Thursday, January 5, 2012

Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy

If you've ever read a story that ended with 'Happily Ever After', have you wondered what really happened after that? Did everything work out for the characters? Or did it all fall apart?

As I watched the Star Wars series recently and the last frame rolled by, the same thought stuck me. If you are as big a Star Wars fan as I am you would realise that there was still a lot of work to be done. After all the only thing that had happened was the Emperor and Darth Vader were dead! As in any dictatorship, the real work of getting the country to work begins after the dictator is dead and this was a GALAXY. So I thought it would be great if we knew what happened next. Of course the same thought had crossed many people and the whole expanded Star Wars universe existed out there. But I just didn't know where to start. And that's when a random search on iPad introduced me to the Thrawn Trilogy.

As the dust settels on the demise of the Emperor in 'Return of the Jedi', the new Republic is faced with the onerous task of brining order into the galaxy and setting up a democratic system. Out on the fringes of the galaxy, however, the last few units of the Empire are being brought together by Grand Admiral Thrawn, an alien and the only non-human Grand Admiral. A brilliant military strategist, Thrawn's speciality is that he gleans information about his enemies from their art and culture and is usually spot on. Diametrically opposite from Darth Vader, Thrawn is cool, calculating, rewarding and a strategic thinker. Unlike Vader who ruled with fear and anger, Thrawn commands respect within his ranks with his brilliant strategies and willingness to accept mistakes. All this without the force as he is no Jedi!

On the 'good' side; Luke is the first in the new Jedi order while Han and Leia are expecting twins. Luke has started teaching Leia in the ways of the force and she knows that her twins are strong in its ways. Han is trying to get the 'neutral' smugglers on to the new Republic while Leia is exercising her diplomatic skills to set up the new government.

In all this add the new leader of the smuggler clan - Talon Karrde who does not know if he should side with the new Republic or stay neutral, a rouge maniacal Dark Jedi Joruus C'baoth who is hell bent on setting up a new Jedi order with Luke and Leia's twins, a confused Mara Jade who keeps hearing the Emperor's command to kill Luke and the assasin clans of Noghri and you have a fantastic story of what happens next. Of course our old friends R2D2, C3PO, Lando Clarissian and Chewbacca are there as always.

Timothy Zahn combines all these elements into a series deserving of high praise and a heartfelt Thank You for helping us to continue to live the saga. If you have any doubts whether you would feel the same love and exhilaration as the Star Wars series, then lay those doubts to rest and go pick up these books. A logical extension to the saga, the trilogy helps you live the love again but with new fantastic characters. If Vader fascinated us as kids because of his use of the mysterious force and his presence, Zahn's Thrawn appeals to us adults with his brilliant strategies, leadership and use of resources. Even though Thrawn is the villian of the piece, you are not sure if you want him to fail or succeed. And that's a testament to Zahn's writing.

Zahn resolutely takes forward the story of each of our favotite characters while at the same time introducing new elements that keep us riveted. Mara Jade wants to kill Luke but everytime she ends up helping him or taking his help. Will she kill Luke? What is her destiny? C'boath wants to set up a new Dark Jedi order to rule the galaxy and become the new Emperor and for that he wants Leia's twins. How close does he come to doing that and how is he vanquished? Talon Karrde is the new leader of the smuggler clan, or is he? And the deadly Noghri are an asset to any side in this war. Where will they end up - on the victor side or the vanquished? What is their secret?

If you love Star Wars and always wondered what happened after the Battle of Endor; I suggest you pick up these books immediately and go back to your childhood and get lost in the Jedi, the force, the X-Wings, the fights and the wonder hoping that you were one of these characters.

May the Force be with You!!

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