Heir to the Empire
© 1991 Timothy Zahn
A few weeks ago I decided to read the Thrawn trilogy in full. Set in the Star Wars expanded universe five years after Return of the Jedi, it seemed an apt introduction to the post-trilogies universe. Although I am not a stranger to Star Wars fiction, the majority of my reading — except for this book, I think — has been set before the original trilogy. I haven’t sampled any of the vast post-ROTJ offerings for the same reason I was wary about starting Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels and for the same reason I am finding it difficult to get back into post-Nemesis Trek literature: people have been writing these novels long enough for the stories to be completely unrecognizable to the new reader, and I would rather not immerse myself in a pool of stories if I can’t swim.
But, the Thrawn trilogy has a background not too unlike the movies. Five years have passed and the Rebellion has formed a provisional “New Republic” which still fights the Imperial remnant recently strengthened as it rallies around Grand Admiral Thrawn, a mysterious and devious imperial commander — but it’s still the Star Wars I know. The title is ambiguous as to who the empire’s heir is: is it the fledging New Republic, still mostly ruled by the military leadership of the Rebellion, or is it the new face of the Empire — Grand Admiral Thrawn? This opening story sees Princess Leia, now expecting “Jedi twins”, attempt to rally support for the Republic while Han Solo tries to convince smugglers that the Republic welcomes their shipping. Naturally, neither of their missions go perfectly and the plot soon involves space battle, multiple attempts on the heroes’ lives or general well-being, Lando Calrissian, and several new characters who will play important parts in the story to come.
Zahn delivers a prime Star Wars novel with elements of everything that made the movies enjoyable while making believable modifications to the now-late ROTJ universe.