Lit Timothy Zahn making Darth Vader look a fool ! (spoilers for both books)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by fett 4, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. fett 4 Chosen One

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    No one is saying Zahn is a bad writer (though Allegience is awful as a whole anyway) and he is probably the best in the EU, certainly the one who has written the most memorable EU charachters, just that he tends to make his OC's almost godlike at the expense of others. Having Han Solo quake in fear at the mere mention of Thrawns name or Darth Vader going OOC and being told to calm down by Mara, seem strange.
    Last edited by fett 4, Dec 5, 2012
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  2. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Han Solo doesn't "quake in fear at the mere mention of Thrawn[']s name" -- but he does get legitimately spooked by rumors that Thrawn is back in the Empire. But I suppose you maintain that it would be thoroughly unspooky if a foe who was reported dead under mysterious circumstances ten years ago but you never saw any proof, and who is known to be a tactical genius who was able to do significant damage to the New Republic with limited resources before, and who was responsible for constant kidnapping attempts on your wife and unborn children, should be reported to be back in action in the Empire in the middle of a big New Republic crisis? That it wouldn't give you a little chill, wouldn't make you worry, "What if it's true? That would suck"? I mean, what's the objection? That the main characters should be impervious to worry and fear? Whose expense does it come at for spooky situations to spook the heroes? Is the problem just that Thrawn's a tactical genius, and Zahn shouldn't be allowed to write his villains as intelligent, competent, and threatening because it's somehow inappropriate? How DARE Zahn make his villain good at being a villain! He should have written his villains as bumbling idiots instead, like the true paragon of Star Wars, Kevin J. Anderson!

    I mean, so many of these objections ultimately come down to the ridiculous. Timothy Zahn created the character of the Emperor's personal assassin, and he had the Emperor's personal assassin be extremely good at her job? SCANDALOUS! Thrawn is so effective a threat that he frightens the main characters with the absurd notion that he might actually be able to win or harm them? UNACCEPTABLE! Zahn needed the character of one of the galaxy's top information brokers, and he dared to have that information broker know lots of things? MARY SUEISM OF THE HIGHEST FORM! Apparently Luke, Han, and Leia can do whatever they want up at the top of the galactic power structure, but if the rest of the elites introduced at the top of their galactic professions are also excellent at their jobs, it's simply atrocious favoritism by the author to create such characters.
  3. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    Again, the issue isn't with either Mara or Thrawn being good. The issue is with their being so much better than the already-established characters that they make said characters look like, as someone already said, Homer Simpson.
  4. fett 4 Chosen One

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    Again no one is saying that they shouldn't be skilled,etc (though again having the Emperors personal assassin only go after bad people defies credibility) and as you say it makes them more interesting than KJA fodder, but its having him write OTHER charachters as bumbling idiots (in this case Vader) which is the issue. Han was not just concerned, he seemed scared which is definatley not Han, (a lot of reviews on amazon mention the same thing) It was almost a Robot Chicken parody I keep expecting a voice over saying "He doesn't use the force he just uses force and he does not say wizard, Grand Admirial Thrawn is the most ineresting Warlord ever!"
  5. CT-867-5309 Force Ghost

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    Jan 5, 2011
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    How about when Han, Leia and Mon Mothma nearly piss their pants at the revelation that a Grand Admiral was leading the Empire? They didn't even know who Thrawn was at that point. I know it was our introduction to the rank of Grand Admiral and Zahn was trying to impress upon us that Grand Admirals are seriously buff dudes, but I'd rather he didn't and just get to the part where Grand Admirals act like buff dudes instead of having every character in the book tell me about it. Like Kevin J Anderson, Timothy Zahn has a high tell:show ratio. I thought that was a bad thing?

    I thought the ending to Survivor's Quest was pretty absurd. We get to the last two pages and Luke and Mara are having a private moment on the Jade Sabre, and who are they talking about? Thrawn, who not only wasn't in the book, but had been dead for 10 years. Oh, and the dormant clone of Thrawn who they watched die three years earlier. What the hell was that about? Was this supposed to be a cliffhanger foreshadowing Thrawn's return? Was that actually supposed to happen?

    The last paragraph is about the New Jedi Order and how Luke and Mara are in perfect harmony with the Force and each other. It's a retroactive setup for the NJO series, one that could have been done without mentioning Thrawn (or could it?), who wasn't even in the NJO (or was he?) and is entirely irrelevant.

    Here's a quick rundown of that scene:

    Mara and Luke describe Formbi's scheme as sneaky, convoluted, underhanded and devious and a half. Mara asks who that sounds like. Luke guesses Car'das, another one of Zahn's pets. Mara mentions she was thinking more about strategic and tactical finesse. Luke tenses and says "No, it couldn't be." He says they destroyed that clone. Mara suggests maybe he had another clone. Luke responds "No. It's impossible." Sound familiar?
    [IMG]


    Mara mentions that, according to Parck, "the only reason Thrawn came back to attack the New Republic in the first place was to whip us into fighting shape...". A few sentences later she says "If Thrawn's back, I think we can assume he's more or less on our side." Thrawn, he's on your side, even when he's killing you. This stuff cracks me up....but not really.

    Then she exhales through her teeth for this demoralizer: "If he's not back, I guess we'll all have to make due on our own." Mara Jade is not looking forward to going on living without Thrawn.

    I just don't enjoy reading page after page of characters slobbering over how awesome Zahn's pets are. Guess I'm weird like that. I'd dig out the books and actually count how many times this happens per book, but I don't think I can count that high.

    KT is universally panned for having Mandos on the brain, but it's okay for Zahn to do it?
    Last edited by CT-867-5309, Dec 5, 2012
  6. Ulicus Lit'ari

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    Heh. Miraluka Skywalker. [face_tee_hee]
  7. JediMara77 Force Ghost

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    I thought Traviss is disliked because of her views on the Jedi, not that she uses Mandos in her books. *shrug*

    I still don't see where Vader or any other movie characters are portrayed as bumbling fools in Zahn's, but I've had that argument many times before.
  8. Nobody145 Force Ghost

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    Feb 9, 2007
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    EDIT: I really shouldn't go into it too much, sorry.

    Basically if everyone and their brother knew about Thrawn, even in Allegiance and Choices of One, I might agree, if Vader wished he had been raised among the Chiss, then that would really stick out. But he doesn't. Also at least some of her books are just considered badly written by at least some people (Sacrifice, Revelation at the very least), but then most of LotF and FotJ were horrible (stupid plots, pointless character deaths, nothing to show for it, etc.).

    Also, I've always found Zahn's books quite readable at the very least. Well, it helps that he hasn't gotten involved with LotF or FotJ, as those series really dragged down all the authors involved. His two most recent books weren't anything too original or outstanding, especially in that crowded era, but while neither were super-great, I don't think they did that much wrong. And after watching TCW's Ahsoka, its not like Mara traded 20 blows on an equal basis with Vader. Vader going berserk at the mention of Luke is pretty normal, given how he killed at least several people for not capturing him.

    Its not like Mara was Palpatine's only secret assassin, and Vader already took care of a lot of problems anyway. Sure, its arguable why Palpatine bothered keeping Mara "innocent", but Palpatine doesn't like people stealing from his Empire, and Mara was useful at the very least, since using more corrupt people to catch corrupt people is just asking for trouble, and Palpatine isn't stupid.

    Also, personally, I just like that killing off characters isn't one of his Zahn's recycled plots. When did killing heroes become so common? At least in a universe where resurrections aren't allowed. And while Luke is possibly still too much farmboy, at least he is shown in a good ethical light, and the heroes finish the book looking heroic. After all the dark-angst of the last few years (NJO-onwards really), I'll take light adventure.
    Last edited by Nobody145, Dec 5, 2012
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  9. Riven_JTAC Jedi Grand Master

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    Just finished Choices of One last night. I do find Zahn's portrayal of Vader a bit odd. I like the idea that Vader does get taken over by his emotions from time to time and is fixated on finding Luke, but I think Zahn does take it a bit too far and make him seem outwardly weak. We're led to believe that Vader is an imposing and fear-inspiring figure. Thrawn maybe stands up to him, but I didn't get Ferrouz standing up to him. I also get the feeling that Zahn writes Vader to be a bit dense/not bright. We know that's not the case.
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  10. Robimus Force Ghost

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    Jul 6, 2007
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    None the less anakinfan's comment was about the mark of a "good author" being a writer that doesn't pander to their own favorites. By extension then Zahn wouldn't be a "good author". Maybe she is not saying he is a bad author, but the hint is there.
  11. Esg Jedi Grand Master

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    When she does it at the expense of the Jedi and anyone else while her characters are seen as hypocrites and strawmen. For example
    Last edited by Esg, Dec 5, 2012
  12. Sable_Hart Force Ghost

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    Respectfully, that's a pretty blatant strawman of what's been said here.
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  13. fett 4 Chosen One

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    I am not anakinfan and can only speak for myself on what I think makes a good or good author. Zahn (for me) is still a fun author to read and his books (Allegience aside) are still fun regardless, but that still should not stop me for disliking how he writes other charachters or plots.

    Now if say it was Michael Stackpole I WOULD say he was not a good author who does pander to his OC (Corran) and his books ARE painful to read. I find myself scratching my head how IJedi gets so highly regarded.
    Last edited by fett 4, Dec 5, 2012
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  14. Iron_lord Force Ghost

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    Thrawn's characterized as "possibly the greatest military mind the Empire had ever seen" in the narration before we even see him. Admittedly that may be coloured by Pellaeon's perspective.

    As to little put-downs of Vader- a case can be made that this is exactly how a normal person would regard someone who is that prone to summary executions, among other things.
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  15. Riven_JTAC Jedi Grand Master

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    Vader had no problem Force-choking an Admiral. Thrawn is incredibly ballsy or incredibly stupid.
    Last edited by Riven_JTAC, Dec 5, 2012
  16. Iron_lord Force Ghost

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    Can't recall any occuring to Vader's face- most on them (in the narration, and in the mouths of characters) occur after he's dead.
  17. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    Thing is though Sable, whether this comes from TTT or HoT, both stories predate the PT where we see Sidious' political manipulation skills in full flow, prior to that what was known of the Emperor in this respect? I don't think there was that much.
  18. Riven_JTAC Jedi Grand Master

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    Huh?

    See Star Wars. Dir. George Lucas. Twentieth Century Fox, 1977. Film.
  19. Iron_lord Force Ghost

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    The intro of the A New Hope novelization- and the "private musings" of Palpatine in the RoTJ novelization, both say how he came to power- basically taking advantage of existing corruption. WEG's Imperial Sourcebook suggests he played the bumbler- letting both major factions in the Senate think he could be a puppet- until he struck.

    I was responding to the claim that "Thrawn is being ballsy or stupid in putting down Vader".
    Last edited by Iron_lord, Dec 5, 2012
  20. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    I'd see that as being a pretty general description though, nor does it mesh with the PT - in ANH it's Vader who comes across as the key figure, but then at that point, the Emperor probably hadn't really been worked out much.
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  21. Iron_lord Force Ghost

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    In the ANH novel there's hints that the Emperor has isolated himself enough that he's lost touch with power- and that the governors are taking advantage of this to have a reign of terror.

    Later this idea was downplayed.
  22. kataja Force Ghost

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    In general, I think Zahn's novels stand out when it comes to characters commenting other characters' skills. [face_thinking] He does a lot of 'say it' - so much that it can be on the expense of 'show it.' It's a narrative shortcut but it works surprisingly well in a genre like Star Wars, where characters generally are based on stereotypes (and I don't mean that in a negative way). Now, at the same time, he uses these comments partially against each other - and I think here is where readers either get confused - or delighted that they 'get it.' The question I've started to ask myself more and more often though when reading him, is what object he actually has with whatever scene - and I admit I'm not always sure he's thought it quite through in his latter books. I credit Zahn very high for his ability to create 'delicious' scenarious (just think of Mara having to collaborate with the man she's sworn to kill in TTT) but from time to time, I feel that some of these moments come into conflict with other considerations. The Mara/Vader scene is IMO a perfect example of this. I think Zahn's objective was to create a fun and exciting scene - Vader gets angry and Mara has to manouver from there. And it works if you 'accept it', so to say. If you cheer for Mara, then the scene basically works, I think. But if you start to focus on Vader in it, it doesn't, at least not to the same extent. My own guess is that Zahn's never been out to 'diminish any OT character - but he's just not so interested in them, he thinks they "work" - no explanations needed. But if what you want as a reader is focus on the OT characters, a reason for their actions, an understanding of what they experience - then you risk disappointment.
  23. Iron_lord Force Ghost

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    I thought "Luke's point of view" as well as Leia's, worked pretty well- with Zahn helping us "get in their heads" so to speak. Han and Lando maybe a bit less so.
  24. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    Fair point. But OOU Zahn at least knew the story of Palpatine's takeover, because the basic gist of it (minus the clone wars bits) was already known to us. We know he took advantage of the corruption of the Republic and basically played himself to be both an innocent scholar (as Iron_lord points out) as well as a political idealist, according to the DSTC and Farlander Papers.

    The contention can only be supported IU if Jade was never, ever familiar with Palpatine's duplicity and she took everything he did at face value: in which case Palpatine has played Jade for a fool even more thoroughly than we'd previously suspected.

    So I'm willing, for IU purposes, to adopting such a construction but I don't think it was intended OOU. Zahn seemed to have a view that ROTJ's Emperor Palpatine was the definitive one, and he seems to not have paid much attention to the background of Senator/President Palpatine.
  25. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    Oh, Mara definitely comes across as a fool in both Allegiance and CoO.