and the surrounding paraphernalia is a cultural icon so linked to the modern understanding of sci-fi that few people could recognise a world without its influence. It has been referenced in newspaper headlines and in the Ronald Reagan defence initiative called Star Wars, of the later part of the Cold War. However, few of the expanded universe novelisations or television works have ever lived up to the premise of the initial movies. Perhaps it is the overriding sense of the corrupting influence of the marketing giant that the Star Wars brand became. Or, as some would argue, perhaps it is the sense of losing the originality of the concept, that the initial Star Wars movies were interesting because they were uniquely genre defining. That by the time the prequels came around sci-fi had, as a genre, changed and the audience were being exposed to more of the same, albeit with better visual effects.
Timothy Zahn's novel here is one of the first proper entries into what would become the canon of the Star Wars expanded universe. It follows the original characters five years after the defeat of the Emperor and observes the rise of the New Republic and the decline of the Old Empire. What sets Zahn's novel apart is the fact that, unlike most novelists working with the expanded universe today, Zahn is no hack writer. In other words he writes a story that aims at trying to be true to the source material and tell a quality story, not simply to be a mediocre (or trashy) novel that sells because of its 'Star Wars' labelling. That said, to a modern reader, this novel does appear campy at times and particularly corny, yet it has integrity for not selling out to the consumer market or cultural zeitgeist.
A solid three star novel that leaves one questioning how Lucasfilm will continue with their film sequels. If they ignore this expanded universe sequence of events one will be left sighing in disappointment with the thought that yet again George Lucas has signed over his creativity for the almighty dollar. Indeed this sadly seems to be the inevitable nature of the upcoming sequels as the old
cast (pun intended) sign on to replay their roles.