That's true; both storylines are ultimately resolved in Vision. But Karoly's hunt for Shada, specifically, plays out mostly in Specter and then takes a long break throughout Vision while Shada is deep in the Kathol sector and Karoly is working for Tierce. And Zothip does meet his fate in Book 2, but the Cavrilhu Pirates are more of a primary threat in the first book, culminating with their attack on the Chimaera, and then they fade into a smaller role in Book 2 as the galactic crisis happening around them rises to a fever pitch. A lot of the duology's storylines play out more heavily in Vision (with some of them, like Nirauan and the Kathol sector, playing out entirely within it), but the Karoly-Shada and Cavrilhu Pirates stories are two that I'd ascribe more to Specter. Re: Vader --- some of Traviss's books do explicitly say that the normal rank-and-file soldiers heavily respected him. Death Star has a cool scene of him floating through space alongside them pre-Tantive IV boarding that I've always liked. Sure, he waited until they downed the Rebel defenders to board, but he didn't wait until the entire ship was secure or anything. Also Yavin and Hoth. But good call about Thrawn disguising himself as a stormtrooper; I forgot about that. And yeah, the very fact that Thrawn does command battles is one of the main reasons that he's a perfect front for the Sinister Triumvirate. Vader isn't someone behind whom the Remnant's naval officers would rally.