14 October 2012

Not the Droids You're Looking For: A Review of the Thrawn Star Wars Trilogy, Timothy Zhan

Unless you count my brother's The Empire Strikes Back's pop-up book he got from Santa when he was 7 and I 9 I have not read any type of Star Wars book. This little fact has slowly over the years been bothering me and thus in June I made a conscience life-altering decision to become a more rounded Star Wars fan. Please note that I used the word fan not fanatic. While the idea of dressing up my family in bounty hunter outfitters (Bossk, IG-88 and Boba Fett) for Halloween may be my most ultimate idea ever this is really just a dream and not an active item on my to-do list. I am okay being consider a geek. I am not okay with being viewed as a threat to my neighbourhood.


The Star Wars book universe is immense.   Therefore rather than blindly grabbing the first book with a wookie on it, I decided to do some research. It didn't take too much effort to find what I was looking for.  

So you've seen the Holy Trilogy so many times you can recite it from memory. You have the soundtracks on infinite loop on your MP3 player. But have you read the best Star Wars books and graphic novels? Below we've narrowed down the Star Wars books to the ten that are absolute must-reads for fans of the saga.   If you’re a Star Wars fan who hasn't read the Thrawn trilogy, we feel sorry for you. Heir to the EmpireDark Force Rising, and The Last Command launched the entire Star Wars Expanded Universe book series and are responsible for the resurgence of Star Wars in the 90s. This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Heir to the Empire, so it’s a perfect time to start.

Before I go full Star Wars on you I am assuming you have some working knowledge of the franchise. I have only met one person who has never watched the films. Because this person happens to be my darling sister-in-law I have let this huge error in her ways pass.  Once in awhile I sneak little glances her way to see if she is living fine outside the world of Star Wars and miraculously she is okay. I've decided she closet drinks, it is the only explanation of how anyone can avoid all the ways of the Force.   

The review of The Thrawn trilogy is dependent on how you view yourself; a fan or a fanatic. As a fan, reading this trilogy is a fun, little snippet into what may happen to the New Republic and the Empire after the destruction of the second Death Star. I really enjoyed jumping into this time-frame. To think that all would be fine once the Battle of Endor is a child's vision. Zahn's books matures the series bringing in more complex, adult problems to a very idolized film world. Ackbar, Mon Mothma and in turn Leia all have political depth to them making them more interesting to follow. Internal power struggles distract the Republic from properly governing the worlds now under their domain.  

No discussion of Star Wars would be complete without the Empire. Zahn does not disappoint. Allowing the reader to understand the motivations and problems facing the Empire and more importantly presenting it as a political dynasty rather than a singular evil entity was fascinating. Above all, Zahn's biggest accomplishment in these books was Grand Admiral Thrawn. I love bad guys. It was so satisfying to finally read a new character within the Star Wars universe who could have easily been a part of the original three films without having any ties to Darth Vader.

If you are simply a reader interested in new things, these books are okay. If you are looking for literature, move along, these aren't the droids you're looking for.  However if you are a fanatic who happens to have Han and Leia action figures in their original bubble cases stored in your china cabinet (this is my entire retirement plan) then these books are for you. Honestly, I have no idea how I feel about these books. Yes, I like the idea of them but because of the weak (extremely so) writing cannot decide if  the  Star Wars universe works beyond the genre of film. My instinct is telling me they do.  What is needed is a better writer who is up for the challenge. I wonder what Connie Willis is up to nowadays?