Heir to the Empire is the first entry in The Thrawn Trilogy, written by Timothy Zahn, published by Bantam Spectra in June 1991. It takes place in 9 ABY. Heir to the Empire was adapted into a comic in 1995 by Dark Horse Comics. The narration for the abridged audio book was provided by Denis Lawson (the actor who portrayed Wedge Antilles) and Marc Thompson for the unabridged 20th Anniversary Edition.
Heir to the Empire: The 20th Anniversary Edition was published on September 6, 2011 and contained the new novella Crisis of Faith written by Timothy Zahn which features Grand Admiral Thrawn. It takes place in 9 ABY.
- ISBN 0553073273; June 1991, Bantam Spectra, 361-page hardcover
- ISBN 0553073273; June 1991, Bantam Spectra, Signed "300 copies with Gold edge on pages in a Slip Cover" 361-page hardcover
- ISBN 0553745085; June 1991, Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, Audio cassette
- ISBN 0553296124; June 1992, Bantam Spectra, 432-page paperback
- ISBN 0553634852; October 1994, Bantam Spectra, ?-page paperback
- ISBN 0739316621; October 12, 2004, Random House Audio, Abridged cassette
- ISBN 0345528298; September 6, 2011, LucasBooks, 20th Anniversary Edition, 496-page hardcover
- ISBN 0307933555; September 6, 2011, Random House Audio, 20th Anniversary Edition, Unabridged Audiobook Audio CD
- ISBN 80-7033-285-9; 1993, Olympia, 280-page Czech hardcover (Dědic Impéria).
- ISBN 80-7214-320-4; 2000, Baronet a.s., 376-page Czech hardcover (Dědic Říše).
- ISBN 978-80-252-1340-7; January 26, 2010, EGMONT ČR, 392-page Czech hardcover (Dědic Impéria).
- ISBN 954-528-215-0; 2001, Trud, 405-page Bulgarian paperback (Наследникът на Империята)
- ISBN 3-442-41334-6; 1992, Goldmann, 411-page German paperback (Erben des Imperiums)
- ISBN 3442269148; February 13 2013, Blanvalet, 20th Anniversary Edition, 592-page German paperback (Erben des Imperiums)
- ISBN 9789721036468; 1993, Publicações Europa-América, 348-page Portuguese paperback (Herdeiro do Império)
- ISBN 963-497-108-3; 2005, Szukits, 390-page Hungarian paperback (A Birodalom Örökösei)
- ISBN 886355932/ISBN 9788863552935; 2012/2014, Multiplater.it Edizioni, 544-page Italian paperback (La trilogia di Thrawn, Volume 1 - L'erede dell'Impero)
- ISBN 85-7123-364-0; 1993, Editora Best Seller, 372-page Brazilian paperback (Herdeiros do Império)
- ISBN 978-85-7657-198-8; 2014, Editora Aleph, 472-page Brazilian paperback (Herdeiro do Império)
But with the war seemingly won, strains are beginning to show in the Rebel Alliance. New challenges to galactic peace have arisen. And Luke Skywalker hears a voice from his past. A voice with a warning.
Beware the dark side….
Here is the science fiction publishing event of the year: the exciting continuation of the legendary Star Wars saga. Picking up where the movie trilogy left off, Heir to the Empire reveals the tumultuous events that take place after the most popular series in motion-picture history—masterfully told by Hugo Award-winning author Timothy Zahn.
In spring 1977 a film called Star Wars was released—and a cultural phenomenon was born. Its epic story, about a young man named Luke Skywalker, whose destiny was to save the galaxy from conquest, caught the imaginations of millions and broke all box-office records. Today Star Wars and its sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, are acknowledged as the most popular series in movie history, and rank among the top ten films of all time.
The three Star Wars films form a spectacular saga of bold imaginations and high adventure. But the stories of its characters did not end there. Now for the first time, Lucasfilm Ltd., producer of the Star Wars movies, has authorized the continuation of this beloved story. In an astounding three-book cycle, Timothy Zahn continues the tale of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and the other characters made world famous by Star Wars, as he brilliantly expands upon George Lucas's stunning vision, "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."
Heir to the Empire begins five years after the end of Return of the Jedi: the Rebel Alliance has destroyed the Death Star, defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and driven the remnants of the old Imperial Starfleet back into barely a quarter of the territory that they once controlled. Leia and Han are married and have shouldered heavy burdens in the government of the new Republic. And Luke Skywalker is the first in a hoped-for new line of Jedi Knights.
But thousands of light years away, where a few skirmishes are still taking place, the last of the Emperor's warlords has taken command of the remains of the Imperial fleet. He has made two vital discoveries that could destroy the fragile new Republic—built with such cost to the Rebel Alliance. The tale that emerges is a towering epic of action, invention, mystery, and spectacle on a galactic scale—in short, a story that is worthy of the name Star Wars.
Timothy Zahn is one of Science Fiction's most popular voices, known for his ability to tell very human stories against a well-researched background of future science and technology. He won the Hugo Award for his novella Cascade Point and is the author of ten Science Fiction novels, including Cobra, The Blackcollar, and Deadman's Switch, and two collections of short fiction. In 1993 he completed Angelmass and was published the very same year, afterward worked on the third book in the Star Wars cycle. Timothy Zahn lives in Oregon.
It's five years after Return of the Jedi: the Rebel Alliance has destroyed the Death Star, defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and driven the remnants of the old Imperial Starfleet to a distant corner of the galaxy. Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting Jedi twins. And Luke Skywalker has become the first in a long-awaited line of Jedi Knights.
But thousands of light-years away, the last of the Emperor's warlords has taken command of the shattered Imperial fleet, readied it for war, and pointed it at the fragile heart of the new Republic. For this dark warrior has made two vital discoveries that could destroy everything the courageous men and women of the Rebel Alliance fought so hard to build. The explosive confrontation that results is a towering epic of action, invention, mystery, and spectacle on a galactic scale—in short, a story worthy of the name Star Wars.
Five years after Return of the Jedi, as the New Republic holds a fragile control of the galaxy, a new threat emerges. Having been posted so far away from action, Grand Admiral Thrawn, a cunning and intelligent Chiss commander, begins to gather his Imperial forces for a strategic attack on the New Republic. With the aid of Captain Gilad Pellaeon and Thrawn's personal bodyguard Rukh, they begin to set in motion an almost unbeatable plan. They enlist the aid of a mad clone of a dead Jedi Master and use the Emperor's hidden weapons vault on the planet Wayland, which the clone guards. The chain of events caused major unrest in the New Republic.
Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker encounters Talon Karrde and his gang of smugglers. The smugglers capture him but do not turn him over to the Imperials (who would be extremely happy to receive him). The smugglers take him in just as Han Solo and Lando Calrissian come to see Karrde on the New Republic's interest to hire smugglers as traders. Then, as if things could not be worse, Grand Admiral Thrawn comes to visit Karrde just as Luke escapes. One of Karrde's employees, Mara Jade, chases Luke deep into the forest, where both ships crashed. Mara attempts to kill Luke because she believes that he killed the Emperor five years earlier during the Battle of Endor, and Mara was the Emperor's Hand at the time. However, she finds out that she needs Luke if she is to survive. Then Thrawn himself decides to interfere with Karrde's rescue attempts and tries to catch Luke and Mara first. The result is a firefight between Imperial troops and Karrde's men. In the end, Karrde wins, but has to evacuate his base. Han and Lando head to the shipyards at Sluis Van after they discover, thanks to Karrde, that Thrawn has plans there.
The insane Jedi clone from Wayland, Joruus C'baoth, comes out of isolation thanks to Thrawn and learns about Princess Leia's unborn Jedi twin children. Thus, C'baoth decides he will train them in the ways of the Force, unintentionally the dark side due to his insanity. Basically, Leia's unborn Jedi twins and Luke Skywalker will either join him or die. Luke and Leia are both pursued across the galaxy. Princess Leia is repeatedly hunted down by a species of aliens known as the Noghri. In order to keep her safe from more kidnap attempts and to give her a break from all the work in the New Republic, Han sends Leia and Chewbacca to the planet Kashyyyk, where the Wookiees can protect her. But Thrawn deduces the fact. Leia is again hunted down by the Noghri on Kashyyyk, but she has a plan. With Chewbacca's help, she manages to escape, and one of the Noghri is captured. The Noghri, Khabarakh, recognizes her scent as that of a child of the Dark Lord Darth Vader, as the Noghri had apparently been secret bodyguards of the Sith Lord. Determined to discover more about the Noghri's situation, Leia persuades him to bring her to his homeworld.
Meanwhile, the New Republic believes there is a spy among them that is leaking information on the New Republic's actions and plans to the Imperials. It is only known as Delta Source.
Just as Han and Lando reach the shipyards of Sluis Van, Thrawn launches his planned assault on the location. With a cloaking device, Thrawn is able to give an element of surprise as his mole miners (stolen from Lando) attempt to bore into the hulls of ships at Sluis Van, and steal them. But it just so happens that Rogue Squadron is at the scene. They fight off the TIE fighters while Han and Lando hatch a brilliant plan to stop the theft of ships. Thrawn is defeated in his first major offensive.
The Imperials retreat and order is restored…for now.
Timothy Zahn's working title for the book was Wild Card. Bantam vetoed this because it was too similar to Wild Cards, another series published at the time by Bantam. Zahn's next favorite title was The Emperor's Hand, which Bantam also rejected. Warlord's Gambit was also a potential title, but ultimately Heir to the Empire was chosen, which was suggested by sci-fi author Lou Aronica.
In addition, some of Zahn's original story elements were vetoed by Lucasfilm. Most significantly, the insane clone C'baoth was first intended to be a Dark Jedi clone of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
After Zahn had already begun work on the novel, Lucas Licensing requested that he incorporate some of the material from West End Games' Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game into his work, as well as keep continuity with it. Many important elements such as the Interdictor-class Star Destroyer originated in those sourcebooks.
This book introduced two major species: the Noghri and the Chiss. Both species frequently appeared in the New Jedi Order.
All of Timothy Zahn's books set after Return of the Jedi begin the same way as the films of the original trilogy: with a Star Destroyer streaking across space.
The 1996 Russian cover depicts events and characters from Dark Empire, such as the resurrected Palpatine, rather than characters from Heir to the Empire.
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This is a gallery of the different covers of Heir to the Empire.
- "Star Wars Publications Timeline"—Star Wars Insider 23
- The Secrets of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
- "Launch Pad"—Star Wars Insider 150
- "The Making of A New Dawn"—Star Wars Insider 152