Sep 2, 2008

[Books] Star Wars: Vision of the Future (Hand of Thrawn - Book II)

Star Wars: Vision of the Future (Hand of Thrawn - Book II)There's a reason that Timothy Zahn is one of the more favored writers of Star Wars books given he really helped set the tone and pace for a lot of what has gone in in the Expanded Universe. While his involvement in its continuing development seemed somewhat limited after his initial creation, the Heir to the Empire trilogy, his more recent books play key roles in terms of defining the next evolution on the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Vision of the Future is the second book in the Hand of Thrawn duology. The book picks up pretty much right after where Specter of the Past left off.

In Vision of the Future, the New Republic remains on the brink of chaos with the controversy over the Caamas Document still raging. Battle lines have been drawn and two massive fleets have formed in orbit around the planet Botahwui in a tense stalemate over who justice should be meted out. Luke has gone to rescue Mara on some alien world while Moss Disra, Major Tierce and their fake Admiral Thrawn continue to pursue their plan to rally the Empire despite Admiral Pellaeon's desire to sue for peace. And in their own little side-quests, Han Solo together with Lando Calrissian have gone in search of the Imperial capital of Bastion to find an intact copy of the Caamas Document while Talon Karrde and his smugglers have gone off in another part of the galaxy to find it as well.

Zahn spent most of Specter of the Past setting up these intricate plot threads in his usual style to finally bring them all together in this concluding book. In many ways, Zahn's writing seems to reflect a shadow of the same genius his most (in)famous character, Grand Admiral Thrawn, also shares. I think this is always something I respect in the more skilled writers - the ability to deftly manipulate multiple sub-plots in a manner that leaves the reader guessing where to focus his efforts on, only to bring them all together and ultimately blur the lines to reveal a new pattern entirely.

The ending of this book was a fitting resolution to the duology, although not necessarily as strong as the impact that the Heir to the Empire trilogy made on things. Some of it could be attributed to the fact that Zahn had to work within an Expanded Universe that was a lot more defined than when he first started, and thus had more plot limitations and pitfalls. Or, the story in itself may have set out to accomplish more than initially planned and perhaps a more fulfilling and complex ending might have been achieved by expanding this into a full trilogy. Because of the need to complete things within the books allotted, the story ends a bit abruptly in certain aspect that make me want to cry, "Deus ex machina!" or something to that effect.

This is not to say it wasn't a good book, mind you. It had all the great elements that makes me enjoy Timothy Zahn novels so much given the skillful presentation of both political and physical battles may it be on land or in the depths of space. This had a lot more "action" in a sense compared to the first book, which was rather expected given the structural limitations of working within a duology.

For another look at the Star Wars universe through the eyes of Timothy Zahn, this is a great title to add to your collection for more than just fan value.

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