Heir to the Empire

December 31, 2015 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

Heir to the EmpireHeir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

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Ever since seeing The Force Awakens, things around here have been all things Star Wars. I was never much into the extended universe before, but there was something about seeing a story set so far beyond the end of the original trilogy that made me want to know what happened in-between. Aftermath might have been the worst place to begin, but everything that’s followed has been pretty good. And even though Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn series is no longer considered canon, I can’t help but wish that they had used these novels to help build the new trilogy.

The story begins five years after the Battle of Endor, and follows Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and Lando through the struggling beginnings of the New Republic, against the feeble but determined remnants of the Empire. The novel introduces us to two characters who have since become fan favorites — Admiral Thrawn, and Mara Jade. In fact, the novel introduces us to a lot of new things in the Star Wars universe, and in the hands of Zahn, it’s done very well.

In my review of Aftermath, I noted that the first requirement for a Star Wars novel should be that it feel like a Star Wars story. Heir to the Empire does just that, with a story that involves plots, counter-plots, intrigue, betrayals, trust, honor, and battles. Zahn relies on some defined characters to tell his story, not putting much into developing their characters. I was fine with that — with characters as iconic as these, going too much into their backgrounds and motivations would have been superfluous — but was pleased to see that Thrawn and Mara were given enough background to make them intriguing. There are no answers here in this novel, but given that this is the first book in a trilogy, I wasn’t expecting to find any. The good news is that I’m eager to get them in the rest of this series.

I’m a little late to this party, but even before completing the trilogy, I’m interested in reading more of the expanded universe. I’m probably hurting myself a bit by starting with the series that’s considered the best of those novels, but why poison my impression of these novels by starting elsewhere? That would be like starting with The Phantom Menace, or worse, Aftermath.

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