Wednesday 28 April 2021

30 years of Heir to the Empire

May 1991 will be long remembered amongst Star Wars fans (myself included) of a certain age. A new sequel trilogy began with author Timothy Zahn's Star Wars: Heir to the Empire set 5 years after Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

The best-selling novel ushered in a new Star Wars golden age and the nineties would culminate with the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

The trilogy is most notable for introducing Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade. Thrawn has subsequently appeared in further novels, Star Wars Rebels and most recently namechecked in the second season of The Mandalorian on Disney+.

Speaking to Star Wars Insider for the 30th anniversary of Star Wars: Heir to the Empire, Zahn outlined how he created the fan-favourite character.

“I wanted to capture the Star Wars feeling, but I did not want to go over the same territory that George Lucas had already gone over, so that meant no superweapon, no Death Star, no Darth Vader-type, no Emperor-type. Which left me thinking, ‘Okay, so what else have we got? Vader and the Emperor ruled by manipulation and fear, so, how about somebody who would lead through loyalty? What kind of character could inspire that type of loyalty?”

Zahn continues.

“He needed to be a strategic and tactical genius, so that they’d know they had a good chance of winning. He cared about his troops. He was willing to accept good suggestions from subordinates. And then, finally, since we did not see a lot of aliens in the Empire, I wanted to make him a non-human, on the grounds that, if he got to be a Grand Admiral, he had to be something very special.”

What are your memories of reading Star Wars: Heir to the Empire? Let me know in the comments below.

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