A few notes before we begin.
This was the second book in publishing order and the middle part of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy. In terms of timeline it is the 13th book post Return of the Jedi after the powers that be went back and ret-conned the timeline with the X-Wing Series and Del Rey went back to fill in gaps in the timeline. Dark Force Rising was originally published in June of 1992. It was written by Timothy Zahn who would go on to write five of the EU novels, all of them centering around Grand Admiral Thrawn and the Chiss…some of whom become very important in the later parts of the EU timeline.
As the middle work of a trilogy it is hard to talk about this as a stand alone story. It is at best one-third of the story being told, and even two-thirds of the way through this trilogy it can not stand all by its lonesome. Generally speaking the second work of a trilogy is the meat of the story. They also usually have a lot of set up for the conclusion. The second act of a trilogy almost always sends with the antagonist getting over in some major way to set up the drama in the third act. That is certainly the case here.
Since we are going to review this story more closely after reading the third book…let us take some time now to look at all the things this book set up…not just for the story…not just for the old EU…but story elements that have become part of the new canon being laid out by the mouse.
It is mentioned in this book that Darth Vader and a group of Dark Jedi were the ones behind the Empire’s rise to power and that they were the ones that helped the Emperor maintain his power. We never meet any of these dark Jedi…until…Star Wars Rebels which introduced us to the Inquisitors.
It was Zahn who came up with the idea of Coruscant, or Imperial Center, without a doubt the most important world in the EU, and a world that would be the stage for nearly all the novels that followed. Imperial Center has yet to show up in the Disney timeline but it could. Especially as part of the Rebels cartoon. Grand Admiral Thrawn is rumored to be making an appearance in season three of that show.
The Outbound Flight project was also a major plot point of the Thrawn Trilogy. That would become its own book once Lucas Film started to focus on the prequel era. It was also a huge plot point of the Dark Nest Trilogy written by Troy Denning.
Overall this is a perfectly fine book. It lays a lot of groundwork for what the EU would become and for a lot of us it was among the first Star Wars books we ever read. On the complaint side my only real beef is how afraid everyone in the New Republic is of an Imperial Grand Admiral.I do not mean Thrawn specifically…because in these books Zahn makes the point over and over again that a Grand Admiral of the Empire is something to be very very afraid of. Let that sink in and then name me another Grand Admiral of the Empire. See my point?? In fact for the rest of the run of the EU the most notable Imperial threats come from other lesser known Admirals. None of whom hold that title. In fact Thrawn isn’t even a Grand Admiral. He was given the rank of Warlord of the Empire, a title shared with one other EU character Zsinj who is largely considered a joke…
My last complaint is more one of style. Far be it for me to criticize a writer…especially a writer who has accomplished far bigger things than I have…but in these three books the term sardonically really gets over used. It’s a great word and it used the right way but that is true of lots of words and this one seems to pop up over and over and over again.
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Dark Force Rising (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, Vol. 2)