New York Times bestselling author Timothy Zahn returns to the Star Wars series with a story set in between the “New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back” movies with “Choices of One.”
Eight months after the “New Hope” movie, the Rebels are looking for a new base of operations. An Empire governor, Ferrouz, has offered them sanctuary and supplies and is only asking for their help against Nuso Esva, a notorious Warlord. The usual gang from the movies, Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie, are sent in to investigate.
Meanwhile, Mara Jade, the Emperor’s Hand, has been sent to deal justice from the Emperor if Ferrouz has really turned traitor. She finds that someone inside Ferrouz’s organization has turned against him and his wife and child have been kidnapped. He is being forced to side with the Rebellion in exchange for their freedom. But it looks like someone isn’t content with that as Ferrouz’s is almost assassinated, and both Mara and Luke are being framed as the would-be assassin.
Mara is also working with five renegade stormtroopers who have left their posts and are working as the Hand of Judgment, bringing their brand of justice across the galaxy and working with both sides. As Mara and the Hand attempt to figure out what is going on, and Luke and his friends attempt to figure out which side Ferrouz is really on, a young Pellaeon is taking a strange passenger, Lord Odo aboard, someone who may not be what he seems ... Are both sides being played by the notorious criminal Nuso Esva? Will Mara and Luke’s paths intersect?
It’s a treat to see Zahn return to the characters he created in his “Heir to the Empire” series, especially Mara. And getting to see all of the characters as young versions of themselves was great. Mara Jade is the scary shady character whose appearance means the Emperor wants someone killed, while Luke is still an inexperienced farmboy and is nowhere near the Jedi Knight he will one day be, so the contrast between the two adversaries is a fun one. The one-day Grand Admiral Thrawn even makes an appearance. The characters of the rogue stormtroopers were a new addition for me, and yet they seemed to have met both Mara and Luke in previous adventures, so they may have popped up in books I have missed.
The overall storyline is more political intrigue than out-and-out action, so while it wasn’t a favorite of Zahn’s books for me, it did pick up the pace once the blackmail was revealed and was pretty much non-stop action after that.
I also don’t think it is necessary to have read Zahn’s previous “Star Wars” books, in fact, this may be a good jumping off point for new fans as everyone is “introduced” here, but I think the “Heir to the Empire” fans will get extra joy out of seeing the beginnings of their favorite characters. And for any “Star Wars” fans that haven’t picked up a Zahn book, now is your chance to get what you loved out of the movies with some great additional characters that will become just as beloved.
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