Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Last Command: The Review

So now we’ve come to the final installment of the infamous Thrawn Trilogy, the series that started out the whole EU. I’ll have to say it did get a promising start, it’s just too bad that it didn’t keep going.

So what happens in this book? Quite a bit. After the previous book, Thrawn is once again anxious to take out the New Republic, and there is a battle for authority going on between him and Jorus C’baoth, who is a few steps past the boarder of Crazy Town as he enjoys screaming like a mad man that he is the one in charge. He wants Leia and the twins, as he had been promised.

Luke is busy trying to find the cloning facility while Mara is recovering from the injuries she sustained at the end of the last book. She is slowly coming to terms with the fact that Luke had gone back to save her, which doesn’t sit well with her because it’s a real pain when the person you are trying so hard to hate and kill starts being nice to you.

Pretty early in the book we get what I would certainly consider one of the first “moments” for Han and Leia, which is the birth of their twins, Jacen and Jaina. You can imagine this was not drawn out in the sort of way that many of us would write it as fanfic writers, but it was still very sweet. There is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that Han is right there for her the entire time, but the bad news is that I did not love the insinuation that Leia thinks about how there is so much of their lives that she will not get to share in, but Han would be able to share even less. Why does it require the Force in order for someone to bond with his children? Yes, there are parts of their lives he won’t be as involved in, but that’s true of any parent. Let’s not forget that there’s a lot that he WILL be a part of.

It’s very sweet when Leia is trying to soothe them while they are awaiting their birth, and she thinks,

Though to be perfectly fair, their father wasn't in much better shape.

"You all right?" Han asked for the umpteenth time since they'd come in here. He squeezed her hand a little more tightly, also for the umpteenth time, in sympathetic tension with her hunching shoulders.

"I'm still fine," Leia assured him. Her shoulders relaxed as the contraction ended, and she gave his hand a squeeze in return. "You don't look so good, though."

Han made a face at her. "It's past my bedtime," he said dryly.

"That must be it," Leia agreed. Han had been as nervous as a tauntaun on ball bearings ever since the labor started in earnest, but he was making a manly effort not to show it. More for her sake, Leia suspected, than for any damage such an admission might do to his image. "Sorry."

"Don't worry about it." Han threw a look to the side, where the medic and two Emdee droids were hovering around the business end of the birth bed.

"Looks like we're getting close, sweetheart."

"Count on it," Leia agreed, the last word strangled off as another contraction took her attention. "Oh . . ."

Han's anxiety level jumped another notch. "You all right?"

Leia nodded, throat muscles momentarily too tight to speak through. "Hold me, Han," she breathed when she could talk again. "Just hold me."

"I'm right here," he said quietly, sliding his free hand into a comfortable grip under her shoulder.

I like this a lot. It doesn’t cross into any annoying clichés about Leia screaming in pain and hating Han for doing this to her, it doesn’t really get overly mushy, it’s just them being there for each other, Han offering and Leia accepting his comfort. It’s all quite sweet.

Then we get the births, and Han is the proud papa we would all imagine.

And then, seemingly without warning, the first part was suddenly over. "Got one," Han told her, his voice sounding strangely breathless. "It's—" He craned his neck. "It's our daughter." He looked back at Leia, the tension in his face plastered over with the lopsided grin she knew so well. "Jaina."

Once they are both out and in their parents arms, things quiet down:

They laid the twins in her arms a few minutes later . . . and as she looked first at them and then up at Han, she felt a sense of utter peace settle over her. Out among the stars there might be a war going on; but for here, and for now, all was right with the universe.

Later on we get a nice, quiet moment between Leia, the twins and Han. Leia is sitting on her bed nursing the twins when Han comes in. Leia was marveling at the lives that she and Han had created, and Han sits down and lets Jacen grab his finger with his little fist while Jaina continues nursing and Han comments how they eat like starving Wookiees.

They are talking about the issues the New Republic is facing, but there are still some nice little things sprinkled in there, such as,

"Yeah, he and Bel Iblis are still talking to Admiral Drayson," Han said, reaching over to rest his free hand on Leia's shoulder. The warmth felt good through her thin dressing gown. Almost as good as the warmth of his thoughts against her mind.

They also share some of their trademark banter:

"You know, you thought I was pretty handy to have around before the kids showed up. Now you don't need me anymore, huh? Just go ahead and toss me aside."

"Of course I need you," Leia soothed him. "As long as most of the droids are out on defense duty and there are two babies who have to be changed, you'll always have a place here."

"Oh, great," Han growled. "I think I'd rather get tossed aside."

"It's way too late for that," Leia assured him, stroking his hand and turning serious again. "I know you want to help, Han, and I really do appreciate it. I just feel guilty."

"Well, don't," Han told her, taking her hand and squeezing it. "We old-time smugglers are used to strange hours, remember."

Later on, of all people, Mara senses that someone is going to attack Leia, Han and the twins. Amazingly, Han and Leia are together and asleep when Leia is awakened by Mara sort of speaking to her through the Force that someone is coming to get her. She gets out of bed and heads for the front door, oddly without maybe mentioning something to Han or asking for help or anything, but since they’re at least sleeping in the same bed, we’ll let it slide. They are pretty much under an ambush, Winter is with the twins and Han and Leia are huddled and wondering how to get out of this mess.

Mara, Lando and Bel Iblis make their way to the Solo apartment to try and stop their attackers.

Leia took a deep breath, trying to calm her racing heart. Ever since the first of these kidnapping attempts on Bimmisaari, she'd been able to think of it as the Imperials gunning for her and her alone—not an especially pleasant thought, but one that she'd become more or less accustomed to after years of warfare.

This time it was different. This time, instead of being after her and her unborn twins, they were after her babies. Babies they could physically take from her arms and hide away where she might never see them again.

This is a very scary thought, that their children could be taken away from them. Mara gets into Leia’s head again and tells her to surrender, which she does much to Han’s disbelief. But it is enough to render their attackers stunned enough for Mara to come in and stop them.

Luke had finally returned and I’m guessing gets to meet his new niece and nephew, it’s never really mentioned. Almost immediately it is decided that Han, Luke, Mara and Lando are going to be heading for Wayland. Han is not happy to be leaving so quickly, but he does at least think to himself that he’ll leave, but only after he says goodbye to his wife in private. I sense another missing moment there…

They decide that they need Mara in order to infiltrate the cloning facility since she has been there. Except some people seem to think that Mara is still working for the Empire, and she is placed under house arrest. But our old Rebels may not really be Rebels anymore, but they aren't so much into authority, and they help her escape so she can help them find the cloning facility.

Remember Ghent? Well, he managed to fairly quickly crack the code that had been used by Delta Source, and he gives the information to Leia who keeps it to herself but goes to Garm Bel Iblis to help her figure out what Delta Source is. They suspect maybe a droid but they can’t seem to figure it out.

Mara gets them to Wayland where they embark on a little excursion that seems a lot like crossing Endor when they were headed for the shield generator. Walking through the woods and doing some camping. As they make their way toward Mount Tantiss, where the cloning facility is, Mara asks Luke about the Emperor’s final moments. She had no idea that in the end Vader had turned to good and been the one to kill the Emperor. Once again, this is not what she wants to hear when she so desperately wants so many reasons to hate and kill Luke aside from just the voice in her head. She had no idea that Vader was Luke’s father and decides that her reasons for killing Luke have to be her own and not just because the Emperor wanted revenge on his murderer.

As they get closer to Mount Tantiss Luke realizes that he can’t sense it in the Force. Elsewhere, Leia realizes why it is that the clones they are growing are being made so much more quickly than any other clones. Apparently the Force actually inhibits them from growing at a faster rate, and by surrounding them with ysalamiri, the clones can grow at an incredible rate, and Leia realizes that for this reason, Luke isn’t safe because he can’t sense the danger surrounding the mountain and she knows she has to go and save them. Leia also manages to figure out that Delta Source is actually inside a tree in the Grand Corridor of the Imperial Palace and it is destroyed.

Karrde, meanwhile, really wants to talk to Mara and tells Leia that if he can talk to her he will give them some valuable information. Leia agrees to this without mentioning to him that Mara is no longer in custody. Upon the realization that Luke and Han would need her help, Leia knows that the New Republic lacks the resources to help them and asks Karrde to take her.

Knowing that Mount Tantiss is blocked in the Force, Luke thinks it is in order to confine C’Baoth rather than anything to do with clones. Mara and Luke go to the throne room because she suspects there is a self destruct there, but Han and Lando stay back to rig up some explosives just in case.

Upon reaching the throne room, C’baoth is there and has had the ysalamiri destroyed so they have use of the Force, and he wants Mara and Luke to join his side, though of course he also still wants Leia and the twins. C’Baoth has another weapon though, Luuke Skywalker, a clone of Luke himself built from the hand Luke had lost and carrying the very lightsaber he first fought Vader with.

While all of this is going on, Leia arrives on planet and stumbles upon Han. They get beyond hand-squeezing here and share a “quick, tense hug.” To be fair, there were lives at stake, so no time for making out. They all make it up to the throne room and let’s just say that chaos ensues. Han is thrown back with some Force lightning, Leia is taken out by falling debris, poor Han then keeps going after a blaster that C’baoth just keeps pushing further and further away from him while he is fighting.

Luke offers C’baoth himself if he will let everyone else go, yet again making Mara annoyed that he is sacrificing himself not just for his friends, but for someone who was not shy about expressing her desire to kill him. In the end, Mara winds up killing the clone Luuke, feeling a great sense of relief that she has carried out the Emperor’s wish that she kill Luke Skywalker, even though technically it is not the right one. Enraged, C’baoth tries to take out the entire complex, but Mara kills him with Luke’s old lightsaber.

While all of this had been going on, there was a battle going on between the New Republic and Bilbringi with Grand Admiral Thrawn on the Chimera and Rougue Squadron. Thrawn had a bodyguard, a Noghri named Rukh, who betrays and kills him for what the Empire had done to the Noghri. Once the Grand Admiral is dead, Palleon is in charge and orders them to retreat as the Thrawn campaign has ended.

The book ends with Luke and Mara on Coruscant, Mara thinking about how she never got to be there without being at the Emperor’s side. Luke is about to head off to some negotiations with the Smuggler’s Alliance and asks for Mara’s help, and she is resistant at first. He gives her his old lightsaber, which shocks her though she accepts and then decides to go with him. I have to say, I’m not sure I can see him giving away that lightsaber given its sentimental value, but since this is his future wife, I guess we can let it slide.

Okay, there was a lot more to this book but I wanted to focus on the stuff that we are usually most interested in. Overall, it was quite an enjoyable read and it moved fast. There was a lot of action, but there was also a lot of good character interaction. Not just Han and Leia, but Luke and Mara as well. I'm under the impression that it was not always in the grand plan for her to be his wife.

Han and Leia share some nice little moments as parents, although it's not quite as much as we might have hoped, especially since they still seem to be against kissing each other for some reason. Also, there are times when they don't really seem to be thinking about the twins that much when they're not with them and Winter is always in charge of them.

But even with those little gripes, I'm going to have to give this book a 4 on the Han and Leia factor. Their babies are born, they're both there and happy and share some nice moments as first-time parents and they even say I love you. Honestly, when we started this whole thing I was thinking we'd never get a 4 because there are a few great books, a lot of horribly crappy books, and even more mediocre books, but this one seemed to be a 4 for me. While the second book in this trilogy may have dragged a bit, this one was definitely a fun, fitting end to the series and the beginning of fun things to come.

Funny, nobody mentions in this book that the twins are going to have to be taken away from Han and Leia and raised somewhere else...


  1. I agree this was so much better than the last book.

    Cute scenes with the twins being born. I remember being so happy the first time I read this book, it was such a huge moment for them. I like how Han is there for Leia all the way through the birth. But I find it hard to believe that such a small woman as Leia was able to deliver twins naturally. Of course the writers don't care about such details, and I suppose it doesn't really matter, but I definitely see the birth being a c-section.

    I was pleased with the names they chose for the twins, always thought they were good. But not so sure that Anakin was a good choice though...

    Of course we have the obligatory reference to them never seeing each other, this time during the ambush and Han comments about how he kept telling Leia they needed more furniture, and she responds..."But you're never here anyway". Ugh, yeah, we kinda figured that!!

    Another Ugh for Winter sleeping in the next room to them...why can't this woman have her own apartment? Worse than that, she has a connecting door to their room....can't they have any privacy at all? Winter just annoys the hell out of me!

    Think the twins going away was something they did to fit with continuity for Dark Empire, cos remember originally Dark Empire came first when they had no twins and it was then moved until after The Trawn Trilogy? They had to change a lot of the dialogue and had to somehow explain the absence of their kids, so that horrible idea I think somehow came from that. Because it's certainly not something Zahn even hints at.

    And the lack of kissing is still a sore point with me! I mean, why? But I have good news....I flicked through the Hand of Thrawn books earlier, to see if Zahn still has an aversion to them smooching....and they do get to kiss in Vision of the Future...phew, thanks Tim, better late than never eh?

  2. Was anybody else confused by the picture of the two young Jedi fighting on the cover? I get that the young Luke is Luuke (the clone) but is that supposed to be Mara? She looks 15, too.

  3. The birth of the twins was sweet. Nice to see Han and Leia as new parents. Interesting Leia used the Force for pain control. No epidurals in SW I guess or no need to bother with it. And yes, Winter is annoying to me as well. Does anybody know where she was during the OT? It would be nice for Han and Leia to have some time alone with their children.

  4. I think Winter was off doing secret things with Intelligence during the OT. Like going into places and memorizing everything.

    it really creeped me out that Winter lived in their apartment.

    more impressive to me than the force as a pain control device was the twins reassuring each other during the birth.

    I had the impression it was Tim Zahn's idea all along to hook Luke up with Mara and the other writers who came after him thought up all these other women for him instead. So in the end Tim had to take care of it himself and get them back together during the Hand of Thrawn series.

    I got a good giggle out of the Noghiri not wanting to offend "the consort of Lady Vader." and then they end up calling him "Han clan Solo."

  5. You know, I really can't imagine Han being ok with Winter living with him. Wouldn't that cut down on the amount of sex he could have with Leia? it would be nearly as bad as having 3PO living with them. (Wait... does 3PO live with them in the EU? If so, I feel sorry for Han.)

    Aww, the birth of the twins is really sweet! I love how Han's really nervous, but Leia isn't really. Also nice to see that they still get to have a bit of time together.

    Mm, yes, there were a couple of good missing moments here...

  6. Wow, that book cover pic is tiny. I have to edit and fix that!

    I forgot about the consort thing, I can definitely see Han not enjoying that title. And whether it's a trusted friend or not, isn't it never a good idea to have another woman living with you? I mean, just not a good idea.

    Yes, Threepio does live with them, but don't forget, they can shut him off ;)

    I thought the same thing with the birth. They even explicitly state that she went 9 months. Is it even possible for a woman that small to go full term with twins? A good friend of mine had twins recently, not as small as Leia, but she said it was basically an inevitability that they would be born close to a month early, which they were. That's why when I wrote her having the twins it was a c-section!

  7. Yeah, this book always bugged me for that reason. I'm fairly petite (5'1") and I went past my due date with my daughter and was stomach was at my knees when I sat down. I can't even imagine twins there is just no room. And I had to have a c-section.

    I also didn't like that she was just, I don't know, gallavanting about so soon after. I guess they had some really advanced medical care in Star Wars universe. Maybe they just immersed in bacta afterwards?

    It was obviously written by a man who does not understand these things. :)

  8. Excellent review. I agree about the questionability of delivering twins naturally. I am 5 feet and after twelve hours of labor, the doctors decided to do a c-section. The second time, we just scheduled a c-section. Sorry when you are that petite, force or no-force, those babies are coming out through the magic zipper. I remember how nervous my husband was with our first delivery. I think he was cracking jokes and he looked pale. I can see Han like that.
    It was kinda hard to read these tender moments of Han and Leia as new parents, knowing what a terrible direction the writers have taken this family. I keep having to tell myself "it is just fiction." I feel so sorry for them.

  9. Yeah, too bad that while they were having such nice little moments with the kids, I couldn't help the entire time but think of this one line of Han's that I think is the most horrific line ever. Later on, after Jacen does all that he does, Han says something about wishing he had thrown him out the nursery window when he had a chance. Not only do I think Han would never say that, no matter what, it just stuck with me all this time as such a horrific thing for Han to think and say and I hate the EU for ruining all these good moments by planting that one line in my head (and in Han's mouth).

  10. Oh my goodness, what an awful, awful line to write for Han. I cannot see him saying that either. That is so sad and quite disturbing. I can see where that quote would leave an imprint on the psyche.

  11. Wow, Push, that is pretty bad. Glad I've managed to block that part out.

    I would doubt that Leia could go full term. I didn't think twins usually went full term. She could possibly have had them without c-section. I'm only 5'2 and had both of mine without c-section. But I didn't have a baby over 6.5 lbs.

  12. Yeah, I'll put that in my category of things I can pretend never happened. I had definitely forgotten about that and even you saying it doesn't trigger a memory, although I do recall other horrible things he said and thought about Jacen later on.

    As for her being fine, there is a significant chunk of book between the birth and the next time we see Leia, so there's no indication really of how long it has been between, so maybe it's been long enough that she would be fine.

  13. This is the quote, it's from "Inferno":

    "We should have dropped that kid out the medcenter window the day he was born."
    ―Han Solo, about Jacen Solo[src]

    Sorry, it's pretty damaging and if you're like me, just can't be unread.

    1. ummm... OMG!
      I haven't read that yet. I'm stalled halfway through Invincible. If I dont read it. it wont happen. I'm totally in denial.

      han would NEVER have said anything like that. OMG!! I'm going to white that part out.

  14. Why did you have to do that? Now I'm just sad.

  15. Did Han have issues with the boys before Jacen went all Sith? I remember Jaina had some issues with Leia, but don't remember as much with Han.

    Geez, just thinking about the later EU is bumming me out. I keep hoping Jaina will get a chance for a family and normal life, but no idea if she will. Goodness knows one of them needs some happiness as well as Han and Leia.

  16. I don't recall there being much about Han having problems with his sons during the books, but they never delved much into the father/son relationships. They were always off doing their Jedi stuff and Han was just that guy who happened to have gotten their mother pregnant but didn't have that much to do with them now. I don't know, maybe I'll read some stuff soon that will remind me, a lot of these books when the kids were regular kids I haven't read in a really long time.

    And don't have too much hope about Jaina and a normal life. There is this talk about how she is the "sword of the Jedi" or whatever that's supposed to mean, I don't know. But I doubt it means that she gets to marry Jag and get a nice, quiet life raising their kids on a quiet planet.

  17. I'm currently listening to Abyss, only because the library had it on cd and I thought I would give it a try (and Leia was on the cover). It's sad when Han and Leia talk about Jacen. I haven't quite figured out Jaina yet, she seems aloof. I'm terrified for the last book Ascension that comes out in March. How much more can Han and Leia and us take?

    Amara: yeah for your 6.5oz babies! Mine were both 8.1oz - I blame their father.

  18. Oh my! that is just awful! I have not read EU past this book and I think that maybe I won't. As a parent I just can't understand saying such a thing, or even thinking it, no matter what your kid does. It's I would think that maybe they would be more angry with themselves and blame their parenting for the way he turned out...I think that is what most parents would feel.

  19. Exactly, it's not just that he would think it at all, but the idea that whatever awful things he did when he got older (if, for the sake of argument here, he did grow up and eventually go crazy) would that mean that he would wish he had never shared any nicer moments with his son for years and years prior to that? It's so wrong on so many levels.

    This argument should probably be saved for that book much later. For now, the babies are new and cute and they seem to like them even if Winter is the one watching them all the time.

  20. I know it's awful. I don't think he would ever think it, even if Jacen did everything that the EU says he ended up doing.

  21. Sorry late to comment on that line.....what a horrific thing to say!! I'm actually pretty stunned by that. And didn't Troy Denning write that?? Han would never say that, I don't care what anyone says.

    I haven't read Legacy of the Force or anything beyond that, but I know the plot more or less. Wasn't expecting that at all. Just awful. Ughh.

    There really are some awful things said out of character in the EU, but that's certainly near the top of the list. Infact it's probably worse than the horrific stuff Leia comes out with in the Chewbacca comic, and that one bothers me a lot.

    Yes you're right, twins very rarely go full term. Clearly Zahn knows nothing about child birth!

    It's interesting that in A Forest Apart (short story set a month before Tatooine Ghost) Han and Leia do not live in the same apartment as in The Thrawn Trilogy. It's a completely different place, and not in the Imperial Palace at all. Wookiepedia also backs this up. I wonder why they moved out? Hmm, maybe there wasn't room for Winter in the old!!!

  22. Ah, ok. Thanks, Zyra. Should have known Han was just the guy who fell on top of Leia occasionally. The babies are cute I'm sure and certainly can table the discussion until later books. Figured as much about Jaina, but darn, it sure would be nice.

    Thanks, seams2be. You should have to try running out for preemie diapers. My daughter wasn't preemie, but when you're barely 6 lbs, everything is too big for you.

    Virgo12, I hear you on the EU. I have to admit after COPL, I didn't read much. I mostly have picked through the later EU books and read some things on Wookiepedia. There were some things I was curious about and would read that part of a book. From what I've read, I think what they've done is just so sad not sure I can even force myself to read all of them. Even my husband that has read most of the EU stopped because he was so tired of the Vong. Now there's some books I want to read with Tatooine Ghost, Shadows of Mindor, and the new Zahn books. And I encouraged my husband to read them too. I think the book club helped me to realize not all the EU is horrific. :)

  23. I gave up for a long while on the EU when it was just Vong Vong Vong all the time. and then the whole Jacen-going-Sith thing was so depressing. this latest series has been nice in that they are TOGETHER and happy about it. although I have to work hard to remind myself to picture Han as Harrison from the cover of AARP instead of Harrison in the background of this blog.

    And yes, before you ask, I stole my mother in law's copy of AARP the month Harrison was on the cover. he's still hot. :-)

    1. I'm not sure i remember this book. i'll have to re-read it. I think i was just so happy they are actually having a family and making a life together i didn't quite take it all in.

      on a completely unrelated topic - you guys should check out jzhanfan's new fic on "after the battle"
      Props! it's tots awesome.

    2. aww, shucks. thanks for the totally unsolicited and shameless plug, zolo77 :-)

    3. On zolo77's recommendation I have just read "after the battle" and I am absolutely loving it, please tell me there's going to be a lot more of it, jzhanfan???

  24. jz, I haven't gone so far as to read AARP, but yes, I'm still attracted to him even though he is older than my parents by several years.

    And to further bring us away from the depressing subject of Han wishing he could go back in time and murder his infant son, I do like Han and Leia on the cover here. Ok, Han's face looks a little weird, but I just like that she's resting her head on his shoulder :)

  25. The EU is depressing me. A lot.

    Haha, we watched Indiana Jones last night. I mostly stared at Harrison the whole time and ignored the plot. I am so pathetic!

  26. Don't we all do that GoldDragon?

    Oh and Zyra, I agree, Han and Leia are so cute on this cover. I think it's the only lovey dovey cover they have in the novels. Hmm, Han's face looks....well, blotchy, for want of a better word.

  27. On a short break from teaching. I want this current background picture!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my!!!! This picture has just made my day and my heart skip a beat.

  28. Yeah I know, he's so rugged and just totally delicious!!

    But it's a back to front picture though cos his scar is the wrong way.....not that it diminishes his droolsomeness in any way!

  29. THAT'S NOT HAN. Why is there an imposter? D: (Psh, not that I'm complaining.)

  30. background pic is awesome today. who's scruffy lookin'?

  31. I need to stop staring at the background pic.

  32. Lol. Why would you want to do that? :)

  33. That illustration of C'Baoth always makes me think of Moses parting the Red Sea.

    I remember enjoying this book as much as the first. I really need to go back and read these though...eventually. ;)

    And wow at that awful quote...

  34. I must mention the awful audio book of this (very very severely abridged). I have it on tape from way back. Haven't heard it in years, since I don't even possess anything that plays tapes nowadays, but I remember how bad it was. Anthony Daniels reads it, and whilst Threepio sounds every bit like he should, his attempt at everyone else is quite shocking. Come on, can you imagine HIM doing Han?

    I also hate the way he can't pronounce Jacen properly. He says Jass-en not Jason.

  35. 3PO reading Leia must be fairly painful, too.

  36. Ouch, that actually sounds physically painful. Poor Threepio. Too bad AD can't do the perfect impersonations his metal-headed counterpart can.