by Timothy Zahn. The Hand of Thrawn, Book 2.
It’s nineteen years since the Rebellion’s first major victory against the Empire. The New Republic is fledgling no more, but an established government bearing all the responsibility for a galaxy of planets and beings — and suffering all the painful consequences of the same.
The Empire sees the Republic’s growing weakness, as the Caamas Document scandal continues to unfold, and some parties seek to exploit the weakness and bring the New Order back into power. Others, specifically Admiral Pellaeon, see that the time for civil war has passed and the time to negotiate for the coexistence of the two governments has come.
Seeking to put the Empire in power once more, a former Crimson Guard named Tierce works with Moff Disra and a con artist named Flim to convince the galaxy that Thrawn is back and ready to crush once and for all. Pellaeon strives for peace, doing all in his power to meet with Bel Iblis regardless of rumors. And in the caves of a mysterious planet, Luke and Mara come ever closer to the identity of the real Hand of Thrawn . . . and their feelings for one another.
This book has always held such a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf, because it is the last book in my timeline. This is it, the end, where it all goes down, and nobody could’ve done the job better than Timothy Zahn, the one who started the Expanded Universe in all its glory in 1991. Close to a decade later, with everyone hyped on the upcoming prequels and ready to explore the new era of timeline never before open, it was perfectly reasonable that the post-ROTJ line would end. People can’t live forever, so let’s see them off into the sunset! When this book ended in exactly the same way as 1993’s The Last Command, I was in love.
Guys, something huge happened this week. I met Timothy Zahn. I drove to the Origins con in downtown Columbus and got to meet him and Michael A. Stackpole. Zahn and I talked Mara Jade and the horrors of the Legacy era. I told him that there would never be a story after Vision of the Future (and confessed with some embarrassment I was never able to read Survivor’s Quest because VotF ends too perfectly) — and he signed it on the last page for me. “So glad you enjoyed the ending,” he wrote, and I’m sure it’s not just my imagination that there’s a play on “ending” — end of the novel, end of the saga.
The thing is, Vision of the Future is such a wildly good book. As usual, Zahn is steeped in the lore and motivation of the original trilogy and recreates it in a fresh, original way for his own story. His characters breathe alongside George Lucas’. There is no difference. This, this is Star Wars to its very essence.
Leia and Pellaeon negotiate terms of Imperial surrender at the Falcon‘s game table. Luke admits to Mara that his behavior has been strange — and she comes clean that she was never with Lando no matter what it looked like. Zahn takes the reins of the franchise and gently course-corrects where the EU had tried to go off the rails. As usual, the Star Wars canon self-heals and the story remains. This book is proudly, profoundly realcanon, and beautifully, expertly The End.