I want to talk for a moment about how much I adore this panel from Empire’s End. Here is Leia and Threepio conducting normal business and having their conversations, and Jaina and Jacen entertaining themselves with a little bird/bat creature - what do you want to guess that’s Jacen’s doing? - and Anakin’s there on the sofa, and Leia’s watching him - and the entire thing is both very maternal and also very Leia as her own person.
So frequently throughout the comics and the EU it seems like writers don’t know how to allow her to be both. In Dark Empire II there’s this whole ‘Leia’s protective motherly instincts war with her need to help the New Republic, and as is always the case with Leia, the New Republic wins out!’ thing, and I literally eye-rolled. As I did the idea that the twins have been on New Alderaan for nearly two years and Leia has only seen them a couple of times.
This panel is a breath of fresh air. It’s a glimpse of what it might look like to be a mother, and also still keep your non-mother interests that so far feels all too rare for Leia.
(Plus, I just like the art style of Empire’s End way, way more than I like the Dark Empire comics art.)
This series follows Cade Skywalker, and a new hoard of Sith who once again are wreaking havoc throughout the galaxy. This isn’t one of my personal favorites, but my roommate loves it so I thought I’d throw it in. It is very good, and this era had an interesting set up. There are Jedi, Sith, and Imperial Knights. The Imperial Knights are sort of the Lawful Neutral to balance out the Jedi and Sith’s good and evil dichotomy.
I actually haven’t read this because it looked so good I decided I wanted to buy it when it came out as an Omnibus… which it hasn’t. Anyways, this is about Ania Solo, Han and Leia’s great great granddaughter getting into trouble as only a Skywalker/Solo can. It looks amazing.
Things that I haven’t read, but I think look interesting:
Vision of the Future by Timothy Zahn (1998, Bantam)
Vision of the Future continues and concludes the story begun in Specter of the Past. With the New Republic divided on how best to deal with Bothan involvement in the destruction of Caamas, a complete copy of the document implicating those individuals responsible appears to be the only way to avoid fragmentation or even civil war.
This novel’s plot consists of multiple (mostly failed) attempts to retrieve a complete copy of this document; the scheming of Moff Disra and his triumvirate to expand the Empire and exacerbate the Republic’s situation; and Admiral Pellaeon’s quest to make peace with the Republic and get to the bottom of Thrawn’s apparent return.
The aforementioned failed missions for the Caamas Document don’t lack for excitement. A rendezvous with a man Talon Karrde has reason to believe wants him dead; an infiltration of the Imperial Remnant capital of Bastion; and a daring raid on a heavily defended Imperial base all make for an engrossing read, and it helps that Zahn never tips his hand regarding the outcome of these missions, leaving the reader in suspense until the end.
In Pellaeon, Zahn has created arguably the most sympathetic and even heroic Imperial character in the Star Wars canon, and that really comes through in this novel. As an aging military officer weary of a war well past its expiration date, he serves as a good foil for the more typically jingoistic Moff Disra.
There’s a lot to hold a reader’s interest in Vision of the Future (at nearly seven hundred pages, this one is meaty for a Star Wars book), but the novel’s most captivating passages follow Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade on their mission to the remote world of Nirauan. Here, the two of them find out just what the Hand of Thrawn is: a fortress established by Thrawn on the border of the Unknown Regions of the galaxy. Its current custodian reveals that its purpose is to guard the known galaxy against outside threats, making some oblique references to what would later become the Yuuzhan Vong of the New Jedi Order series.
In addition to the Hand of Thrawn, Luke and Mara discover their feelings for one another. In one passage, Mara admonishes Luke for the mistakes he’s made over the past ten years. This also reads a little like a critique of some of the expanded universe’s more regrettable storylines, like the Emperor’s clones or Luke’s surprising ineptitude at running the JediAcademy. Luke’s acknowledgement of his mistakes, however, allows both of them to become more open with one another, making for some effectively romantic passages; they don’t quite reach the level of Han and Leia’s kiss in The Empire Strikes Back, but they ain’t too shabby.
The Hand of Thrawn Duology is a perfect conclusion to an era of Star Wars novels that simultaneously paves the way for the next phase of the expanded universe. Timothy Zahn delivers the same suspense, excitement, mystery, and grandeur he first brought to the Star Wars universe in theThrawntrilogy, and this two-part series is at least the equal of those novels. I happily recommend both of these books without any reservation.