by Timothy Zahn

Reviewer Rating:
4

Review

Heir to the Empire picks up not long after the events of Return of the Jedi - The Emperor and Vader are dead (along with most of the elite officers of the Empire), Luke is a full jedi knight, Han & Leia are married and expecting twins, and Lando is up to his old tricks (as a mining administrator on the planet Nkllon). Enter brilliant tactician, Grand Admiral Thrawn.

In the wake of the destruction of the 2nd Death Star and both the Emperor's and Vader's Star Destroyers, the Imperial forces are in tatters, until Thrawn takes the lead and begins a series of hit-and-run raids on the New Republic. He always seems to be a several steps ahead of the fledgling government and its forces. Thrawn is working with a mysterious jedi master, C'Baoth, to capture Luke and Leia in order to train them (and eventually her twins) as dark jedi.

This book also introduces us to the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk, and to the enigmatic Mara Jade, a smuggler who loathes Luke Skywalker so thoroughly that you almost see the flames shooting out of her head (or it could just be her red/gold hair). All in all, I think it's a great entry into the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and captures all the action, thrills and sense of humor of the original trilogy.

This 20th Anniversary Edition audio features Marc Thompson as the reader, and I was shocked at how well he voiced so many known characters. In particular, the speech patterns and timbre of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian are amazingly true to the movie actors. Having full access to the Lucasfilm sound effects archive added to a much more fully realized audio world.

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