main
side
curve
  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

Lit [Legends] Making sense of the Hand of Thrawn books

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Trip, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. Trip

    Trip Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 7, 2003
    So I've been re-reading and re-re-reading the Bantam era for some fan project thing I'm doing and obviously nothing fits perfectly-- there's all kinds of inconsistencies, discontinuities, general weirdness, blah blah (although for all that it hangs together surprising well when you zoom out a bit).

    However there's one bit of Bantam that I can't really figure out how to make sense of, and it's the one that caps off the entire era-- the Hand of Thrawn duology. In classic Zahn fashion, most character development is ignored or handwaved, so we have stuff like Mara being Karrde's second in command again and Luke being Captain Useless and Leia isn't Chief of State (or President, as Zahn prefers) and the kids are sent off to kashyyyk for vacation and Wedge is Rogue Leader and on and on and on.

    So, yeah, whatever. I don't like Zahn's writing at all, obviously, but that's not the point here; the point is, WEG never got a chance to make sense of all this nonsense, and so far as I know nobody else did, and Zahn certainly didn't bother trying to explain anything, so now I'm asking you, dear litizens: help me figure this crap out.

    To keep this thread uncluttered I'm going to do one thing at a time, because there's just so many we'd be bouncing around otherwise.

    So, to start us off: Leia's leave-of-absence from being the Chief of State. This isn't totally without precedent-- she took off during the New Rebellion to avoid getting sacked (leaving Mon Mothma inexplicably in charge) and also to go rescue Luke and solve the Almania crisis because, why not I guess. But this was a brief thing, for a specific purpose-- not at all like the leave of absence in Hand of Thrawn, which seems semi-permanent and so she can... have more time with her kids? Or something? It definitely doesn't seem to be because she's in political danger, since she was fine just a year prior during the Corellian Trilogy and there's no mention of anything like that in the HoT. There's very little indication she's still the elected Chief at all, actually-- Gavrisom is just called the President, not Acting President or whatever, Leia's just Councilor Organa Solo and if you missed the mention at the very beginning of SotP you'd just assume she had stepped down entirely.

    So what in the world is going on? The best I can figure is it's some kind of semi-shady shenanigans where Leia doesn't want to be Chief of State right now (understandable, after the Corellian crisis) but doesn't trust anyone... actually okay I just answered my question here I think: she's stepped down for the remainder of the term and Gavrisom is keeping her seat warm until the next election (20 ABY, by my reckoning) because she wants time away but doesn't want to give up the Presidency entirely. Pretty sneaky, Leia.

    Right then! I uh, didn't expect to answer this myself, while typing this all out, but I'll leave it in case anyone finds it interesting or wants to comment or whatever.

    Um, ok, next one then: the Rogues. Wedge I can sort of explain-- in The New Rebellion he's chief of staff of Starfighter Command and kind of screws things up really badly with the whole X-wing upgrade program, so I can see him being back with the Rogues as a kind of like, pity assignment, because he's almost about to retire anyway and the Remnant is on the ropes and not a threat any more and why not let poor Wedge be rogue leader for just a little bit longer. (Also, to be entirely fair, Wedge did cameo as Rogue Leader in the Corellian Trilogy, so it's not totally Zahn's fault here.)

    What about the Tycho & Wes though? It's pretty bizarre that they're all pushing forty and still in the same role they were twenty years ago. Anyone got any ideas here? Did the original Rogues get together for some reason for one last hurrah?
     
    fett 4, Revanfan1, starfish and 3 others like this.
  2. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 3, 2013
    The leave of absence thing is completely daft. I have never understood why Leia couldn't have just plain left office and Gavrisom been elected as her successor in a normal fashion.
     
  3. Grand Admiral Paxis

    Grand Admiral Paxis Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Just to double back for a moment to the issue of Leia stepping aside, The New Essential Chronology addresses that issue within the context of the political fallout after the Corellian Insurrection.

    So basically you're right. She got sick of the Senate unfairly blaming her for everything and took a "leave of absence," with Gavrisom taking over to finish the rest of her term before the next election.
     
  4. Trip

    Trip Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 7, 2003
    Oh man I totally forgot about that. Yeah that more or less clears it up at least (I love Voren's spin, here-- yeah I'm sure it was totally sympathy for the triad that upset people, and not the fact that Leia's administration had to go begging Bakura for warships to stop a star-exploding terror plot because oops they accidentally drydocked the entire New Republic fleet
     
  5. sidv88

    sidv88 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 22, 2005
    There's an interview in Star Wars Insider where Zahn says he tried to get Leia out of the Presidency in Hand of Thrawn. LFL insisted she stay however.
     
  6. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Feb 17, 2004
    you know I feel kind of guilty criticizing the continuity of the post-NJO now that I think about it

    I find it amusing that they had to beg Bakura for the ships

    because for some reason it had HIMS (I can't remember if some rationale was provided for Bakura needing this technology)

    it's like them needing to borrow ships from Tatooine or something stupid

    I hope Episode IX has the Resistance needing to borrow ships from the Endor Defense fleet

    I guess to be fair I don't know if the whole fleet was drydocked or they just needed the HIMS technology to get through the centerpoint interdiction field

    I want to know how Mara remembered that she was borrowing one of Lando's shirts when Leia made a phone call to her like five years earlier though

    she totally wasn't sleeping with Lando though
     
    Revanfan1 and Jeff_Ferguson like this.
  7. Noash_Retrac

    Noash_Retrac Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 14, 2006
    I haven't been able to find a copy of Specter of the Past and the last time I read it was nearly 14 years ago, though I still remember it (though for some distinct reason I still though Porolo Miatamia's aide actually had a name).

    Luke, while he wasn't in the main action, still had a better plot then Black Fleet Crisis (the whole who is his mother thing should've been left alone and explained off-screen in say the Thrawn Trilogy or even Courtship of Princess Leia [i.e. they know who she is but we the audience just won't know her name until after George Lucas gives clearance]).

    My only annoyance throughout Bantam is the terms of the Chief of States, which seemed to be on whatever the author thought. I didn't like the idea of Leia being Chief of State/President so soon (i.e. 11 ABY, age 30). It would've been better that KJA allowed Mon Mothma to continue in the role after she was healed by Cilghal following the novels and being replaced by say Garm Bel Iblis or someone else on the original Provisional Council (not Borsk Fey'lya) or maybe a new character for the Black Fleet Crisis and The New Rebellion novels, with the idea Leia is being groomed to eventually become Chief of State when the time is right. If anything, Leia shouldn't have been made Chief of State until after the Bantam novels ended, serving in the gap between Vision of the Future and Vector Prime.
     
  8. Nom von Anor

    Nom von Anor Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 7, 2012
    Leia was still Chief Of State in the YJK books, some years after HOT. I guess Lucasfilm wanted to maintain continuity with that.
     
    Jedi Princess likes this.
  9. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 3, 2013
    ...what? BFC Luke may have been stuck with an obnoxious sidekick, but his plot is great.

    I get this, but couldn't they just have had her be elected again after Gavrisom left office? The whole leave-of-absence explanation feels so unnecessarily contrived. As noted already, the CoS term length is completely random and plot-driven to begin with.
     
  10. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Feb 17, 2004
    Luke's mother in Black Fleet was a macguffin, although I remember as a stupid kid I thought maybe she was the Fallanassi that Han met.

    His arc in the trilogy was probably better than in any other Bantam novel, although I suppose that doesn't say much.
     
    Dr. Steve Brule likes this.
  11. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 15, 2006
    The Hand of Thrawn books are great SW books and a perfect end to the Bantam era, but Zahn's ignoring ten (in-universe) years' worth of character development and resetting everyone to their positions in his earlier trilogy is just... yeah.

    Luke becomes the head of a Jedi Academy with dozens of Jedi training under him, but in Specter he's suddenly a one-man Jedi Order in an X-wing again.

    Leia ascends to be Chief of State of the New Republic and weathers countless storms against her government, but suddenly she's once again a mid-level bureaucrat trying to solve all the galaxy's problems by herself.

    Wedge became a General commanding fleets from Capital Ship bridges, but suddenly... he's Rogue Leader in an X-wing cockpit again.

    Lando is running another damn mining operation.

    Han... well fair play to Zahn on that one; Han didn't actually get any character development in the Bantam era outside of Solo Command.

    And the Solo kids are sent away for the duration of the duology because they don't fit into Zahn's vision of a galaxy that's completely unchanged from the end of The Last Command.

    "But Zahn makes references to the Teljkon Vagabond from The Black Fleet Crisis and the drochs from Planet of Twilight!" you cry. Come on guys, they were done with the least amount of effort and were probably in there to counteract Zahn's dismissal of Dark Empire's entire plot and his "Mara isn't allowed to date ANYONE!" retcon.

    "But Pellaeon is in charge of the Remnant! That's continuity from Darksaber right?" Do you really believe Zahn wouldn't have had Pelly in the exact same position regardless of Darksaber's existence?

    So in other words Trip I agree with you but to answer your questions: I dunno.
     
  12. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 3, 2013
    To be fair to Zahn, I assume this particular bit was more because he didn't know what to do with them - either Threepio or Chewie (or both?) wound up being written out completely as well, IIRC, and that wasn't to reset anything, just because people always struggled to know what to do with them.
     
    wmu'14 likes this.
  13. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Feb 17, 2004
    He should have had them get kidnapped
     
    BigAl6ft6, wmu'14, WMIRTUTSF and 6 others like this.
  14. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 15, 2006
    Chewie went away with them, but Threepio and Artoo were both used very well in Vision of the Future. Threepio went with Karrde and Shada on their mission deep into the Kathol Rift, serving as interpreter to the strange languages and customs they were sure to encounter. Artoo was with Mara and Luke on Nirauan effectively using his skills as an astromech and a trusty sidekick, and he even did his usual save-the-galaxy thing at the end by finding a copy of the Caamas Document. Zahn was always on board with the droids and knew how to use them well. A lot of Bantam authors did, or at least attempted to, probably because it was mandated. No such mandate with Del Rey, and the droids sadly became pieces of background furniture for most of 1999 onward.
     
    Valin__Kenobi, wmu'14, jSarek and 4 others like this.
  15. AdmiralWesJanson

    AdmiralWesJanson Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 23, 2005
    Actually, Bakura makes a lot of sense as being the source of HIMS tech- their main industries were namana fruit and repulsorlifts- which seem to be a gravitics based tech.
     
  16. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 7, 2012
    I think Luke in the BFT, especially the first one, is one of his best in the Bantam era, if not overall. I think it's also the one that's closest to what we've seen of him so far in the new canon. Rather than just being a magic ninja, he just walks away from the secular world, tries to figure out if there's some more deeper role for the Jedi to fill, and goes on a quest for Force knowledge. And if he gets to have hyperspace sex along the way, then so what?

    But then again I'm biased as I think the BFT in general is a really underappreciated series and one of the very few works of either new or old EU to actually try to advanced the characters beyond the ending of ROTJ, rather than just keeping them in the same state of arrested development.
     
  17. AdmiralWesJanson

    AdmiralWesJanson Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 23, 2005
    While strange and at times ridiculous, the Lando plot was both unique and fits right in with the old Lando Calrissian Adventures by Smith.

    But I think this is getting off topic. HoT is the focus.
     
    Darth_Duck likes this.
  18. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 3, 2013
    Right, I'd forgotten about Threepio's part.

    (...honestly, it's been too long since I've actually read the HoT. I need to get on that.)
     
    Revanfan1 and Force Smuggler like this.
  19. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    I've been thinking the same thing. July or August 07 I believe was the last I read HOT.
     
  20. ForcePushUp

    ForcePushUp Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Oct 19, 2016
    Hand of Thrawn was something I felt could have easily been one book.

    It felt like it was needlessly padded out to stretch out to two books with so many different side stories. How many characters were looking for that document exactly?

    The Luke/Mara thread was great, and I loved pretty much all of that. and the idea of what's left of the Empire using a fake Thrawn stand in to unify their forces once again is a neat idea. If they had shortened the story down to its bare essentials, this could have easily worked as one great book, instead of the first one being just a bunch of set up for the good stuff in book 2.

    One of the weird things about the EU is that it felt like authors were always trying to stretch this stuff out to make a trilogy (or in this case, just a duology) when they didn't really need to do that. The Jedi Academy Trilogy is a great example of that. That felt like three separate stand alone books that got mangled and spliced together to force a trilogy that is so all-over-the-place that I am still not completely sure who the main villain is (Is it Daala? Kun? Kyp? The guy that runs the spice mines of Kessel? Who knows?!). The Bounty Hunter Wars was another one I felt that way about. It had some interesting ideas, but the reveal of who Neelah truly is was so underwhelming, it hardly seemed worth stretching the mystery out for three books.

    That isn't try of all the literary trilogies for Star Wars' EU (Thrawn Trilogy, Darth Bane, etc.) but there are definitely times where getting to the point faster would have improved the story.
     
    Link1130 likes this.
  21. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 30, 2000
    They were originally one book as I understand it.
     
  22. Noash_Retrac

    Noash_Retrac Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 14, 2006
    The Hand of Thrawn duology was also popular with many fans who didn't like the direction Bantam took and is known as a Fix It novel (TV Tropes).
    Zahn placed at the top of the list - the Dark Empire thing (Mara doesn't think the Emperor returned) and the Lando/Mara love thing (turns out it was for an undercover mission), not to mention Luke's teaching students so soon after going to the Dark Side (the full reason Corran and Mara left and never fully trained with Luke).
     
    wmu'14 and Ackbar's Fishsticks like this.
  23. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Feb 17, 2004
    The reason Dark Empire was set 6 years after Return of the Jedi instead of shortly after is because of Zahn.

    It probably would have worked pretty well with the new canon as originally written with Leia being pregnant with Ben...

    I guess Veitch was more willing to play ball with continuity.

    But yeah, that's why Luke and Lando were commanding a captured ISD six years after Endor, the New Republic has collapsed back into the Rebellion and is in dire straits, and the Empire is so powerful despite seemingly having its back broken with Thrawn's death.

    I think Luke and Leia's arcs in it make more sense coming out of Return of the Jedi too. Not to mention Boba Fett suddenly reappearing six years later.
     
  24. Daneira

    Daneira Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2016
    Dark Empire Sourcebook and the Essential Guide to Warfare do a great job tying Dark Empire in to the rest of the stories.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    TheRedBlade and Nom von Anor like this.
  25. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 15, 2006
    And also the Ewok commandos.

    The story is totally a shortly-after-Endor tale, both narratively and visually, with only a mention or two of Thrawn that was shoehorned into the dialogue in the eleventh hour giving away its new timeline position.

    It was originally supposed to be one book, but its length necessitated the split. Specter and Vision together are over a thousand pages.

    Although it does feel in many ways like nothing but a prologue, I do think that Specter stands alone better than people give it credit for. Most of Pellaeon's Hand of Thrawn arc takes place within its pages, with him serving in many ways as the protagonist of the book. He starts the book at a low point but then devises a goal and motivations, he has hostile forces opposing him as he travels around in pursuit of his ends, and the climax of the book is a fleet of pirates attacking his forces. He has a sort of a hero's journey in Specter. By the end of the novel he's pretty much done everything he needs to do, and all that's left is to go and wait for Bel Iblis.

    Similarly, the stuff about the Mistryl Shadow Guards/Shada and Karoly, and the Cavrilhu Pirates plotline, largely take place in Specter. They're ultimately resolved in Vision, but all of their development is in Part 1, and like Pellaeon, they finish the book merely waiting for that final domino to fall. They're Zsinj, with Specter as their Wraith Squadron trilogy and Vision as their Courtship.

    With that said, a lot of characters that have their own defined storylines in Vision do spend most of Specter just kind of standing around and waiting for something to happen (Leia, Han, Karrde, the droids). The prologue feeling is hard to shake, and the book doesn't stand alone as well as any of the entries in Zahn's earlier trilogy do.