Choices of One
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Timothy Zahn comes a brand-new Star Wars adventure, set in the time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and featuring the young Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and the beloved Mara Jade.
Eight months after the Battle of Yavin, the Rebellion is in desperate need of a new base. So when Governor Ferrouz of Candoras Sector proposes an alliance, offering the Rebels sanctuary in return for protection against the alien warlord Nuso Esva, Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie are sent to evaluate the deal.
Mara Jade, the Emperor?s Hand, is also heading for Candoras, along with the five renegade stormtroopers known as the Hand of Judgement. Their mission: to punish Ferrouz?s treason and smash the Rebels for good.
But in this treacherous game of betrayals within betrayals, a wild card is waiting to be played.
With the twentieth anniversary of Heir to the Empire upon us, I?m feeling a bit of Timothy Zahn fever. It?s almost impossible to overstate Zahn?s contributions to the Expanded Universe, so a new novel by him is always a treat. Choices of One allows us to revisit the characters that helped launch the modern Expanded Universe, like Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, and Pellaeon, as well as Zahn?s more recent additions to the EU roster, like Jorj Car?das and the Hand of Judgement stormtroopers. Luke, Han, and Leia, who Zahn has also been particularly good at writing, also feature here.
Because this novel is set during the original trilogy, many of these characters aren?t supposed to have met yet. Therefore, much of the tension in the story stems from the balancing act Zahn has to make in order to keep these different characters in separate but intertwining plot lines. This is particularly impressive considering that the action takes place largely on and around one planet, Poln Minor, where a potentially disloyal Imperial governor holds power.
This is very similar to the plot of Zahn?s other original trilogy-era novel, Allegiance?several of the characters even comment on this. But Choices of One has a larger scope, with a great mystery surrounding a sinister conspiracy orchestrated by the Unknown Regions warlord Nuso Evsa. The novel keeps us guessing as all parties are drawn to Poln Minor, and their paths run parallel and intersect.
For the most part, Zahn does a fine job keeping the characters out from under each other?s feet, which is important since many of them will not meet until Heir to the Empire. Late in the novel, however, some of the characters interact a little too directly for my tastes, with one scene in particular straining credulity to the limit. We also see the old beveled-floor-lightsaber-trick for what has to be the umpteenth time in a Zahn story.
But those issues aside, the novel has a lot to recommend itself to Zahnphiles, although more casual novel readers might need to hit the books before tackling it. In many ways it?s a sequel to Allegiance, but it also continues plot threads from Zahn?s Outbound Flight and sets up elements of Survivor?s Quest. Han Solo also sees some interesting character development here; his relationship with General Rieekan, barely touched upon in The Empire Strikes Back, is deepened. The novel also offers some subtle setup for the events to come in Empire and Return of the Jedi.
Choices of One is an enjoyable re-visitation of some of Zahn?s most popular characters. If, like me, you?ve read the Thrawn Trilogy more than once, this is a book worth checking out.