Dark Force Rising is the second book in the Thrawn Trilogy (following Heir to the Empire) and it is a very exciting read with a lot of stuff going on in the galaxy.
Now that we know Mara Jade was once the Emperor’s hand, she is very conflicted between her present loyalties and her loyalties of the past.Where her loyalties lie will turn the tide of who finds the fabled Katana fleet first. This aspect of the novel is what makes the series very exiting, giving it this mythical element that shadows the disappearance of this fleet during the Clones Wars. This fleet vanished and has only had rumored sightings. The Katana fleet consists of 200 dreadnought ships which Thrawn needs for the Empire. On the other hand, the New Republic can’t allow Thrawn to get those ships. With Thrawn managing chaos within the New Republic’s counsel, Leia cannot send out enough people to seek this fabled fleet. It is up to Luke and Han to take care of things once again.
For a large portion of the novel, Luke is with C’baoth, the crazy Jedi Master. Luke is uneasy about how C’baoth does things, and later finds that he is stuck with this crazy Jedi. Meanwhile, Mara has betrayed her smuggling leader, Karrde, in hopes of gaining a new spot with the Empire, much like her old position as hand. When she realizes the error of her ways, she is torn between her hatred of Luke and asking him to assist her in saving Karrde, because Karrde happens to know where the Katana fleet is, which is just what the Empire wants.
Resolved to grab Luke from the clutches of C’baoth and request his aide to save Karrde, Mara sets out with Luke as a companion and they daringly save Karrde from Thrawn’s Star Destroyer. Karrde hands over the coordinates to the Katana fleet and Luke and Han are on their way to grab the dreadnought ships, but Thrawn had a ship thief seeking the location of the fleet as well. The two forces appear at the same time and fight over the once-lost-but-now-found fleet.
Upon closer inspection (after the battle) it would appear that there are only about 15 of the 200 ships left, which means that Thrawn (or someone else) must have foraged the ships.
This book is fast-paced and exciting and leaves the reader wanting to know just how the New Republic is going to handle Grand Admiral Thrawn. This book is obviously a YES you must read it, even more-so than the first one. Heir to the Empire does a nice job of setting up, but Dark Force Rising takes the cake in Star Wars action!
Here is a bit from the comic based on the trilogy serialized by Dark Horse. These are pretty hard to find individually and can be rather expensive, but the whole novel versions or individuals CAN be purchased for Kindle at a good price ($1.99 for individual issues, $3.99 for full issues, last I checked. Prices vary). I am lucky enough to have the trilogy omnibus which has the whole graphic novel series, and it is extremely hard to find.