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  1. In Memory of LAJ_FETT: Please share your remembrances and condolences HERE

Lit Heir to the Empire 30 years Anniversary does it still hold up ?

Discussion in 'Literature' started by fett 4, Mar 1, 2021.

  1. fett 4

    fett 4 Chosen One star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 2, 2000
    30 years ago In 1991 Heir to the Empire dropped by Timothy Zahn. Everyone knows its became a best seller. Made Zahn a world wide name and his characters Thrawn and Mara are well known with Thrawn still in use to this day and I wouldn't be too surprised if Mara makes an apparence at some point too. Zahn is still merrily churning out Thrawn books for the paychecks to this day, actual story and character development is another issue but we will leave that for now.
    Now after a recent conversation with @AusStig on the Dark Empire thread. It got me thinking on Heir and the Thrawn Trilogy as a whole. So for readers 30 years later what holds up and what doesn't hold up I'd love to hear your thoughts ?
    Do you still like the stories or do you dislike them or is it a bit of both. With Dark Empire I love the scope in that story. Do you get it in the Thrawn books. Do you feel the OT characters are well written ?
    How do you like Zahns new characters and not just Thrawn but Karrade and the Noghri and Bel Ibis etc ?
    So please give your thoughts
     
  2. AusStig

    AusStig Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 3, 2010
    So I normally don't post in Thrawn threads. Because I don't want to be a downer and just say I hate things.

    But I was tagged.

    So no I don't think it holds up.

    Heir to the Empire is the best of the Trilogy, by being merely ok.

    For TT to work for you, you need to accept thrawn as smart. Which I don't. His views are based on an old sci-fi idea of "planet of the hats", ie every alien has one character trait and they all act like that. Something I ( as a fan of B5 and DS9 growing up and then Mass Effect) never GOT. It was never something that I bought into, so Thrawn basing his tactics on these hats never made sense to me.

    Added to that, the art thing. Art is a subset of society, just like the armed forces. Both reflect their society, but neither are wholistic and they both diverge. In Ancient Greece a lot of their art has single heroes, but their war was formation based. Not to mention both change over time. To take art from 100 or 1000 or more years ago and apply it to a current military just doesn't make sense to me, it isn't something I find smart. I think it is dumb.
     
  3. fett 4

    fett 4 Chosen One star 5

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    Jan 2, 2000
    For me its kind of both. The basic plot works. Warlord whose a Military genius takes over a pretty much beaten Empire to lead them back from the brink and C'boath as the outright insane dark Jedi (Sith were seen as a race back then) as opposed to Palpatine/Vader makes a nice contrast
    Its more the execution. Take for example the very first scene in the book. Thrawn sends a lone TIE forward which is shot. He says he deduces from that, that was Elomin in charge o_O
    Like how ??? All he knows is that a loan enemy ship was shot by the NR, there is no way he can know who is in command of that fleet. Hell an NR pilot could've shot it without permission from his Commander for all he knew [face_thinking]

    Then you've got the famous Zahnisms, reading "his lip twitched wryly" and a character saying "point" almost every other sentence [face_plain]. It can be a bit much.

    The Noghri try to kidnapp Leia seemed to be repeated a lot before she meets Khabraka at the end of the book for set up for book 2

    Even to this day I still don't understand how everyone suddenly becomes friends with Karrade (who does feel like a self insert by Zahn) and they feel they owe him. He kidnapped Luke, you think Luke and Han might be a bit angry or at least mistrustful about that but nope , they suddenly become good buddies and Luke feels he owes Karrade [face_thinking]

    Overall to me retreading it. It feels like a first draft . A good first draft with some good ideas but still a first draft.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
  4. Gallandro007

    Gallandro007 Jedi Master star 1

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    Nov 7, 2014
    I think Thrawn is just a conceited hack who by chance ends up with more power than he could ever dream of.

    He spins his reading of alien art and gets lucky in a few battles..

    Most of his strategies are very simple and he relied a lot on delta source for info.

    The real danger to our heroes is Cboath.

    So accepting this I would then say the Trilogy holds up very well. It's a great adventure with all our heroes, with Luke meeting Mara as the highlight.

    9 out of 10
     
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  5. AusStig

    AusStig Force Ghost star 5

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    Feb 3, 2010
    Oh yes, I also hate how he had Leia think herself in a circle just to have Mara save her. I feel like he didn't watch the same ANH I did.

    I think that is more how he writes all his OC's. They are just the best.

    That is in an interesting view. Since we don't meet him for about half the first book. So I cannot say I agree.

    I don't disagree with the rest of your statement though.

    Well except for Mara, she always felt to me like she had a LOT of luck in that she had already left the empire and fallen in with a good smuggler, by the time she meets Luke.

    I also didn't like her not rejecting the Emperor. She never sees the evil of him or the Empire and rejects it. Maybe Avatar Zuko spoiled me but I was just expecting more.
     
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  6. fett 4

    fett 4 Chosen One star 5

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    Jan 2, 2000
    In Zahn Anniversary book. He says Thrawn killing the Officer was thrown in at the last minute by Sue Rostoni as she felt Thrawn had been too good and they had to remind the audience he was a bad guy. You can tell Zahn disagreed with that decision.

    When it comes to Mara, Zahn in interviews said she was never on the Darkside and only went after bad people. Now that annoyed me a lot. I could see her thinking she was doing good while doing bad is one thing but to literally sate. Nope she never did bad things while working for the ultimate bad guy ....
     
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  7. AusStig

    AusStig Force Ghost star 5

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    Feb 3, 2010
    Yeah, thrawn is a slaver and fighting to restore the Empire, he is in no way 'good'.

    Yes, this annoys me. Mara must have done bad things to pretend she didn't is just, dumb.

    but anyway, I will let other more positive people, post here for a bit, since I could complain about all the dumb stuff Zahn does for days.
     
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  8. Daneira

    Daneira Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    Jun 30, 2016
    There are two instances of "point" used in this fashion in Heir to the Empire, three in Dark Forces Rising, and two in The Last Command. Hardly every other sentence.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
  9. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord 26X Wacky Wednesday/23x Hangman Winner star 10 VIP - Game Winner

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    Sep 2, 2012
    We meet C'baoth a lot earlier than "half-way into the first book". The Wayland scene is maybe 20% of the way through the book at most.
     
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  10. fett 4

    fett 4 Chosen One star 5

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    Jan 2, 2000
    Wow I didn't count them but ill take your word for it :) I was speaking about Zahmisms in general and just using those as an example to be specific :cool:

    And in terms of praise. The overall story of the Trilogy is good and I like Mara as a character and love interest for Luke, I just don't think she needs to be protected as a character though admittedly that comes after the TTT and not during it :-B
     
  11. AusStig

    AusStig Force Ghost star 5

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    Feb 3, 2010
    Ok, but he still isn't the climax of any of the books. They are all thrawn. So I still think it is a stretch to say he is the main threat. He is more dangerous but the books don't give him a lot of weight.
     
  12. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord 26X Wacky Wednesday/23x Hangman Winner star 10 VIP - Game Winner

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    Sep 2, 2012
    The Battle of Wayland gave him a lot of weight IMO - the fear that he could use his powers to make the clones mental copies of himself, the fact that they are so scared of him that they're willing to self-destruct Mount Tantiss with them inside, and so forth. That's as much a climax as the Battle of Bilbringi is - maybe more so.
     
  13. blackmyron

    blackmyron Chosen One star 7

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    Oct 29, 2005
    Still wonderful - it feels like a living, breathing universe, thanks to the inclusion of the WEG material.
    And Thrawn's 'informed attribute' is really just a setup for his eventual end, one of the best parts of the series.
    Also, props to having titles that actually mean something. Especially appreciate that "Dark Force Rising" has a wonderful double meaning.
     
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  14. AusStig

    AusStig Force Ghost star 5

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    Feb 3, 2010
    Well are we talking about the Trilogy or just Heir,

    But like I said He is more dangerous, but the trilogy doesn't give him weight. At least in my view. He isn't treated as a threat to the galaxy, Thrawn is.

    Cboath is only a personal threat to the heroes and then mostly Luke. Outside of Heir when he is just used to justify the kidnapping attempts on Leia.



    Cboath is also used to 'explain' the defeat at endor. By introducing Battle meditation. While I like BM I don't like that Zahn feels that there needs to be an explanation for how the rebels won. Which I don't get as there are lots of cases when out numbered forces have won, even with out a tech advantage.
     
  15. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord 26X Wacky Wednesday/23x Hangman Winner star 10 VIP - Game Winner

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    Sep 2, 2012
    You were talking about the trilogy in that particular case:


    Books, not "Book".
    The Last Command:

    “The way Luke and Mara talk about him, C'baoth's at least as dangerous as the Emperor was. Maybe even more so."
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
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  16. AusStig

    AusStig Force Ghost star 5

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    Feb 3, 2010
    Yes that was my mistake. I don't want to get off topic, sorry.

    Cboath is interesting as an evil mentor to Luke, but I think the madness undermines it a touch.

    I will say I think Heir is the best of the bunch.
     
  17. Irredeemable Fanboy

    Irredeemable Fanboy Jedi Master star 4

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    Mar 27, 2020
    I think the Trilogy as a whole holds up pretty well, i think Heir is definetly the weakest book, it suffers from the typical slower build up that all the Bantam Era trilogies suffered, this one has you hooked in the first two chapters, but then the rest up to the middle is kind of filler-ish, with Luke's mission to Dagobah and the uncovering of the ancient tech in the cave, the investigation, it felt really slow at the beginning, that said, there's something these books do really well, and that is the methodical nature of each faction's plans, especially Thrawn's, you can see how each movement plays out in a logical way and why it does or doesn't work, the whole trilogy, at least in the military aspect, feels like a very good game of chess put into paper.

    That is an aspect i like about Zahn's writing, he does justice to the harder sci-fi military part of Star Wars, it explores it in ways no other material before him had, and that i feel is what made these books stand out, even from the later books that came out in this Universe, Zahn, despite being the first author, he has a very unique "voice" in Star Wars literature.

    Thrawn's ability to understand and read tactics based on a species' art does require some suspension of disbelief, of course, it can look kinda cheesy when you come down to it, but i like it, it gives Thrawn sort of a quirky personality that contrasts with his very serious demeanor and it gives sort of an explanation as to why he is so brilliant, he looks not at the art, but at the psychology behind the art, and brings greater power to his tactical ability through that understanding.

    That is not to say he couldn't have been written as a good tactician without the art thing, but i feel this is what makes him stand out, it may look cheesy or impossible to some, but it is part of why the character became so iconic.

    And that leads me to the next point, the new characters Zahn introduced in this Trilogy, every single one, has a very distinct personality, and generally fit so well with the Star Wars Universe, while being very unique themselves, i find evey new adittion to the lore and character that Zahn created here to be iconic, and many people do so as well, Karrde, Mara, Thrawn, Pellaeon, the Noghri, Myrkr with the Vornskr and the Ysalamiri, Fey'lya, Captain Mazzic, and even Ghent is very well remembered among fans, and some became synonymus with the EU, because he did a great job with the new characters and concepts here.

    That said, in his later work, this is not so much the case, his Hand of Thrawn characters or concepts weren't as memorable (still good, i like Major Tierce a lot for instance but it is clear that they aren't remembered with the same fondness as the others i mentioned) and then books after that like Survivor's Quest had honestly forgettable characters, and also in his later works he falls a lot for character favoritism, where his pet characters (Mara and Thrawn especially) are always so much better than everyone else, and can do no wrong, but that isn't on the Thrawn Trilogy itself, at least not enough to be noticeable anyway, i feel he treats his characters fairly when in conjunction with characters from the movies.

    Speaking of which, i think the OT characters in Heir, and in the Trilogy, are well handled, but they don't break new ground either, it's noticeable how Zahn likes to write about Lando and Han, though i find his Han characterization to be the weakest of the bunch, many people have pointed out how he's just constantly worried in these books, and i can see that, i also think he relies too much on quotes from the movies with Han, it is a thing of the Bantam Era in general, though.

    Like i said before, he characterizes the OT heroes really well, and with Luke and Leia, he takes them to new directions: Leia becomes a mother and deals with the Noghri issue, something very fitting of her character as a diplomat and also ties to her lineage with Vader, while Luke is just starting to form his New Jedi Order, we see the first steps here, him recollecting information about older Jedi that leads him to C'baoth, plus he is tied to Mara's arc, which is one of the best things about the Trilogy as well.

    However, i can't help but think that he returned Han and Lando to a more comfortable status quo, they are no longer generals serving the NR directly or anything, Lando is now a businessman again and Han is... What does Han do again in this era? He's a freelancer? A New Republic privateer? Whatever it is, he made him more similar to the Han we knew in the OT, with his hands in the Underworld, instead of the General Han we see in late ROTJ and in other EU media that touched the times before Heir, i feel these returns to the status quo for these characters weren't really necessary, i feel he just returned them to how they were on the OT with not much effort put into it.

    The best character from the Trilogy is obviously Mara (jk it's Karrde), her arc is very well executed with the mystery at the beginning as to how she knows Luke and why she hates him, then slowly by necessity they become allies, and she begins actively defying the Empire in Dark Force Rising because of her loyality to Karrde, looking for Luke for help in rescuing him, and in the third book she begins questioning her loyality to the Empire itself and the command implanted into her, her doubts only grow after training with Luke and learning that the Emperor had lied to her about his death, culminating in the showdown with C'baoth where she fulfills her command... by saving Luke from his clone, in the end closing the Trilogy with Luke giving her the Skywalker Lightsaber, a symbol of his trust in her and a promise for a better future for her as a Jedi.

    She is a very well written character with one of the most believable "turning good" stories.

    So that's generally what i think, i'm sorry if i went on about the whole Trilogy too much when the OP is a bit more focused on Heir, but i wanted to explain why i think the whole thing holds up to this day, especially considering that i first read it in 2016 if i remember correctly.
     
  18. fett 4

    fett 4 Chosen One star 5

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    Jan 2, 2000
    No that's a great post thank you. I concentrated on Heir but really should've focused on the Trilogy as a whole. You've also said better than me what I think works and does not work with this 30 year Trilogy :)

    Well you didn't mention Luuke but even Zahn himself has made fun of that in the past ;)
     
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  19. AusStig

    AusStig Force Ghost star 5

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    Feb 3, 2010
    No that's a great post thank you. I concentrated on Heir but really should've focused on the Trilogy as a whole. You've also said better than me what I think works and does not work with this 30 year Trilogy :)

    Well you didn't mention Luuke but even Zahn himself has made fun of that in the past ;)[/QUOTE]

    I find Heir the best of the bunch, maybe because I don't find Thrawn smart.

    But I have no issues with Luuke. He was just a clone and that was all his purpose in the story is.
     
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  20. fett 4

    fett 4 Chosen One star 5

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    Jan 2, 2000
    I find Heir the best of the bunch, maybe because I don't find Thrawn smart.

    But I have no issues with Luuke. He was just a clone and that was all his purpose in the story is.[/QUOTE]

    You say you think Heir is the best, may I ask what are your thoughts (likes and dislikes) of Dark Force Rising and Last Command as stories/sequels to Heir ?
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  21. AusStig

    AusStig Force Ghost star 5

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    Feb 3, 2010
    You say you think Heir is the best, may I ask what are your thoughts (likes and dislikes) of Dark Force Rising and Last Command as stories/sequels to Heir ?[/QUOTE]

    Well Heir is the only book that treats Luke well for 1. As well it is the only book where it is the original heroes who take the lead in beating Thrawn.

    DFR has 'middle chapter syndrom' in that it has a lot of set up but not much pay off. I also find the hunt for 40+ year old warships dumb. These ships, even if you get them to work, would need a major refit to be used for anything other than commerce raiding. I don't care how much tech is stagnant. 40 years in the void with no maintaining will wreck the ships.

    Though I did like the twist that there were only 16 left.

    I honestly don't remember what Luke did in DFR, he might have hung out with Crazy Jedi man or that may have been in Heir.

    Also another Zahn OC who is super smart and awesome and HE is the only one who can match Thrawn, not Luke not even Han or Leia. This new guy.

    I also don't like Han, just in general. So him having these adventures does nothing for me.

    Also apparently the military are the only people who matter in the democracy so that sucks.

    So DFR is meh.

    But Last is BAD. Thrawn loses his inside source and it has no effect. All the work the heroes do and it makes no difference, they might as well have played Pazak for all their scenes. The art things comes back HARD and now it feels even worse, I can see the hand of the author and I am unimpressed.

    Leia gets shafted as the only reason the Noghri listen to her is because she is Vaders daughter (the scent thing doesn't make sense, but Zahn wouldn't have know that) and even then it's not her skills or intelligence that win them over but just finding a droid with all the evidence. (though the langue twist was clever).

    Luke gets it even worse, it's Mara who kills the bad guys while Luke gets jobbed. Even then I find Mara's ENTIRE arc very weak, I remember getting to the end and say "That's it?" it was so under whelming.

    And then the ending "thrawn can't lose, he can't be beaten so I will just kill him" because of course you would. And it's not even the heroes who do it, it is, wait for it another Zahn OC.

    By the end the heroes feel like side characters.

    As well there is the whole planet of the Hats thing. Like when he uses the "shot through planet shields" trick, and I guess those aliens are really isolationist cause there is no none them on the planet?

    And my 'favourite' like "he is a Bothan". When asked why Borsk is power hungry, Leia says he is a Bothan. As if his race is the only thing that could ever define him. I hate it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
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  22. fett 4

    fett 4 Chosen One star 5

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    Jan 2, 2000
    Well Heir is the only book that treats Luke well for 1. As well it is the only book where it is the original heroes who take the lead in beating Thrawn.

    DFR has 'middle chapter syndrom' in that it has a lot of set up but not much pay off. I also find the hunt for 40+ year old warships dumb. These ships, even if you get them to work, would need a major refit to be used for anything other than commerce raiding. I don't care how much tech is stagnant. 40 years in the void with no maintaining will wreck the ships.

    Though I did like the twist that there were only 16 left.

    I honestly don't remember what Luke did in DFR, he might have hung out with Crazy Jedi man or that may have been in Heir.

    Also another Zahn OC who is super smart and awesome and HE is the only one who can match Thrawn, not Luke not even Han or Leia. This new guy.

    I also don't like Han, just in general. So him having these adventures does nothing for me.

    Also apparently the military are the only people who matter in the democracy so that sucks.

    So DFR is meh.

    But Last is BAD. Thrawn loses his inside source and it has no effect. All the work the heroes do and it makes no difference, they might as well have played Pazak for all their scenes. The art things comes back HARD and now it feels even worse, I can see the hand of the author and I am unimpressed.

    Leia gets shafted as the only reason the Noghri listen to her is because she is Vaders daughter (the scent thing doesn't make sense, but Zahn wouldn't have know that) and even then it's not her skills or intelligence that win them over but just finding a droid with all the evidence. (though the langue twist was clever).

    Luke gets it even worse, it's Mara who kills the bad guys while Luke gets jobbed. Even then I find Mara's ENTIRE arc very weak, I remember getting to the end and say "That's it?" it was so under whelming.

    And then the ending "thrawn can't lose, he can't be beaten so I will just kill him" because of course you would. And it's not even the heroes who do it, it is, wait for it another Zahn OC.

    By the end the heroes feel like side characters.

    As well there is the whole planet of the Hats thing. Like when he uses the "shot through planet shields" trick, and I guess those aliens are really isolationist cause there is no none them on the planet?

    And my 'favourite' like "he is a Bothan". When asked why Borsk is power hungry, Leia says he is a Bothan. As if his race is the only thing that could ever define him. I hate it.[/QUOTE]

    I agree from a narrative perspective Mara killing both Luuke (which made sense) and Cboath (which didn't make sense) was a bit much. Given he'd been trying to kidnap both her and her children I'd have had Leia do it. As it is she arrives late and then does nothing in the final scenes. Zahn may as well have left her Courscant.
     
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  23. Irredeemable Fanboy

    Irredeemable Fanboy Jedi Master star 4

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    Mar 27, 2020
    Well, i did mention "Luke's clone" when talking about how Mara killed him, and that's indicative of what i think about him, i agree with @AusStig i think Luuke serves his purpose to the story as to have Mara use a loophole to get free of the mental conditioning and also helping Luke at the same time, plus giving Luke a mirror match to make the encounter with C'baoth more difficult, of course his name is beyond cheesy but i love it hahahaha.

    His death was at his Noghri bodyguard, because of the fact that Leia exposed how the Empire and Thrawn had manipulated them, it is a culmination of that subplot that is Thrawn's biggest blunder in the storyline, he never suspects that the Noghri have switched sides before it is too late, and he gets his comeuppance for using them that way.

    So it is basically Leia who makes Thrawn's death happen.

    That's the one where he hangs out with C'baoth and realizes he's just nuts, he then joins up with Mara to rescue Karrde, and later he's the one that gets into the main Katana ship to take control of it with Han.

    Something that always confused me about Dark Force Rising was Thrawn capturing the Falcon and how it is brought back, i feel the way it is presented is not very clear, nor do any characters make a big deal out of it (Han really SHOULD, it's his ship).

    On Mara being the one to kill C'baoth, i think Zahn did it for two reasons:

    1. This is Mara's story at its core, so her beating the main bad guy here (one that has been trying to push her to the Dark Side as well and is echoing Palpatine) makes sense as to cap off her character.

    2. I think he wanted to avoid Luke directly killing the main villain, it's a thing we see in many works from this era, Luke rarely goes for the kill, at least directly, it's always someone/something else that does it and Luke is potrayed as trying to end the conflict without violence (even with C'baoth being completely insane, he tries to reason with him before they start fighting and he keeps going on about how he need help throughout the fight).

    Plus, Luke did carry the fight for Mara a bit, even if he was covered in debris and couldn't move, he helped her a lot through the Force.

    But yeah, Han and Leia's inclusion to the fight wasn't that well implemented, they were basically there just so that they can get in danger, and i can see @fett 4 's point on Leia being the one to take C'baoth down, i just think it's fine as it is with Mara.
     
  24. Darth_Foo

    Darth_Foo Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 24, 2003
    I first read TTT back in 1996 and they continue to be my favorite SW books along with Darth Plaguies and Labyrinth of Evil. Before they came put SW was just 3 good movies that my older brothers had toys of which I broke a few. Suddenly the galaxy and story as a whole became larger and more interesting. To me the only thing that doesn't hold up is the dating system because it was assumed the Clone Wars happens before the fall of the Jedi. My only complaint is the exotic drink called "hot chocolate" :oops:

    Dark Empire is imo one of the worst comics I've read in or out of SW so very happy Bantam chose not to do a novelization and let Zahn ignore it and make fun of it in HoT because I sure as heck ignore it too.
     
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  25. Irredeemable Fanboy

    Irredeemable Fanboy Jedi Master star 4

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    Mar 27, 2020
    Luke loves his hot chocolate.
    [​IMG]
    He's a pure soul, never goes with alcohol, always chocolate or blue/green milk.
     
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