Vision of the Future
by Timothy Zahn
Published by Bantam Publishing
Scott's Rating: 4 out of 4
David's Rating: 4 out of 4
IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK, DON'T READ THIS REVIEW! SPOILERS DISCUSSED AHEAD!!!
This is the second book in the Hand of Thrawn series. Luke makes his way to the planet Mara Jade disappeared on and runs into a primitive race that helps him out a little. The Qom Qae are a pterodactyl-like aliens that communicate with Luke through the Force. With their help, Mara and Luke make their way into a mysterious fortress and soon discover its deadly connection with Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Meanwhile, Talon Karrde and the Mystril warrior Shada seek out Jorj Car'das, an old smuggler who might hold a copy of the Caamas Document, an Imperial letter implicating certain Bothans in the slaughter of the Caamasi. Their hope is to use the document to diffuse the current hostilities above the Bothan homeworld which could start a civil war among the New Republic. While that is going on, Han and Lando also start their own mission to find a copy of the document.
While our heroes try to avoid the disaster, Flim, Moff Disra, and Tierce continue to stir up trouble with their Grand Admiral Thrawn scam. As more and more systems join the Empire, the triumvirate send Imperial spies to spark the crisis between the alien races above the Bothan Homeworld. A team is sent to destroy the Bothan shield generator with only Wedge, Corran, and an old woman standing in their way.
In my opinion, this is one of the best Star Wars books ever written. Why? Well, first off, it takes the Expanded Star Wars Universe in a whole new direction. No more kidnappers, superweapons, or would-be Imperial conquerors. By making peace with the Empire and the New Republic, Zahn opens up an entire galaxy of new possibilities in opening our eyes to the Unknown Regions, a sector of space never explored by our characters. By giving hints of aliens there and discussing Thrawns' journeys there, you known that's where Luke and the gang will travel next with the Jedi, and there's tons of amazing possibilities with no confines of canon or preconceptions created by the films. Essentially a clean slate for new writers.
Zahn also ties up all the loose ends created by the other authors. He sets the Jedi back on the right course by having Luke rethink his teaching strategies and what all a Jedi could or should do. You see the Jedi aren't the all powerful masters of the universe they've been played up to be. Plus, you find out why Lando and Mara were suddenly running around together in one of the novels. Didn't makes sense at the time, but there it does.
And that leads to my next point. FINALLY!!!! Luke and Mara are getting married!!! WOW!!! I'm very glad this happened. I'd hate to see the Skywalker family name die with Luke. Plus, I think Mara is the perfect character for him. Luke helped bring her back out of the Emperor's control, and it is only fitting that they fall in love together. Plus, their relationship is much deeper (as well depicted by Zahn) as you would expect from two Force sensitive individuals. Lucasfilm made the right move by letting something SIGNIFICANT happen in the books. And I think Mara and Luke's relationship will be an exciting thing to watch as the books move on. I can't wait to see Mara in a wedding dress or Luke trying to change diapers with the Force. This is going to be fun.
I think I've said a lot of what I liked, but I must also mention that I loved the back story with Karrde and Car'das. That was very well done and very enjoyable. I loved the back story with Yoda and his battle with the Dark Jedi. I'd love to read THAT story. I also loved the fact that Zahn has made the clones a legitimate part of the Star Wars Universe. Most people ignore them, but Zahn makes them believable and important. I also liked the origin of Thrawn and meeting more of his species. Good stuff. Anyway, overall a great read. You also get your money's worth at 520 pages.
Wow. What can I say. In my opinion Zahn has managed to surpass his original trilogy. The greatest part of this book is definetly the suspense. When you start reading, you just can't quit! But the best part is *how* he created this feeling of suspense. He uses the multiple story lines (and there are many, many story lines) to constantly keep the story dangling at some critical juncture. It creates a feeling of tension and imerses the reader into the story in a very subtle way. Also, I can't imagine the amount of planning that must've gone into this story. Zahn manages to wrap up pretty much every loose plot thread left in the SW universe. You can tell he worked with Michael Stackpole as the story dovetails so nicely with I, Jedi. I'd definetly suggest reading that book before VotF. If it's too late for that, read it as quickly as you can, so you can catch all the little details the stories work together on (ex. the recall beacon). Something that really stood out was that Zahn managed to resolve the story without relying too heavily on luck or coincidence (something that's always bothered me about The Last Command). The last thing I'd like to mention, Thrawn. Zahn manages to cast Thrawn in a totally new light. He is no longer the evil warlord seeking to oppress the weak. Now he was seeking to unify the Empire/New Republic to deal with a yet as unknown threat. I'm looking forward to seeing more on this plot line in the future.
And let's not forget Luke and Mara, but what can I say about them that everyone who's read the book hasn't already thought of themselves. About time, in my humble opinion.
This is a minor gripe that not many of you will be able to identify with. One of my favorite non-Star Wars books is Genellan: Planetfall by Scott Gier (from Del Rey). In that story, there is a primitive pterodactyl-like race of cliff dwellers. They are small and brown and communicate through chirps, however they talk to humans via sign language. The cliff dwellers have very Indian-like names such as "Son of Braan". The cliff dwellers are small and primitive, yet they often end up saving the lives of the marooned space marines on their planet. They are also able to fly and glide around.
Sound a lot like the Qom Qae? Yeah, that's what I was thinking, too.
Now I'm not saying that Zahn copied Gier. That's ludicrous. The idea isn't so good that two talented sci-fi authors won't both come up with it in slightly different forms. And when would either have the time to read the other's work? My point in bringing this up was that every time I read about the Qom Qae, it totally ripped me out of the Star Wars story and made me think of this other book. Kind of distracting.
If you're a Chewbacca fan, there's nothing here for you, unfortunately. But at least Zahn didn't use him for fluff. (No pun intended.) Also, I thought the conflict between the old woman and the Imperial spies kind of ended flat. I was hoping for more of a resolution since she seemed to be able to play with them the whole time, then fail by allowing them to shut down the generator. Kind of a dud. Plus a few of the scenes seemed to play on a little long. I don't know if that was just me or if Zahn was trying to get two books out of the story. I'm inclined to say it was just me. :) Finally, the only thing the story could have used was the trademark Star Wars humor. The story was great, but I never really laughed at anything in the novel like I did in the Allston Wraith Squadron books. Other than that, an absolutely wonderful book that you'll love.
Very little, actually. What I hated most about this book was that we never actually get to see Thrawn's clone DO anything. Zahn had such a brilliant plot line with that Thrawn rallying the troops to face an unknown threat of gigantic proportions. This had better come up in the future. I would be terribly dissapointed if, after having gone to all this trouble, Thrawn only bothered to have one clone. Only the future will tell.
ahn has finally put the Star Wars novels back on course. Unfortunately, it's right as Del Rey is about to take over. Will they succeed and keep it going? Will they hire Zahn? Will some other author screw things up? Talk about your cliff hangers. This has me more worked up than I was at the end of ESB and wondering if they'd save Han from Jabba the Hutt. :) Stay tuned.
That guy being torn apart by the dark Jedi. Not a pleasant image to bring to mind. Interesting to think what a Dark Jedi without Vader's self control would be like, though.