Monday, 3 August 2015

'Star Wars: Heir to The Empire' by Timothy Zahn (1991)

Synopsis: Heir to the Empire is the first novel in the Thrawn Trilogy and is a part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The series takes place roughly five years after the Battle of Endor. The Rebel Alliance, now called the New Republic, is ruling over most of the galaxy and has established its base on the city-planet of Coruscant. Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa are now doing important political and diplomatic work for the new government and are also married and expecting twins. Leia's work has so far left her with very little time for her Jedi training (of which she has had some thanks to her twin brother Luke Skywalker). As far as Luke is aware he's still the only Jedi Knight in the galaxy and is now beginning to worry about it. What kind of training has he missed out on since he only spent such a short amount of time with Obi-Wan and Yoda? And how should a Jedi spend his days? Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the New Republic, Grand Admiral Thrawn has spent the past few years quietly building up the Empire's strength. Thrawn is a tactical genius and was the only nonhuman to achieve the rank of Grand Admiral under the notably prejudiced Emperor Palpatine. With the aid of his second-in-command Captain Pellaeon and an insane clone of an old Jedi Master, Thrawn intends to reconquer the galaxy and bring it back under Imperial control. Thrawn then makes an attempt to kidnap Luke and Leia but the attempt fails and the pair of them are separated: Leia then ends up being pursued by bounty hunters while Luke ends up stranded in deep space. It's then that Luke is picked up by a suave smuggler called Talon Karrde and his second-in-command Mara Jade. Luke is then shocked to find that Mara has an intense, burning hatred of him for some reason...

I've been a huge fan of Star Wars ever since I was 12 years old but when it was announced that Disney had bought the franchise and would be making new films my interest in the saga was... awakened ;) To bide the time until Episode VII I thought I'd finally try reading some of the Star Wars EU books so I did a bit of googling and soon discovered that the big fan favourite of the many EU titles is Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy. But now that I've read Heir to the Empire I really can't help but wonder what all of the fuss is about. Of course I wasn't expecting this book to live up to the sheer magnificence of the original films but because it has so much hype I was expecting to be far more entertained by it than I was. Instead I was extremely disappointed. I found Zahn's prose decidedly mediocre and the story tremendously dull. There was none of the Jedi mysticism and rich spiritual themes that I've always felt a deep pull towards in the original films and there was an almost complete lack of the humour of the originals. But I think the biggest problem that I had with this book though were the characters. Although none of the original characters ever said or did anything that was completely and obviously out of character their "voices" still never felt quite right to me and they all came across as totally flat and lifeless. Luke, Leia, Han, Lando and even Chewie and the droids had absolutely none of the depth and charm of their film counterparts and the new characters in this book weren't all that much better.

I didn't think that this book was as bad as the Star Wars prequels as I do think that it had an intriguing premise and one or two interesting ideas, but overall I still found it extremely boring and overrated and I have no idea why so many fans seem to like it. I certainly don't feel the urge to seek out any more of the EU titles but then, maybe that's a good thing? It will definitely save me a considerable amount of money and time!

Rating: 1.5/5

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