We start our tale, as we always do, on an Imperial Star Destroyer. Pellaeon, in command of the Chimaera under Grand Admiral Thrawn, is preparing to coordinate an assault on Myrkr. Specifically, coordinating an assault on Talon Karrde’s former base. Thrawn is certain Karrde crossed them by not handing over Luke Skywalker, and he isn’t having any of that.
Because Karrde is smart, he’s already abandoned his base, and Thrawn, of course, knows that. Because he knows everything, apparently. But he still wants to attack Karrde’s base, both to give the ground crews much-needed combat practice, but also to see if any of Karrde’s contacts in Hyllyard City attempt to get ahold of Karrde and, in turn, lead the Empire to his new base of operations.
Dark Force Rising was published in June 1992, an entire year after Heir to the Empire and a mere month before I first saw the Star Wars Trilogy in its entirety. As soon as I finished HttE I rushed to the bookstore and purchased my very own copy of the new Star Wars books. I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to wait a year to find out what happened next. (I wasn’t so lucky when it came to The Last Command, but that’s another story.) DFR might even have been the first piece of Star Wars merchandise I purchased all by myself, even before getting VHS copies of the films. (While HttE originally belonged to my father, it soon “magically” made its way onto my bookshelf.) And thus my status as a SWEU follower first and foremost was solidified early on in my fandom.
DFR is my least favorite book of the series, and the installment I’m least familiar with. I’ve read HttE more times, and I’ve skimmed TLC more times than I can count because of all the Luke and Mara stuff. But there are parts of DFR I really, really love. Garm bel Iblis is a great character, and while 11-year-old Nanci didn’t go quite so far as to ship him with Mon Mothma, 34-year-old Nanci totally picks up on that implication (and kind of wants to write a tragic fanfiction about them). I love that Mara Jade is willing to drop everything and ask for help from Luke kriffing Skywalker, the man she’s sworn to kill, in order to rescue Talon Karrde. I love Leia Organa Solo being the badass Lady Vader on Honoghr. And I love that by the end of this book, Luke is absolutely despondent at the idea of losing Mara, so much so that Han picks up on it. (Like I said before, Han Solo was the first L/M shipper.)
There’s not much else I can tell you about the book. I remember the basic plot beats, and being really interested in the Katana fleet mystery, but I can’t recall much more than that. Other than I liked it a lot and waiting several months to read TLC was absolute torture.
I’m really looking forward to revisiting DFR and seeing what I remember and the parts I’d completely forgotten. I hope you’ll enjoy the ride!
My re-read of Heir to the Empire has come to a close, putting me 1/3 of the way done with my Thrawn Trilogy Retrospective. It’s been a hell of a ride. Let’s discuss further, shall we?
The last time I read Heir was in 2011, when the 20th Anniversary Edition was released, so I’m not as far removed from this book as I am the others in the trilogy. Still, it was fun to revisit the novel that sparked my love of the Expanded Universe and solidified me as a Star Wars fan, and not just someone who saw the movies once or twice and enjoyed them.
The bad part about having finished the Hyllyard City scenes is that the Hyllyard City scenes are finished. No more Luke and Mara. Sad face.
Time for another confession. I really don’t care for the end of Heir to the Empire. The battle of Sluis Van, even though it features Wedge being awesome, seems very tacked on. And it’s very convenient that Luke, Han, Lando, and Wedge all manage to wind up there. Maybe that’s just my bias coming through, because I’ve been so focused on Luke and Mara and Karrde over the past several chapters. I know that Thrawn’s been preoccupied with Sluis Van and there’s still a lot of mystery over what the plan entails. Still, it does seems like a bit of a letdown after the book moves off Myrkr.
Which is exactly where Chapter 00 begins. Karrde is amazed that one man, without the Force, managed to defeat so many stormtroopers. Get used to it, Karrde my dear. We learn that Lando needs medical attention, and that Aves was close to shooting him for his supposed betrayal, but he’ll be okay.
We’re nearing the end of the retrospective with only 6 chapters and 2 posts to go. In our last installment Leia left Kashyyyk and Luke learned about Mara’s past as the Emperor’s Hand. They’re running out of forest–what happens next? Onward!
Chapter 27 begins with the Chimaera testing cloaking shields, and by golly, they work. Pellaeon is worried about sending ships into enemy territory without communications. Thrawn says that’s how cloaking shields work–nothing gets in, nothing gets out. I like this bit of scientific world-building, as it keeps the Empire from getting overpowered. Pellaeon thinks they should use C’baoth for this operation, but Thrawn says all they need is careful timing. They can’t risk using C’baoth too much or too often, as they might grow dependent on him. Once C’baoth has Leia and her twins, his jaunts out with the fleet will just be momentary distractions for him. The test of the cloaking shield works…I guess? Nothing happens to it, but Thrawn is pleased and says the Sluis Van shipyards are theirs. Okay then.
When we last left our heroes (because Mara is a hero whether she knows it yet or not), Luke and Mara had just started trekking across the Myrkr forest. Let’s find out what’s going back at the base, shall we?
Chapter 24 starts with Karrde returning to Han and Lando and apologizing for rushing out so quickly. He’s always the consummate host. Han isn’t impressed, and asks if Karrde is working directly with the Empire now. (Next time you’ll know not to leave Ghent in charge of controversial guests, won’t you, Karrde?) Karrde reassures Han that he doesn’t want to work for either side, and explains that the Imperials have been harvesting ysalamiri for weeks. Han isn’t pleased by this and threatens to leave, but Karrde convinces him it won’t be safe with the Chimaera in orbit.
In our last installment, Talon Karrde and his crew picked up Luke Skywalker and is holding him on Myrkr against his will. And Han and Lando are on the way. The chapters are getting really long now, and so are the recaps! Here we go!
Talon Karrde’s Myrkr base
Oh phew, Chapter 21 starts and we’re back to Karrde and Mara! What can I say–I’m predictable. Karrde tells Mara her that Han Solo and Lando Calrissian are on their way to Myrkr, which obviously has negative implications on the current “kidnapping Luke Skywalker” scenario. Mara tells Karrde he has no obligation to speak to them, but Karrde informs her that his associates debts are his own, and she should know that by now. She has a horrible thought, and asks if he’s going to give them Skywalker. Karrde seems disinterested in the matter, but she can sense the truth: he wants more than anything to know why she hates Skywalker. (Because he loves information more than anything!) She refuses to say why she hates him; they bicker some more about why Han is there and what to do with Skywalker.
In our last installment, we left Luke drifting in hyperspace. Let’s see if he can find his way out of this mess–or, rather, if a Force-sensitive former assassin and current smuggler can get him out of his mess. Shall we?
The Wild Karrde and Luke’s X-wing
Artoo wakes up Luke to inform him a ship is approaching–a mid-sized Corellian bulk freighter. The freighter hails him and the lady on the comm identifies the ship as the Wild Karrde, and asks if he needs assistance. Luke says yes, I surely do, can you tow my X-wing too? Karrde is very generous and offers to do so for a small fee. Luke is suspicious about how the ship happened to come upon him, but he decides to take a chance and just be alert. I mean, he doesn’t really have much of a choice. Once he gets on the ship he tries to sense the crew aboard, but finds the aft section dark. He passes it off as lingering effects of the hibernation. Bad move, Luke! Bad move.
The Noghri, sent to capture Leia
When we last left off, our heroes had come together on Nkllon and the Empire was plotting to capture Luke Skywalker. In today’s installment, Luke proves he’s not one to go down without a fight.
Chapter 15 starts with leaving Nkllon without incident (surprisingly) and everyone going their separate ways: Leia and Chewie to Kashyyyk on the Lady Luck; Han, Lando, and Threepio to fly around on the Millennium Falcon; and Luke and Artoo to Jomark in his X-wing. Han is understandably worried about leaving Leia, but Lando assures him everything will be okay. The Wookiees will take good care of her. They decide to go visit Talon Karrde, as Lando has a contact who can get in touch with him, and Han wants to propose a business deal to him.
In the last installment of the Thrawn Trilogy retrospective, the Empire attacked Bpfassh, there was another kidnapping attempt on Leia, Luke had a vision of Mara Jade at the sail barge assault, and Mara Jade was thirsting for Luke Skywalker’s blood. Let’s get on with the show as everyone congregates on Nkllon.
A shieldship escorts the Millennium Falcon to Nkllon
Chapter 12 starts with Han and Leia arriving in the Athega system, right off the bat we get a rather annoying callback to their arrival on Cloud City. I guess I can give it a pass because Leia lampshades the reference and, again, first post-RotJ book and all that. Because Nkllon is so close to the sun, all the space traffic need to be escorted in with shield ships. Normally they’d slave ships together and do a quick hyperspace jump, but the Falcon doesn’t have a slave circuit, of course, so they have to take a 10 hour trip with the sublights. There’s some tension in the air as the shield ship says they’re waiting around for ship that also doesn’t have slave circuits, but it’s just Luke. What a coincidence! Han worries it’s another trap, and asks Leia to sense Luke on the other ship. She says she’s almost positive it’s him.