Monday, July 11, 2011

Review Star Wars: Choices of One by Timothy Zahn

The choices of one shape the futures of all. ~Jedi Saying

Choices of One by New York Times best selling author Timothy Zahn marks the triumphant return to the Star Wars expanded Universe for the author in his first book in over four years.  Choices of One operates as a sequel to Zahn's last novel, Allegience starring Mara Jade and a group of AWOL Stormtroopers using the nom de guerre, "The Hand of Judgement."   While Choices of One is a sequel to Allegience occuring soon after the events of that novel and involves many of the same characters, the story stands on its own.

While Allegience isn't a necessary read before Choices of One, it will deepen your understanding of the characters in the story and I highly suggest that you go and pick up that book and give it a read.

To be frank, while I have enjoyed Zahn's recent Star Wars novels, Outbound Flight, Survivor's Quest and Allegience they where embellishing stories and characters that were at their best in the Thrawn Trilogy and the Hand of Thrawn Duology.  While Zahn has certainly been instrumental in creating characters and story lines that have shaped the modern Expanded Universe, at times it seems like he is carving out his own little fiefdom with in the Expanded Universe and retreading the same storytelling ground to often. 

All that being said, to truly appreciate Choices of One, you need to have read all of Zahn's novels as well as many of his short stories.  What we get in Choices of One is the keystone to Zahn's overriding story arch, a tale that connects both the earliest novel Outbound Flight and the latest novel Vision of the Future

Choices of One is set between Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and as the publisher's summary below explains, it features Luke, Mara, Han, Leia, and Chewie, new characters Governor Ferrouz and Warlord Nuso Esva, as well as a cavalcade of the Zahn's favorite characters.

I don't want to ruin the fun for anyone, so I won't reveal just who else appears in the novel, but rest assured just about every major character that you would expect from a Zahn novel set in this time period appears with one glaring omission who at least got a mention.

There is a lot going on in Choices of One and with a lesser author the story could have collapsed under the weight of all these characters, plot threads, reveals and surprises.  Zahn captures the voice of Han and Leia with great skill and provides a portrayal of Luke Skywalker that is both endearing and humanizing, it makes sense for Luke to be somewhat lost in terms of what it means to be a Jedi, being only very briefly changed but saddled with high expectations for being a Jedi based on memories from the Old Republic.  The title comes into play as the main characters all of choices to make, there decisions send ripples through the Force and through the lives of those around them shaping future Expanded Universe events well into the future.  

In the end Choices of One is a thoroughly entertaining read that leaves you guessing until the final reveal, and will once again have fans saying that Timothy Zahn is the Grand Master of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Choices of One will be released July 19th, 2011 in Hardcover and eBook formats and will be available wherever books are sold.

Publisher's Summary:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Timothy Zahn comes a brand-new Star Wars adventure, set in the time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and featuring the young Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and the beloved Mara Jade.

The fate of the Rebellion rests on Luke Skywalker’s next move.
But have the rebels entered a safe harbor or a death trap?

Eight months after the Battle of Yavin, the Rebellion is in desperate need of a new base. So when Governor Ferrouz of Candoras Sector proposes an alliance, offering the Rebels sanctuary in return for protection against the alien warlord Nuso Esva, Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie are sent to evaluate the deal.

Mara Jade, the Emperor’s Hand, is also heading for Candoras, along with the five renegade stormtroopers known as the Hand of Judgment. Their mission: to punish Ferrouz’s treason and smash the Rebels for good.

But in this treacherous game of betrayals within betrayals, a wild card is waiting to be played.

Don’t miss the new novella by Timothy Zahn, “Crisis of Faith,” featured in the 20th anniversary edition of Star Wars: Heir to the Empire

Author's Note: A special thanks to David Moench at Del Rey/Random House for providing Lightsaber Rattling with a review copy of Choices of One.  

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