Review of Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

Title: Star Wars: Heir to the Empire

Author: Timothy Zahn


Publisher: Spectra

Format: Paperback


 I was at my library’s book sale a couple of weeks ago and happened upon Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars: Thrawn Trilogy. Heir to the Empire was the first Star Wars novel I had read, some twenty years ago, and having remembered little about it, I thought it was high time I read the trilogy again.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve read quite a few books in the Star Wars expanded universe, but most of my reading has been prior to Episode IV. I’ve read the Han Solo trilogy, a few books during the era of Darth Vader’s rein, and a greater collection of books that take place before the rise of Emperor Palpatine. Heir to the Empire, on the other hand, takes place five years after the defeat of the Emperor in Return of the Jedi.

We learn early on in the novel that the Rebellion is still fighting what is left of the Empire. Leia and Han Solo have married and she has become pregnant with twins. Luke Skywalker, who remains one of the galaxy’s most eligible bachelors, is training Leia in the ways of the force. Admiral Ackbar leads the Rebel fleet and in the fringes of the galaxy lies Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Empire’s adroit and vicious leader who sets his eyes on squashing the Rebellion.

Zahn does a nice job of tying in the continued story to previous events, almost to a fault, as Luke almost incessantly reflects on past experiences. He recalls his confrontation with Vader, his near death experience at the pit of Carkoon, the Battle of Endor, nearly crashing his speeder bike, the mysterious cave in the Degobah system, … oh sorry, I got a little carried away there. Anyway, as I was saying, Zahn does tie the story well into the original trilogy, but it seems it was done much too carefully. I would have liked for the story to present something entirely new, but the novel is really just a set up for the rest of the trilogy. Grand Admiral Thrawn only begins to become aware of Skywalker’s presence and the dark Jedi that he recruits only plays a passing role in the story arc.

I certainly am eager to read the rest of the series (again), but the first novel by itself is incomplete. The Rebellion appears to be in greater power and Luke, Han, and Leia’s fates seem secure. I am hoping that their adversary grows to become a more formidable opponent and for new heroes to be born that will help keep a balance in the universe. Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy is often credited with birthing what is now known as the expanded universe, so in that regard it is to be held in high esteem. But for those who have read several other titles, the novel has a bit of a slow start as it tries to forge new ground while maintaining the connection to the previous stories.

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  1. Review of Star Wars: The Last Command by Timothy Zahn « Odd Engine

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