joysweeper: Grand Admiral Thrawn steeples his hands in front of his face. (Thrawn Must Consider This Carefully)
[personal profile] joysweeper posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Sorry for more delay.  Now comes the conclusion.  I will take this last opportunity to say: Read the books!  They are awesome!  This is but a pale imitation!

Cel: "You sound as if you admired him, sir."
Wedge: "Admired him? Sure I did. He was a different sort of enemy."
"Different from the Yuuzhan Vong, you mean, sir?"
"Different from the Vong, the Emperor, any other Grand Admiral--from anyone," Wedge replied.
"What do you suppose Thrawn would make of the Yuuzhan Vong, sir?"
Wedge: "Ground Vong, probably--if he had a few examples of their art." - NJO: The Final Prophecy

Karrde's smuggler association is already falling apart, since there's not much money in striking out at the Empire.  Other members are outright leaving, Karrde's friend Gillespie says he needs money.  Karrde tells him that he'll just have Ghent do some slicing and make sure they get paid by the New Republic, which doesn't have to know.  "Why not?  Why clutter their lives with details when they're trying to fight a war?


In the book, Pellaeon also thinks that all those other times a deal with a smuggler went sour, the smuggler hadn't started things off by attacking an Imperial shipyard.  He doesn't know what Thrawn's up to.  No one ever does.

Mm.  In the book, Mazzic doesn't believe that those attackers were Thrawn's people at first, and then Thrawn asks "Would you rather believe I was so incompetent that I allowed an inadequate field force to be sent on a mission?"

No one drew a better pissed-off Thrawn than Biukovic did.

The Falcon arrives at Wayland.  Since this is Zahn writing, a planet is a huge place, and Mara has to specify that the mountain they're looking for is halfway between the equator and the north pole, near the eastern edge of the main continent, and it's a single mountain rising out of forest and grassland.  Luke privately tells Han that Mara is a good person to have at your side. They land a good ways away from the mountain, breaking some trees on the way.  Lando says "Nice landing."  "At least the sensor dish is still there."  "You're never going to let that go, are you?"  They get out, notice some animals that remind Han of "those panthac things on Mantessa", and start unloading the equipment. The animals attack and get killed.  Mara identifies them as garrals, creatures the Emperor used as watchdogs because they were attracted to the ultrasonic signature of a repulsorlift.

Back on Coruscant, in the war room, Bel Iblis and an assortment of others know that most of the cloaked asteroids are in low orbit, and they're trying to find them by dumping huge dust clouds and shooting them with "negative ion beams" so that each particle will repel each other particle, suddenly withdrawing from the asteroid.  It's very slow.  They find one and hit it with an ion beam, neutralizing the cloaking shield.  A ship is sent to pick it up, but -

And they do that, none of the droids so much as twitch, and then Leia sees that some of the trees ripple with weird patterns at every sound.  Yep, potted trees are Delta Source.  In the book this part was much longer.

Here's a massive chunk I'm skipping, about the smugglers gathering, Mazzik having Karrde's ship searched and finding the datacard planted on him.  Then Ferrier, while trying to dig Karrde deeper, says "Twist all the words you want, but that data card doesn't say I hired Kosk and his squad.  It says you did."

Longer and more elaborate in the book.  Hmph. Ferrier's ship drops a Conner net on them, a typical ship-thief trick that keeps the ship inactive.  Mazzic comms his people to shoot Ferrier down, and they do.  Mazzic says he owes Karrde an apology.  Karrde tells him "Keep it as a reminder of the way Grand Admiral Thrawn does business.  And what people like us ultimately mean to him."  Then he pitches working together against the Empire on the New Republic's dime to them.

The Wayland party walk through the forest, Chewie finds a predatory bird that had been killed with a single knife thrust while flying.  They might be native Myneyrshi.  Can't be Imperials though, Luke would know if there were other humans nearby.

I have the book with me right now and aaaaah, the conversation between Pash and Wedge!  "What was it got you, numbers or tactics?"  "Both.  I don't think Thrawn was there personally, but he sure planned out the assault.  I've got to tell you, Wedge, those clones of his are the creepiest things I've ever tangled with.  It's like going up against stormtroopers; same rabid dedication, same cold-blooded machine-precision fighting.  The only difference is that they're everywhere now instead of just handling shock-troop duty."  "Tell me about it.  We had to fight off two TIE squadrons of the things in the first Qat Chrystac assault.  They were pulling stunts I didn't think TIEs were capable of."

And that whole part where Wedge hopes that Wing Commander Varth, a "bitter, caustic-mouthed tyrant, with the single redeeming talent of being able to throw his starfighters against ridiculous odds and then get them back out again" survived, and tells Pash "He'll make it.  He's too contrary to roll over and die just for the Empire's convenience."  (I like Zahn, in case you haven't noticed.)

Leia lies awake in bed, and one of the Noghri asks if she needs anything.  She says no, she just had a flash of insight, a piece of a puzzle she's been trying to put together.  Something Mara said that Luke did, and it's important.  The Noghri says "Then you will find the answer.  You are the Lady Vader, the Mal'ary'ush of the Lord Vader.  You will succeed at whatever goal you set for yourself."

Next issue.

Thrawn orders his fleet to deploy for planetary bombardment, have a captain transmit terms of surrender to the Xa Fel government, and send a further message to all ships: Well done.  Pellaeon gives him a report from Tangrene. 

There are more Rebel ships hanging around.  Thrawn orders that they not be frightened off, then leaves the bridge to think, telling Pellaeon to join him in one hour. The smuggler talk among themselves and believe that the New Republic will pay nicely for a crystal gravfield trap.  Looks like they're preparing to go to Tangrene, so the smugglers will take advantage of the fighting by heading to Bilbringi at the same time and picking it up.  There won't be more than a skeleton force, after all; if they know that the New Republic is moving on Tangrene, Thrawn knows, so he'll have his forces there.  Bilbringi security has probably been redone since the smugglers were there last, but that means they won't have found the holes yet.  Karrde leaves his third-in-command, Aves, to coordinate the attack while he heads to Coruscant to pick up his second-in-command, Mara.

The Wayland party walk around, Mara training with Luke's lightsaber against a remote, and find that some vine snakes have been killed and piled up.  The same someones who have been killing local predators for them.  Luke, Chewie, and Han go to meet them.  There are three groups of people nearby, each group a different species.

They first find Noghri, who bow to greet Luke.  In the book, this is because Cakhmaim sent some of them to follow and guard, but sensed hostility from Han, so kept them hidden.  Han tells them he's learned not to turn down free help and asks that he be called anything other than "consort of the Lady Vader". Luke suggests Han clan Solo, which the Noghri like, and Luke says it looks like he's been adopted.  Again. 

There's a moment when Han thinks that being made part of an Ewok tribe had been one of the most ridiculous things he'd ever had to do.  But the Ewoks had overwhelmed the enemy through sheer force of numbers.  The Noghri, on the other hand...  Well, there are eight of them, and they've been silently keeping away the big predators day and night while also getting rid of nuisances like vine snakes and clawbirds.  No, adoption doesn't feel as ridiculous this time around.

The Noghri have also been preventing the two local cultures, the Myneyrshi and the Psadans, from confronting them, and now the locals want to talk.  One knows some Basic, but the Wayland party can do better than that.  Han has Mara bring Threepio to translate, and Luke keeps her from shooting the Noghri. The locals, in short, don't like strangers.  Deliverers have come before and nothing has ever changed.  The Wayland party is just the latest in a long line of invaders.  Then one of the evil bird things swoops down and Chewie kills it with his laser crossbow.

In the book, this part with C'baoth and Cowell is intensely freaky.  Cowell's mind has pretty much been destroyed.  C'baoth puts the answers to all the questions he's asking into Cowell's head.  He's told to look at something and "he felt the distant sense as he did all others now: filtered and focused and structured through the Master's perfect mind".  When they get into a ysalamiri bubble, Cowell spaces out, but tells the men at the facility exactly what C'baoth wanted him to say, then stays in place while everyone leaves, then "falls asleep".  Here's a line of it.

The Master's face changed.  Something - was it called a smile? - came across it.

She hears C'baoth, telling her that he's seen visions of her kneeling at his feet.  He will be hers and Skywalker will follow.  Luke takes her by the shoulders.  Both of them know C'baoth is here, and she doesn't want to face him.  But Luke thinks they have to.

On the Chimaera, Thrawn is informed of Covell's death.  His brain just shut down soon after he'd dispersed the company that had arrived with him.  Thrawn says that brain tissue does not "simply" shut down; there has to be a reason, and it must have been C'baoth.  Covell wasn't what the officer had expected; Thrawn gets him to elaborate, and the officer does, reluctantly, since criticizing one senior military officer in front of another is a serious breach of military ettiquette, particularly between two branches of service.  But Covell wasn't what he had expected based on his reputation.  He'd been distant, and C'baoth had been at his side the whole time.

C'baoth is in the old Emperor's quarters, within the ysalamiri sphere.  The hologram pad there still works, so Thrawn tells the officer on the other end to connect him to C'baoth.  He tells Pellaeon that C'baoth must have taken over Covell's mind, and when they hit the ysalamir bubble, there wasn't enough of Covell left to keep him alive.  Pellaeon says "I see" and turns his face away so Thrawn won't see how angry he is.  He'd warned Thrawn about this again and again.  "What are you going to do about it?"

I like how Pellaeon and one other officer are all "Whoa!  Giant angry head!" and Thrawn is all "You thought I'd be thrown by that?  Jedi, please" and then foreshadows for future books.  I will now shill the Movies In Fifteen Minutes-style recaps of this trilogy, which are on roguereport here.  It's... well, reading it I keep wanting to jump in and say "But it's not like that".  But it's still written by a fan.

The book has the conversation last longer, unsurprisingly.  C'baoth says that he has seen that his destruction will come with Thrawn's.  Thrawn asks him if he's finished, and C'baoth frowns uncertainly while Pellaeon reflects that for all the Emperor's personal hologram setting's intimidating majesty, it's got its own drawbacks.

Wedge Antilles is with his fellow Rogues Hobbie Klivian and Wes Janson at a cantina.  They decide to make a night of it, and when they're leaving a drunk falls on Wedge.  Then it turns out it's not a drunk, it's Aves, who met Wedge at the site of the Katana fleet.  They head into an alley, and Aves's people knock out someone who was following Wedge.
Oh, Wedge is pretty.  :D Ahem!  I mean, in the book it's a little more clear that what the Rogues were doing was trying to get the Imperials to think that they're striking at Tangrene, and knocking out the spy prevents that.

You know, they look awfully old for babies that can't be a month old yet.  Hmph.  Probably runs in the family  ...Is that a tapestry of Padme?  I think it is.  Does Leia even know who her mother was at this point?  I suppose her adoptive father may have told her.

Anyway, long story and many pages short, Karrde knows Mara is under arrest, gets Leia to contact him via Ghent's personal encrypt codes, Karrde gets filled in on the situation.  The New Republic has found and destroyed twenty-one asteroids plus the one the Imperials destroyed during the battle, but there may be as many as two hundred eighty seven.  Karrde makes a deal: he tells them something they need for a few minutes with Mara.  The shield can be lowered because the asteroids are gone.  Thrawn only picked up twenty-two. Karrde wants to talk to Mara. 

Leia says to let him land, telling Bel Iblis that she knows now that Thrawn is growing the clones so quickly by using ysalamiri to block the Force away from the cloning tanks.  Growing an adult human mind in less than a year normally warps the Force and results in a clone that's mad.  Luke doesn't know about the ysalamiri, and he won't even suspect until it's too late.  Karrde lands, Leia and Ghent and Leia's bodyguard greet him and tell him that Mara's not here, she's on Wayland going after Thrawn's cloning facility, and Leia needs to get there right away.  Karrde says there are other matters that need his attention, and the Noghri senses someone hiding nearby.

Foreshadowing for future books!  I love Zahn.

Karrde takes Leia away.  He's not really going to check Fey'lya's funds, but the Bothan doesn't know that.  Leia says "The money's not really important to you, is it?" Karrde scowls unconvincingly and tells her not to believe that.  He has obligations to meet, and if Fey'lya hadn't helped with that the New Republic would have.  "I mean that I'm here because it suits my purposes.  Not for the sake of your war."  Leia knows better.  She's gone through this with Han.

The Wayland party has reached Mount Tantis.  The front door is guarded very heavily.  There's a city in front of the door, and scout walkers and turrets and stormtroopers.  Luke realizes that the entire mountain is dark.  Ysalamiri are cutting it off from the Force.  Maybe Thrawn and C'baoth had a falling out.  But they have to go in.  There's no other option.

I do believe that is the best psychotic smile I have ever seen.  I am, of course, slightly biased.

Final issue.

Aves and Gillespee show up at the Bilbringi Imperial shipyards, noting as they do that a lot of other smugglers are there too.  Here, I'll list those of Karrde's ships that get mentioned.  Etherway, Starry Ice, Dawnbeat, Lastri's Ort, and Amanda Fallow.  You may have noticed  a theme

"Is my flagship ready, Captain?"  "The Chimaera is fully at your command, Admiral."

All right, huge mass of pages skipped over.  I'll sum up. The Wayland party circle around and find an air intake under an overhang.  Luke asks Mara what's wrong, and she tells him to promise her that whatever it costs, don't let her go over to C'baoth's side.  Even if he has to kill her, don't let her join him.  Luke says that C'baoth can't force her to his side without her cooperation.  Mara says she doesn't want to risk it, and gets him to promise, though he doesn't promise to kill her, he promises to help her.  He's Luke Skywalker.  He won't kill in cold blood.  The locals show up.  They want to go in and fight Imperials. 

Other locals are making a fuss in the city because they want C'baoth to come back to them, which means that there's a convenient diversion.  Luke cuts their way in with his lightsaber. The Wild Karrde lands within sight of Mount Tantiss, no more than a quarter hour away.  Karrde convinced them that he was another Imperial.  Leia's bodyguard gets in contact with the other Noghri, so they set off with Karrde's vornskrs to help them find Mara.

The cloning facility inside of Mount Tantiss is HUGE and really awesome-looking, but pagecount.  I'll give you what the book says.

"The cavern was huge, extending downwards at least ten stories below their walkway.  It was laid out like a sport arena, with each level being a kind of circular balcony running around the inside of the cavern.  Each balcony was a little wider than the one above it, extending further into the center of the cavern and making for a smaller hole around the big equipment column.  There were pipes everywhere: huge ones coming off the ducts of the central column, smaller ones running around the edges of each of the balconies, and little ones feeding off them into the neatly arranged metal circles that filled the balconies and main floor.  Thousands of little circles.  Each one the top coverplate of a Spaarti cloning cylinder."

If you really want to see, there's a small image on the Wookieepedia page for Spaarti cylinders.

The party speculates that there's a self-destruct mechanism in the Emperor's chambers.  Luke and Mara go to look for it while the others look at the central column, since that's their best bet for bringing the facility down.  Then Threepio finds out that C'baoth is in the Emperor's chambers, not in some prison area.  And the comlinks are being jammed.  Why are they jammed if no one knows they're here...  Han goes after Luke and Mara.

The smugglers at Bilbringi see a huge Imperial fleet jump in and at first they think the gig is up, but the Star Destroyers don't go after them.  They reposition into an entrapment configuration, Interdictors setting up to pull ships out of hyperspace, other ships setting up to pound whatever they get.  Apparently the Imperials didn't think the New Republic was hitting Tangrene.

Luke and Mara kill some stormtroopers guarding the turbolift to the Emperor's chambers, which are vast and dark and have a throne on a raised dais and a colossal hologram of the galaxy.  The throne turns slowly, and C'baoth is sitting in it. He tells them that at last they have come to him, as he knew they would.  Together they will teach the galaxy what it means to serve the Jedi. Luke tells C'baoth that he isn't the Jedi Master C'baoth from the Old Republic.  That C'baoth died on Outbound Flight.  This one is a clone. 

C'baoth laughs.  Thrawn, the New Republic, and now Skywalker, all so fascinated with clones!  He can do to the ones growing in the facility what he did to General Covell, remake their minds, and create an army loyal to him.  Mara wants to get out of here.  C'baoth hits a switch, detonating preset explosives and killing all the ysalamiri in the facility, restoring the Force.  C'baoth takes Mara's blaster with the Force.
It's Luuke! Han finds Leia and Karrde with the vornskrs, and they head for the throne room.

Leia, Han, Karrde, and the vornskrs show up.   C'baoth welcomes Leia as his new apprentice, and you know, the book handles this much less confusingly. 

In very short, Han tries to shoot C'baoth, C'baoth maneuver's Mara's blaster into the way, it explodes as C'baoth takes Han's blaster, C'baoth goes insane, I'll transcribe some more.

"He screamed, a horrible shriek of rage and betrayal that seemed like it would set the air on fire.  Mara jerked back as the piercing sound cut through her ears - and an instant later nearly fell over the guardrail as the Force equivalent of the scream slammed into her." "It was like nothing she'd ever experienced before; not from Vader, not from the Emperor himself.  The utter, animal ferocity - the total loss of every shred of self-control - it was like standing alone in the middle of a sudden violent storm.  Wave after wave of fury swept over her, ripping through the mental barrier she'd created and battering her mind with a numbing combination of hatred and pain.  Dimly, she saw Skywalker and Organa staggering under the assault; heard Karrde's vornskyrs howling in pain of their own."

Then C'baoth starts shooting lightning, brings down a catwalk over those others.  Leia cuts it with her lightsaber, getting pinned but keeping it off the others.  Luke shouts Leia's name, fights much more furiously, knocks Luuke down, and tells C'baoth that if he lets everyone leave, including Mara, he will stay.

At the central column, the jamming stops.  Chewie is working on something to bring it down when Karrde comms Lando to update them.  Lando says he can't bring any ysalamiri to help, since C'baoth had them all killed.  Lando decides that they have to take out the whole warehouse and C'baoth with it, and they can't alert the others until the last minute, or C'baoth will know.

Mara senses that while Luke dreads it and knows what he's getting into, he will stay if that's what it takes to sacrifice himself to save everyone, including the woman who promised to kill him.  Han creeps towards his wife's blaster.  C'baoth says that Mara's destiny is to be with him, and Luuke attacks Luke again.

Poor Luuke.  This fullfils the Emperor's last command.  Mara is free.

At Bilbringi, the New Republic force gets dragged out of hyperspace and into the trap.  Pellaeon, by now probably used to being wrong, says that they should let a few ships escape to spread the word about how badly they were outsmarted, though they will probably conclude that they've been betrayed.  Thrawn agrees and nominates Ackbar's ship, since Ackbar previously faced treason charges and this time won't survive.  Rukh growls very quietly.

The Rogues fight, and Rogue Two tells Wedge that with all these ships set to pound them, they can't protect the shipyard.  Wedge says that's true, but it would take more than an attack by Rogue Squadron.  Aves contacts Wedge, saying that he wishes he'd been told that they were hitting Bilbringi instead of Tangrene, like they thought.  The New Republic fooled everyone but Thrawn.  Anyway, they make a deal.  The smugglers will grab the crystal grav trap and hit some stations on the way out, the New Republic forces will hit those stations on the other side and let them out, then go in themselves.  If Thrawn wants to save the shipyards, he'll have to divert some battle forces over.

Luke, being Luke, offers to help C'baoth, but C'baoth rejects this.  Mara goes after him with the lightsaber Luuke had and is attacked by a hail of stones.  Leia guides her.  Luke throws his ligtsaber to cut the vornskyr's leashes, freeing them to leap at C'baoth.  He gets one with lightning, but this distracts him from Mara.

She drops to her knees and stabs upwards.  Like the Emperor, C'baoth explodes into a column of blue fire that subsides to leave a steaming crater and that lightsaber.  Mara's hurt but alive.  Now everyone has to get out of there as soon as possible, which will actually be easy because there is now a hole in the ceiling.  The surviving vornskyr howls over the dead one.

Thrawn could still have pulled an Imperial victory out of this.  But Pellaeon was not Thrawn.


The last page is a kind of epilogue.

He gives her his father's lightsaber.

After The Thrawn Trilogy, other writers tried their hands in the shiny new Star Wars Expanded Universe.  And most of them were bad at it; we had terribly incompetent and stupidly evil Imperial villains, the most egregious of them being Daala, we had people giving Luke ridiculous amounts of power, we had K.J. "New Superweapon Every Book, What Do You Mean That's Ridiculous" Anderson, we had Barbara "Jedi can store their minds on computers and put them in new bodies!  No, I don't know why Obi-Wan or Yoda never did this!" Hambly, Mara, when mentioned, was treated with suspicion, the Noghri didn't appear, hardly anyone used Karrde or the Smuggler's Alliance, and the list goes on.  There were some good ones, of course, some of them very good, but just reading Hand Of Thrawn you can see all the quiet potshots Zahn took at other writers.

I'll take this time to say that I love Pellaeon.  Just look at this page to see some of what he did.  Every time a new Imperial came to power and massed a campaign against the New Republic, he was there, and whenever the new leaders and their seconds inevitably died, Pellaeon was the one to survey the situation, extricate whatever forces remained, and try to build the Empire back up again.  He's awesome.
So that's done.  Does anyone have Dark Empire?  Takes place a year after this.  It's supposed to be not very good, but I've never seen it, and I want to see Darkside!Luke.  And if anyone wants to post from Union, if you don't do it I will.  Eventually.

Date: 2009-12-19 07:08 pm (UTC)
aaron_bourque: default (Default)
From: [personal profile] aaron_bourque
The first Dark Empire series was pretty good, if wildly divergent from the point Thrawn left the universe at. Then they stretched it out another 8 unneeded issues.

Date: 2009-12-20 12:00 am (UTC)
devastron: (Default)
From: [personal profile] devastron
Dark Empire was....not good. You might be better off living happily ever after with the awesomeness of the Zahn books untainted by Dark Empire.

Dark Empire essentially takes a crap on the entire Thrawn trilogy. I guess it was written concurrent with it and the writers weren't as tightly controlled as they are now. Basically shortly after Thrawn dies a bunch of Imperials come out of nowhere and beat the crap out of the New Republic, to the point of taking Coruscant. The whole resurrected Emperor pops up and Luke, who resisted the temptation of the dark side how many times? decides to give the dark side a shot thinking maybe he can defeat it from the inside. It took years for the EU to recover from the one-two punch of Dark Empire and its sequels and Kevin J. Anderson. Zahn was ultimately charged with the clean up in the Hand of Thrawn duology.

On an entirely different note, have you read Outbound Flight? A lot of Thrawn goodness in that and made me look at him a bit differently.

Date: 2009-12-20 03:35 am (UTC)
iskander: (Default)
From: [personal profile] iskander
I agree , after the Thawn trilogy is was down hill from there (way downhill).
I stopped reading one about a "super weapon" sunkiller. When I was a kid these were supposed to be the last three chapters in the movie saga.

Date: 2009-12-20 04:00 am (UTC)
tsunamiwombat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tsunamiwombat
Thrawn didn't die. Thats just what he WANTS you all to think >:O

Date: 2009-12-21 04:20 am (UTC)
lyraeinne: (Joker's Boner)
From: [personal profile] lyraeinne
Dark Empire was... really not very good, I must say. Bad art, overplayed story, damagingly unbelievable characterization for Luke that I really think was pretty damaging to the EU for years to come. But I do have all three trades, and I can see if I can get some of them up if you really wanna see. It does have a few good moments, not to mention the fact that we wouldn't have had Anakin Solo without it. <3

But this is actually a really awesome interpretation of the novel. I don't know why I've never felt the urge to pick these up before, but this is definitely heading to the top of my Must Buy list immediately.

Union eeeee


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