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[ Timothy Zahn | 1993 ]


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The Last Command - Click to view!A third of three climax, The Last Command brings to a close the many combatant devices and temperamental ideas of the best-selling, milestone Thrawn Trilogy. Achieving godlike status with Star Wars fanatics and high praise from readers across the board, author Timothy Zahn balances the grandiose and callow aspects of George Lucas's saga as convincingly as the creator himself--arguably better, as the writing medium can tell more by utilizing the reader's imagination.

It begins as each novel has: in the command chair of the galaxy, the Imperial Star Destroyer Chimaera, with familiar characters Pellaeon and Thrawn hashing out the latest Rebel advances and Imperial strikes. Not vulgar, plain anaylsis but rather a discerning lookout for patterns within patterns; where one often learns the point only from "the barest hint of veiled threat in Thrawn's voice," or his "glowing red eyes glimmering in the dim light." Whatever else conspires between the book's first and last words, one knows that Grand Admiral Thrawn remains collected, "his voice as calm as if he were ordering dinner." Which makes the obligatory defeat a true delight.

Instead of one straight-forward mission, The Last Command has numerous sub-plots, all dependent on each other. In the crystal city of Calius, Luke Skywalker looks for clues to the trafficking of clones which are manning the stolen Katana fleet vessels by the thousands. Leia and Han, meanwhile, stay close to Coruscant and their newborn twins; also at the palace (her residence during the Clone Wars), Mara Jade shuns those who doubt her allegiance, throwing in her lot with an elite force of New Republic idealists (namely a pilot named Solo, his hairy partner, two droids, and an impetuous Jedi). The source of Mara's bitterness, a continual focus of the series, comes to light only as she sheds it for a new willingness (without ever losing her "edge").

A hefty allotment of The Last Command concerns smuggler double-dealing and Wedge Antilles's Rogue Squadron, never tethered to the limits of Luke/Han/Leia chemistry. Social settings are multi-leveled and diverse, with nameless guards in corridors, four-armed jungle simpletons on mysterious hunts, clawed competitors in the shipping industry--never just serving their purpose in a story, but opening up more of The Star Wars Expanded Universe with duties, intents, and ploys all their own. Chapter 24 sets in motion the climax of the climax, Luke and Mara's final contest against Joruus C'baoth that revisits Mount Tantiss, the ghastly large storehouse inherited from the Emperor.

Originally written as a mad clone of Obi-Wan Kenobi, C'boath elicits shudders from even those accustomed to evil dominators. He surely would have been the downfall of Jedi knights Leia, Luke, or both, were it not for last-minute twists of fate. Clarifying what has gone on in the Trilogy's 700+ preceding pages, The Last Command is not merely a fitting end; it is a bold, earnest directive from an author that Star Wars needs much more of.
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