Star Wars: Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn Book Review

The Empire and The New Republic are in a race again time to locate the lost Katana Fleet, whilst Leia and Chewie go on a daring mission to gain new allies, Luke, Han and Lando try to prove Ackbar’s innocence and meet some potential new allies.

This book travels at breakneck speeds, and even when it slows down we can barely catch our breath. Zahn perfectly crafts a Star Wars adventure that keeps you hooked throughout.

We follow the heroes on their various adventures, at times working together but then splitting up only to come back together again for a brief moment before another mission whisks them away again. We get some more great Han and Lando scenes, the interplay between the two is fresh and fun, with Lando being dragged back into the fray because Han needs someone with him to fulfil their mission to disprove Borsk Fey’lya’s accusations of Admiral Ackbar being an Imperial Spy. Doing this they encounter former Corellian Senator Garm Bel Iblis, who has miraculously obtained a small number of ships from The Katana Fleet.

Leia and Chewie go with C-3PO to Honoghr, the homeworld of the Noghri, the creatures that Thrawn has been sending after Leia to bring her to C’boath after agreeing with Khabarakh to go with him to try to free the people from Imperial rule, as she is the Daughter of Vader who brought the Noghri into Imperial service years before. Her time on the planet, whilst fraught with peril at being found by the visiting Thrawn, proves to be a success, with the Noghri turning to her as a leader.

Meanwhile Luke, after helping Han and Lando on their mission is diverted to the planet Jomark where he begins Jedi training under Joruus C’baoth whom Luke learns has gone insane. It’s not until Mara Jade, searching for Luke to ask for his help in rescuing Talon Karrde that Luke is able to escape C’boath’s influence.

It’s their rescue of Karrde that leads the New Republic to the Katana Fleet, whilst Thrawn has used a former associate of Karrde to also locate the lost ships and a final battle over their last remaining Dreadnaughts, seeing as Thrawn’s forces have already taken the majority, where the New Republic are victorious with the help of Karrde’s forces and the appearance of Garm Bel Iblis’ ships.

The use of the known and loved characters really helps legitimise the new characters, Han’s reverie for Iblis helps give the character some weight, with a grounded backstory into his time with the Rebellion in its early stages helps give him a vague recognition whilst the characters introduced in ‘Heir to the Empire’ get a chance to be fleshed out more, with Mara Jade getting a more defined character arc here as well as inner turmoil which gives the character a real edge.

As a continuation to ‘Heir to the Empire’ the book works completely. The two books so far in the trilogy run back-to-back with very little time passing between them. I get the feeling that Zahn was really telling one big story with his trilogy that got cut into three books rather than three stories with a pay off at the end.

This book has it all for fans of the franchise, there’s political intrigue, space battles, shoot outs, gangsters, Jedi, alien races and on top of all that it’s good fun.

I’m seriously looking forward to jumping straight into ‘The Last Command’ because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this reread of the trilogy so far, and with ‘The High Republic’ starting in a few weeks, I want to dive into Zahn’s next book as soon as possible so I can enjoy it without distraction.

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