Timothy Zahn is one of the most popular Expanded Universe authors. His first trilogy – The Thrawn Trilogy – was (one of) the first stories that really pushed beyond the stories depicted in the Original film trilogies. In Heir to the Empire (1992), we find our friends – Leia, Han, Chewie, and Luke – about 10 years after the Battle of Yavin (6/7 after Endor). We learn of other evil Jedi and fight the remnants of the Empire. They really showed that although the Emperor and Vader were gone, there was still a lot of Star Wars to be had.
Zahn also introduced a number of very interesting characters including Mara Jade and Grand Admiral Thrawn. These characters have become some of the most loved of the Expanded Universe / Legends and garner significant support from the fan community. Mara Jade in particular became the first female force user and gained a lot of momentum with female fans. There have been many instances of objects, ideas, and characters from the Expanded Universe being brought into the Star Wars Canon. As Disney/Lucasfilm has declared these stories as “Legends” or otherwise non-CanonThere’s is certainly going to be interest to see if any from these stories make that jump.
These were my first and favorite expanded universe stories and remain, for me, the gold standard for other Star Wars authors to aspire to achieve. Zahn has written many Star Wars novels, novels, and graphic novels, most of which I have read and enjoyed. He has created his own “space” within the Star Wars universe full of interesting characters and locations and has woven the arc of his characters through the times of the prequels to long after the Battle of Yavin.
Below is an outline, in Star Wars Chronological order based on their timing from the Battle of Yavin (BBY) that occurred at the end of Star Wars A New Hope. I’ve included a short summary of each of those that I’ve read. I’ll add to these as I read more of them.
Outbound Flight (2006) – 27 BBY
The Outbound Flight Project is a Republic humanitarian project that would equip a large star ship with a small population of people and a few Jedi to travel to a nearby galaxy and establish relationships. The journey would take decades and, perhaps, only the decedents would make it. The problem? The mission is led by a Jedi, Jorus C’Baoth whose admission seems to have shifted from a humanitarian mission to one of establishing his own personal power and control of the expedition – and the galaxy on its other side. It’s got great action and intrigue and a few story lines that emerge in later stories.
This story is also referenced in Heir to the Empire and even in Darth Plagueis. It is the prequel to the story Survivor’s Quest.
Scoundrels (2013) – 0 BBY
Allegiance (2007) – 0 BBY
Choices of One (2011) – (1 ABY)
The Thrawn Trilogy (10 ABY)
Heir to the Empire (1991)
From a distant corner of the galaxy, a powerful Imperial Grand Admiral takes control of the remaining elements of the Imperial star fleet. Through his cunning and superior strategic insight he begins a detailed plan to take back ground against the New Republic. An alliance with Joruus C’Baoth – a clone of a fallen Jedi – however, complicates Thrawns plans, having agreed to capture Luke and Leia to serve as his ‘students’. Luke is able to avoid capture, but runs into a smuggler, Talon Karrde, and his assistant, Mara Jade – a former agent of the Emperor.
Dark Force Rising (1992)
The discovery of the remnants of an old republic fleet of powerful star ships is seen a a great prize by both the struggling New Republic as well as the emerging Imperial star fleet. Both forces attempt to acquire these ships and form new alliances along the way.
Meanwhile, Luke and Mara encounter Joruus C’Baoth an discover his origins and true intentions.
The Last Command (1993)
The Last Command is the final book in the Thrawn Trilogy. The New Republic faces its biggest onslaught from Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade has to resolve her feelings towards Luke.
Hand of Thrawn
Specter of the Past (1997) – 19 ABY
Years after the Empire’s loss of Grand Admiral Thrawn, its remaining forces are in disarray and squabbaling for power. As a last-ditch effort, an enterprising Grand Moff launches a ruse to use a very talented con man to impersonate Thrawn to intimidate their remaining enemies. Little did they know that Thrawn belonged to a much larger power in the Unknown Regions with significantly more power to wield against the Empire, as well as a potentially secret weapon.
Vision of the Future (1998) – 19 ABY
The Conclusion to the Hand of Thrawn duology, Mara and Luke work to investigate the secret weapon of the Chiss and discover an even more incredible secret about Grand Admiral Thrawn in the process.
Survivor’s Quest (2004) – 22 ABY
This story is the sequel to Outbound Flight. In this story, Luke leads a team to investigate a rumor that the last remnants of the Outbound Flight Project have been found in an extremely remote part of the galaxy.