When George Lucas decided he needed to build fan fervor for his new trilogy, he tapped Hugo award-winning author Timothy Zahn to write a new Star Wars trilogy as a sequel to the original three movies.
The Last Command is the final novel in Timothy Zahn’s trilogy which sparked the many new novels out there featuring Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo, and their many compatriots. However, not one of those novels compares to Zahn’s trilogy.
Picking up where he left off in Star Wars: Dark Force Rising, the New Republic under the leadership of Leia Organa-Solo, Mon Mothma, Admiral Ackbar, and others is holding barely holding onto their current position of power in the galaxy against repeated attacks by the evil Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Meanwhile, Leia, Luke, and Leia’s newborn twins, Jacen and Jaina, are all prey for the dark Jedi, Joruus C’boath. C’Boath is actually a clone of the original Jedi and is prone to fits of absolute madness. Couple that with an uncanny ability to control the force, and there’s trouble ahead.
Luke, however, has a secret weapon on his side in Mara Jade – or does he? Once known as The Emperor’s Hand her mind has been planted with the command that she must kill Luke and admits as much to him, Leia, and Han. Still, she seemingly holds off knowing she needs their help. Luke doesn’t believe she will do it, and Han and Lei nervously go along with his faith in her when they embark on a mission to destroy the cloning cylinders allowing Thrawn to quickly man a newly discovered fleet of ships.
Han is also trying to enlist the help of a band of smugglers in their battle against Thrawn. Led by Talon Karrde, whom Mara Jade works for, these people who are used to working with both sides must decide what is in their best interests.
Grand Admiral Thrawn is the character that makes this novel so great. He is not just coldly evil, he is truly cool and calculating. Instead of an all-out assault on the smugglers, he prefers to plant seeds of doubt among them and manipulate them into not trusting each other. Reading the passages about him was very enjoyable, even though I was rooting for “our heroes” against him. His calmness and thought processes, even when things did not go exactly as planned, made him more interesting than someone whom we just know is “the bad guy”. A good villain is often hard to find, but Zahn did an amazing job here carving out a multi-dimensional leader of the remnants of the Imperial Forces.
Zahn did a terrific job with the characters I first met on the silver screen as well. I could almost hear Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher reciting their lines. Han Solo is a bit more subdued than in the past, I thought, probably due to his marriage to Leia and hints at “respectability”. However, he does seem to fit the character we first met, and the Wookie, Chewbacca, is still at his side.
The new characters Zahn has introduced mesh nicely with those we’ve known before. I didn’t mind following a completely different story – yet parallel to other events going on – involving the smugglers with all new characters in it because Zahn wrote them so well. New species such as the Noghri are interesting and do add quite a bit to the story as well.
Zahn keeps the pace of the story good as well and weaves an excellent tale of suspense through the story. One of the subjects has kept me on the edge of my seat through the first two novels. There is something known as Delta Source which is a leak of information from the Emperor’s Palace (now in the hands of the New Republic) to the Imperial Command. Zahn wrote it in such a way that at various times I was sure I knew who it was, from an official of the New Republic, Fey’lya to Leia’s aide Winter, to one of the droids possibly secretly reprogrammed by the Imperials at some point in the past. The resolution of this after the suspense woven through three novels is quite satisfying and not a let-down at all.
Anyone who wants to know about the further adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and many of the other characters we first met on the screen more than twenty-five years ago would do well by picking up this series of novels. This final in the series is quite fulfilling and not a let-down at all. There’s absolutely nothing I could find wrong with it and would recommend it to any science fiction fan.
Previous book in the series (link): Star Wars: Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn