It's been a while, but your neighborhood nerd is back and ready to give you a rundown of another novel from the Star Wars EU.
Today we're taking it back to 1991 with the first volume of the "Heir to the Empire" trilogy. The book follows our original trio as they try to sort out the New Republic.
I can't lie. I wanted to love this book, but I couldn't get into it. I finished it, but it took a long while. Maybe it was because I knew it was a Legends novel and didn't factor into canon (more on that in a moment).
But just because it wasn't my favorite doesn't mean it won't be yours. As usual, I'll give a brief overview of the book so you have a chance to get yourself a copy before we get into spoilers.
Published: 1991 by Bantams Books
Legend or Canon: Legend! As with most of the early Star Wars novels, Disney threw all of the established information out the window for episodes 7- 9. Case in point: Leia is pregnant in this book, but she's pregnant with twins. (Not Ben Solo/Kylo Ren.)
Time Period: Five years after Episode 6: Return of the Jedi
Setting: All over the galaxy from Coruscant to Kashyyyk to Myrkr.
Characters You Already Know: Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and Grand Admiral Thrawn (if you've watched Rebels).
Synopsis: The Battle of Endor ended the Empire and saw the birth of the New Republic. But passing through space for five years, waiting for the right time, was the Chimaera, an Empire Star Destroyer. Manned by the tactical genius, Grand Admiral Thrawn, the warship hunts for a way to end the New Republic and the Jedi once and for all. At the same time, our heroes work to bring more systems into the New Republic. They set out to encourage known smugglers to join their cause and run their businesses legally. However, most smugglers, like Talon Karrde on Myrkr, are wary of choosing a side just yet. Will the New Republic be able to thrive, or will the remains of the Empire cut it down?
Okay, if you're interested in reading this novel, head to your local used book store or buy a copy online here.
Let's dive in.
Okay, first and foremost: thank you, Timothy Zahn, for creating Grand Admiral Thrawn. If you loved the villain in Star Wars Rebels, you'll love the Legend centered around him as the bad guy.
However, if you're thinking that the book explains where Ezra Bridger went, it doesn't. Remember: this book is now legend and was created before Ezra was developed.
But it is the first iteration of Thrawn (correct me if I'm wrong in the comments). He's the same character you see in Rebels: light blue skin, penetrating red eyes, appreciation for art and culture, commanding and intimidating presence. All around, not the kind of villain you want to be up against.
Thrawn takes his cruiser over to Myrkr to get these sloth-like creatures called ysalamiri that can block people fromusing the Force. With the animals on board, Thrawn travels to meet a lost Dark Jedi named Jorns C'baoth on the planet Wayland.
Thrawn convinces C'baoth to join them, and in return for his help, Thrawn will deliver Luke Skywalker and the pregnant Leia to him. C'baoth is active for part of the book but then disappears towards the end. Best guess is that he'll be more prominent in the other two books of the series.
If you know general information about Star Wars legends, you've probably heard the name Mara Jade thrown around as the gal Luke Skywalker eventually marries. We meet her for the first time in this novel, but Zahn establishes at the very beginning that she hates Luke's guts.
It isn't until the end of the novel that we discover why. Apparently, Mara was the super-secret Hand to the Emperor and was undercover at Jabba's palace when Luke appeared to rescue his friends. She credits Luke for ruining her life and forcing her to go from her place of power to the role of petty smuggler.
After Luke narrowly escapes capture in space by Thrawn, he's picked up by Mara Jade and brought to his boss, Talon Karrde. The ysalimiri on the planet dull Luke's Force abilities, and with his lightsaber held by Jade, he has no way of fighting back.
Jade wants to kill him on the spot, but Karrde debates whether to use him as a bargaining chip for the Republic or the Empire. Before he can make a decision, Thrawn shows up on Myrkr, and Karrde hides Luke.
Since Luke is brilliant even without his Jedi tools, he escapes into the woods, and Mara goes after him. They bond but are by no means in love by the end. Again, I think this is something the subsequent books will address.
Where were Leia and Han for all this action? After meeting up with Lando, they separate to keep Leia safe from the group of Noghri assassins sent by Thrawn to abduct Leia. Leia travels to Kashyyyk with Chewbacca while Lando and Han go to—you guessed it—Myrkr.
Leia remains on the Wookie home planet for as long as she's safe there, and then once she's discovered returns to Coruscant. Meanwhile, Han and Lando attempt to strike a deal with Karrde and eventually realize Luke is on the planet as well. The smugglers and the Republic heroes work together to get the Empire's army off of Myrkr.
As I write about it, the more I realize that I was probably "meh" about this book because it was a whole lot of exposition. It's more than likely that the purpose of most of this novel was to set up the next two.
So maybe I'll have to pick up a copy of the next one, Dark Force Rising.
I'm always up for healthy debate, so if you absolutely loved (or hated) Heir to the Empire, let me know in the comments below!