The Thrawn Trilogy, also known as The Thrawn Omnibus, the Zahn Trilogy, the Empire Trilogy, The Three-Book Cycle, and the Star Wars cycle, consists of three novels: Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command. They were written by Timothy Zahn and take place in 9 ABY, about five years after Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Narration for the abridged audio versions was performed by Anthony Daniels and Denis Lawson. An unabridged 20th Anniversary Edition of Heir to the Empire was released in 2011 and read by Marc Thompson.
The trilogy follows the campaigns of Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn, from the Destruction of the Elomin task force to the Battle of Bilbringi. It also recounts the efforts of the Dark Jedi Joruus C'baoth, and his efforts to claim Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa Solo, and her children as his apprentices.
The series introduced many notable Expanded Universe characters such as Garm Bel Iblis, Talon Karrde, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Gilad Pellaeon, and Mara Jade—characters who would subsequently appear in a variety of Expanded Universe works, by a plethora of creators. Grand Admiral Thrawn also became a popular villain in the Expanded Universe, with appearances in several later works which took place earlier in the timeline. In addition, the Imperial capital world - Coruscant - was given its name by the trilogy, and would later feature in the prequel films.
As the first of many Star Wars spin-off novels published by Bantam Spectra, it marked the beginning of an era of rapid expansion of the Star Wars canon (along with comics such as Dark Empire, which Dark Horse began publishing in 1991). Some fans look at the trilogy as the main continuation of the Original Trilogy, and thus the closest replacement for the long-promised, but never produced, sequel trilogy of films.
The titles of all three books could be said to have multiple meanings:
- Heir to the Empire could refer either to Thrawn or C'baoth, or the New Republic.
- Dark Force Rising could refer either to the dark side of the Force, the Katana fleet, or Thrawn's Empire in general.
- The Last Command could refer either to Palpatine's command to Mara Jade or to Thrawn's battle.
In French, the trilogy has a series title as La Croisade noire du Jedi fou, "The Black Crusade of the Mad Jedi." In Dutch, it is known as In de Schaduw van het Rijk, "In the Shadow of the Empire." Also, the Dutch title for Dark Force Rising is De macht van de duistere kant, which translates to "The power of the Dark side."
- ISBN 0553473220; September 1, 1994, Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, Audiocassette
- ISBN 0553526995; March 7, 2000, Random House Audio, Audiocassette (The Thrawn Omnibus)
- ISBN 9061138906; August 1999, J. M. Meulenhoff, 1,218-page Dutch (In de Schaduw van het Rijk)
This is a gallery of the different cover variations of the Thrawn Trilogy.