The story itself was a bit underwhelming, but maybe I went into it with my expectations too high. The story is essentially a series of escspes, near-misses, and coincidental meet-ups that make the galaxy seem about as big as a shopping mall. If you don't get too hung up on those aspects, it's a very solid start to a trilogy (that I have not yet finished).
It introduces a few new characters to go along with our old friends, and it is these new characters that will really hold your interest and make up for the intolerably dull sections (i.e. long conversations between Luke and R2,).
The voice acting, however, is without equal. The voices of familiar characters sounds like Harrison and Billy D. going back and forth.
This is a popcorn movie type book. Not well written, completely unbelievable with too many plot holes to count and without intellectual substance. But it was still decent fun in a nostalgic kind of way. There is plenty of good and bad.
Han Solo, I don't need to say any more about this except the audiobook narrator NAILS his voice.
Lando Calrissian: see above
Great audio sound effects. Laser blasts, ship noises, Chewbacca growls, R2D2 chirps, C3PO voice. AMAZING audio production
Good bad guy.
It's STAR WARS.
Pretty fast paced. OK story line
Too many coincidences for plot convenience. Everybody seems to show up at the same place at the same time for random reasons. It's a HUGE galaxy. Makes no sense whatsoever.
Mara Jade: I HATED this character. Almost quit the book because of her. Suuuper annoying. Supposedly the "hand" of the former emperor but she acts like a petulant spoiled bratty teenager the entire book. The voice he gave her was like nails on a chalkboard. A book killer.
Lot of stupid fake politics thrown in. I never like simple plot convenient fake politics in sci/fi.
Nothing bad ever happens to the good guys. Always outnumbered but never in any danger. And you know it. Kind of boring. Please GRRM Martin it up please!
So, it's OK if you have low expectations and have fond memories of the Star Wars universe of your youth
the story never ends
I don’t even know where to start with my outright love for this book and Zahn’s writing. So many licensed books (and sequels) get things wrong. They’re out-of-character, uninventive, and a disrespect to the original story that inspired them. But this book gets it right. It develops familiar characters with dignity and gravity, and invents new, three-dimensional characters that carry a vast presence on the page.
We see Luke Skywalker with the same quiet, serious conviction that defined his arc in Return of the Jedi, but facing new fears as he questions his ability to be the Jedi his masters were, with no one to teach him but his own instincts and grounded morality. We see Han Solo, still as wry and witty as ever, but with the added sense of responsibility for not only his new wife but his unborn children. Leia holds her own, under attack by mysterious assassins, while learning the ways of the Force and her new lightsaber (oh how I wish she would have still become a Jedi in the Disney canon…). Characters are not taken for granted and are written with introspective awareness of their own journeys and their own beliefs. This is everything a Star Wars book needs to be to do justice to the incredible characters that gave life to the original. I am in love.
Zahn’s brilliant grasp on understanding a character’s core spills over into his new creations, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and the dark Jedi Joruus C’baoth. Foundational characters in the (now uncrowned) Star Wars Expanded Universe. And no wonder. None of them act out of simple hatred or rage, despite playing the “bad guys” of the story. He writes them with a surety of beliefs and conviction, clear and purposed goals, and complex motivations. They are people, with the nuances that come with that distinction.
Zahn is effortless with the concepts that make this story as a whole so vastly well-rounded. He’s got military strategy down like an expert — Thrawn is a real commander, the kind that could lead a successful army in real life… the guy’s a genius tactician, psychologist, and a great leader. The dogfights and battles spark of tangible reality and down-to-earth strategics, with physics a very real presence in so many tactics employed by Luke and others. Zahn’s got economy, he’s got politics, he’s got a stunning imagination for fantastic, but scientifically-grounded world-building (such as Lando’s walking city).
The details here aren’t arbitrary and we don’t get any lame references to nerf nuggets, hit singles, and throw-in-a-holo-prefix to create a world (sorry Heir to the Jedi is still my standard for a bad Star Wars novel). Instead, there’s logistics to Zahn’s worlds, unassuming uniqueness in his invention of terms and customs.
And then there’s the plot and humor. Zahn’s sense of comedy is so low-key and situational. Somehow he makes grand tense scenes like the ones between Thrawn and C’baoth both full of bone fide suspense and dignity, and equal parts squabbling crack. It’s utterly brilliant. The plot doesn’t try to reach beyond itself or be too mind-blowing, but is based on a sense of logistics with the new Republic and the scraps of the old Empire. Han is out trying to recruit smugglers to aid the Republic shipping and economics. Thrawn is recruiting the dark Jedi C’baoth to mentally unify the fleet into efficiency (while planning for his big attack). Elements fall together with insane (and sometimes humorous) genius, and build up with suspense and mystery. It’s small scale enough to feel like the little people that populate Star Wars, epic enough to feel like the largest ILM battle sequences.
The old Expanded Universe might have been scrapped, but to me this stuff is canon. It captures more of the heart and soul of the characters and the story of Star Wars than so many other books, and I only hope they use the template of deft characterization here to define what’s coming in the EU.
As for Marc Thompson, his voice added so much to the brilliant characterization of Zahn's characters. His Thrawn is silky and deep, his Han and Lando are perfection, and his Luke, just with the right amount of weighed responsibility coloring his youthful voice. Utter perfection. The familiar Star Wars scores kick it at the right moments of action. The first time I heard Luke flying off the edge of a building to go save his friends with his action theme in the background, I was convinced I was watching Star Wars all over again. Spot on.
loved the story and voice acting. my only complaints are the voices of Leia and the Wookie. Leia is typically a strong character, but she sounded kind of wimpy since it was a guy raising the pitch of his voice. I think he did the best he could, but it was a little strange.
The Wookie's voice could have done without the incessant growls.