Timothy Zahn is the unparalleled master of the literary EU of Star Wars. Carrying on from the fantastic Trawn trilogy, which introduced the majority o..Show More »f 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.