Star Wars: Heir to the Empire: The 20th Anniversary Edition
It’s summertime which means travel-time! With kids in tow I recommend you consider a quality audio-book for all to listen to. Of course it depends on your family and the level of ADD that is prominent in the vehicle. But it might be worth a shot. This one’s for an age group that likes Star Wars… Luke, Han, Leia and the gang. Let me tell you about one such offering. (I have a post coming later for the younger crew which I think will be a hit).
Six months ago I subscribed to Audible.com monthly subscription for audio books. What could motivate me to sign up? Well they were offering a very special audio book of the 20th Anniversary of “Heir to the Empire” Book One of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy. I had read the 3 book set when it first came out and loved it. And the description of the audio offering was compelling. I also bought the anniversary edition book! Couldn’t resist! A must read Sci-Fi Novel for adults of all ages!
This publication was historic in that George Lucas would not authorize any books released until this one in September of 1991. It became an instant #1 New York Times bestselling novel and it reignited the entire Star Wars publishing phenomenon. The anniversary edition features an Introduction and annotations from award-winning author Timothy Zahn, exclusive commentary from Lucasfilm and Del Rey Books, and a brand-new novella starring the ever-popular Grand Admiral Thrawn.
It was the biggest event in the history of Star Wars books. Heir to the Empire begins five years after the Death Star was destroyed in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi and Darth Vader and the Emperor were defeated. The galaxy is struggling to heal the wounds of war, Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting twins, and Luke Skywalker has become the first in a long-awaited line of new Jedi Knights. Chewbacca, Lando, C3PO, and of course R2D2 return along with Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma and Wedge.
The story line is excellent introducing new adversaries in Grand Admiral Thrawn and Captain Palleon. Thrawn is a great villian who is able to anticipate the alliances moves and countermoves. He’s even found the equivalent of “Jedi Kryptonite”. “Heir to the Empire” will thrill you with a host of colorful supporting characters, most notably smuggler Talon Kardde and the mysterious but deadly Mara Jade. Mara’s position of prospertiy as the”Emperor’s Hand” was lost because of Luke’s killing of Palpatine and now she is filled with an intense desire for revenge! Yet circumstances will thrust her into an uneasy alliance with Skywalker against a common enemy. You don’t have to be a Star Wars geek to enjoy this great bit of science fiction. The book is well-written and the plot and characters are not cartoony in the least bit. The original series did have it’s cute factor Ewoks but this series is written by an accomplished award winning author Timothy Zahn and it’s no pulp fiction sci-fi!
One customer on Amazon raved, “This book was one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I have ever had. I had never read Heir to the Empire before and so when I saw this book I had to pick it up and read it since I had heard how good it is. Not only is the story excellent, the annotations and introduction are great because it reveals the author’s thoughts and motivations behind the different parts of the story. It’s like watching a movie with commentary, except it’s better because you can “pause” the book (stop reading the story), read the behind-the-scenes look, then go back to where you left off”.
The icing on the cake so to speak has to be the audio version. Made specially for the 20th anniversary edition. Wow! This is best described as Radio Theatre. Sound effects… the engines, the wind, the comlink communications, John Williams music, R2D2 sounds, Chewbacca growls, C3PO’s unique voice along with the main characters voice interpretations. Outside of watching this as a film on Blu-Ray this is the best! Plus I love that it is unabridged. Some of you may balk at the length but the book is written so well you’ll want to absorb the whole thing. It’s not just the plot but it’s the literary journey in this one. I listened to book 2 in abridged form and was greatly disappointed. It seemed like listening to Cliff notes! But not this one!
If there is anything lacking it would be that it could use a complimentary female narrator (the narrator does a great job with the women’s voices but you know it’s a guy doing it!) or better yet having actors to narrate each main character’s part. Even with those slight negatives I would definitely give it 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Below is the Amazon link to the book and audio book. Hope you get a chance to enjoy this book, either in hardback or via audio. A great summer read (or listen!)!