Star Wars: Dark Force Rising, the second installment in arguably the best Star Wars book series. Because Dark Force Rising is a direct sequel to Heir to the Empire, any plot details would ruin the both books, therefore is no spoilers of any kind will be revealed in this review. As I had said in my review for Heir to the Empire, it was a fantastic book and my favorite book until I read the Lord of the Rings. One of the many things that Heir to the Empire captured perfectly about Star Wars is how the characters Han, Luke, Leia, Lando and Chewie are portrayed and Dark Force Rising is no exception. Also the new characters that were introduced in the previous are further developed like Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade and Talon Karrde, all of whom are expertly written characters.
There was a surprising amount of suspense and tension during many parts of the book, were I found myself mentally "On the edge of my seat" needing to know what happened next. If you are a Star Wars fan, you need to read the Thrawn trilogy, especially if you are an Original Trilogy fan like me. In many ways it is superior to the Prequel Trilogy, since the characters are written very well and story so involving. This comes closest to finally giving the fans the true original Star Wars that I have been wanting. While Dark Force Rising is not the Empire Strikes Back of sequels, it serves to advance the story and be a solid middle chapter in the larger story.
There are some continuity changes that Lucas screwed up when he created the Attack of the Clones about who the Clones were but the Clone Wars is never explained in detail.
The character Grand Admiral Thrawn is officially in my Top 15 Star Wars characters and Mara Jade at least in my Top 25 because they are such great characters, it is hard not to like them.
Plot: 9.9/10- While there were very few small plot missteps, the story as a whole is absolutely brilliant. Being the middle chapter of one story, similar to the Two Towers in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it does end on a cliffhanger of sorts. However, there are many twists and turns throughout the plot; I never knew what was coming next. There were many references to the original trilogy in terms of story and some of the character's dialogue, which as a major Star Wars geek was awesome.
Audiobook: 10/10- Because I had to wait for the unabridged by Marc Thompson to be released for Dark Force Rising, it has been around 8 months since I listened to Heir to the Empire. I have forgotten how much better he is than anyone else at making audiobooks and copying the character's voices. He gives distinct voices to the main character, making it easy to distinguish between characters. The only problem is when he is reading dialogue from a female character but he does an admirable job and it does not take long to get used to it. Thompson's impressions of Han and Lando are most impressive, he sounds almost exactly like the characters, except they have aged 5 years since Return of the Jedi. The use of sounds effects and music is perfect. John Williams’ amazing score highlights key points of the book to bone chilling effect and adds the classic Star Wars feel to the book. Also his voice for Grand Admiral Thrawn is exactly as I would imagine
Overall: 9.9/10- While one would have to be a Star Wars fan to truly appreciate it, Dark Force Rising and Heir to the Empire are the perfect sequels to the original Star Wars trilogy; an absolute must read for any Star Wars fan.
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