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Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy #1: Heir to the Empire

Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy #1: Heir to the Empire

4.6 220
by Timothy Zahn

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It’s five years after the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star, defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and drove the remnants of the old Imperial Starfleet to a distant corner of the galaxy. Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting Jedi twins. And Luke Skywalker has become the first in a long-awaited line of Jedi Knights.


It’s five years after the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star, defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and drove the remnants of the old Imperial Starfleet to a distant corner of the galaxy. Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting Jedi twins. And Luke Skywalker has become the first in a long-awaited line of Jedi Knights.
But thousands of light-years away, the last of the Emperor’s warlords, Grand Admiral Thrawn, has taken command of the shattered Imperial fleet, readied it for war, and pointed it at the fragile heart of the New Republic. For this dark warrior has made two vital discoveries that could destroy everything the courageous men and women of the Rebel Alliance fought so hard to build.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
YA-- This first book in a trilogy takes place five years after Return of the Jedi (Ballantine, 1983) by James Kahn. Han and Leia are now married and expecting twins; Luke is continuing his training as a Jedi, while training Leia. The Republic is at peace, having defeated Darth Vader and the evil Empire. Enter Grand Admiral Thrawn, ex-warlord of the empire, with his rogue Jedi knight. They attack the Republic and attempt to kidnap Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia for their own nefarious purposes. It's great fun to romp with the ``Star Wars'' cast of humans, droids, and aliens again. While it is not on a par with Zahn's creative, powerful works such as Cascade Point (Baen, 1987), Heir is well written for what it is. Recommended for YA collections needing a Star Wars fix. --John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA2?-

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Star Wars: The Thrawn Series , #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.86(w) x 4.14(h) x 1.16(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Star Wars

By Timothy Zahn

Bantam Books

Copyright © 1994 Timothy Zahn
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0553634852

Chapter One

The Imperial Star Destroyer moved silently through the blackness of space, its lights dimmed, its huge sublight engines blazing with the urgency of its mission.

The man standing on the command walkway could feel the rumble of those engines through his boots as he listened to the muttered conversation from the crew pits below him. The conversation sounded worried, too, as worried as he himself felt.

Though for entirely different reasons. For him, this was a personal matter, the frustration of a professional dealing with fallible beings and the capriciousness of a universe that refused to always live up to one's preconceived notions as to what was fitting and proper. An error had been made, possibly a very serious error. And as with all errors, there would likely be unpleasant consequences riding in its wake.

From the starboard crew pit came a muffled curse, and he stifled a grimace. None of that mattered to the Star Destroyer's crew. Their worries stemmed solely from their performance, and whether they would be facing a pat on the back or a boot in the rear at journey's end.

Or possibly they were merely worried about the sublight engines blowing up. On this ship, one never knew.

He shifted his attention downward, his gaze leaving the grandeur of the starscape and coming to rest on the bow of the Star Destroyer stretching out more than a kilometer in front of him. He could remember the days when the mere sight of one of these ships would send shivers up the spines of the bravest of fighters and the most arrogant of smugglers.

But those days were gone, hopefully forever. The Empire had been rehabilitated, though of course many within the New Republic still refused to believe that. Under Supreme Commander Pellaeon's firm guidance, the Empire had signed a treaty with the New Republic, and was no longer any more threatening than the Bothans or the Corporate Sector or anyone else.

Almost unwillingly, he smiled as he gazed along the Star Destroyer's long prow. Of course, even in the old days of the Empire, this particular ship would probably have inspired more bewilderment than fear.

It was, after all, hard to take a bright red Star Destroyer very seriously.

From behind him, audible even over the rumble of the engines, came the sound of clumping boots. "Okay, Karrde," Booster Terrik grunted as he came to a halt at his side. "The comm's finally fixed. You can transmit whenever you want."

"Thank you," Talon Karrde said, turning back toward the crew pits and trying hard not to blame Booster for the state his equipment was in. An Imperial Star Destroyer was a huge amount of ship to take care of, and Booster never had nearly enough personnel to do the job right. "H'sishi?" he called. "Go."

[Yes, Chieftain,] the Togorian called back from the comm board, her fur fluffing slightly as her clawed fingers touched the keys. [Transmission complete. Shall I begin alerting the rest of the network now?]

"Yes," Karrde said. "Thank you."

H'sishi nodded and returned her attention to the board.

With that, Karrde knew, he'd done all he could for the moment. Turning again to face the stars, he folded his arms across his chest and tried hard to cultivate his patience. "It'll be all right," Booster murmured from beside him. "We'll be around this star in half an hour and be able to jump to lightspeed. We can be in the Domgrin system in two standard days, tops."

"Assuming the hyperdrive doesn't break down again." Karrde waved a hand. "Sorry. I'm just--you understand."

"Sure," Booster said. "But relax, all right? This is Luke and Mara we're talking about, not some fresh-hatched Neimoidian grubs. Whatever's going on, they're not going to be caught flat-footed."

"Maybe," Karrde said. "Though even Jedi can be surprised." He shook his head. "But that's not the point, is it? The point is that I messed up. I don't like it when that happens."

Booster shrugged his massive shoulders. "Like any of the rest of us do?" he asked pointedly. "You have to face the facts, Karrde, and Fact Number One is that you simply can't know everyone who works for you anymore."

Karrde glared out at the mockingly cheerful red ship stretched out in front of him. But Booster was right. This whole thing had gotten completely out of hand.

He'd started out modestly enough, merely offering to provide timely information to the leaders of the New Republic and Empire so that both sides could be assured that the other wasn't plotting against them. And for the first couple of years everything had gone just fine.

The trouble had come when the various planetary and sector governments within the New Republic had woken up to the benefits of this handy service and decided they wanted aboard, too. After the near civil war that had broken out over the Caamas Document, Karrde hadn't really felt like turning them down, and with permission from his clients on Coruscant and Bastion he'd gone ahead and expanded his operations.

Which naturally meant expanding his personnel as well. In retrospect, he supposed, it had only been a matter of time before something like this happened. He just wished it hadn't happened to Luke and Mara. "Maybe not," he told Booster. "But even if I can't handle everything personally, it's still my responsibility."

"Ah," Booster said knowingly. "So it's your pride that's hurt, is it?"

Karrde eyed his old friend. "Tell me, Booster. Has anyone ever told you you're truly irritating when you try to be sympathetic?"

"Yeah, the subject's come up once or twice," Booster said, grinning. He slapped Karrde's back. "Come on. Let's go down to the Transis Corridor and I'll buy you a drink."

"Assuming the drink dispensers are working today," Karrde murmured as they headed back along the command walkway.

"Well, yeah," Booster conceded. "Always assuming that." ...

As cantinas went, Mara Jade Skywalker thought as she sipped her drink, this was definitely one of the strangest she'd ever been in.

Part of that might simply have been due to the locale. Here in the Outer Rim, culture and style weren't exactly up to the standards of Coruscant and the rest of the Core Worlds. That might explain the gaudy wall hangings juxtaposed with ancient plumbing woven around modern drink dispensers, all of it set against a background decor consisting mainly of polished droid parts dating back to before the Clone Wars.

As for the unbreakable mugs and the heavy, stone-topped table she was seated at, the smoothed-over blaster scars in the walls and ceiling were more than enough explanation. When the patrons dived under the tables in the middle of a firefight, they would want those tables to afford them some protection. And they wouldn't want to find themselves sitting on bits of broken crockery, either.

There was no rationale at all, of course, for the very loud, very off-key music.

A brush of air touched her shoulder, and a heavyset man appeared from behind her, pushing his way through the milling crowd. "Sorry," he huffed as he circled the table and landed his bulk back in the seat across from her. "Business, business, business. Never lets up for a minute."

"I suppose not," Mara agreed. He didn't fool her for a second; even without Force sensitivity she would have spotted the furtiveness hidden behind the noise and bustle. Jerf Huxley, master smuggler and minor terror of the Outer Rim, was up to something unpleasant.

The only question was how unpleasant he was planning for that something to be.

"Yeah, it's crazy out here," Huxley went on, taking a noisy swallow of the drink he'd left behind when he hurried off on the mysterious errand that had taken him away from their table. " 'Course, you know all that. Or at least you used to." He eyed her over the rim of his mug. "What's so funny?"

"Oh, nothing," Mara said, not bothering to erase the smile that had caught the other's attention. "I was just thinking about what a trusting person you are."

"What do you mean?" he asked, frowning.

"Your drink," Mara said, gesturing to his mug. "You go away and leave it alone with me, and then you just come back and toss it down without even wondering if I've put something in it."

Huxley's lips puckered, and through the Force Mara caught a hint of his chagrin. He hadn't worried about his drink, of course, because he'd had her under close surveillance the whole time he was gone. He also hadn't intended for her to know that. "All right, fine," he said, banging the mug back onto the table. "Enough with the games. Let's hear it. Why are you here?"

With a man like this, Mara knew, there was no point in glaze- coating it. "I'm here on behalf of Talon Karrde," she said. "He wanted me to thank you for your assistance and that of your organization over the past ten years, and to inform you that your services will no longer be required."

Huxley's face didn't even twitch. Clearly, he'd already suspected this was coming. "Starting when?" he asked.

"Starting now," Mara said. "Thanks for the drink, and I'll be on my way."

"Not so fast," Huxley said, lifting a hand.

Mara froze halfway to her feet. Behind Huxley, blasters had abruptly appeared in the hands of three of the men who had hitherto been minding their own business at the bar. Blasters that were, not surprisingly, pointed at her. "Sit down," he ordered. Carefully, Mara eased back into her chair. "Was there something else?" she asked mildly.

Huxley gestured again, more emphatically this time, and the off-key background music shut off. As did all conversation. "So that's it, is it?" Huxley demanded quietly. In the sudden silence, even a soft voice seemed to ring against the battered walls. "Karrde's going to toss us aside, just like that?"

"I presume you read the news," Mara said, keeping her voice calm. All around her, she could sense the single-minded animosity of the crowd. Huxley had apparently stocked the place with his friends and associates. "Karrde's getting out of the smuggling business. Has been, for the past three years. He doesn't need your services anymore."

"Yeah, he doesn't need," Huxley said with a sniff. "What about what we need?"

"I don't know," Mara said. "What do you need?"

"Maybe you don't remember what it's like in the Outer Rim, Jade," Huxley said, leaning over the table toward her. "But out here, you don't split things three ways against the ends. You work for one group, period, or you don't work at all. We burned our skyarches behind us years ago when we started working for Karrde. If he pulls out, what are we supposed to do?"

"I expect you'll have to make new arrangements," Mara said. "Look, you had to have known this was coming. Karrde's made no secret of the direction he's been taking."

"Yeah, right," Huxley said contemptuously. "Like anyone believed he'd really go straight."

He drew himself up. "So you want to know what we need? Fine. What we need is something to tide us over until we can get back in the business with someone else."

So there it was: a simple and straightforward pocket-shake. Nothing subtle from this bunch. "How much?" she asked.

"Five hundred thousand." His lip twisted slightly. "In cash credits."

Mara kept her face expressionless. She'd come here prepared for something like this, but that number was way beyond reason. "And where exactly do you expect me to get this little tide-me-over?" she asked. "I don't carry that much spending money on me."

"Don't get cute," Huxley growled. "You know as well as I do that Karrde's got a sector clearinghouse over on Gonmore. They'll have all the credits there we need."

He dug into a pocket and produced a hold-out blaster. "You're going to call and tell them to bring it to us," he said, leveling the weapon at her face across the table. "Half a million. Now."

"Really." Casually, keeping her hands visible, Mara turned her head to look behind her. Most of the cantina's nonsmuggler patrons had already made a quiet exit, she noted, or else had gathered into groups on either side of the confrontation, staying well out of the potential lines of fire. Of more immediate concern was the group of about twenty humans and aliens who had spread themselves out in a semicircle directly behind her, all of them with weapons trained on her back.

All of them also showing varying degrees of wariness, she noted with a certain malicious amusement. Her reputation had apparently preceded her. "You throw an interesting party, Huxley," she said, turning back to face the smuggler chief. "But you don't really think you're equipped to deal with a Jedi, do you?"

Huxley smiled. A very evil smile. A surprisingly evil smile, actually, given the circumstances. "Matter of fact, yeah, I do." He raised his voice. "Bats?"


Excerpted from Star Wars by Timothy Zahn Copyright © 1994 by Timothy Zahn.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Timothy Zahn is the author of more than forty novels, nearly ninety short stories and novellas, and four short fiction collections. In 1984, he won the Hugo Award for best novella. Zahn is best known for his Star Wars novels (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, Specter of the Past, Vision of the Future, Survivor’s Quest, Outbound Flight, Allegiance, Choices of One, and Scoundrels), with more than four million copies of his books in print. Other books include the Cobra series, the Quadrail series, and the young adult Dragonback series. Zahn has a B.S. in physics from Michigan State University and an M.S. from the University of Illinois. He lives with his family on the Oregon coast.

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Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy #1 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 220 reviews.
AngelofLight More than 1 year ago
The very first book in the Extended Star Wars Universe. And definitely worthy of praise. Takes place 5 years after Return of the Jedi and plunges readers into the aftermath of the Battle of Endor. Strongly recommend reading this and the other 2 that follow it (Dark Force Rising and The Last Command) for the best trilogy in the Extended Universe to date.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this when it first came out and this spoiled me for every other Star Wars story or movie because of the depth of character and plot. Read it. Enjoy it. Relish it. We also get introduced to one of the best of the post-movie characters, Mara Jade, Luke's complex, haunted, beautiful soul mate-in-training.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If there was any Star Wars book series, post Return of the Jedi, that deserved a movie this trilogy is it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This review is coming from a starwars fanatic and i have to say that thos triolgy is one of te best starwars collections of all time. It gives insoght on the past of Luke Skywalkers wife,Mara Jade, explains one of the toughest times in new rep. History and explains many thimgs that come later in the era. Wish i culd give morethan 5 stars
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book not only has the traditional characters from the Star Wars Saga but also introduces some new, vital characters to the Expanded Universe. This book is great to those that want to see action but that is not what Zahn's strong point is. He is a mastermind in the political side of the Star Wars universe. Overall Zahn has made a great book and a great Triliogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Immense enjoyment of all three of these books in the series. Zahn is an excellent writer, one of the best that pens for the Star Wars extended universe.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am glad George Lucas let the universe expand the way he did! I don't kniw if I will ever get to read all of the books, but it is fun trying too!
Jason Cook More than 1 year ago
These three books making the trilogy should be the next three movies to come out. Thrawn is one of my favorite enemies to exist, and this series was my first to be introduced to him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really like this book but I'm not sure about Episode VII I think Disney is going to ruin Star Wars.
KABrown More than 1 year ago
I have read this book before,I really like this first book of the trilogy. In my opinion it is one of the best trilogies to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I though that this was a great book. It was the book that introduced me to the expanded universe, and how it just all flows together is really great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Thrawm trilogy is better than the prequels were or the sequel trilogy will be. Read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this when I was in high school, and was entranced. Highly recommended for any true Star Wars fan.
Sith_Master More than 1 year ago
Heir to the Empire is the book that totally brought Star Wars back to life in the years since the final Original Trilogy movie, Return of the Jedi! Even all these years later, the Thrawn Trilogy remains the gold standard by which all Star Wars novels since have been judged.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book stuffed up in my bookshelf gathering dust in late May, and didn't put it down for a week. Since then I have read 12 other Star Wars books and have made at least two new friends all because of this book. The way Zahn writes is incredible, and I wish Lucas would consider making at least this trilogy into a movie series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
These books are stellar. They read and feel like a Star wars nkbel should. Zahn uses the tropes and cliches of the Star Wars franchise expertly, leaving you with the feeling that you not only read a good book but you continued the story of a galaxy far, far away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read.
DAAlvarez23 More than 1 year ago
The book that restarted my passion for Star Wars, and the introduction to the Expanded Universe.  After wondering what happened to Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2, 3PO and other once Return of The Jedi ended, Timothy Zahn comes along and starts answering my questions. And what a formidable foe Grand Admiral Thrawn is, a cunning tactician and leader. Even years after this novel was published lots of fans are eager to see this character on film. Leia expecting twins fathered by Han, twins that represent the next generation of Jedi. We are also introduced to Mara Jade as another important character for the Expanded Universe. I will not go into plot details for those that haven't read this book, but it is definitely essential reading in the Saga. Too bad, it is not being used for film canon but will continue as part of Star Wars Legends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OMG i love it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow. Just amazing
Anonymous 4 months ago
Odu_Educated More than 1 year ago
I recently started to embrace my SW fandom and I was told that this book was a must read! So I took that advice and purchased this book and WOW! Reading this book is a MUST for all SW fans! I was extremely intrigued by the one and only Grand Admiral Thrawn, thanks to SW celebration and various blogs.This book will grab your attention and keep it from front to back! Amazing read! On to Dark Force Rising.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago