Sunday, July 24

Star Wars: Choices of One by Timothy Zahn

Set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Choices of One is the newest edition into the expanded universe.  That it is written by Timothy Zahn is a welcome relief.  Zach is the author of The Thrawn Trilogy, which helped ignited the Star Wars expanded universe, which now features numerous bestselling books and spans a time frame which starts thousands of years before A Phantom Menace and go until over 40 years past A New Hope (the Fate of the Jedi series), or if you count the graphic novels it goes more than one hundred years past A New Hope (the Legacy series).

Even though the Rebels succeeded in destroying the Death Star, there fight is far from over.  After being discovered on Yavin 4 they are in search of a new base, and the Empire is dead set of destroying them before they do.  Meanwhile, a mysterious warlord named Nuso Esva from the unknown regions seems to be growing more powerful daily.  Neither the empire nor the rebels seem to know fully which side, if any, Nuso is on.  All three groups end up in the Poln system, trying to dig deeper into the issue.

Choices of One is a loose follow up to Zahn’s Allegiance, as it features the stormtrooper group, The Hand of Judgment.  It also provides another wonderful look into Mara Jade’s career with the Empire.

Zahn has long been one of my favorite Star Wars authors.  One of his strengths is in the characters he creates (Mara Jade and Thrawn being the two most well-known).  All of his books so far serve to either deepen Thrawn or Mara Jade, and Choices of One features both.  Thankfully I can say that Zahn adds yet another excellent entry into the Star Wars canon.

The story moves quickly, also winding and weaving throughout.  Alliances and stretched, broken, and twisted as the characters try to figure out the different sides in this battle.  Nusa Esva is shrouded in mystery and rarely appears, yet in many ways he is the perfect opponent for Thrawn.  Esva is calculating and is a wonderful strategist.   There were several moments that I thought I had Choices of One figured out, only to be surprised by twists that felt completely natural and made sense, yet which were also unpredictable.  Zahn also includes some small, but well placed set ups for events in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

There is a bit of a downside though that comes because Choices of One is placed between two of the original movies.  The events contained within seem pretty big and significant, it seems strange within the world, that some of the events would not be referenced in latter books (including a short encounter between Mara Jade and Luke).  Now, I know the real reason for that is because the other stories were created first, but it still seems to be the downside of writing a story that happens between existing stories (if I did miss something, please let me know – it’s been a while since I’ve read Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy, and it’s possible there were references to some of the events which Zahn is now fulfilling).

Still, this is an excellent entry into the Star Wars universe and is a relieving break from the Fate of the Jedi and the onslaught of Sith oriented books which have been released.

4/5 stars

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