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Dark Force Rising 
(Thrawn Trilogy Book Two)

By Timothy Zahn
9.5 years after ANH

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This is the second book in a trilogy by Timothy Zahn, continuing the interwoven storylines of a host of important Expanded Universe characters.


Dark Force Rising picks up immediately after the events of the trilogy's first book, Heir to the Empire. Grand Admiral Thrawn continues apace in his plotting to restore the rule of the Empire, the mad Jedi Joruus C'boath draws Luke into his web, Leia and Chewbacca travel to the Noghri home world in an effort to wrest the indentured assassins from Imperial servitude, Han and Lando traverse the galaxy in pursuit of evidence to clear Admiral Ackbar of conspiracy charges, the smuggler Talon Karde is forced to abandon his base and is now on the run from Imperial Forces, Mara Jade struggles with her conflicting loyalties, and all sides race to find and put into service the famed Katana Fleet .200 Dreadnaughts lost during the waning years of the Old Republic, once thought faded into myth, and now rumored to be found. To the winner of the race to recover these 200 capital ships, could go the spoils of the entire galaxy.


In much the same way that The Empire Strikes Back takes the universe established in Star Wars: A New Hope and enriches and deepens it, so too does Dark Force Rising expand and enrich from what was established in Heir to the Empire. All the plots and sub-plots weave and inter-weave, characters and events mingling in an exciting tapestry. Author Timothy Zahn achieves a wonderful balance of action and introspection, personal drama and political intrigue. The film characters mix seamlessly with Zahn's creations, and each "voice" rings true to what we've come to expect of their personalities and motivations. At the same time, characters are allowed to grow, and subtly change; Luke, Han, Leia, Lando, as well as Talon Karde, Mara Jade, and even some of the "bad guys".all of these characters have seen more, done more, learned more than when they started out, and in Zahn's renderings, the effects of what they've seen and learned are cleverly shown.

And speaking of "bad guys", Grand Admiral Thrawn is a fascinating invention: believable, brilliant, machiavellian, and in a strange way, sympathetic. And Thrawn's "right-hand", Captain Pellaeon, is likewise three-dimensional and humanely drawn. These are not cardboard cut-out evil-doers, but men who have perfectly logical, reasonable rationale for their actions. That those actions put them in opposition to "our heroes", in their eyes, does not necessarily make them wrong. They are just as loyal in their way to the Imperial cause, as Luke and Leia and Han are to the Rebellion. How much more suspenseful and involving to see both sides of the galactic struggle with equal realism.

If you only have time to "stick your toe in the water" of the Star Wars novels, and don't want to invest the time required to read everything, Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy is still your best bet. And Dark Force Rising is a marvelous continuation of what was begun in Heir to the Empire. No sophomore slump this, but a wonderfully engrossing book.