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Star Wars #1 Heir to the Empire
Timothy Zahn 9
years after ANH

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This is the first book of a series of three which show the rise and fall of  Grand Admiral Thrawn of the Empire, and the spread of the New Republic throughout the galaxy...


As with many of the Star Wars fiction novels, this series deals with the state of the galaxy after the destruction of the second Death Star. Though the remnants of the Imperial Starfleet has been driven to a distant corner of the galaxy, their threat is far from over. The galaxy seems to be under control, with the New Republic in power at Coruscant, but even there political turmoil overshadows more pressing matters. Far from Coruscant, the last of the Emperor's Grand Admirals has taken charge of the Imperial starfleet, and is ready to take on the fragile might of the New Republic.

For the old and faithful fans, the presence of the likes of Han Solo, Leia, Luke, Chewy and the whole lot feels good. But it's not a book about them. This is a book about the New Republic and it's struggle against their strongest opponent since Darth Vader and the Emperor: Grand Admiral Thrawn. With two vital discoveries, and mindboggling military and tactical prowess, Thrawn is in as good a position to wipe out the New Republic as the Empire was in the days of the Emperor himself. But not as long as our good friends are around...

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Read this book not for the characters you loved so much in the movies; but for the new characters that Zahn introduces us to. The Grand Admiral Thrawn is probably the best villain in the expanded universe; with his turn of phrase, military and tactical genius. Another intriguing character is Mara Jade, who's past is a shadow... and future is even darker. Mara Jade is a smuggler with an intriguing past; and with abilities in the force. And then there is Talon Karrde, the solo-like smuggler with a conscience. And the mad, cloned Jedi, Joruus C'boath; who is determined to train a new Dark Jedi. The funny thing about this book is we begin to appreicate these new characters more than the ones we've known for so long.

In a sense, Heir to the Empire is like Episode I: The Phantom Menace. I said, only in a sense; and that is that it merely introduces the story, introduces the characters, and puts each piece in its place; and leaves you with a sense of impending doom... or freedom. Yet, on it's own, as in Episode I, it does not tell much of a story. It's beauty lies in the introduction of the characters; and what they could contribute to the galaxy we know so well.

All I can say against this book is that it has not used the 'good old' characters very well. Solo is not as sarcastic (or maybe a bit over-sarcastic) than we expect him to be. C3P0 and R2D2 are not funny. Luke and Leia whine a bit too much. But yet, the books turns out quite good; in the tradition of Star Wars.

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