I am certainly excited for the release of Rogue One. I think it is great that LucasFilm is mining the war stories from Star Wars. However, what has made this my favorite cinematic universe are the grand sprawling stories of the battle between the dark side and light side of the force and its impact on the history of this galaxy far, far away.
If you are like me, you have spent every minute since the final credits of The Force Awakens wanting to keep exploring that narrative and delve deeper into the mysteries of the force. Rather than rack my brain trying to decipher Easter eggs and clues as to what is coming, I quenched my thirst by revisiting what used to be recognized as the official next trilogy: The Thrawn Trilogy.
For those of us of a certain age, the trilogy of books Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command written by Timothy Zahn beginning in 1991, became recognized as canon and the accepted continuation of the story. If you have not read these stories, or if it has been a while since you have, I urge you to seek them out today. This masterpiece collection is the perfect binge to tide you over until Episode VIII arrives (or at least until they release the title).
Those of you familiar with Star Wars Rebels will recognize the name Thrawn and yes this trilogy focuses on that same pale blue-skinned, red-eyed villain as the main big bad in the universe. In this story line it is now five years since the Battle of Endor and the destruction of the second Death Star. All of our (living) favorites are back in this trilogy and there are a few “new” names that you will undoubtedly recognize. I don’t want to give away too much because the story is that good, but here is a taste of what you will enjoy.
Heir to the Empire sets the story in motion as Han and Leia are married and expecting twins and Luke hopes to restore a new line of Jedi knights. Thrawn has taken control of the remnants of the Imperial fleet and has made two major discoveries that strengthen his forces and could cause devastation to the New Republic.
Dark Force Rising is Star Wars storytelling at it’s best and is representative of the divergent storylines that make the series great. Han and Lando embark on a quest to prove treason inside the new republic. It is worth reading this book alone for this twisting action packed buddy story, the Lando and Han story we always wanted. There is also the rise of a new Dark Jedi who is obsessed with corrupting Luke and bringing him to the dark side at all costs.
The Last Command is the exhilarating climax that sees battles on several fronts. The traditional space battle that ensues as the result of Thrawn’s ability to amass power against the New Republic and the ultimate battle of the dark side vs. the light as the Dark Jedi C’baoth threatens to turn Luke or destroy him are the highlights of this final chapter.
After finally getting a cinematic version of Episode VII in the form The Force Awakens I had this insatiable hunger like the Sarlacc and I wanted more. It had been about 15 years since I had first read the Thrawn Trilogy and after visiting it again I was left with two feelings, why did I wait so long and it was exactly what I needed to get me through until next December. If you need something to give you your Force fix until Episode VIII do yourself a favor and pick up The Thrawn Omnibus by Timothy Zahn. Better yet, really treat yourself to the audio version narrated by Anthony Daniels and it’s like you were never far, far away.