Dark Force Rising

January 8, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

Dark Force RisingDark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn


I can see why Disney, et al. decided to drop the existing Extended Universe canon when they bought the rights to all the Star Wars material. It gives them the chance to create their own stories without having to wade through the existing EU to keep everything straight. It also prevents them from having to come up with new actors to play Luke, Leia, Han, and Lando, since most fans would expect Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy to be the basis for the next chapter in the saga. Because there’s no way the existing actors would be able to pass for their characters a short five years after the events of Return of the Jedi.

I like the dual meaning of the title of this book, Dark Force Rising. The story is about the race to find the Katana fleet, an Old Republic fleet of Dreadnought fighters also known as the Dark Force, so the title can refer to the rise of that fleet again. It could also refer to the old Imperial forces, led by Grand Admiral Thrawn, who now has the potential to wrest control of the galaxy back into his own hands. This novel is the second entry into a trilogy, and if The Empire Strikes Back taught us anything, it’s that the heroes face their biggest challenges here, and likely don’t accomplish as much as they had hoped. Along the way, though, is the usual amount of discovery and intrigue that one would expect from a Star Wars story (though there aren’t any “I am you father” bombshells to be found here).

If I have any complaints regarding this book, it’s how much time Zahn spends walking us through spaceships, hiding us while things happen someplace else, and showing us how Thrawn is always one small step behind our heroes. We get it — he’s crafty, smart, and intuitive, and he can anticipate what they’re going to do. Thrawn does have a slight misstep here, suggesting that he’s not as infallible as he seems, but there’s still some lingering suspicion that he might be Force sensitive like Mara Jade. I’m intrigued to see where the story goes from here, since Zahn has set up events just right to keep me intrigued.

What I like most about this series is how well Zahn integrates the Star Wars universe into an original story without making it feel like he’s just retelling the main saga. He introduces new characters, develops existing characters beyond what they were in the movie, and he adds new details to the universe through planets, species, and more. In short, Zahn understands what it means to tell a Star Wars story, and I can see why this trilogy is considered to be among the best of the expanded universe library.

Unfortunate Musical Connection: “New Day Rising” by Hüsker Dü.

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