Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn

The dying Empire’s most cunning and ruthless warlord–Grand Admiral Thrawn–has taken command of the remnants of the Imperial fleet and launched a massive campaign aimed at the New Republic’s destruction. With the aid of unimaginable weapons long hidden away by the Emperor on a backwater planet, Thrawn plans to turn the tide of battle, overwhelm the New Republic, and impose his iron rule throughout the galaxy.

Meanwhile, Han and Lando Calrissian race against time to find proof of treason inside the highest Republican Council–only to discover instead a ghostly fleet of warships that could bring doom to their friends and victory to their enemies.

Yet most dangerous of all is a new Dark Jedi, risen from the ashes of a shrouded past, consumed by bitterness… and scheming to corrupt Luke Skywalker to the Dark Side.

dark-force-risingDark Force Rising is the second book in the Star Wars: Thrawn Trilogy and following on from events in book 1, Heir to the Empire (review). I quite enjoyed the first book, mainly due to my love of the original Star Wars trilogy and the fact that the characters from that returned for this story. What was also good was the way Timothy Zahn introduced new characters to the setting that felt right and worked extremely well. So, I was quite eager to get my teeth into Dark Force Rising and see how the story continued. In short, very pleasing, but read on for some more details…

We’ve got a few main threads in Dark Force Rising, from the big threat of the Empire now commanded by Grand Admiral Thrawn, Leia and her quest to bring the truth to the Noghri people and get them on side with the New Republic, Luke and his inevitable drawing to the old, and dark, Jedi Joruus C’Baoth, Han and Lando on a mission to find out more of the Katana Fleet – the Dark Force of the title, and general goings-on that have carried through from the first book.

While I’ve mentioned the new characters in my previous review I won’t go into detail on them, although I will talk a little about the Noghri. These are a race that are sworn to help the Empire, or rather were recruited by Darth Vader himself before he transferred command of them to Thrawn. They do as Thrawn commands and their current target is Princess Leia, but when they discover that she is the daughter of Darth Vader all this changes. We get to see their motivations and why they continue to serve the Empire, all of which is very satisfying. It’s nice to see a good amount of detail go into new races such as the Noghri in this series, and it brings a little extra than the normal Star Wars story does.

The story is overall very pleasing, delivering pretty much what I expected from a Star Wars tale, especially the second part of a trilogy. It continues the plot threads from the first book and also builds up plenty of things ready for the conclusion in book three. All the characters are well portrayed once again and Zahn does a terrific job of bringing a proper Star Wars feel to the novel. While there is nothing overly surprising, I found that my main enjoyment came from how well written and true to the source material the novel is. Some plot threads do tend to be dragged out a little, but ultimately they satisfied my inner fan boy and made me want to get around to the third book sooner rather than later.

So far the Thrawn trilogy is turning out to be a pretty good continuation of the Star Wars story. Here’s hoping that Zahn can bring the finale to a close in spectacular fashion!

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