Star Wars: EU Read-Through “Dark Force Rising” by Timothy Zahn

dfr-zahnI have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more. Be sure to check the linked text there to see other posts in this series. Here, I look at Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn.

Dark Force Rising

Here we are at the midway point of the famed “Thrawn Trilogy.” Does it continue to hold up as well as the first, Heir to the Empire?

In the book, the primary thrust is Thrawn’s–and the Empire’s–search for new ships, which comes to be focused on the “Dark Force”–a mysterious, missing fleet of Dreadnoughts. As the race is on to find where these ships are, Princess Leia travels to the Noghri homeworld and discovers the great injustices that have been dealt to this alien people.

What Zahn perhaps does best of all is the introduction and fleshing out of numerous secondary characters like the Noghri, Senator Bel Iblis, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, and more. These characters each have intriguing backgrounds and are genuinely deeply important to the story. This is something I recall not happening in all the Star Wars books as secondary characters are often little more than window dressing for the main characters’ struggles. Here, however, readers are freely introduced to a wonderful cast of characters who have motivations, insights, and their own struggles to go along with those of the main characters like Luke, Han, and Leia.

The Noghri and their planet,  Honoghr, are the other central part of the plot, and Leia’s interactions there are both interesting and true to her character. Zahn did an excellent job setting up this world and its inhabitants as a stage for current and future conflict. Like Kashyyk in Heir to the Empire, Honoghr seems like a fleshed out world rather than a mere stage for events.

Thrawn in this book continues to be an interesting character, but his tactical genius seems to be slipping. The assumptions he made related to the Noghri ended up being mistaken, which is surprising given how much Zahn had previously emphasized his cultural intuition by means of studying the artworks of various peoples. However, this may not be a bad thing as it is clear Thrawn needs to have some weakness, and the most believable one is almost certainly that he would out-think himself.

The biggest problem in the book is, like the first, the rather large number of awfully “convenient” circumstances. Here, however, it is the existence of the “Dark Force”which suddenly everyone knows about and is interested in. Lando, Karrde, Thrawn, and others all have some knowledge about this fleet. Now this isn’t absolutely extraordinary, but what is extraordinary is that after all this time, more than one person just happens to show up who knows where the fleet is, just when the Empire is looking for new ships. It’s just a little too much.

The Good

+Good development of worlds
+Intriguing character development
+The Noghri are a complex, interesting species with great background
+Continued emphasis on secondary characters gives depth to the universe

The Bad

-A bit too convenient that everyone suddenly has inside information
-Thrawn doesn’t seem quite so much a genius as he did before (perhaps this will end up being a good thing)

Best Droid Moment

It’s kind of hard to think of one because there weren’t too many, but I did enjoy R2-D2’s attempt to fight alongside Luke.

Grade: A- “Another great installment by Zahn.”

Conclusion

Dark Force Rising isn’t as flawless as Heir to the Empire, but continued focus on secondary characters, great world-building, and fast-paced action still make it among the cream of the crop for Star Wars books.

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Reading through Star Wars: Expanded Universe– Here you can read other posts in this series (reviews of other EU books) and make suggestions about what I should include in my reviews.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

Star Wars: Expanded Universe- Initial Thoughts on “THE END OF THE WORLD”

sw-fotjIt’s been a little while since Disney announced the Star Wars Expanded Universe is officially unofficial and non-canon. Star Wars fandom is going nuts. I personally have a few thoughts on this overall.

The Expanded Universe has had some amazing moments, but it has also had some weak points (here’s looking at you, 90% of the books on the Yuuzhan Vong). My initial reaction to this news was to immediately horde Star Wars books from the EU because I wanted to be able to relive those memories again and again. But, when I looked back over the whole post-movie EU universe, I realized there weren’t really that many books I needed to grab. I had the major series I enjoyed, and I’d already gotten rid of the vast majority of the books I thought weren’t that great. Looking back, for the number of books there are in the EU, the quality has not been consistent.

Maybe, just maybe a reboot is something that is needed to get this show on the road and going strong for a long period of time.

That said, it will be impossible to try to forget or ignore the EU if and when I read the new novels that come out of the canonized book series. In particular, Mara Jade and Ben Skywalker have been some of my favorites, and of course the development of Boba Fett off and on was a major plus for me. I am not at all sure how I will be able to move beyond the sense of loss over having to pretend much of this history just never happened. To me, it may as well be a completely alternative universe at this point.

I think the biggest hurt for me was not being able to experience the now-cancelled “Sword of the Jedi” series. I was so looking forward to that after the “Fate of the Jedi” ended so exceptionally well (read my thoughts on that series at my other site). Realistically, I don’t see why Disney could not have at least allowed for the “Sword of the Jedi” trilogy to be written and tie off any number of loose ends that remain open. Of course, there would always be more loose ends, but those which appeared in “Apocalypse” are extremely important and, frankly, worth tying off. Maybe Disney will reconsider and allow for some closure here. If they did this most of my feelings of disappointment would dissolve.

Overall, then, I think that the ending remains a shock for me and it is something that I wish did not happen. I remain hopeful for the possibility of a trilogy somewhere to tie up the “Legends” universe at least a little bit, but I also tentatively am hopeful for the next iteration of Star Wars in the form of the newer novels.

What do you think of this development? What have been your favorite Star Wars books? Leave a comment and let me know!

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.