Never before has the incendiary mix of action, politics, and intrigue that has become Timothy Zahn’s trademark, been more evident that in this new Star Wars epic. On the heels of the stunning events chronicled in Star Wars: A New Hope, the newly minted heroes of the Rebellion - fledgling Jedi Luke Skywalker, smuggler turned reluctant freedom-fighter Han Solo, and Princess Leia Organa, a bold leader with a world to avenge - must face the harsh realities of the cataclysmic conflict into which they have so bravely plunged. From this point forward, legends will grow, treachery will abound, and lives will be irrevocably altered, in the long, hard fight to counter the fist of tyranny and restore hope to a galaxy too long in darkness.
The destruction of the Death Star by the Rebel Alliance was a decisive blow against the Empire, but Palpatine and his monstrous enforcer, Darth Vader, are no less of a threat. The brutal extermination of Alderaan not only demonstrated the magnitude of their murderous power, but served as a chilling testament to their resolve to crush the Rebel uprising. Standing against them, Skywalker, Solo, and the Princess remain uncertain opponents. Luke is gifted and brave, but unschooled in the power he possesses. Han has doubts about waging someone else’s war - and his contentiousness is one more burden for Leia to bear as she struggles to help keep the Rebellion alive. The three have been sent to mediate a dispute between Rebel Alliance factions in Shelsha Sector - agitating matters by forcing Han to deal not only with pirates, but with his more dreaded enemy, politics. At the same time, Mara Jade - all of eighteen and years away from her fateful meeting with Luke - is serving her evil master, Palpatine, well in her role as the Emperor’s Hand: tracking suspected treachery in the Empire to what may be high places - while trying to stay out of Darth Vader’s way.
But the Rebels will prove to be only one of the Empire’s concerns. For Imperial Stormtrooper Daric LaRone, his faith in the Empire shaken by the wanton destruction of Alderaan, will commit a sudden and violent act of defiance, and take four other enforcers with him, in a desperate bid to elude their masters’ wrath.
Each of these fateful actions, whether sanctioned, secret, or scandalous, will expose brutality and corruption, spur upheavals destined to shake the Empire to its core, and shape momentous events yet to come.
©2013 Timothy Zahn (P)2013 Random House Audio
thoroughly enjoyed this story. it was fun to follow Mara Jade on her early exploits, and how intertwined all the key players were.
The central arc about rogue stormtroopers righting wrongs and fighting criminals is a solid feel-good story.
Daric LaRone, the unofficial leader of the group of stormtroopers at the center of the novel, is a catchy protagonist, thrust into a situation where he has to weigh duty against morals and choose a path for himself and his men.
I've listened to one other book by Thompson. This book shares the same pluses and minuses - Thompson is a good narrator and voice actor, able to provide unique voices for a litany of male character, but he (understandably) struggles with female voices, making even strong female characters like Leia and Mara Jade sound soft-spoken and wimpy. My other complaint would be that he relies too heavily on recognizable Earth accents - cockney and Irish pirates and Russian mechanics, sounding out-of-place in the Star Wars universe.
Despite her position as Emperor's Hand, Mara has touches of humanity and compassion that stand out in several places in the book.
this can get to be a bit hard to follow. There are too many characters twists and turns. Don't get me wrong it is a good story but not as good as the thrawn trilogy.
An excellent story from Mr Zahn, the plot twists and turns and winds its way around quite a few different parties, typically managing not to blur together. The production and performance are excellent, with John Williams' score and ambient sound effects used to greatly enhance the listening experience.
Marc Thompson doing the voice over work for Timothy Zahn's Star Wars novels is by far my favorite way to enjoy the Expanded Universe, and this contribution is excellent as alway, ten out of ten
I'm hoping this is the beginning of more spin off books about Mara and even the 5 rogue troopers. I thought Tim was very clever in putting Jade and Luke on the same planet dealing with the same troopers but not actually meeting. I seriously thought Mara was going to take the troopers with her. The main thing I enjoyed about this book was, the storm troopers were made out to b real people with real feelings and who have a conscience. Marc is top notch, with his ability to do different voices, wish he could do all audio books! Chewies sound bite voice... That lion roar... Don't like it. It was used allot in another book. Plz just keep the Chewie voices like in the movies.
Zhan has another hit on his hands. The performance was spectacular as well as the story. You see Mara Jade on one of her first mission and you see a side of her your don't see on the other Zahn trilogies.
Great story of Mara Jade in action as the Emperor's hand and her interactions with Vader. I also loved the back story of Hans trouble with joining the rebellion.
I liked to read about some of the good people in the Empire. this one took place between episode 4 & 5.
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