This is what George Lucas originally intended for Episode VII, but with Disney buying out Lucasfilm and the original actors all twenty years older, Episode VII is twenty years in the future, not five like Heir to the Empire is, and not quite what Lucas intended.
If you have not seen Episode VII: The Force Awakens, do not read this thinking this is going to be it. This is no longer canon, but in the hearts of all Star Wars fans, this is still the “what’s next,” still how they will perceive Episode VII in their hearts.
So this book is pretty well written. Zahn does a great job. I am usually very weary with books that were meant to be films originally, but Zahn is a veteran science fiction writer and really brings this episode of Star Wars to life.
Heir to the Empire takes place five years after the events of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. There is a new menace trying to hold the remnants of the Empire together: Grand Admiral Thrawn. Nobody believes this threat can exist, but it does. The New Republic is struggling to hold on. Leia, pregnant with Jedi twins, struggles to hold the senate together and branches out to make peace with planets devastated from the previous war. But there is another Jedi lurking out in the universe, and Thrawn has promised him Luke, Leia, and her unborn children to create a new Jedi race. This poses problems for Leia, who is constantly on the run because of Thrawn attempting to capture her for the new Jedi, Joruus C’baoth. Creatures called ysalamiri are used by many, including Grand Admiral Thrawn, for they are creatures that negate the force, making Jedi like C’baoth and Luke unable to fight. Thrawn is a great tactician and manipulator, and he poses a threat to the New Republic like the galaxy has never seen before.
Meanwhile, Luke, Han, and Lando are dealing with Talon Karrde, a very notorious smuggler. It is unclear which side Karrde is on, but whichever side gets him more money, that’s his side. With Karrde is the ever important right hand: Mara Jade. As the reviewer, I will not reveal anything about her, but I will say she is my all-time favorite Star Wars character. In my review of the Star Wars: Dark Force Rising, I talk quite a bit more about her.
Between the struggle for the Empire to regain its command and the New Republic keeping its people on their side, it is an amazing storyline and I wish that they would do this for the movies…
If you don’t want to read Heir to the Empire after reading about Luke’s new adventures–and enemies–then all I have to say is this: IT IS A MUST READ FOR ANY TRUE STAR WARS FAN!