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on 15 October 1999
Firstly, for any person who has never read a Star Wars book in their life before, this is quite simply the finest place to start. Timothy Zahn's bestselling novel brings you back into the Star Wars Universe with a jolt out of your 'mottled hyperspace' of life with a jolt you'll remeber for the rest of your life. As soon as familiar faces appear in the mind's eye, you know that 'Heir' is going somewhere very exciting indeed. Just the thought of Wedge Antilies trying to look inconspicuous in a shady corner of the Mos Eisley Cantina tells your that your in good hands. New characters are placed before our eyes subteley; Talon Karrde, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Captain Palleon and Mara Jade, to name but a few, and are just as deep and envolving as our old favourites from episodes 4,5 & 6. Heres the bad news... finish this spectacular trilogy and you'll soon find that, although others are superb in their own way, there aren't many other Star Wars trilogy's, or indeed single or double episodes, that will grab you as much as the sheer depth and calculated genius that Zahn's have graced us with. But that's not such a bad thing really, is it?
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on 24 August 2006
This book kick-started the star wars expanded universe novels, and was one of many that shot straight to the new york times bestselling lists. The story is is quite gripping and makes you want to read further and further, until you realise that the book is finshed!! ( and its only been one day since u purchased the book!)

Tim Zahn is at the top of his game here, he manages to descibes locations and characters exactly as we know them from the movies and have come to love. Furthermore a number of legendary and pivotal characters are introduced that make appearences in later novels such as , mara jade, talon karde, captain palleon, the noghri species etc. And Not to mention Grand admiral Thrawn a Villain worthy of being put in the league of the emperor or darth vader themselves.

Overall, this is a great way to start of, if you are new to these novels and if you are not, then what have you been waiting for?!? BUY AND READ THIS BOOK!!
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on 11 October 2010
So I wanted to try another Star Wars novel after reading and enjoying Death Troopers last year. The question was - where to start? There are plenty of Star Wars Expanded Universe books out there, with more and more being released at present. However, I wanted something that would really only need me to have watched the films, at which point I stumbled across the Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn. It's set 5 years after the end of the original trilogy and picks up with the characters I know from the films - all leading to me deciding that it was the way to go. Of course, while looking around I discovered that it's a series of Star Wars books that is rated very highly indeed. So, off I went to see what Heir to the Empire held in store...

As mentioned, I'm not someone that is overly familiar with the Star Wars universe outside the main films, so before starting Heir to the Empire I did question whether or not I'd be lost with any additional things that had been raised within the setting since the films. Fortunately this is one of the strong points about Heir to the Empire - it's perfect for EU virgins like myself!

Picking up events 5 years after the original trilogy ended we join Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo & Chewbacca as they are part of the New Republic and trying to build upon the chaos that was thrown up when the Empire was defeated. Living on Coruscant they are trying to bring in more planets to the New Republic to strengthen it and make it a democratic government for the member planets. Luke is still learning more as a Jedi and is now teaching Leia to build her powers and control over the Force and Han and Leia are married with Leia pregnant expecting twins, Leia is doing her part as a senator for the New Republic while Han is trying to build links with smugglers to help out with legit cargo hauls. Suffice to say that events have carried on nicely from the film in a totally believable way with each of the main characters using their strengths to help build the New Republic.

However, a new enemy has arrived to take control of the old Imperial fleet - Grand Admiral Trawn. He's the last of the Empires high ranking military people and is a genius in what he does, able to think outside the box and knows his enemies weaknesses. He resides on the Imperial Star Destroyer Chimaera, a ship under the command of Captain Pallaeon, and directs the fleet from there in an effort to rebuild the Empire to its former glory and defeat the New Republic. Along the way he makes kidnap attempts on Leia and Luke, and also stumbles across an old Jedi by the name of Joruus C'Baoth who is not quite what meets the eye.

Apart from the above mentioned new characters we also have some others thrown into the mix, namely Talon Karrde and Mara Jade. Karrde is a big time smuggler, one of the biggest still operating while Jade is his subordinate, and one with an interesting past that is slowly revealed throughout the story. Thrawn is the main bad guy though, but he's one that is a refreshing change from what I've seen in the films and has a much more controlled manner, able to think about the long term goals and carry them out with efficiency. Pallaeon is there more for us to learn more of Thrawn and show how the old ways are not always still used, but he does do the job very well.

While the story is fairly straight forward, there are some very interesting new additions to the universe. The two most important of these are the Emperor's store that is located on a hidden away planet and the other is the revelation of the ysalamiri, a species native to the planet where Karrde is based and one that has a very unique and spectacular ability - their presence nullifies the Force, completely. Both these play a large role in the story and help add a new depth to the universe, allowing Zahn to flex his creative muscles in many ways.

Suffice to say that if you're a fan of the original trilogy then this is by far the best way to go to explore what happened after the films. It's got a great story and an interesting antagonist, while Luke, Leia and Han all keep the continuity from the films very nicely. I'm very eager to start on the second of this series and do so looking forward to see where the story takes us. All in all I was very impressed and thoroughly pleased to find a Star Wars story worthy of the first trilogy, not like those prequels Lucas insisted on releasing - this would have been a much better direction to go.
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on 26 February 2013
This was my first dip into the Expanded Universe and, while I've read a number of the books since, this is very much the standard that the others have to match. For those who are not well versed in the Expanded Universe, this book catches up with the heroes post Return of the Jedi, albeit several years past the events of the movie, and also introduces characters that will be an integral part of the Universe in future books.
Zahn's writing style is easy to digest, and his ability to build on the characters only glimpsed in the movies and the worlds we once visited wants you leaving more. It is easy to understand why the Thrawn trilogy is held in such high regards by fans. This certainly isn't one for just hardcore fans, if you enjoy reading sci-fi and have a working knowledge of Star Wars, and in particular the original trilogy (eps IV to VI) then I recommend this book.
One final thing to note. With Disney's recent acquisition of the Star Wars brand and the announcement of another movie to follow the continuity of Return of the Jedi, while it doesn't necessarily mean that they will follow the canon of the Expanded Universe, this book (and the trilogy as a whole) will help get you back in the Star Wars groove, and may even help give some context to any characters they may or may not use in the films.
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on 8 April 2013
If I was asked to name an author of Star Wars books, I'm sure the only one I would remember would be Timothy Zahn. And it is because of "Heir to the Empire".

This trilogy is well remembered due to it's excellence.

There is a great mix of the old characters & the new. These are well written & gripping.

If you have ever considered reading a Star Wars novel, I would recommend that you do it & that this trilogy is wear you start.
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on 18 January 1999
Thrawn is an evil genuis who wishes to restore the empire in his image.His captain,Palleon is an equally ruthless man and a very good destroyer captain. Thrawn, who is one of the 11 Imperial grand admirals can predict to the letter what his opponents will do. It is important to note that Thrawn is an alien and to anyone who know of the Empire's anti-alien policy, you must assume that he is outstanding in order to assume his position as an Imperial Grand Admiral. He does this by studying their species artwork. His overall strategy is to destroy the rebel shipping and capture rebel ships to use in the small Imperial navy. Another standard imperial tool is terror. He seeks the help of a mad jedi master to help communicate between ships and increase coordination during shielded attacks. My favorite character in this book is Mara Jade, a rougish woman similar to Han. If you are to buy this book, I recommend that you buy the other books in the triology because otherwise you will not be able to survive the suspense.
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on 22 January 2012
The book takes place five years after the events of Return of the Jedi. Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the Emperor's finest commanders, takes charge of what remains of the Imperial forces in order to lead an attack against the New Republic.

The great aspect of this book is it introduces some new characters that are every bit as well shaped as the ones we know from the films. Thrawn is a great character - a strategic and tactical mastermind and a charismatic villain to boot. His method is one of cold calculation rather than rage and emotion. Thrawn is the ideal fit for a military commander. Mara Jade and Talon Karrde are also strong additions to the roster.

We see the characters we know so well from the films and how they have moved on with their lives. It is reassuring for this Star Wars fan - a testament to Zahn's skill and knowledge of his source - to see them presented so well. Luke Skywalker is getting used to his role not as the last of the Jedi, but the first of a new generation. Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo married and are expecting twins. Han is all that we have come to expect - charming, living on his luck and a heart of gold.

The characterisation drives the story and, arguably, the Thrawn trilogy (alongside the Yuuzhan Vong war in the New Jedi Order series) presents the best material for a new Star Wars series of films/animated series. There is enough action in the book to satisfy those looking for adventure, though of course, the book sets the scene for events in the following two books.

The 20th Anniversary Edition contains notes from the author on the text. These are inserted in the side margins of the page. Whilst some are interesting, most are bits of trivia. I was ambivalent about most of these entries, but they are a nice touch.

If I was to nitpick, then I would have preferred that the author's notes be presented as footnotes; that way, the main text could go across more of the width of the page. If you stop to read all the notes in the side margins, there is a risk that you lose the flow of the narrative.

For Star Wars fans, this review is moot; you probably have a copy of this already. If you have not yet got round to getting a copy, then this is an essential purchase. For non-Star Wars fans, I recommend this as an ideal introduction to the Star Wars universe. The book takes what was great about the original trilogy - character, adventure and heart - and develops on them.
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on 28 December 1996
Timothy Zahn's books "Heir to the Empire", "Dark Force
Rising", and "The Last Command" are good books, don't get me
wrong. I just don't think they measure up to the Star Wars
mythos. Characterization is poor. All of the characters
sound exactly alike. Without the phrases "said Luke" or "Han
shouted", I wouldn't have been able to tell one guy from the
other. I found Han saying things that I just couldn't
imagine Harrison Ford saying, and it was the same way with
Luke, Leia, Lando, etc. Another thing that irked me was the
way the characters kept finishing each other's sentences.
After three books of this, one may become rather annoyed.
Some of the original characters are uninteresting as well.
While the plot was fast-paced and entertaining, the reader
doesn't get the full Star Wars experience. Zahn should have
paid more attention to characters and dialogue.
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on 7 June 1998
I bought this the moment I first saw it in hardcover. I was stunned and excited, wanting more the moment I turned the final page! "How can I stand to wait another year," I thought to myself. You must Realize that the year was 1991, and we hadn't heard anything from our favorite galaxy far, far away in 8 years! If you're reading it for the first time, let the books move you along at its own pace (didn't Master Yoda say something about patience?). I had to say "If you read any Star Wars novels...blah, blah, blah," because Zahn's final follow-up books begining with Spectre of the Past (I think that's the title), which is also amazing, and the Black Fleet Crisis should increase the pleasure of following our favorite heroes. Read some of Zahn's other works and you'll see that he is an excellent choice to write about the further adventures of Luke Skywalker.
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on 21 February 1998
I loved this book (and the entire trilogy)! The "Heir to the Empire" is the best SW novel I have read and one of the best sci-fi novels I have read in a long time. The characters (both old and new) are well-developed and interesting. Leia, Luke, and Han remained in character. I could hear the actors' voices saying their lines. I don't usually like the villians, but I made an exception in this case. I loved Mara Jade and her interaction with Luke was wonderful. Admiral Thawn was a wonderful adversary. As much as I hated him I also grudgingly respected him. The strategy match between the Alliance and Thawn was engaging. I like seeing competent bad guys. Sometimes the Imperials seem to have left their brain at home. This book is a worthwhile read whether you are a casual fan or a major fan. Also, check out some of Zahn's other books. The author has definite talent.
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