A few notes before we begin.
This is the third book in publishing order and the final installment of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy. In chronological order it is the 14th novel post Return of the Jedi. for the purposes of this analysis of World Building in the Expanded Universe we are not counting E-books, short stories, or collections of short stories. The Last Command was originally published in May of 1993. It would be the last book published in 1993 as Lucas Books waited till January of 1994 to put out The Truce at Bakura. According to sources the events of this book take place nine years after the Battle of Yavin. That would place it somewhere in the vicinity of five years since the events of ROTJ. That is based on the books that happen before it in the chronological order.
This was the first story to be told post Return of the Jedi, and we waited nearly 10 years for it. I think that more than anything else is why Star Wars fans remember it with such fondness. That is not to say that it is a bad book or terrible story. It is not.In fact it is a very good story filled with characters we already know and love and also populated with new intriguing characters. Much like The Force Awakens is the bridge to a new generation of Star Wars fans, this trilogy of books is the bridge from the movies we saw as kids to the books we loved as young adults.
I think Zahn left the story pretty vague in parts because he knew that Lucas Books would do a ton of World Building around this work. I have no issue with that. In fact I am really amazed about how many of the themes of this book played out over the Star Wars Galaxy. Zahn introduces us to Imperial Center, IE Coruscant, and that world becomes a huge part of not only EU novels but the prequel trilogies and even into the new Disney timeline. In the Disney Book Tarkin, a fixture of the new timeline, Grand Moff Tarkin travels to Imperial Center and we learn that the Emperor resides in what was once the Jedi Temple.
For The EU the most important piece of this story and of this book is the introduction of Mara Jade, and her redemption as the former Emperor’s hand. That is a really cool title and one people are used to given the popularity of Game of Thrones now days. Which leads me to hope that this particular part of Star Wars mythology makes its way into the new timeline. While Grand Admiral Thrawn is a great character he does not survive the story. While Gilad Pellaeon appears many times in later EU books, it is Mara who has the biggest impact out of all these characters.
Of course we also meet two future Jedi in this book. Leia and Han gave a set of boy/girl twins in this book. She is pregnant throughout the trilogy so we can safely assume that the events in this trilogy last around nine months or so. In The Last Command Jaina and Jacen Solo are born, and that has huge implications as the EU gets to the point where they become Jedi and adults. Without question Jaina Solo is my favorite female character from the EU.
Also in this book the insane clone of Jedi Master Joruus C’baoth recovers Luke’s severed hand from Cloud City (somehow) and makes a clone Luuke (not a typo it is how the book differentiates between Luke and Clone Luke). In the new Disney timeline we do not yet know how this blue lightsaber gets from Cloud City to that box in Maz’s basement where Rey finds it. We also cannot account for why Luke would still be carrying it when the last time we saw him he was armed with a new green lightsaber…or maybe Lucas went back and changed that too…to be honest it is fairly difficult to keep up with what version of what film remains cannon. This is a pretty fair example about how the powers that be, while not bringing the full works of the old EU into their new timeline, are at least working in some of the major and/or minor themes of these works.
One thing that is changing from the EU to the Disney timeline is where the first Death Star was constructed (yes I said first, because that is going to matter to both timelines). In this book it is learned that the original Death Star was built in the Horuz system. In other EU books we learn that the Death Star was built in orbit and eventually would destroy the planet Horuz. This system will also make future appearances in other EU stories. In the Disney timeline the Novel Tarkin establishes that the first Death Star was built at Geonosis. We should see more of that world and the construction process in the upcoming film Rogue One.
I don’t like to do lots of spoilers even in works as old as this one, so I am not going to go to much more in-depth on critical plot points here. I will say this, if you consider yourself a Star Wars fan you should read this trilogy. Even if Disney ultimately ignores all of it in their timeline, this is a superior story and among the best of what the EU books have to offer.
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