Guest Review: Star Wars: The Last Command by Timothy Zahn

October 6, 2012

Wel­come to another install­ment of  “Thoughts from the Ran­cor Pit” in which Andrew and David from the fab­u­lous blog “Ran­cors Love to Read” will review books tak­ing place in the Star Wars uni­verse. This time they are review­ing The Last Command the third install­ment in The Thrawn Tril­ogy which pop­u­lar­ized the Star Wars books.

Also, don’t forget that today, 6 October, 2012 is the Star Wars Reads day which will be marked with activities promoting Star Wars, reading and reading Star Wars in book stores across the nation. The good folks at Star Wars Reads have given Man of la Book some cool giveaways to promote this most excellent event. Check it out and enterTHIS IS A ONE DAY GIVEAWAY, I will pick the winner on Sunday.

Book Review Star Wars The Last Command by Timothy Zahn

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5/5 Rancors – The Last Command is the climactic novel in Timothy Zahn’s superb Thrawn Trilogy, a series published in the early 1990’s that laid the groundwork for much of the Star Wars Expanded Universe that was to come. All of Zahn’s carefully constructed plotting comes together here in an action-packed and highly rewarding tale, intertwining the militaristic and precise storyline of Grand Admiral’s Thrawn’s campaign against the New Republic with the more metaphysical struggles of Luke Skywalker and insane Jedi clone Joruus C’baoth. All the main characters from the Original Trilogy take starring roles alongside Thrawn, C’baoth, smuggler Talon Karrde and ex-Emperor’s Hand Mara Jade.

Grand Admiral Thrawn has built the armies and resources he requires for a full-out assault on the New Republic. Key to his plans are the clone army he’s creating out of Spaarti cylinders, his newly-acquired Katana fleet of Clone Wars-era dreadnoughts, and cloaking shield technology taken from the Emperor’s private storehouse of treasures and technology on the hidden planet Wayland. Thrawn’s plans for disabling Coruscant are innovative and quite unexpected, making extremely good use of the cloaking shields. As in the first two books, he is generally a step ahead of his opponents, using his careful analysis of people and cultures’ artworks to gain a heightened understanding of their motivations and likely courses of action. For some, Zahn’s portrayal of Thrawn might verge too close to making him omniscient, but several key errors act to humanize (“Chiss-ize?”) the Grand Admiral and make him more believable. To me personally, Thrawn is one of the most intriguing and entertaining villains in all of the Star Wars stories.

Significant portions of this story focus on Talon Karrde and his efforts to unite disparate bands of smugglers against the Empire. Karrde’s journey finally takes on aspects of Han Solo’s from the films, as Karrde discovers a wellspring of goodness within himself and is finally able to put profit behind helping people and saving the galaxy. It’s interesting learning about the struggles for power between the smugglers after the untimely demise of Jabba the Hutt, and the scenes in which Karrde is double-crossed as he attempts to persuade his peers to his side are quite gripping.

Luke has come to terms with his disappointment at learning that C’baoth is a power-hungry and insane clone of the real Jedi Master, and in this final volume he takes a more proactive role to set things right. Echoing the days of being Rebels fighting a guerilla war against the Imperials, Luke and his friends violate all sorts of rules to break Mara out of imprisonment on Coruscant and use her to get to Wayland and set the stage for the final confrontation with C’baoth. For her part, Mara must deal with the titular last command of the Emperor’s implanted in her head, ordering her to kill Luke Skywalker. Zahn’s way of permitting her to deal with this imperative and simultaneously allowing Luke to live is quite unexpected.

Of the three books, this one has the most material that is in conflict with the prequel films and later EU, but for the most part everything still hangs together well enough. The clones are portrayed as far more unstable than the ones we met in the films and none of them show any evidence of individual personalities here. There are some timeline things that are a little off, but again, the overall feel of Zahn’s story works just fine with everything that has come since.

The Thrawn Trilogy is a terrific Star Wars reading experience and fundamentally important to understanding the Bantam series of novels published throughout the 1990s. Zahn continued on to write quite a few more Star Wars novels, fleshing out the stories of Outbound Flight, Mara Jade, and the enigmatic Hand of Thrawn. Highly recommended!

Buy this Star Wars Book in paper or elec­tronic copy*

More Books by Timothy Zahn

Orig­i­nally pub­lished at

5/5 Rancors – The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn is certainly one of the best series in the Star Wars realm. The Last Command is the third book and likely the best, even though the first two are excellent. Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the best characters ever even if he is on the wrong side. His intelligence, military acumen, and sense of anticipation are unsurpassed. He presents a genuine threat to the Republic forces, and he is great fun to watch in action.

The Last Command manages to keep several different, but related stories going throughout the book without confusing the reader. First and foremost, Thrawn has set his sights on destroying the Republic forces and ruling a new Empire. Such an action appears to be well within his capabilities. Second, the rogue Jedi Joruus C’baoth is convinced that he will be the next ruler of the Empire and that Luke, Leia, and Leia’s twins will switch to his side and help him fulfill his mission. Third, Mara Jade continues her efforts to understand her true purpose and whether or not she is irrevocably bound to the command in her head that tells her she is to kill Luke Skywalker. Fourth, the smuggler Talon Karrde again plays a major role in this book. He is uncertain of where his loyalties should lie and believes that he only wants to remain neutral and profitable. He quickly discovers that neutrality is just an academic concept if Thrawn thinks your services will be useful to him.

The characters in the Thrawn Trilogy are excellent. Of course, we have most of our heroes from the films, plus Thrawn, C’baoth, Karrde, and Mara Jade. During the trilogy we also are introduced to the alien species Noghri. The Empire mistreated them for years, and some of their best warriors were forced to leave their home planet and fight for Thrawn’s forces. One actually serves as Thrawn’s personal bodyguard. Leia has worked with them so they will understand how the Empire treated them, and she has met with success. The Noghri turn out to be invaluable as security for Han and Leia’s twins and also play a huge role in the book’s climactic battle.

The action moves back and forth from space to Coruscant to Wayland (location of Palpatine’s personal storeroom) to the Bilbringi shipyards. The book is paced with surprises and great action. The Thrawn Trilogy is one you will not want to miss, and The Last Command is particularly good.

Buy this Star Wars Book in paper or elec­tronic copy*

More Books by Timothy Zahn

*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account
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