‘Star Wars: The Last Command’ (Book)

‘STAR WARS: THE LAST COMMAND’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

C’boath with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Mara Jade

This should’ve been called ‘The C’boath Trilogy’, not ‘The Thrawn Trilogy’.

I don’t know if it’s me, but I prefer watching ‘Star Wars’ as opposed to reading ‘Star Wars’. That’s not to say reading ‘Star Wars’ books isn’t any fun at all. On the contrary, I have enjoyed reading the original Thrawn trilogy and it was very fascinating to discover how the saga continued in prose form.

But there’s an epic scale about the ‘Star Wars’ films in which you can appreciate their visual glory whilst watching them on the big screen, DVD, Blu-ray and on Disney+. 😀 That’s not always the case with the ‘Star Wars’ books since you have to picture the epic battles occurring in space in your mind.

Maybe if the ‘Star Wars’ books were adapted into fully-fledged movies or if they were all dramatised for audio, I’d be able to appreciate the stories told in prose form by various authors. And it’s clear that Timothy Zahn knows the ‘Star Wars’ universe inside and out when he’s writing his stories in prose.

Anyway, I’ve read the final instalment of the original Thrawn trilogy of ‘Star Wars’ books called ‘The Last Command’. Is it a worthy conclusion to this ‘Star Wars’ trilogy of books? Yes! Yes, it is. But that doesn’t mean to say I don’t have any issues with the trilogy since I had predicted it rather differently.

‘The Last Command’ was originally published in 1993; a year after the second book of the Thrawn trilogy – ‘Dark Force Rising’ – was published in 1992. I of course purchased the e-book version of ‘The Last Command’ via Kindle, which was published in 2016. It was good to read the story that way.

Like ‘Dark Force Rising’, the story is divided into 29 chapters. I’m intrigued as to why ‘Heir to the Empire’ had more chapters compared to the last two books of the trilogy. I wonder if Timothy Zahn divided his Thrawn trilogy in the same way that George Lucas divided his original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy.

The story has Grand Admiral Thrawn mounting a final siege against the New Republic. Han and Chewbacca struggle to form a wary alliance of smugglers, including Talon Karrade, in a last-ditch attack against the Empire. Leia keeps the Alliance together and she soon gives birth to her Jedi twins.

But as the Empire is becoming too strong for the New Republic to overcome, the only hope left is a small force led by Luke Skywalker who goes into a stronghold that houses Thrawn’s terrible cloning machines. There, danger awaits as Luke and Mara Jade confront the deadly Dark Jedi called C’boath.

If there is a compliant I have about this ‘Star Wars’ trilogy of books, then it would have to be Thrawn as a villain. Now don’t get me wrong, he has been well-written in terms of a tactician and a military strategist for the Empire. His scenes were Captain Pellaeon have been pretty mesmerising to read. 🙂

But he doesn’t really have much of an active part in terms of the fight scenes featured in these ‘Star Wars’ books. Most of the time, he’s doing a lot of talking. He’s not like Darth Vader who wields a red lightsaber to fight Jedi like Luke Skywalker. He’s more like the Grand Moff Tarkin character in this. 😐

Now maybe it’s because military types like Tarkin from ‘A New Hope’ and Pryde from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ aren’t supposed to have active involvement as they’re mainly watching from a distance to see how a battle’s going. And that’s fair enough because certain armies need to have that here. 🙂

But you see; I was led to believe that Thrawn was going to be the main villain of this trilogy and that Luke, Han and Leia would confront him aboard his ship, the Chimaera at some point. That’s not what happens here. In fact, Luke, Han and Leia don’t meet Grand Admiral Thrawn at all in the book trilogy.

That’s quite disappointing and I would’ve expected Thrawn to match to the same levels of villainy as Darth Vader with being an active fighter in the wars against the New Republic. Again, like I said in my ‘Dark Force Rising’ review, it seems to me the ‘Dark Jedi’ C’boath has been the Darth Vader category.

Which…yeah, let’s talk about C’boath. He’s someone who has been wanting to get Luke; Leia and her twins; and Mara Jade to become part of his new ‘Empire’. He’s also been working with Thrawn quite a lot to the point of betraying him to going all-out evil against our main heroes in the last fight.

Now I don’t mind that so much. If the trilogy was building up to C’boath as being the main baddie for Luke, Han, Leia, Karrde and Mara to overthrow, then fair enough. I just wish the trilogy indicated that more instead of giving us the impression Thrawn was the main threat whereas it was C’boath. 😐

C’boath isn’t even the real C’boath anyway. He’s a clone as I’ve been able to gather. He’s also developed as an archetypical villain similar to what Emperor Palpatine became in the original trilogy. In fact, in certain points, C’boath’s villain comes out of nowhere especially when he betrays Thrawn.

If the trilogy had C’boath training Luke to be a Jedi in more depth and that he was turning him towards the Dark Side, the threat of C’boath as a villain would be more prevalent. But I don’t feel that’s been taken advantage of in ‘Dark Force Rising’ and ‘The Last Command’ when reading them. 😐

I did like reading the climax to the book, especially when Luke and Mara were confronting C’boath and his clone of Luke (called ‘Luuke’ in the book) and with everyone else gathering including Han and Leia in a sort-of Emperor-like throne room. The climax did feel like a good climax whilst I read it here.

The story also doesn’t feel all over the place like it was when watching ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ on the big screen. I know I’m comparing these books to the latest sequels trilogy, but I’d like to stress the Thrawn trilogy has more depth and better character development compared to the sequels films. 🙂

Speaking of better character development, Leia has her Jedi twins in the story. I was wondering whether Leia would have her twins in the book. I like how that’s handled and the scenes she has with Han when they’re talking about raising their children as parents was very lovely to read indeed.

And Leia’s Jedi twins happen to be called…Rey and Ben, oh sorry, they’re called Jaina and Jacen. Hmm. That’s a difference in the books compared to the sequels films. I wonder if Leia and Han had more children than they were letting on in ‘The Force Awakens’. Or maybe this was forgotten about.

Actually, I’m kind-of surprised Disney didn’t take the brave move of linking their ‘Star Wars’ sequels trilogy to what was established in the books. It would’ve been really interesting if Rey was actually Jaina and Ben was actually Jacen. At least the continuity between books and film would be strong. 🙂

I can’t say that theory would be strong enough on its own based on just the Thrawn trilogy since I’ve not read any of the other books featuring Jaina and Jacen afterwards. Maybe Disney; J. J. Abrams; Rian Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy were lazy to check on those details before making their films. 😦

In fact, I’ve just realised something. J. J. Abrams seems to have a reputation of replacing old continuity with new continuity in the films he produces and directs. He did it with ‘Star Trek’, why not with ‘Star Wars’. Marina Siritis of ‘TNG’ fame isn’t too happy with J. J. Abrams’ ‘Star Trek’ efforts.

Another bit of character development I enjoyed in ‘The Last Command’ as well as the Thrawn trilogy overall is with Mara Jade. When she started, she wanted to kill Luke Skywalker in revenge for ruining her life. Here, she comes to see Luke isn’t her enemy and she grows to form a friendship with him. 🙂

The book’s title is related to the ‘command’ given to Mara inside her head by the Emperor to kill Luke Skywalker. Mara struggles to overcome her hatred towards Luke and refusing to obey the Emperor’s command. Thankfully, Mara does obey the ‘command’, but it isn’t in the way you think. 😀

Mara ends up killing Luke’s clone (‘Luuke’) when they’re confronting C’boath at the conclusion of this ‘Star Wars’ story. Thus the Emperor’s voice inside her head is gone and she’s able to be friends with Luke by the story’s end. Maybe even be more than friends if future books are to be determined.

I like Mara’s interaction with Leia when getting to know her as Luke’s sister. Mara is reluctant to say she won’t kill Luke in front of Leia when she’s having doubts as well as having the Emperor’s voice inside her head. But she does all she can to help Leia and the Rebellion fighting against the Empire. 🙂

Mara even accompanies Luke with Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 to the planet Wayland where Thrawn’s cloning facility is situated and where ‘Dark Jedi’ C’boath is waiting for them. She becomes a more helpful ally rather than be an enemy to our main heroes in the story.

I can’t say much on the character development of Han, Lando, Chewie, C-3PO and R2-D2 as they’re more or less the same as we know them from previous ‘Star Wars’ stories. I believe C-3PO does get a little more comedic banter with Han and R2-D2 when they’re going out on missions to other planets.

The story does conclude in a rather shocking manner. Aboard the Chimaera, Thrawn – the eponymous villain of our trilogy – gets stabbed with a dagger by his bodyguard, the Noghri called Rukh. Yeah, I didn’t mention Rukh a lot because he hasn’t contributed much to the trilogy overall. 😐

Also Rukh’s stabbing of Thrawn comes out of nowhere. I know the Noghri have been building up as a species to oppose the Empire’s hold on them. But as far as I’m concerned, Rukh was very loyal to Thrawn aboard the Chimera. So why he should betray him all of a sudden and stab him is a mystery.

But yeah, Thrawn is stabbed to death by the story’s end. So, how does that explain Thrawn’s appearance in other ‘Star Wars’ books like ‘Thrawn’, ‘Thrawn: Alliances’ and ‘Thrawn: Treason’ which were published in the 2010s? Unless Disney has chosen to forget the original ‘Thrawn’ trilogy!

The story does end quite abruptly with Luke and Mara back on Coruscant, starting an uneasy friendship with each other. Luke ends up giving Mara his blue lightsaber which was retrieved from the clone ‘Luuke’, taken from Cloud City on Bespin during the events of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’! 😀

Wait! Luke’s blue lightsaber was picked up from Cloud City by C’boath for the clone ‘Luuke’ to use to fight against the real Luke who used his green lightsaber. And now Luke has given Mara his blue lightsaber. I wonder if Mara gave that blue lightsaber to Maz Kanata before ‘The Force Awakens’. 😀

Or maybe it didn’t happen like that and I’m over-thinking the issue here. Anyway, Luke offers for Mara to accompany him when he goes back to the negotiations between the New Republic and the Smugglers’ Alliance happening downstairs. Mara is reluctant at first, but soon agrees to come along.

Characters like Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma and Winter (Leia’s companion) are also in ‘The Last Command’. I feel like I’ve been able to get to know Ackbar and Mon Mothma more compared to seeing them in the movies. Fey’lya also returns in the final instalment and he almost causes trouble.

I like how characters like Talon Karrade and other smugglers become involved in the fight for freedom against the Empire when fighting with the New Republic. It reflects Han Solo’s character journey from when he was originally a smuggler to now becoming a general as well as a father here.

The e-book has special features attached to it after you’ve finished the story, which are almost similar to the ‘Heir to the Empire’ and ‘Dark Force Rising’ e-book special features. There’s an introduction to the ‘Star Wars’ expanded universe; and there’s an excerpt, which is Chapter One, from the book ‘Star Wars: Choices of One’ by Timothy Zahn. There’s an introduction to the Old Republic era with an excerpt, which is ‘Day One: Chapter 1’, from the book called ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic – Deceived’ by Paul S. Kemp. There’s an introduction to the Rise of the Empire era with an excerpt, which is Chapters 1 and 2, from the book called ‘Star Wars: Dark Lord – The Rise of Darth Vader’ by James Luceno. There’s an introduction to the Rebellion era with an excerpt, which is Chapter One, from the book called ‘Star Wars: Allegiance’ by Timothy Zahn. There’s an introduction to the New Republic era with an excerpt, which is Chapter 1, from the book called ‘Star Wars: X-Wing – Rogue Squadron’ by Michael A. Stackpole. There’s an introduction to the New Jedi Order era with an excerpt, which is ‘One – Fraying Fabric’, from the book called ‘Star Wars: The New Jedi Order – Vector Prime’ by R. A. Salvatore.  And there’s an introduction to the Legacy era, with an excerpt, which is ‘chapter one’, from the book called ‘Star Wars: Legacy of the Force – Betrayal’ by Aaron Allston; and an excerpt, which is Chapter One, from the book called ‘Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Outcast’ by Aaron Allston. There’s also a ‘Star Wars Legends’ novels timeline.

‘Star Wars: The Last Command’ has been a satisfying conclusion to the original Thrawn trilogy of ‘Star Wars’ books. I must say I didn’t expect the trilogy to end up the way it did as I expected Thrawn to be involved in the main action rather than C’boath who was causing more trouble than Thrawn. 😐

I’m glad I’ve read the Thrawn trilogy of ‘Star Wars’ books at last. Timothy Zahn is a good ‘Star Wars’ writer and he’s good on the character relationships of Luke, Leia, Han and Mara. If this ‘Star Wars’ trilogy of books were adapted into films, I would happily watch them and I’d appreciate them more!

‘Star Wars: The Last Command’ rating – 8/10


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