Star Wars: Heir to the Empire
author Timothy Zahn
review by Nathnan Neuharth
I'm very excited to get started on the Thrawn Trilogy! Star Wars was dying off in the late 1980s. This novel brought the franchise back to life. I read the 20th Anniversary Edition. I enjoyed reading the comments in the margins. Very entertaining. It also includes a short novella at the end called Crisis of Faith by Zahn showing Thrawn's shining military genius.
Zahn has created so many new, interesting, long lasting characters in the novel, opening the door to an entire new view of the galaxy. He succeeds in bringing out the personalities of the characters from the movies and makes them seem like believable people. We meet Imperial Captain Pallaeon. He is in awe of this new Grand Admiral's ways and learning from him. Winter, a servant of Leia, from Alderaan. The Grand Admiral Thrawn an alien Chiss who has returned from the Unknown Regions with blue skin and red glowing eyes. A genius military tactician, he studies the art of alien cultures to understand them. He is always calm, cool, collected, observant, and one step ahead of everyone else. We meet the mad Jedi clone Joruus C'Boath. He was one of six Jedi from something called the Outbound Flight Project. I am tempted to step out of the chronological order again and read the Outbound Flight novel by Timothy Zahn. Borsk Fey'lya is power hungry Bothan politician who wants Admiral Ackbar out of the political and military picture.
The alien Noghri are short, fierce, gray skinned warriors loyal to Darth Vader, being used by Thrawn to hunt the Skywalker twins, Luke and Leia. The Ysalamri are lizards that attach themselves to a tree branch and dampen the Force in a sphere around them. They are indigenous to the planet Myrkr (the base of operations of Talon Karrde).
We also meet Mara Jade, the red haired beauty who once served as the Emperor's Hand but now works for the quick witted, sharp smuggler Talon Karrde. Mara hates Luke Skywalker. Wedge Antilles is the leader of Rogue Squadron. Both become major, pivotal characters in the Expanded Universe.
Leia is pregnant with twins. She has been doing a little Jedi training exercises Luke taught her and has a lightsaber now. Chewbacca takes her to his home planet of Kashyyk to hide and protect her from kidnapping attempts by the Noghri. The Noghri call Leia, Lady Vader, and one of them agrees to let her come and meet them alone on their world.
Luke barely escapes Thrawn and the Star Destroyer Chimaera only to be captured by Talon Karrde and Mara Jade. They all fight to escape Thrawn. A cool point is when we get to see Space Troopers in action. It is a classic. It is well written. It pumped life back into Star Wars. All the major film characters are present and likable: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C3-PO, Wedge Antilles, Mon Motha, and Admiral Ackbar.