Nov 13, 2007

[Books] Star Wars: Outbound Flight

Star Wars: Outbound FlightIn an effort to keep reading something yet take a breather from the sadly boring book I had been reading previously, I decided to start working on all my pending Star Wars titles which I had bought with my mum some time back.

Since I had arranged my titles based on when they happened in the Star Wars universe, first in queue turned out to be Outbound Flight, a sort of prequel piece written by Timothy Zahn of Thrawn Trilogy fame. He really helped kick start the Star Wars novel universe with those first three books and introduced a wide range of characters.

For longer term fans of his books, this title helps shed light on a variety of concepts initially introduced in that trilogy, which is really how prequels go. However overall this wasn't just some fluff book but a pretty enjoyable trip into the past especially around the back story of the brilliant Chiss tactician, Thrawn.

The book covers the progression of events leading to the launch of the Outbound Flight project, an attempt by the Republic at the time to explore other galaxies despite the looming turmoil that would lead to the Clone Wars. At the fore of the project was the strong-willed Jedi Master C'baoth and the novel manages to capture the progression very well. On a parallel plot thread is the first encounter with Thrawn by smugglers from the Republic and a look into his past.

As a fan of the original Thrawn Trilogy, I have to admit I was such a sucker for this book since I loved witnessing Thrawn's brilliant tactics in action. It was one thing to see Thrawn move massive fleets and engines of destruction at his disposal but for him to repeat the same tactica victories with much smaller ships and less advanced technology was even better! Given it's time-place setting, the story even has Thrawn going against Trade Federation battledroids with ease. In typical prequel fashion, the book also gave us a look into many things that make Thrawn unique like his use of art to analyze other species and his skill with Interdiction field tactics.

The Jedi angle in things was a bit weak for me, but pretty much okay. I guess I found the depiction of C'baoth a bit one-sided and too similar to how he was like in the Thrawn Trilogy, where he was a mad accelerated clone. So for he real deal not to be that different was a bit drab but then I appreciate they were trying to establish that his character flaws were part of his core personality.

What was most surprising was how the novel also hinted at connections to the Yuuzahn Vong storyline that, for me, radically altered the Expanded Universe in a way that no movie could ever hope to replicate.

Overall, while it's not the most earth-shaking novel, it does remain to be a highly enjoyable for any Star Wars fan who has extensively explored the novels of the Expanded Universe, especially the Timothy Zahn novels. The writing, as always, is quite exceptional and the skill with which Zahn wields his plots and manages starship tactics remains top notch. A definite must-read for any fan.

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