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. (view spoiler) But all this bleakness will make it all the more satisfying when our heroes inevitably triumph.

[4.5 stars]
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Reading Progress

05/20/2015 marked as: currently-reading
5.0% "Um, spoilers? Should I care about spoiling a book that was published over twenty years ago? Anyway, I forgot that Mara Jade doesn't know she's a Jedi yet! I'm excited to see how she finds out.

People, there are advantages with an increasingly poor memory. You get to relive your favorite stories like they're new!" 2 comments
20.0% "One thing I do remember about this is that SPOILERS the Delta Source Thrawn and Pellaeon keep talking about is a traitor, and I'm pretty sure I remember it being Winter, although I can't for the life of me remember why. Especially since she's the least likely one."
39.0% "Ugh. Thrawn is so annoyingly competent. Can't he just miss something even once?"
65.0% "Mara Jade is such an interesting character. I am genuinely upset she won't be around in the official canon anymore." 5 comments
75.0% "Finishing this up real quick before going to see Tomorrowland!"
05/24/2015 marked as: read

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