February 5, 2014 – For almost a decade after the climactic release of Return of the Jedi (1983), interest in all things Star Wars-related had dissipated. Nothing was on the horizon, and die-hard fans had to content themselves with the distant glory of the original trilogy.
Then along came Timothy Zahn’s award-winning Heir to the Empire (1991), the first novel in Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, set five years after the events of Return of the Jedi. Heir was the first of three novels, followed by Dark Force Rising (1992) and The Last Command (1993). All three novels are set in the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU).
SUMMARY: Heir tells the saga of the Rebel Alliance, now known as the New Republic, cleaning up the remains of the defeated Empire. Remnants of the old Imperial Starfleet have scattered and are re-assembled under the command of Grand Admiral Thrawn, who prepares to strike the New Republic. Meanwhile, Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting twins and Thrawn makes several attempts to capture Luke and Leia.
Heir to the Empire and its sequels made it onto the New York Times best sellers list, and their success led to republication as a graphic novel in 1997, a Thrawn Trilogy compilation in 2009, and a 20th anniversary special edition in 2011.
POTENTIAL EFFECT ON EPISODE VII: The Thrawn Trilogy and Episode VII occur after the events of Return of the Jedi, so speculation has naturally arisen as to whether J.J. Abrams’ script will “borrow” characters and storylines from Timothy Zahn’s trilogy. Who wouldn’t want to see the struggles of Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo’s twin childen, Jaina and Jacen Solo? Or to meet Mara Jade Skywalker, Luke’s new wife? Or to witness the resurgence of the Empire under the leadership of Grand Admiral Thrawn and the New Republic’s effort to defeat them?
The betting money is against any adaptation of the Thrawn Trilogy to the big screen. J.J. Abrams and his team are rebooting the franchise and appear to be taking Star Wars in an entirely new direction. However, we may still see some of the EU characters, albeit with different names. Let us pray that we see Mara Jade (Luke’s wife), the Solo twins Jaina and Jacen, and even Luke’s son, Ben, in Episodes VII, VIII and IX — if not in name, then at least in spirit.