My Thoughts on Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
Ah, my time talking about SD Smith’s fantastic children’s fantasy series, The Green Ember, has come a close. I learned a lot from Smith, and look forward to reading more of stories in the future.
But now it is time for me to move on to a galaxy far, far away, in a time long ago to my favorite fandom. But before I jump in with both feet and grab my noise making lightsaber and put on my jedi robes (not even kidding) I have a few things to say.
I have a work in progress, a story that is a science fiction space adventure, but I don’t know many space stories. I am not a huge fan of space stories, outside of Star Wars at least. I have read the classic John Carter and Dune, but didn’t care much for either. The science fiction that gets me going is the books like I am Legend, Time Machine, War of the Worlds, the old school science fiction stories that spend more time describing to the reader how the characters feel than about the cool technology featured. (Trust me this, is important to my thoughts on Both the Original Thrawn Trilogy and the New Disney Thrawn Trilogy).
The second thing I need to get off my chest as we enter the ways of the force is that I am huge fan of the original canon, and am as upset as anyone else that Disney corporation un-canonized the “Legends stories.” I am glad that we still have access to all of that content, but still.
For those of you who do not follow me, or understand why I am saying all this, Heir to the Empire was canon, but now is “Legends.” And I really wish it wasn’t. My first reaction after seeing The Force Awakens was “Why didn’t Disney make Heir to the Empire a movie? It has a far better story line.”
I loved Heir to the Empire. I loved Grand Admiral Thrawn. I wanted Thrawn to fail, because I love Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewy, and of course R2D2 more, but Thrawn. When I finished the first book, I had a new favorite literary villain.
Now, as you may or may have noticed, in my recent restart of doing book reviews, I am focusing on what I learned as a writer from the story. What I learned was this, no matter how compelling the plot was, every time Zahn described the technology of the Star Wars verse, he lost me. I just don’t care how hyperdrives work, or the specs of this cruiser or that superstar destroyer. But every time Zahn talked about the force, or Luke’s connection to ObiWan & Yoda, or Leia’s training, I was beyond all in. I am talking about standing next to Luke and Leia and watching myself use the force beside them. So, what does that tell me about my science fiction projects that require space travel? That I need to find BETA readers who know and care about that sort of thing.
The second thing I learned was from Zahn’s prowess as a storyteller. I learned that it is okay for readers to connect with the villain, and how to develop the villain so readers can connect.