Lit Hand of Thrawn Duology by Timothy Zahn what do people think of them ?

Discussion in 'Literature' started by fett 4, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. fett 4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    OK so Zahn on these boards and else where is pretty much known for the The Thrawn Trilogy which kick started the EU back in 1991 and still holds up as a good fun read set in the Stawars universe even to this day.

    What is not given so much coverage was his next set of books the Hand of Thrawn duology which came out in 1997 and 1998 and closed off the Bantam Run. So while the TTT are always mentioned these are not, so I ask the question, what do readers think of those 2 books, do they still stand up like the TTT or are they considered a poor showing.

    Myself they are his book version of RTJ, with a mix of both good and bad. The main story with Luke and Mara was great and getting them together seemed the right thing, but he also had his own 2nd Death Star moments mainly with Shada who was the 2nd Mara and (for a guy who was dead) lots and lots of Thrawn.

    So what do others think.
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  2. Chewbacca89 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 2012
    star 5
    I thought they were great. I think they acted as a really good bridge from what was going on to the eventual Vong invasion. We got a nice peek at the Unknown Regions and the Empire of the Hand. Love seeing Luke and Mara working together. Not sure if I can believe the whole Caamas situation would really be enough to splinter the entire galaxy, though it was a nice alternative crisis to the superweapon conundrum. Also enjoyed the Trimutive impersonating Thrawn. Overall, I would say I enjoy them just as much as TTT. 4/5 stars for me.
  3. CT-867-5309 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 5, 2011
    star 5
    According the literature forum review rankings, Specter of the Past got an 8.59 and Vision of the Future got a 8.56, putting them at 31st and 32nd all time, respectively.

    That's pretty good. Not as good as TTT, but still very good.

    They didn't just close off the Bantam era, they wrapped up the Galactic Civil War era from the OT and defined the galaxy going forward, allowing Star Wars to move on.

    I appreciate the closure of the era and the "world building" was very strong, but they're probably the weakest Zahn books I've read, mostly due to a finish I found personally disappointing. Zahn's finishes are usually a thrilling rush to the end and this one fell short imo. I hate Mara, especially Zahn's staggering ignorance of his own character, and it got painfully bad in HoT. I don't like Mara and Luke as a couple at all, so making it official didn't do anything for me. The obsession with Thrawn continued, in the form of some strange joke, with the same annoying results minus the actual threat.

    Zahn has a formula and he followed it for HoT, it just wasn't as satisfying as TTT or Outbound Flight was for me.
  4. Nobody145 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 9, 2007
    star 4
    At the time I loved the books, and I still fondly look back on them, as while they have their flaws (and I'm a minor Mara fan too) they also did an excellent job of finishing up the Bantam era while leaving quite a few possible threads for the future to follow up on... most of which have been squandered since, or run over multiple times, so its a bit bittersweet for me to read them now.

    Just as the Thrawn trilogy set the tone for a lot of the EU, I also liked that the HoT showed what was already essentially a post-Empire galaxy. After all those defeats in previous books, and warlords wasting resources trying to kill each other, the Empire was finished, so everyone was going back to whatever they were doing before the Empire came along... a lot of which were squabbling with each other. The whole Caamas thing is a bit contrived, but if that didn't pop up, some other issue would have polarized the New Republic. And while it wasn't in great shape, things weren't hopeless, everyone was just busy trying to handle diplomatic problems everywhere.

    Also happy to see Luke finally marry. The romance was a bit too sudden and cheesy, but at least we wouldn't have to see Luke go through more girlfriends. The whole Kardde/Shada thing wasn't the most original, but it was an interesting diversion at least.

    It was mostly just a nice, happy ending to the Galactic Civil War. The Empire officially surrendered and was allowed to continue existing since they didn't have enough planets left to randomly bombard them if their Sith overlord was in a bad mood, Luke's Jedi academy, while it didn't play a role, was quietly producing more Jedi, Luke and Mara were getting married, Han and Leia were happily married, and there was a nice, vague but hopeful Force vision at the end. And there were still the Unknown Regions out there to explore maybe....

    Oh, it was such a happy ending. Not the best written book, I agree, with perhaps a few too many snarky comments about other books (such as JAT, DE or Crystal Star, but the narrative wasn't extremely out of character and it was mostly one character's opinion, and a lot of it are just common complaints, such as Luke not moving his academy off Yavin once the first dead body turned up), but it was a wonderful ending to an era and the GCW, with quite a few references to other books (even if it was mostly off-hand) that instead of ending in one huge costly battle, it was a peace treaty. Well, the costly battles had been earlier, but at least it ended with a treaty and the galaxy was implied to be adjusting to a New Republic that in theory could have lasted as long as the Old Republic. That's really unrealistic by current standards considering how often governments come and go, sadly. Personally, I just liked that it was a happy ending with no big deaths... that's such a rare thing these days.
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  5. fett 4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    I agree the finish was a bit weak. The main bad guy Tierce, Royal Guardsman, crack soldier etc is beaten in 5 seconds by Shada quite literally "Shada was already there meeting Tierce half-way and in a blurred flurry of arms it was all over. Captain Dorja call a medical team ordered Pelleaon as Shada stepped over Tierces broken body " And that's it. While making him a clone with some of Thrawns mind in him seemed unesscary to the story.

    Shada herself was Mara mk2 so much so she even went through the exact same charachter journey Mara went through in TTT right down to ending up working at Karrades that I couldnt stand her and saw her just as a rip-off.

    On the other hand the set for Del-Rey while closing down the Bantam was well done and I liked him getting Mara and Luke together which I thought worked nicely.
  6. DarthStymi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 10, 2002
    star 3
    I enjoyed them. They plodded along at times, but Zahn put a lot of work into making the disparate stories fit. I would love if they gave these books the full, unabridged audiobook treatment, as they recently did for then entire Thrawn Trilogy.
  7. kataja Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2007
    star 4
    You pretty much sum up what I have to say. I love Mara and Luke&Mara to bits, so that storyline was a sure winner with me. Though I don't like Mara's 'lesson' for its details (too much of is is just plain wrong, and there was too much stabbing at other authors without setting it much better). In contrast, I think the idea to bring peace with the Empire was not only excellent but about time - and well seen by Zahn. Also loved every bit with Pellaon who is another fav character! The "Thrawn" story on the other hand was a constant :confused:to me; first the very idea to impersonate this villain was pretty far out - second the exécution was mostly the villains yapping and snarling at each other, or so it seemed to me at least. Agree with some others that it was nice with a diplomatic crisis for once instead of a military. Agree with you that I neither can work myself up to engange in Shada. Actually she straightout annoyed me, as she was so much formed over an excisting model - and thus reminded me of all the clichés about Mara :p

    But with all its faults, it's still a fav storyline of mine. The general 'feeling' of this duology still captures enough of the 'feeling' for that - and none of the annoyances is grave - which is something of a feat in a SW storyline.
  8. Darth_Foo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 24, 2003
    star 4
    Besides TTT and LoE the HoT is my favorite in SW Lit. When they were first published I was more excited than a dinoga in a garbage pit. I'm a slow reader (takes me about 3-4 weeks to finish a 300 page book) but I went through VotF in less than a week. Literally couldn't put it down. Having been a Luke/Mara shipper since the start I loved seeing them get together. Also it seemed realistic to have the NR devolve into factionalism and let their old squabbles come to the forefront again.
  9. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    Things I liked about the series:

    1. If the Empire had a fleet of 25,000 Star Destroyers then how did the Rebellion ever succeed? Answer is there was a lot of that force already committed elsewhere. With that coercive force removed, all the old disputes are now boiling over and all it needs to go boom is a tinder spark cue...

    2. Caamas: The idea of Bothans doing something seriously wrong and then covering up - no one was surprised by that were they? That Fey'Lya's been using the mask of cultural values to justify his own xenophobia and paranoia was clear, this was just one step further.

    3. The New Republic now has the same dragon to fight that killed its predecessor! At the time the PT content was not known. One of Zahn's major aspects was giving the Empire a rational foundation, the appeal of order. Why? Because democracies can, with lack of restraint, devolve into chaos and so it happens here.

    4. Jedi activity. That order that Luke recklessly recreated only 7-8 years earlier now plays a crucial role in mediating the conflicts that spring up, so damping down the flames. Without the Jedi things would have been much worse.

    5. Thrawn: His reputation was for doing a great deal with very little and that's what the Imperial cabal bank on! They're not entirely wrong too either, the bluff is quite effective.

    6. Luke & Mara - meh, weakest part of the book by far. Along with Zahn's sniping at other works, that he slates BFC when it already delivers the point that Luke can't do everything by himself is telling.

    7. Pellaeon's political gambit: Easily one of the best elements, along with Leia being willing to meet him halfway as opposed to bombing the remnant to ash.

    It's interesting looking at the books now knowing what happens later:

    Had the Caamas crisis actually set the galaxy aflame for a short time might the suicidal level of self-interest demonstrated by numerous Senators in the Vong war have been avoided?

    Should the Empire have been obliterated given its acts a century later in Legacy? While Pellaeon led the Empire, the arrangement worked but what happens after that? Should the NR have actually heeded Leia's inclination to strike a merciful deal?
    Last edited by Jedi Ben, Dec 28, 2012
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  10. JediMara77 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2004
    star 4
    Vision of the Future is still my favorite book, period. So yeah, I love this series. Kind of wish the EU had ended there, to be honest.
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  11. kataja Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2007
    star 4
    Your wish might yet come true ;)
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  12. JediMatteus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2008
    star 4
    some of the best star wars books ever written. Love the Luke and Mara stuff
  13. Chewbacca89 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 2012
    star 5
    How about after Survivor's Quest, instead?
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  14. jacktherack Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2008
    star 4
    i just finished reading them a week ago, i've read all the books up to that. it was hard for me to get into it since i stumbled upon the legacy books spoilers of who dies. it's hard to read about characters that are going to die for 20-30 books. so i just told myself i wouldn't read the legacy books and to me they were non canon.
  15. fett 4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    You realise we are not talking about the Legacy books right?
  16. fett 4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    One of the things I do like regards Mara in Vision of the Future was funnily enough the artwork on the front cover. Normally Mara artwork in other book covers and comics is fairly generic but this time she was drawn like a real person and looked interesting.

    Your point about other authors and there stories and whether Zahn read them is a good one, take Corran Horn, who is his buddy Stackpoles creation in Spector of the Past, suddenly his jedi powers are a secret which Karrade guesses and in order not to tell, informs Corran that he owes him one with Corran going along with it.
    It got me thinking 1) When did it become a secret. 2) Even if is a secret the guy is a fighter pilot, what possible advantage could it give somone else 3) Who could Karrade tell that would be interested anyway. Basically this whole premise felt false with even a cursory reading of Stackpoles books would be obvious. It just felt like it was thrown in their for Zahn to say "look my charachter is smarter than yours" add to that the whole plot point didn't go anywhere and if had been deleted from the book would not have made a single bit of difference.

    Another issue was Shada (again!). She breaks into Han and Leias home while knocking out a guard too ... ask to enlist :confused: seriously that's it! Again it made no sense other than Zahn saying look how cool this charachter is and again could have been deleted from the story and not made any difference to it.
  17. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    There though the publishing goes:

    Spectre of the Past, I Jedi, Vision of the Future

    I Jedi was published after Spectre.
  18. jacktherack Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2008
    star 4
    i know, what i'm saying is while reading through the bantam era i found out about the legacy books spoilers and since the characters that die in legacy are from the bantam era it's hard to read through the older books with those characters.

    but yeah i really liked the 2 thrawn books, but now after reading it i realized i should have read 8 of the x-wing books before that, i had only read the first 3 before i starting reading them.
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  19. JediMara77 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2004
    star 4
    Okay. I love that book.
  20. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    Well, you shouldn't have read the spoilers then! :)
  21. kataja Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2007
    star 4
    I can see your point - but I can't agree, I'm afraid. Out of the simple reason that the cover Mara reminds me so much of a childhood friend I have - and who's not like Mara at all! - the clash is just too big :p

    [/QUOTE]One of the things I do like regards Mara in Vision of the Future was funnily enough the artwork on the front cover. Normally Mara artwork in other book covers and comics is fairly generic but this time she was drawn like a real person and looked interesting.

    Your point about other authors and there stories and whether Zahn read them is a good one, take Corran Horn, who is his buddy Stackpoles creation in Spector of the Past, suddenly his jedi powers are a secret which Karrade guesses and in order not to tell, informs Corran that he owes him one with Corran going along with it.
    It got me thinking 1) When did it become a secret. 2) Even if is a secret the guy is a fighter pilot, what possible advantage could it give somone else 3) Who could Karrade tell that would be interested anyway. Basically this whole premise felt false with even a cursory reading of Stackpoles books would be obvious. It just felt like it was thrown in their for Zahn to say "look my charachter is smarter than yours" add to that the whole plot point didn't go anywhere and if had been deleted from the book would not have made a single bit of difference.

    Another issue was Shada (again!). She breaks into Han and Leias home while knocking out a guard too ... ask to enlist :confused: seriously that's it! Again it made no sense other than Zahn saying look how cool this charachter is and again could have been deleted from the story and not made any difference to it.
    [/QUOTE]
    Hmm, the Corran issue is pretty well explained in I, Jedi. And even if, as @ points out, I, Jedi came out just after SotP, it's very likely that Zahn knew what was going to happen in that and simply wrote it in already.

    As for Shada, well I admit straightout that I don't remember that much of what happened in her plotline. Or of what happens any plotline but Luke and Mara's. In contrast, I think I've read the L&M parts - what? - 100 times? At the very least! I remember the corniest details! And I think it touches something that's vital in Zahn's stories - either you buy it and go for it (and love it) - or you start to pull your hair out for the lack of logic and the amount of clumsiness. Then again - it is exactly the same with Star Wars!!! It's full of flaws -a dn the more you think about it, the more you realize it and get annoyed. (Believe me - I once took my mom to see ESB - I never heard the end of it!) But if you go with it, it opens up. Often it does. Which, of course, shouldn't stop analysis - but hopefully frustrations.

    Oh, no - you remind me of when I tried to plow inot the EU! :p My deepest sympathies!!! Try to engange in the charcaters anyway. Remember a long time goes by between the Bantams and the Legacy era
  22. Force Smuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 5
    Not as good as the Thrawn Trilogy but still better than a lot of the rest of the EU
  23. fett 4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2000
    star 4
    Does your friend wear green too ?

    I agree that sometimes you have to park your brain at the door. Its just after recently re-reading it some of those scenes annoyed me a bit cause the book wuld have worked better without them. Kinda like the Ewoks in RTJ :p

    I will also give Zahn credit for setting things up for Del-rey with the whole unkown regions and a 1000 threats out there. Sadly Del-rey stupidly ignored it but thats a whole nother thread.
    Last edited by fett 4, Dec 29, 2012
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  24. kataja Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2007
    star 4
    Nope - and she's got brown eyes - but that's what Mara's look like on the pic ;)

    Yup, the Ewoks and Death Star II were the beginning of the decline. And we're still sliding... :cool: Hey - I have SO many things that annoy me with Zahn. I think it's becasue he's such a mix of the subtle and the blatant. So many good details - so many wrong ones...Almost as many as George Lucas [face_batting]

    Yea, I agree - that was a brilliant setup!
  25. Duguay Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 30, 2002
    star 2
    I remember enjoying HoT when I read it. The second book was the most exciting part, with the only drawback about it is that it made the first book seem like it was mainly set up for the second book. The thing with Mara and Luke, that was coming after I had set aside that initial desire to see Mara Jade continue as a major character and eventually, yes, get set up with Luke. I had set that feeling aside years prior to HoT, after seeing Mara not being used by other authors, or set up with other characters. So with HoT it was a bit of whiplash to head back in a direction I had given up on. And I didn't like the it happened so many years after TTT, and in general I think the Bantam era would be served well for having the time-span it covers narrowed (it would do a lot of good for subsequent series, and help with the plausibility of the characters ages).

    HoT was my introduction to Corran Horn, I didn't have any of his back story. I've been going through those earlier X-Wing books now, in part because I met the author, and he was very relatable and great to talk to. Now, seeing the conversation here, I think I'll revisit HoT after I've finished I, Jedi; see how that works a second time around.

    I don't even remember the character of Shada, who people here are labelling as a Mara Jade, mark II. I do remember an interesting subplot with Talon Karrde, and the curious pairing of C-3PO with him, which was nevertheless an engaging thread.

    Returning the the Luke and Mara thing, the relationship issue aside, I really loved their questing journey through an elaborate set of caverns, and their infiltration mission into the mysterious stronghold that they find. That was just...Star Wars greatness!