cover image Star Wars: The Hand of Thrawn: Specter of the Past

Star Wars: The Hand of Thrawn: Specter of the Past

Timothy Zahn. Spectra Books, $23.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-553-09542-5

Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine are long dead and the Empire, on its last legs, has shrunk to a mere handful of star systems. Admiral Pellaeon, supreme commander of the Empire's military forces, is ready to ask the New Republic for peace, but a small group of Imperial conspirators will do anything to make sure that doesn't happen. In a desperate bid to regain the Empire's lost glory, the conspirators kidnap Pellaeon's peace envoy, send secret agents to stir up strife within the New Republic and enlist a gifted actor to impersonate the last great Imperial hero, the long dead High Admiral Thrawn. In this first volume of a new Star Wars series, veteran military-SF author Zahn (Heir to the Empire; Conqueror's Pride) has crafted an unusually sophisticated addition to the continuing saga of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa. Although space opera fans will find an adequate number of battling starships and blazing blasters here, the emphasis is on espionage and complex political wheeling and dealing. The novel features a large cast of well-developed supporting characters, including such old favorites as the roguish Lando Calrissian, the fearless X-wing pilot Wedge Antilles and the Imperial agent turned Jedi, Mara Jade, who is looking more and more like a potential romantic interest for Luke Skywalker. Longtime fans should get considerable pleasure from this addition to the saga. (Nov.)