Hugo Award-winning author Timothy Zahn makes his triumphant return to the Star Wars(r) universe in this first of an epic new two-volume series in which the New Republic must face its most dangerous enemy yet--a dead Imperial warlord.
The Empire stands at the brink of total collapse. But they have saved their most heinous plan for last. First a plot is hatched that could destroy the New Republic in a bloodbath of genocide and civil war. Then comes the shocking news that Grand Admiral Thrawn--the most cunning and ruthless warlord in history--has apparently returned from the dead to lead the Empire to a long-prophesied victory. Facing incredible odds, Han and Leia begin a desperate race against time to prevent the New Republic from unraveling in the face of two inexplicable threats--one from within and one from without. Meanwhile, Luke teams up with Mara Jade, using the Force to track down a mysterious pirate ship with a crew of clones. Yet, perhaps most dangerous of all, are those who lurk in the shadows, orchestrating a dark plan that will turn the New Republic and the Empire into their playthings.
©2011 Timothy Zahn (P)2013 Random House Audio
"Zahn turns in his usual high-caliber performance." (Library Journal)
Marc Thompson delivers another amazing performance in "Specter of the Past", book 1 of the Hand of Thrawn duology. His voices for Han Solo and Lando Calrissian are uncannily accurate, and make it very easy to picture Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams as they might've portrayed the story in a film.
Not only do his voices for classic characters deliver, but he also adds greater depth to the Expanded Universe characters like Talon Karrde, Grand Admiral 'Thrawn', Moff Disra, Borsk Fey'lya, President Gavrisom, and Admiral Gilad Pellaeon, as well as many others.Thompson's performances in the Star Wars audiobooks make them truly a pleasure for my wife and me to listen to, and we always look forward to his performances when we're journeying through the Expanded Universe in chronological order.
Also, this re-release of "Specter of the Past" far surpasses the original, and not only because it's unabridged. I'm not saying Anthony Heald did a bad job on the original release. For its time, it was very good, but the simple fact is that Timothy Zahn's Star Wars novels are so rich and full of detail and intricate plot that having them abridged into little three-hour segments is like literary butchery."Specter of the Past" and its sequel "Vision of the Future" particularly suffered from the cutting block when produced by Bantam audio books, and I am absolutely delighted that these two are being rereleased, unabridged, on the heels of the Thrawn Trilogy's 20th anniversary rerelease!
Hmm . . . how to pick just one memorable moment? I really like the inclusion of Shada D'Ukal more heavily in this story, because I really enjoyed her story in "Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina", as read by Laura Esterman (which, by the way, Audible doesn't have for some reason! ?), and seeing it more fully integrated into the larger tapestry of the Expanded Universe.
The reappearance of Grand Admiral Thrawn is also a fun moment, again made more so by Marc Thompson's brilliant performance! I can't wait to hear "Vision of the Future", which comes out next month!
The scenes with Admiral Pellaeon are also brilliant, as one of the most dedicated Imperials of the Expanded Universe seeks to end the war between the Empire and the New Republic once and for all. Marc Thompson's Pellaeon voice truly portrays the character's long career and old age. Excellent!
I've answered this in previous sections of this review, but I'll say it again - he's brilliant at portraying classic characters as well as Expanded Universe characters, and it's easy to picture other people with that voice, as opposed to some audio books where it sounds more like someone just reading aloud, instead of giving a performance.Marc Thompson is quite simply one of the best I've ever seen.
Ten Years Later, Grand Admiral Thrawn is back!
I'm very glad to see Random House giving some of the classic EU novels' audios a much needed overhaul, and I'd really hope to see more of these in the future!
Yes, because it's Star Wars!
I liked the pacing. And I like the fact that I finally get to listen to it complete and unabridged.
Mark nails the voices of course. He sounds very passionate about these stories and he keeps me wanting to listen until the last page. Well I suppose you could use the word page in this case.
I've been waiting for this duology to be released unabridged for such a long time and I'm glad it's here. Well, the first book anyway. My only complaint is that RH Audio didn't give us Vision of The Future on the same day as Specter. Here's hoping RH decides to give us unabridged recordings of the New Jedi Order series next as well as the Young Jedi Knights series. I'm unable to go out and purchase paperbacks due to blindness and it's a joy to be able to read these novels from cover to cover for the first time. I can't wait to see what I missed out on when and if RH decides to tackle the unabridged NJO books. I read this one and compared it with my old Bantom audio cassette abridgement of Specter from 97 and was amazed as to how much was cut out. Trust me, you want this one rather than the 3 hr version. Anthony Heald is and will always be one of my fav narrators in the SW EU but c'mon folks, this one's the whole thing.
Keep showing RH your support by purchasing these unabridged titles, gals and guys of audible. It really means the world to those of us who aren't able to enjoy these older titles the way they were meant to be the first time around. Thanks in advance and may the Force be with all of us.
Timothy Zahn is the unparalleled master of the literary EU of Star Wars. Carrying on from the fantastic Trawn trilogy, which introduced the majority of the major EU players including Han and Leia's Children, the Noghri, Captain/Now Admiral Pellaeon, Winter, Talon Karde, Mara Jade, and most importantly Grand Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn is and was the Empire lover's pinnacle character, neither good nor bad, uncompromisingly loyal to the Empire but not without mercy. A true Sherlock Holmes Sociopath. Zahn introduced a world where Star Wars was not so black and white but filled with grays. Of course the end story comes down good versus evil but he relegates those matters down to the force, not the political world of Empire vs. Republic. Zahn carefully crafts a story that shows good and evil on both sides, blanching from the flawless white knight rebellion his peers often write. The Republic in Zahn's world is one full of good intentions being poorly implemented, a government torn by politics and bad decisions and bureaucracy. The Empire is shown in much the same light with heroic figures butting heads with villainous partners vying for control and the future direction of the remnants of the Empire. The major flaw of this book, if it could be called one, is the lack of the legend himself, Thrawn, who was killed in the final book of the trilogy by his traitorous body guard. Though hardly a flaw of the writing, the book just doesn't have the same special feel to it. Even at its best it can't really compare to watching Thrawn and Pellaeon play they Sherlock and Watson routine as they slowly ground the vastly more numerous Rebel forces into dust through pure genius tactical planning. Pellaeon does his best in the Hand of Thrawn to use the tactics of his mentor, but he does't get enough page time and the harsh reality that the authors who took control of the EU between the Thrawn trilogy and duology had ground the Empire into an irrecoverable mess, placing it in the hands of poorly written one dimensional psychopaths and madmen, takes it's toll. The plot device of the Caamas documents is an interesting one, one showing the fragility of the New Republic, how one event could lead to a devastating civil war between it's loosely allied member states plays well into the Zahn theory of the good guys not always having the most efficient form of governance. I won't say too much more in effort to not spoil this masterfully written novel. I'm just glad the unabridged version has finally made its debut and am looking forward to the second part being released soon. Zahn, to me, will always be to the Star Wars literary world what George RR Martin is to ASOIF. There really is no substitute for the master.
Major Tierce is a fascinating new character, full of mystery and hidden goals. Excellently well written and fun to follow. Pellaeon will always be a favorite though. The big three, Han, Luke, and Leia are excellently well written as well. No other author truly captures that quintessential Star Wars feel with them. Even while you root for the heroes you find yourself admiring the villains and how simply cool they are. It helps in the case of the Zahn novels, that the villains are less one dimensional and villainous and instead simply other people on the other side of the war.
Marc Thompson is hand's down the best reader for the Star Wars stories. His mastery of the voices of each of the characters is as unparalleled as Zahns commanding storytelling.
Please record the rest of Zahn's books!!!
Obsessed Star Wars books fan. I love everything post-movies, even the contradictions.
Previously, I had only ever gotten to experience this story via the previous, abridged release.
Many times such abridgements are just fine, taking a story that would be 12-14 hours and slimming it into 2.5-3 hours makes it much more like a movie and for stories that are only so-so this can vastly improve them. This story I'd always felt I'd been missing too much and kept making a point to sit down and read the original text. Then not 2 days in I find this beautiful production lurking on Audible like an answer to a dream.
The story is triumphant and sad at the same time. I love Zhan's approach to characters, story, and Star Wars in general. His use of Luke's doubt to reign in his powers really appealed to me and reminded me of his comments at a convention panel I saw him at. When discussing other writers tackling Star Wars: "Look at what MY Luke can do!" seemed to him as the take-away from other scribes.
No character is dead weight, everyone contributes, with the exceptions of perhaps the Solo kids who are quietly tucked away. (Possibly a reaction to their overuse in the Corellian trilogy). Political challenges are presented far more superbly than the movies ever accomplished. And we are left with a story that does not fall flat in the face of this fan's critical eye on continuity.
A number of plot points are opened up for the future (sadly Zahn has never explored further into the Star Wars timeline, all his future books, excluding the conclusion to this one, being set in the past.) I would have love to have seen him continue as part of the New Jedi Order series.
Marc Thompson strongly anchors the audio providing easily recognizable voices for both movie and book only characters. He also brings strong tempo, pronunciation, and even acting choices that weren't just different from the Anthony Heald voiced abridgement but a surprising improvement. (Kudos Marc, I always wanted to not like you, because Anthony was my first narrator, but you've won now.)
This book, and Vision of the Future, are Star Wars books at their best. Well written, acted, and not silly, easily dismissed as just sci-fi, or just Star Wars. The characters face their strongest challenge to (that) date. Not in the form of a new super-weapon, ancient all-powerful Sith, or hidden fleet of starships.
But from something they've always been fighting for... peace.
I love the talon Kardde voice. Also I like the Han, Luke, and leia have the same voice across his books.
Yes it was.
I liked it so much that I nearly downloaded the abridged version while waiting for audible to add the unabridged version.
As most folks have already stated, this is a great followup to the Thrawn trilogy. Marc Thompson has yet another great read under his belt.
The story is pretty solid for it's time and just like other EU books it tends to jump around a bunch.
The thing I disliked was Luke, and in some of the past books and a quite and few after this one. He is a self nominated Jedi Master but most of the books put him in these situations that a Jedi Padawan could get out ease and a real Jedi Master wouldn't have even broke a sweat, but yet here Luke is straining to do things like fight off 6 guys.
Some new readers and listeners think this book is new, it is not. It's over 16 years old. Random House Audio is just going back and redoing most of the EU books to current audio formats and editorials.
Similar to other Zahn Star Wars books, the story is entertaining though sometimes a bit stiff and narrowly constrained. The plot isn't as developed as the Thrawn trilogy but it moves along and should keep the listener entertained. However, Marc Thompson's stunning performance brings the book to life and adds depth and quality to characters that might otherwise be lacking. It's worth a listen just to be amazed by the range of Thompson. Truly outstanding and worthy of a credit just to hear the best narrator in the business excel at his craft. 3.5 stars for the book, 10 stars for performance by Thompson.
The whole story is so much fun. Extending the story and expanding on the origins of who I personally believe is the most interesting Star Wars character ever, was very gratifying. The expert narration from Thompson only made the whole thing that much more enjoyable.
I would compare it to the rest of Zahn's Star Wars books. All of his work in the expanded universe is very consistent.
Thompson narrated the Thrawn trilogy, as well as book 2 in this series. He is excellent and consistent across all of them.
I might have giggled a few times at the back and fourths between Luke and Mara.
I strongly suggest that anyone who enjoys books set within the Star Wars expanded universe to give this a listen, as well as other books Zahn. There is so much good stuff!
I loved the Thrawn series when it came out in the 90s. Maybe it was that I was at the right age or that it was the first books in the EU for Star Wars. These 2 books do not seem to measure up to me. I think it is in equal parts my age and the story. These are not for grown up fans IMHO. Plus it seems that they suffer from "the temple of doom" syndrome. I mean no matter how perilous the situation there is no real danger for any of the main characters. Still, Marc does his best with the voices.
I have not read the print edition. But I can not image that it is better.
Great storyline! Very entertaining.
Marc Thompson's is the best voice actor I've listen too.
"Marc Thompson -- awesome narrating"
Great Book, looking forward to conclusion
Marc Thompson's narrating
Everything, he really nailed this one
an emotional roller coaster
"Marc Thompson Just gets the material"
Zahn is my favourite Star wars author and Thompson is in turn my favourite employee of random house audio. With this in mind you could imagine my joy whenever they release the on-going productions of Zahn lately coupled with marc's voice. Basically if you enjoy the works Zahn had previously done with the Thrawn trilogy this is a must read for those who wish to continue the story with his established characters.
If you haven't actually read those books I implore you do as they are fantastic reads or get those audiobooks also done by Marc. Great audiobook, cant wait for the second hand of Thrawn book to come out of Random house in December :)
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