While I’m a big fan of the new canon, I also love (some of) the books and characters that are part of the Legends timeline. When the Legends reboot was announced, I was sad not because those stories were coming to an end, but because I’d miss the characters I’d grown to know and love. That was why I was so excited when it was announced at Celebration London that Grand Admiral Thrawn would be the new villain in Season Three of Star Wars Rebels. Not only that, but Timothy Zahn would be writing a book about Thrawn’s rise to power in the Empire.
Thrawn‘s release date has come and gone, as well as the ThrawnCast podcast, in which we revisited the Thrawn Trilogy. Although Thrawn dies at the end of that trilogy (spoilers!), his influence and appearances in Legends do not end with The Last Command. If you’re interested in reading more about Thrawn, but aren’t sure where to start, I present a roadmap to Thrawn’s appearances in Legends. (This also serves as a roadmap to other Zahn books and stories, because pretty much everything he wrote had Thrawn’s fingerprints on it!)
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!