Heir to the Empire (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, Book 1) – Timothy Zahn

On his status board, a section of the Chimaera’s shield schematic went red. “Get that starboard shield back up,” he ordered, giving the sky in that direction a quick scan. There were half a dozen warships out there, all of them firing like mad, with a battle station in backstop position behind them.
If their sensors showed that the Chimaera’s starboard shields were starting to go—
“Starboard turbolasers: focus all fire on the Assault Frigate at thirty-two mark forty,” Thrawn spoke up calmly. “Concentrate on the starboard side of the ship only.”

The book is part of the Star Wars expanded universe and takes place after the Emperor and Darth Vader are defeated. Five years have passed since the Alliance destroyed the Death Star and killed the Emperor and Darth Vader. Han Solo and Leia Organa are now married with twins coming and Luke Skywalker is starting the new Jedi Order.

Under those premises, the author, Timothy Zahn, creates a new antagonist, Grand Admiral Thrawn, a military genious and great psychologist, leader of the reminding of the Empire’s fleet.

What is impressive of the plot and the narrative is that Zahn doesn’t rely on old cliches, but creates new personages. The plot is logical and tight, without the fantastic and illogical actions happening in the films. The new personages are solid, deep, credible and the reader is interested in their fate and actions. Their reasoning is sound and you, as a reader, would consider the same actions given their circumstances. There is little hocus-pocus, due to the Force. Logic and work are more important.

Admiral Thrawn, a brilliant mind, but on the wrong side.

Timothy Zahn credibly starts the plot. If you are an Admiral, in command of several fleets and planets, why would you surrender over some rebels in shambles, badly organised and with little resources?

The reader then follows the events and actions happening in the universe, which revolve around the plans of Admiral Thrawn to increase his power and weaken the Alliance. The Admiral has no other power than his mind and his keen understanding of things. As he notices as some point: ” When you understand a species’ art, you understand that species. ” Several other gems of wisdom are voiced by him.

However, Thrawn is not the only memorable character. Mara Jade, the strong and complex character with a secret past; Talon Karrde, the smuggler; Joruus C’baoth, the Dark Jedi clone; the Noghri, the skilled, but honorable assassins and others, they are all unforgettable.

The story sticks for serious readers because it involves no magic; it is all a battle of the minds, with the Force, the battleships, the armies, just tools to achieve an objective, not game-changers. The real change is made by the actions of people. This is the message of the author throughout the book.

A great book for the Star Wars fans.

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