The Last Command

January 15, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

commandThe Last Command by Timothy Zahn

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And so we conclude the events as they could have happened after the end of Return of the Jedi. While I do think these would have made a great primer for Episodes VII – IX, it makes sense that Disney would disregard it all. Irrespective of one of the franchise’s most popular character being dead in the Extended Universe, to create a new trilogy based on the extensive canon would have removed much of the mystery and anticipation of a new story with new secrets. Even though this trilogy marks my first foray into the EU, I knew who Mara Jade was before reading the books. The best that a new series of movies based on the EU could do was to plant seeds that only the geeks would have understood.

The Last Command concludes the trilogy, which focuses on how Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, and Lando (along with a host of new characters who fit right into the universe) work to clean up the remnants of the Empire after their defeat at the Battle of Endor. Even though Zahn flips the two groups on their heads — the Empire is the Rebellion against the established New Republic — he still manages to center the story on a small group of people in the New Republic who are going up against a formidable, well-armed splinter group of the Empire. The trilogy still maintains the theme that the good guys are at a significant disadvantage.

Zahn spends more time in this series developing his alien cultures, which I appreciate. In the movies, the aliens are presented as something very normal, and while I recognize it as a positive representation of diversity and acceptance, at the same time, I always wanted to know more about, say, Chewbacca’s homeworld. Zahn’s gives them their due attention, along with his original aliens, who receive a significant amount of attention. All of it was presented well enough so as not to be out of place; the culture of the Wookiees and the Noghris were important to the plots of the books and the series, and were much more than just a self-indulgent info-dump.

Unlike the movies, though, the books end rather suddenly. We’re spared the embarrassment of a primitive, celebratory song-and-dance routine, but we also miss the character conclusions that we’ve come to expect from the movie. Despite the ending feeling a little rushed, the defeat of the antagonists doesn’t feel cheap or unfair. Thrawn, who was normally one or two steps ahead of the New Republic, falls because of his own arrogance, based on the one incorrect prediction he had made in the previous book. C’baoth, the dark Jedi, falls due to his own greed, and the events play out in such a way as to preserve the characters of the original stories. In short, Zahn preserves all that makes a Star Wars story a Star Wars story, as I’ve mentioned before. I’m glad to see that he could maintain that throughout the entire series.

So, what’s next? Well, I’ve convinced myself to start at the beginning of the Legends books and work my way through them all, from the dawn of the Jedi to the fate of the Jedi. We’ll see how long this will last. Wish me luck!

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