Thrawn Trilogy Retrospective: Heir to the Empire Chapters 9-11

Welcome back for another installment of the Thrawn Trilogy retrospective! We ended last time with our heroes escaping the Noghri and Leia being sent back to Bimmisaari. In this episode the Imperials launch another attack, and Luke visits Dagobah. Let’s get on with the show, shall we?


The Imperial assault on Bpfassh

First I would like to lodge a formal complain to Timothy Zahn for using another crazy planet that starts with a B. This time it’s Bpfassh. I know I’m to mess up this spelling, so I apologize in advance. The Imperials are launching a three-pronged attack and using C’baoth to coordinate the attacks. Pellaeon realizes it’s not only a test of C’baoth’s battle meditation, but also his ability to take orders. While watching the battle, he reluctantly admits how effective C’baoth is. He doesn’t want to think that the Emperor was controlling the Battle of Endor, but now he’s not so sure.

I don’t really like the idea of someone controlling a battle. Battle meditation is a different story–I can understand multiple Force users connecting with each other, but one person controlling others? Meh.

The attack is successful. Next step is to get some mole miners, which they can find in the Athega system on a planet called Nkllon. But C’baoth isn’t having any of that. He wants to know when he’s going to get Leia and her Jedi twins. Don’t worry, C’baoth–they’re on it. Kind of.

Mara Jade

Mara Jade in the outfit she doesn’t really wear in the trilogy but for some reason this is how she was drawn in the comics so it’s become her default outfit

The Wild Karrde just so happens to be nearby, and Karrde and Mara are watching the battle. They’re both confused as to why Thrawn would use a hit-and-fade maneuver with Star Destroyers. Karrde tells Mara they’re canceling the delivery because the New Republic is about to show up and do damage control. Mara takes this very badly; she says that they promised to make the delivery. But Karrde is insistent, and she goes along with him. She wonders if Skywalker might be coming along with the New Republic ships, but tells herself, “Not yet. But soon. Very, very soon.” This is our first Mara POV scene of the book, and it leaves the reader wanting to know more about her.

Next we head back to the New Republic, where Luke is training Leia on her new lightsaber. It’s so cute. Han breaks up the party to tell them about the Imperial attack on “Some place called Bpfassh and two unpronounceable ones.” That little bit of lampshading always makes me laugh. Han is going with Rogue Squadron (yay!) to help out, and of course Leia needs to go along. But Luke isn’t on this mission–the Bpfasshi don’t like Jedi. Something about one of their Jedi going dark during the Clone Wars, and one making it all the way to Dagobah before he was caught. This was about 30 or 35 years ago according to Leia. More timeline wonkiness! Luke is worried about not being able to watch over Leia, but Han reassures him that she’ll be fine. She can’t always have Big Brother watching over her. Luke says that they’ve never figured out which one is older, which is why I think my head canon prior to Revenge of the Sith was that Leia was actually older.

Alone again, Luke still worries about teaching Leia to use the Force. He fights against a training remote for 20 minutes without realizing how much time has gone by. That hasn’t happened to him except for when he’s meditating. He decides the Force is telling him to go to Dagobah.

Han and Leia on the mission to Bpfassh

Han and Leia on the mission to Bpfassh

In Chapter 12, Wedge! and Rogue Squadron! are with Leia on the mission to that planet I can’t spell. The wonder why the Imperials struck in those three specific places. Could they be coordinating a new communications system? Could it be a Dark Jedi? Wedge mentions the name of some Jedi Master who’s been seen on Jomark, so we know the Imperial rumor is working, at least. They’re just about to leave when–ack!–the Noghri show up.

They’ve learned, though, and use a fake Millennium Falcon to try to lure them into a trap. Leia can’t feel Chewie on board, though, and realizes what’s going on. Yay for Leia’s new Jedi powers! They formulate a plan to disable the ship, and Han uses Leia’s lightsaber to do so.

Allow me to take a moment to wonder why the hell Han is using her lightsaber? I mean, I understand that he’s protective and all, but she’s the one who was able to tell Chewie wasn’t aboard. And isn’t he the one who wants her to learn to be a Jedi? Only when it’s convenient, I guess. But whatever. I digress. At least he manages to disable the ship and send a distress signal to Rogue Squadron.

Back on Coruscant, they’re a bit on edge about another attempted kidnapping. Han suggests that Leia find some place to hole up, and they’ll use encryption so she can stay in touch with Coruscant. But they can’t use one of theirs, since there’s a leak in the Palace. Leia doesn’t like this plan at all, but Han guilt trips her into going along with the plan. Again, boo Han. They decide to pay a visit to Lando on Nkllon, to see if he knows a slicer who can help them. (Too bad they don’t know Ghent yet.)

Luke arrives on Dagobah, near the Dark Side Cave

Luke arrives on Dagobah, near the Dark Side Cave

Chapter 11 starts with Luke and Artoo landing on Dagobah. There’s a lot of nostalgia for The Empire Strikes Back, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing at this point in the Expanded Universe. But it does start hitting you over the head after awhile. Apparently Luke hasn’t been back there since Yoda died.

Artoo insists on coming with him, which is kind of funny after seeing The Clone Wars Lost Missions episodes with Yoda. Artoo is sick of those darn Jedi leaving him alone on crazy planets.

Again I’m wondering if this was retconned by something. He was hoping that there might be some kind of records in Yoda’s hut about Jedi training, but it’s been overgrown completely. (In retrospect, this is a good way to sidestep all that prequel knowledge we didn’t know about yet.)

On the way back to the ship, which just so happens to be right near the Dark Side Cave, Artoo says he’s found something electronic. Of course, it’s in the cave. Luke goes to find out what it is, telling himself that he’s beat this test and won’t succumb to fear anymore. Then he has a vision of the Sail Barge Assault at Jabba’s Palace, but this time something is different. A young woman on the sail barge snatches the lightsaber from midair, damning Luke and his friends to death. I WONDER WHO SHE COULD BE.

(Sidenote: Good on Zahn for the misdirect, here, and making you think she had something to do with Jabba, not the Emperor.)

Clearing his head, Luke finds the electronic device, but can’t figure out what it is. Artoo suggests that Lando might know, because Lando knows everything. (Later on, Luke would probably go ask Karrde.)

Looks like there’s about to be a party in the Athega system! Stay tuned for the fireworks!


2 thoughts on “Thrawn Trilogy Retrospective: Heir to the Empire Chapters 9-11

  1. For some reason I've forgotten, every time I see Bpfashh, I read it as 'Bucks Fizz'. Makes the names easier, at least.

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