Veteran sci-fi author Timothy Zahn is one of the most popular and trusted storytellers in the Star Wars universe. He once again proves his merits in Choices of One, a choice tale about a promised alliance and a dangerous attack. Set in the time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the novel features Luke, Han, Leia, and Mara Jade.
Star Wars: Choices of Oneby Timothy Zahn
The fate of the Rebellion rests on Luke Skywalker’s next/i>/i>/i>/i>
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Timothy Zahn comes a brand-new Star Wars adventure, set in the time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and featuring the young Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and the beloved Mara Jade.
The fate of the Rebellion rests on Luke Skywalker’s next move.
But have the rebels entered a safe harbor or a death trap?
Eight months after the Battle of Yavin, the Rebellion is in desperate need of a new base. So when Governor Ferrouz of Candoras Sector proposes an alliance, offering the Rebels sanctuary in return for protection against the alien warlord Nuso Esva, Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie are sent to evaluate the deal.
Mara Jade, the Emperor’s Hand, is also heading for Candoras, along with the five renegade stormtroopers known as the Hand of Judgment. Their mission: to punish Ferrouz’s treason and smash the Rebels for good.
But in this treacherous game of betrayals within betrayals, a wild card is waiting to be played.
Don’t miss the new novella by Timothy Zahn, “Crisis of Faith,” featured in the 20th anniversary edition of Star Wars: Heir to the Empire
Read an Excerpt
The last hyperspace jump had been a tricky one, starting as it did in one minor star system barely on the charts and ending in another even more obscure one. But the ISD Chimaera’s officers and crew were the finest in the galaxy, and as Commander Gilad Pellaeon looked over the repeater display he confirmed that they’d made the jump precisely.
He strode down the command walkway, gazing at the Chimaera’s long prow, wondering what in space they were doing here. The Chimaera was an Imperial Star Destroyer, a kilometer and a half of heavy armor and awesome weaponry, the very symbol and expression of Imperial power and authority. Even the arrogant anarchists of the Rebellion hesitated before going up against ships like this.
So with that same Rebellion boiling ever more loudly and violently across the Empire, with Lord Vader himself tasked with tracking down and destroying their leadership, what in the name of Imperial Center was the Chimaera doing on passenger transport duty?
“This is insane,” Captain Calo Drusan muttered as he came up beside Pellaeon. “What in the galaxy is Command thinking of?”
“It does seem a bit odd,” Pellaeon said diplomatically. “But I’m sure they have their reasons.”
Drusan snorted. “If you believe that, you’re a fool. Imperial Center has gone top-heavy with politicians, professional flatterers, and incompetents. Reason and intelligence went down the garbage chutes a long time ago.” He gestured at the starlit sky in front of them. “My guess is that someone’s just trying to impress everyone with his ability to move fleet units around.”
“Could be, sir,” Pellaeon said, a small shiver running up his back. In general, Drusan was right about the way the Imperial court was going, though even a ship’s captain shouldn’t be discussing such things out loud.
In this case, however, Drusan was wrong . . . because this particular order hadn’t come from some flunky at Imperial Center. That was how it had looked, and how it was clearly intended to look.
Unlike the captain, though, Pellaeon hadn’t taken the order at face value, but had taken the time to run a backtrack. While it had indeed come through proper channels from Imperial Center, it hadn’t originated there. It had, in fact, come from an undisclosed location in the Outer Rim.
According to the top-secret dispatches Drusan had shared with his senior officers, that was where Grand Admiral Zaarin was right now, quietly touring the edge of Imperial space aboard the ISD Predominant.
Which strongly implied that the Chimaera’s orders had come from the Grand Admiral himself.
“Incoming ship, Captain,” the sensor officer called from the starboard crew pit. “Just jumped into the system. Sensors read it as a Kazellis-class light freighter.”
Drusan whistled softly. “A Kazellis,” he commented. “That’s a rare birdthey stopped making those years ago. We have an ID yet?”
“Yes, sir,” the comm officer called from the portside crew pit. “Code response confirms it’s the Salaban’s Hope.”
Pellaeon cocked an eyebrow. Not only had their mysterious passenger arrived, but he’d arrived within minutes of the Chimaera’s own appearance. Either he had a highly developed sense of timing, or he was remarkably lucky.
“Vector?” Drusan asked.
“Directly starboard,” the sensor officer called. “Range, eighty kilometers.”
Not only practically on top of the Chimaera in time, but in position, as well. Pellaeon’s estimation of the freighter’s pilot went up another couple of notches.
Of course, not everyone saw it that way. “Kriffing fool,” Drusan grunted. “What’s he trying to do, run us down?”
Pellaeon took a few steps forward and peered out the starboard viewport. Sure enough, the glow of a sublight drive was just barely visible out there against the background stars.
Except that the glow shouldn’t have been visible. Not at that distance. Not unless the pilot was hauling his sublights for all they were worth, and then some.
And the only reason someone would do that . . .
“Captain, I recommend we go to full alert,” Pellaeon said urgently, turning back to Drusan. “That ship’s running from something.”
For a moment Drusan didn’t reply, his eyes flicking past Pellaeon’s shoulder to the approaching freighter. With an effort, Pellaeon forced himself to remain silent, letting his captain work through the logic in his own unhurried, methodical way.
Finally, to his relief, Drusan stirred. “Full alert,” the captain called. “And reconfirm that identity code. Just in case he’s not running from anyone, but is thinking of ramming us.”
Pellaeon turned back to the viewport, hoping he’d been able to keep his bewilderment from showing before the captain could see it. Did Drusan honestly believe anyone would be stupid enough and suicidal enough to try such an insane stunt? Even the lunatics of the Rebellion knew better than that. Still, as long as Drusan’s paranoid assumption got the shields up and the turbolasers charging
“Incoming!” the sensor officer snapped. “Six unidentified ships jumping in, bearing in sweep-cluster pattern behind the Salaban’s Hope.”
“Come about,” Drusan said, his voice taking on an edge of eagerness. The captain loved it when he had a chance to fire the Chimaera’s turbolasers at something. “All turbolasers to full power.”
Pellaeon grimaced. As usual, Drusan was following standard combat procedure.
Only in this case, standard procedure wasn’t going to work. By the time the Chimaera was ready to fire, the attackers would have caught up with the Salaban’s Hope and be swarming it.
But if the Chimaera threw power to its sublight engines and headed straight toward the freighter, they might scare off the attackers, or at least give them a moment of pause. Closing the distance would also mean getting to the turbolasers’ effective range a little sooner. “Captain, if I may suggest”
“No, you may not, Commander,” Drusan cut him off calmly. “This is no time for your fancy theories of combat.”
“Captain, the Salaban’s Hope is hailing us,” the comm officer called. “Lord Odo requests your immediate attention.”
Pellaeon frowned. Lord Odo was the sort of name that belonged in the Imperial court, not way out here in the Outer Rim. What would a member of the court be doing this far from Imperial Center?
“Put him through,” Drusan ordered.
“Yes, sir.” There was a click
“Captain Drusan, this is Lord Odo,” a melodious voice said from the bridge speaker. “As you may have noted, I’ve come under attack.”
“I have indeed, Lord Odo,” Drusan said. “We’re charging the turbolaser batteries now.”
“Excellent,” Odo said. “In the meantime, may I request you shunt all other available power to the tractor beams and pull”
“Not a good idea, my lord,” Drusan warned. “At this range, a full-power tractor beam could severely damage your hull.”
“That you shunt all power to the tractor beams,” Odo repeated, a sudden edge to his voice, “and pull the two endmost attackers toward you.”
“And if we breach” Belatedly, Drusan broke off. “Oh. Yes. Yes, I understand. Ensign Caln, tractors on the two endmost raiderslock up, and reel in.”
Pellaeon turned back to the viewport, a lump in his throat. The engine flares of the attacking ships were visible now, blazing against the stars as they drove hard on the Salaban’s Hope’s stern. Drusan had been right about the dangers of full-power tractor beams at this range. Clearly, that was what Odo was hoping for, that the Chimaera’s tractors would be strong enough to crack or even shatter the raiders’ hulls.
But if the attackers’ ships were stronger than Odo thought, all the maneuver would accomplish would be to pull two of the raiders forward into close-fire range faster and easier than they could manage on their own.
At which point the Salaban’s Hope would have enemy lasers behind it and on both flanks, and it was unlikely that it would have enough shield capacity to handle all three. Hissing softly between his teeth, Pellaeon watched.
Abruptly, the two pursuing ships on the ends began corkscrewing violently, their drive trails spinning like children’s windsparklers. “Tractors engaged,” the tractor officer called. “Attackers locked and coming toward us.”
“Any signs of hull fractures?” Drusan asked.
“Nothing registering, sir,” the sensor officer reported.
“Acknowledged,” Drusan said. “So much for that,” he added to Pellaeon.
“Well, at least they can’t fire on the Salaban’s Hope,” Pellaeon pointed out. “Not with that helix yaw.”
“Difficult to get a stable targeting lock that way,” Drusan agreed reluctantly. “But not impossible.”
And then, suddenly, Pellaeon got it. Odo wasn’t just hoping the Chimaera’s tractors would tear the attacking ships apart. He was letting the Imperials pull the raiders up alongside him, banking on the helix yaw to interfere with their own firing long enough
He was still working through the logic when the Salaban’s Hope’s lasers flashed to either side, blasting the two tractored raiders to scrap.
And as the expanding clouds of debris twisted free of the tractors’ grip, they naturally and inevitably fell backward past the still-accelerating Salaban’s Hope, and directly into the paths of the four raiders still chasing it.
“Captain, turbolasers online,” the weapons officer reported.
“Target the remaining attackers.” Drusan snorted. “That is, if there’s anything there still worth targeting. And alert the hangar bay duty officer that he has a ship coming in.”
He looked at Pellaeon. “If this Lord Odo is a member of the Imperial court,” he murmured, “at least he’s a competent one.”
“Yes, sir,” Pellaeon said. “Shall I take over here while you go down to welcome him?”
Drusan made a face. “Fortunately, I’m too busy cleaning up this mess to bother with visitors,” he said. “You go. Get him aboard, get him settledyou know the routine. Tell him I’ll be down to greet him as soon as we’ve made the jump to lightspeed.”
“Yes, sir,” Pellaeon said. “Maybe I can get him to tell us where exactly that encrypted course setting we were sent is taking us.”
“Don’t count on it, Commander,” Drusan said. “The Imperial court loves its secrets as much as anyone else.” He waved a hand. “Dismissed.”
Pellaeon had never before had the dubious honor of welcoming an actual member of the Imperial court aboard his ship. But he’d heard all the stories about the nobles’ arrogance, their love of all things rare and expensive, and their colorful and sycophantic entourages.
Lord Odo proved to be a surprise. The first person to emerge into the hangar bay from the docking tunnel was an old, frail-looking human dressed not in lush and expensive colors but in plain, drab pilot’s garb. The second was another humanPellaeon assumed he was human, anywaydressed in a gray-and-burgundy hooded robe, black gloves, boots, and cloak, and the black metal full-face mask of a pantomime-mute actor.
There was no third person. If Odo had an entourage, he’d apparently left it behind.
Pellaeon waited, just to be sure, until the pilot signaled for the boarding hatch to be sealed. As it closed with a thump, he stepped forward. “Lord Odo,” he said, bowing at the waist and hoping fervently that the visitor would forgive any unintentional lapses in proper court etiquette. “I’m Commander Gilad Pellaeon, third bridge officer of the Imperial Star Destroyer Chimaera. Captain Drusan asked me to greet you, and to inform you that he’ll pay his own respects as soon as his duties on the bridge permit.”
“Thank you, Commander,” Odo said in the same melodious voice Pellaeon had heard on the bridge, now muffled slightly by the mask. There was no mouth opening, Pellaeon noted, nor were there even any eye slits. Either Odo could somehow see right through the metal, or else there was a compact heads-up display built into the inside. “Are we on our way?”
“Yes, sir,” Pellaeon said, glancing at the nearest readout panel just to make sure. “I believe the encrypted course data that arrived with your boarding authorization said it would be a ten-standard-hour journey.”
“Correct,” Odo confirmed. “I trust you’ll forgive my appearance. My reason for this visit must remain private and my identity unrevealed.”
“No explanation necessary, sir,” Pellaeon hastened to assure him. “I understand how things are done in the Imperial court.”
“Do you, now,” Odo said. “Excellent. Perhaps later you can instruct me on its more subtle aspects.”
Pellaeon felt a frown crease his forehead. Was Odo merely having a joke at a lowly fleet officer’s expense? Or did he really not know the nuances of Imperial court procedure and behavior?
In which case, he was obviously not a member of the court. So who was he?
“I trust you have quarters prepared for us,” Odo continued. “The journey was long and fraught with danger.” The masked and hooded head inclined slightly. “Speaking of which, may I also thank you for your assistance against those raiders.”
“Our pleasure, my lord,” Pellaeon said, wondering for a split second if he should point out that the main tactical thrust of the engagement had in fact been Odo’s.
Probably not. It wouldn’t do for the Imperial fleet to admit that a visiting civilian had come up with a better combat plan than they had. “And yes, quarters have been arranged just off the hangar bay for you and your pilot.” He looked at the pilot and raised his eyebrows. “Your name?”
The pilot looked at Odo, as if seeking permission to speak. Odo made no move, and after a moment the pilot looked back at Pellaeon. “Call me Sorro,” he said. His voice was as old and tired as the rest of him.
“Honored to meet you,” Pellaeon said, turning back to Odo. “If you’ll follow me, my lord, I’ll escort you to your quarters.”
Exactly nine and three-quarter standard hours later, even though it wasn’t his watch, Pellaeon made sure to be on the Chimaera’s bridge.
It was a waste of effort. The Star Destroyer emerged on the dark side of a completely unremarkable world, with an unremarkable yellow sun peeking over the planet’s horizon and an unremarkable starscape all around them.
“And we aren’t likely to see anything else, either,” Drusan growled. “We have orders to hold position right here until Lord Odo returns.”
“There he goes,” Pellaeon said, pointing at the glow of the Salaban’s Hope’s drive as the freighter emerged from beneath the Chimaera’s long prow. The freighter headed toward the planetary horizon ahead, its image fogging briefly as it circled past the edge of atmosphere, and then vanished.
“What do you think about that mask of his?”
With an effort, Pellaeon dragged his mind away from the mystery of where they were to the mystery of who Odo was. “He definitely doesn’t want anyone knowing who he is,” he said.
“Who or what,” Drusan said. “I had Environmental Services do a scan of the air outflow from his quarters. I thought”
“You what?” Pellaeon interrupted, aghast. “Sir, the orders made it clear we weren’t to question, interfere, or intrude upon Lord Odo’s activities.”
“Which I haven’t,” Drusan said. “Keeping tabs on my ship’s systems is part of my job.”
Meet the Author
Since 1978 Timothy Zahn has written nearly seventy short stories and novelettes, numerous novels, and three short fiction collections, and 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, and Allegiance, and has more than four million copies of his books in print. His most recent publications have been the science fiction Cobra series and the six-part young-adult series Dragonback. Zahn has a B.S. in physics from Michigan State University, and an M.S. in physics from the University of Illinois. He lives with his family on the Oregon coast.
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Months have passed since Luke Skywalker blew up the death Star (see A New Hope), but he diligently practices to become stronger in the force. The war between the Empire and the Alliance continues with the former seeking to strike back at the rebels who desperately need allies, equipment and supplies. Empire Officer Thrawn warns Emperor Palatine that they are threatened by more than just the rebels. Nusoesva, a powerful warlord in the Unknown Region is conquering worlds in Wild Space and looks like he will soon make incursion into the Imperial sector. Palatine ignores the concern because the warlord is just an alien. The rebels are offered a base on Poln Minor in the Outer Rim. Since the Empire won't help them fight Nusoesva, the leaders of the planet turn to the Alliance asking for protection. The Emperor learns of two possible treasonous acts and deploys his Hand Mara Jade to determine the truth; if affirmed she is to kill the Governor of the Candoras sector, Bider Ferrouz and his accomplices. Han, Leia, and Luke head to Poln Major to find out if the governor's offer is authentic or a trap. Also on the planet are the disgruntled Hand of Judgment storm troopers who work to root out evil in the Empire. All will converge with betrayal and death the common denominators It is amazing to see caring good people like Mara and the storm troopers Hand of Judgment believe that the Emperor is a kind person who cares for his subjects. That soul searching element enhances an action-paced space opera. Readers will praise Timothy Zahn as he captures the original essence of the Lucas pantheon; not an easy mission to achieve since this would make a fine movie number 4.5 (in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back). Harriet Klausner
This book was great. Timothy Zahn has managed to keep the fast pace of all the best Star Wars movies. This particular story takes place between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. It was great to see Thrawn put back into the storyline. I loved the way some of Thrawn's actions in this novel foreshadow events that will happen in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Timothy Zahn has always done a remarkable job with the Star Wars Universe, and this novel is a worthy contribution.
Man, I wish this guy could write ALL of the Star Wars books, instead of all the other stuff that has basically ruined the franchise (New Jedi Order, Fate of the Jedi, and Legacy of the Force series). If I ever find one of those books that I enjoy reading, I'll be sure to write a review here and let everyone know. This story (a prequel of sorts) kept me riveted to my nook screen the whole time. I read it as fast as I could, because I wanted to find out what happened next. I guess I'm a "core" fan, and favor minimal expansion. Oh, well, that's life. I like the stories that focus on Han Solo, Leia, Chewbacca, Luke, Darth Vader, Lando Calrissian, and so on. Timothy Zahn finally made the Expanded Universe worth investigating with his Thrawn Trilogy in 1992. He introduced Talon Karrde, Mara Jade, Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Noghri, Captain Paelleon, and others that were the perfect addition to the Star Wars Universe. Now, what, five novels and three novellas (not to mention all the shorts and comics and such), we have another good, solid (although short) saga continuation that ranks right up there with his best stuff. I don't want to reveal anything, but the story is a good one and a lot of the favorites are back: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Leia feature prominently, as well as Mara Jade and Timothy Zahn's "501st" stormtroopers, "The Hand of Judgment" that we first saw in Allegiance, and Thrawn is here. No Lando and only a brief "cameo" type appearance by Darth Vader, and we have a pretty hefty ensemble of of established characters. A few new ones are thrown into the mix, and the stage is set for a slam-bang space opera, Timothy Zahn style. About the only gripe I can make about the story is it being a tad short. Forget about the canon-breaking meeting between Luke and Mara (although at a distance); this latest novella from Timothy Zahn is definitely a permanent addition to my regular cycle of reading for me to "get my Star Wars fix on". I just wish he could write more!! I've completely given up on the NJO, FotJ, and LotF series. I'll just not-so-patiently wait for the next Timothy Zahn book to come out.
The Imperial Fleet’s Chimaera received mysterious and questionable orders from somewhere high up in the Imperial ranks placing Chimaera on transport duty. Their task had been simply to transport an even more mysterious Lord Ordo. Things suddenly didn’t feel quite right for Commander Gilad Pallaeon as their rendezvous had been under an assault as they approached for pick-up. Set shortly after the destruction of the first death star, the Rebel Alliance is under search of a new rebel base. When an Imperial Governor practically throws one to them, things began to feel not truly as they appear to Jedi in training, Luke Skywalker. Questions began rising through Luke’s mind such as, who was this mysterious lightsaber wielding female that he had been ordered to watch out for, and was he ready to duel in the art of lightsabers just yet?. Then suddenly, Luke finds himself caught right in the middle of what appears to be a planned assault by this mystery jedi. Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars epic, Star Wars: Choices of One, is a Del Rey novel filled to the brim with mystery, excitement, plot twists, and adventure. Set three months after Zahn’s Star Wars: Allegiance, Choices of One can be read either as a sequel or a standalone and still leave the reader captivated.
This wasn't one of my favorite Timothy Zahn books. I prefer the ones that he's written that come post ROTJ. However I did really enjoy reading about Mara Jade's early days as the Emperor's Hand. It's fascinating to see her unquestioning loyalty to the Empire and the Emperor himself. It's great to get some backstory to fill in her past before Heir to the Empire. I hope he keeps writing more. I'd be especially keen to read a book that occurs during the events of ROTJ when we know Mara Jade is given her last mission.
Great read. It brings together all my favorite characters like Mara and Thrawn. Good story.
The story takes place between episodes 4 and 5 shortly after the first Death Star is destroyed. Desperate to find a new staging point for their campaign against the Empire, the rebels end up negotiating a deal with imperial governor Ferrouz to use part of his sector in exchange for protection against the alien warlord Nuso Esva. Little do they know, however, Emperor Palpatine has already gotten wind of their plans and sends his agent Mara Jade to punish the governor for his treason. What follows is a series of betrayals and alliances between imperials and rebels alike to stop the true mastermind manipulating it all. Overall the story was mostly well written. Between all the uneasy alliances and backstabbing betrayals, the plot keeps you on your toes and wondering what is really going on behind the scenes. This is especially shown through Zahn's style of writing from multiple points of view; sometimes we find ourselves gazing through imperial eyes and others times it's the rebels' eyes. It's easy to tell that he has a good understanding of his characters because there's always a definite change in tone whenever the main point of view changes. Though sometimes the plot goes in some directions that just make you scratch you're head and wonder what he was thinking. Without spoiling anything, I thought some of the characters' actions didn't make sense in the grand scheme of the galactic conflict. In particular I found myself thinking that this or that alliance made no sense, but it never came to the point that I would stop reading. Really awesome stormtrooper battle scenes really helped me turn pages too. All in all, don't go in expecting the next entry to the Thrawn series because you're not going to get it. (Though Thrawn does make an appearance.) Instead, think of this book as the additional backstory behind Thrawn allowing us to examine the galaxy through the eyes of one of the deadliest characters in the Empire: the Emperor's Hand, Mara Jade.
I loved the book
The complete star wars trilogy has a star wars timline containing most of the star wars books at the very end. ITS 14$ though
Timothy Zahn has always been a good story teller of the star wars universe,a must read if u get into star wars
Intrigued throughout with only a couple slow places. A very good read.