Excerpt: Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader team up against a threat to the Empire in this thrilling novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.
Zahn’s sequel returns to its Sherlock and Watson core, but this time Watson is looking for every excuse to kill Sherlock. This is a good change. The reader knows from the start that Zahn won’t kill Thrawn, and this should destroy the dramatic tension. However, the menace of Darth Vader is more than enough to sell every threat.
The character of Darth Vader was also treated very, very well. Late in the book, Zahn addressed the disassociation between Vader and Anakin in a convincing and powerful way. Most authors I’ve read don’t try to have the character as much more than a faceless villain, which is probably wise given how beloved he is. This is the first novel that lifted that mask in a way I liked.
The book was a further improvement over the first in that it only had two stories that were tightly intertwined. They were the expedition of Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader on the ISD Chimera, and the adventure of Anakin, Padme, and Commander Thrawn during the Clone Wars to investigate the disappearance of Padme’s handmaiden, Duja. Both stories covered the same locations and in some ways the same themes. In the original, there were about a dozen individual stories that together made up the varied careers of Thrawn, Eli Vanto, and Ahrinda Pryce. While there was continuity between these stories, there was less coherence.
The character count also decreased. There’s fewer than 10 characters worth remembering in this one, down from at least 20 in Thrawn. That’s always a good thing, more characters means more complexity, and a good goal for storytellers is to have as much depth as possible with as little complexity as necessary.
On the whole, an improvement on a good start. I hope Del Rey and Zahn have a long and fruitful partnership!