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Editor reviews

"Longtime fans should get considerable pleasure from this addition to the saga." ( Publishers Weekly)

Summary

Hugo Award-winning author Timothy Zahn makes his triumphant return to the Star Wars(r) universe in this first of an epic new two-volume series in which the New Republic must face its most dangerous enemy yet--a dead Imperial warlord.

The Empire stands at the brink of total collapse. But they have saved their most heinous plan for last. First a plot is hatched that could destroy the New Republic in a bloodbath of genocide and civil war. Then comes the shocking news that Grand Admiral Thrawn--the most cunning and ruthless warlord in history--has apparently returned from the dead to lead the Empire to a long-prophesied victory. Facing incredible odds, Han and Leia begin a desperate race against time to prevent the New Republic from unraveling in the face of two inexplicable threats--one from within and one from without. Meanwhile, Luke teams up with Mara Jade, using the Force to track down a mysterious pirate ship with a crew of clones. Yet, perhaps most dangerous of all, are those who lurk in the shadows, orchestrating a dark plan that will turn the New Republic and the Empire into their playthings.

©2011 Timothy Zahn (P)2013 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Zahn turns in his usual high-caliber performance." ( Library Journal)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • JD
  • 15-09-17

One of the best Star Wars books

A very good story that could've taken the Star Wars series in a very different and better direction than the yuuzhan vong war series.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great production, good story

I always really like Timothy zahn's work, and here is really good too. Not quite as epic as the original (post rotj) trilogy, but good. As an audio book it works brilliantly too thanks to great reading and very strong production. Recommended.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent adaptation

This is more than just a standard book reading. The actor enhances the performance with good impressions and the sound effects and music give this book one of the best star wars feels. If only the original thrown trilogy could be adapted this well.

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fantastic just as I remember it from the book

brilliant listen to another great story by Timothy Zhan cannot wait to download vision of the future

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

What you would expect from Zahn

Well that was fun & a lovely catch up with the characters from Zahn's Thrawn trilogy. No with added diplomatic intrigue.

I'm not a big fan of audio books with special effects, but these are actually done well & sparingly, the narrator's imitation of Harrison Ford's voice as Han is actually very well done. So I enjoyed the story, I enjoyed how it was produced & im off to listen to the conclusion.

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  • Ross
  • Harrogate, United Kingdom
  • 08-10-15

If you loved Thrawn before you'll love this!

If you loved Thrawn before you'll love this! It's a great follow on from Zahn's original excellent trilogy

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good. Better ending

Was decent hoping for big things in book two The hand of thrawn vision of the future. Would recommend. Peace is a lie!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Marc Thompson -- awesome narrating

If you could sum up Star Wars: Specter of the Past: The Hand of Thrawn, Book 1 in three words, what would they be?

Great Book, looking forward to conclusion

What did you like best about this story?

Marc Thompson's narrating

What about Marc Thompson’s performance did you like?

Everything, he really nailed this one

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

an emotional roller coaster

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Samuel
  • ST AUSTELL, United Kingdom
  • 08-11-13

Marc Thompson Just gets the material

What did you like most about Star Wars: Specter of the Past: The Hand of Thrawn, Book 1?

Zahn is my favourite Star wars author and Thompson is in turn my favourite employee of random house audio. With this in mind you could imagine my joy whenever they release the on-going productions of Zahn lately coupled with marc's voice. Basically if you enjoy the works Zahn had previously done with the Thrawn trilogy this is a must read for those who wish to continue the story with his established characters.

If you haven't actually read those books I implore you do as they are fantastic reads or get those audiobooks also done by Marc. Great audiobook, cant wait for the second hand of Thrawn book to come out of Random house in December :)

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  • Cam T.
  • 19-09-13

The Rerelease surpasses the Original

What made the experience of listening to Star Wars: Specter of the Past: The Hand of Thrawn, Book 1 the most enjoyable?

Marc Thompson delivers another amazing performance in "Specter of the Past", book 1 of the Hand of Thrawn duology. His voices for Han Solo and Lando Calrissian are uncannily accurate, and make it very easy to picture Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams as they might've portrayed the story in a film.

Not only do his voices for classic characters deliver, but he also adds greater depth to the Expanded Universe characters like Talon Karrde, Grand Admiral 'Thrawn', Moff Disra, Borsk Fey'lya, President Gavrisom, and Admiral Gilad Pellaeon, as well as many others.Thompson's performances in the Star Wars audiobooks make them truly a pleasure for my wife and me to listen to, and we always look forward to his performances when we're journeying through the Expanded Universe in chronological order.

Also, this re-release of "Specter of the Past" far surpasses the original, and not only because it's unabridged. I'm not saying Anthony Heald did a bad job on the original release. For its time, it was very good, but the simple fact is that Timothy Zahn's Star Wars novels are so rich and full of detail and intricate plot that having them abridged into little three-hour segments is like literary butchery."Specter of the Past" and its sequel "Vision of the Future" particularly suffered from the cutting block when produced by Bantam audio books, and I am absolutely delighted that these two are being rereleased, unabridged, on the heels of the Thrawn Trilogy's 20th anniversary rerelease!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Star Wars: Specter of the Past: The Hand of Thrawn, Book 1?

Hmm . . . how to pick just one memorable moment? I really like the inclusion of Shada D'Ukal more heavily in this story, because I really enjoyed her story in "Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina", as read by Laura Esterman (which, by the way, Audible doesn't have for some reason! ?), and seeing it more fully integrated into the larger tapestry of the Expanded Universe.

The reappearance of Grand Admiral Thrawn is also a fun moment, again made more so by Marc Thompson's brilliant performance! I can't wait to hear "Vision of the Future", which comes out next month!

The scenes with Admiral Pellaeon are also brilliant, as one of the most dedicated Imperials of the Expanded Universe seeks to end the war between the Empire and the New Republic once and for all. Marc Thompson's Pellaeon voice truly portrays the character's long career and old age. Excellent!

What about Marc Thompson’s performance did you like?

I've answered this in previous sections of this review, but I'll say it again - he's brilliant at portraying classic characters as well as Expanded Universe characters, and it's easy to picture other people with that voice, as opposed to some audio books where it sounds more like someone just reading aloud, instead of giving a performance.Marc Thompson is quite simply one of the best I've ever seen.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Ten Years Later, Grand Admiral Thrawn is back!

Any additional comments?

I'm very glad to see Random House giving some of the classic EU novels' audios a much needed overhaul, and I'd really hope to see more of these in the future!

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ezekiel
  • 03-10-13

Zahn is simply the best.

Where does Star Wars: Specter of the Past: The Hand of Thrawn, Book 1 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Timothy Zahn is the unparalleled master of the literary EU of Star Wars. Carrying on from the fantastic Trawn trilogy, which introduced the majority of the major EU players including Han and Leia's Children, the Noghri, Captain/Now Admiral Pellaeon, Winter, Talon Karde, Mara Jade, and most importantly Grand Admiral Thrawn. Thrawn is and was the Empire lover's pinnacle character, neither good nor bad, uncompromisingly loyal to the Empire but not without mercy. A true Sherlock Holmes Sociopath. Zahn introduced a world where Star Wars was not so black and white but filled with grays. Of course the end story comes down good versus evil but he relegates those matters down to the force, not the political world of Empire vs. Republic. Zahn carefully crafts a story that shows good and evil on both sides, blanching from the flawless white knight rebellion his peers often write. The Republic in Zahn's world is one full of good intentions being poorly implemented, a government torn by politics and bad decisions and bureaucracy. The Empire is shown in much the same light with heroic figures butting heads with villainous partners vying for control and the future direction of the remnants of the Empire. The major flaw of this book, if it could be called one, is the lack of the legend himself, Thrawn, who was killed in the final book of the trilogy by his traitorous body guard. Though hardly a flaw of the writing, the book just doesn't have the same special feel to it. Even at its best it can't really compare to watching Thrawn and Pellaeon play they Sherlock and Watson routine as they slowly ground the vastly more numerous Rebel forces into dust through pure genius tactical planning. Pellaeon does his best in the Hand of Thrawn to use the tactics of his mentor, but he does't get enough page time and the harsh reality that the authors who took control of the EU between the Thrawn trilogy and duology had ground the Empire into an irrecoverable mess, placing it in the hands of poorly written one dimensional psychopaths and madmen, takes it's toll. The plot device of the Caamas documents is an interesting one, one showing the fragility of the New Republic, how one event could lead to a devastating civil war between it's loosely allied member states plays well into the Zahn theory of the good guys not always having the most efficient form of governance. I won't say too much more in effort to not spoil this masterfully written novel. I'm just glad the unabridged version has finally made its debut and am looking forward to the second part being released soon. Zahn, to me, will always be to the Star Wars literary world what George RR Martin is to ASOIF. There really is no substitute for the master.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Major Tierce is a fascinating new character, full of mystery and hidden goals. Excellently well written and fun to follow. Pellaeon will always be a favorite though. The big three, Han, Luke, and Leia are excellently well written as well. No other author truly captures that quintessential Star Wars feel with them. Even while you root for the heroes you find yourself admiring the villains and how simply cool they are. It helps in the case of the Zahn novels, that the villains are less one dimensional and villainous and instead simply other people on the other side of the war.

What does Marc Thompson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Marc Thompson is hand's down the best reader for the Star Wars stories. His mastery of the voices of each of the characters is as unparalleled as Zahns commanding storytelling.

Any additional comments?

Please record the rest of Zahn's books!!!

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 12-10-13

Great Story and Marc Thompson

As most folks have already stated, this is a great followup to the Thrawn trilogy. Marc Thompson has yet another great read under his belt.

The story is pretty solid for it's time and just like other EU books it tends to jump around a bunch.

The thing I disliked was Luke, and in some of the past books and a quite and few after this one. He is a self nominated Jedi Master but most of the books put him in these situations that a Jedi Padawan could get out ease and a real Jedi Master wouldn't have even broke a sweat, but yet here Luke is straining to do things like fight off 6 guys.


Some new readers and listeners think this book is new, it is not. It's over 16 years old. Random House Audio is just going back and redoing most of the EU books to current audio formats and editorials.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • bonita
  • 18-09-13

Ok Rh, so where's the second volume?!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, because it's Star Wars!

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the pacing. And I like the fact that I finally get to listen to it complete and unabridged.

What does Marc Thompson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Mark nails the voices of course. He sounds very passionate about these stories and he keeps me wanting to listen until the last page. Well I suppose you could use the word page in this case.

Any additional comments?

I've been waiting for this duology to be released unabridged for such a long time and I'm glad it's here. Well, the first book anyway. My only complaint is that RH Audio didn't give us Vision of The Future on the same day as Specter. Here's hoping RH decides to give us unabridged recordings of the New Jedi Order series next as well as the Young Jedi Knights series. I'm unable to go out and purchase paperbacks due to blindness and it's a joy to be able to read these novels from cover to cover for the first time. I can't wait to see what I missed out on when and if RH decides to tackle the unabridged NJO books. I read this one and compared it with my old Bantom audio cassette abridgement of Specter from 97 and was amazed as to how much was cut out. Trust me, you want this one rather than the 3 hr version. Anthony Heald is and will always be one of my fav narrators in the SW EU but c'mon folks, this one's the whole thing.

Keep showing RH your support by purchasing these unabridged titles, gals and guys of audible. It really means the world to those of us who aren't able to enjoy these older titles the way they were meant to be the first time around. Thanks in advance and may the Force be with all of us.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • 13-03-15

Best Narrator in the Galaxy!!!!!!!

Awesome writer and best narration of all time! Mark Thompson is amazing! Can't wait to listen to the last one!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • FredVL
  • 02-03-17

Another good series

Timothy Zahn and Marc T are so good. Just tip top. I like the story and the various threads running thru it. Bravo

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-03-15

It's starwRs

Like listening to a movie enjoyed very much and hope more adventures keep coming in the same format and voice e actors

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • James E. Wyszynski
  • 06-01-14

Couldn't wait for more!!

Which character – as performed by Marc Thompson – was your favorite?

I love the talon Kardde voice. Also I like the Han, Luke, and leia have the same voice across his books.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes it was.

Any additional comments?

I liked it so much that I nearly downloaded the abridged version while waiting for audible to add the unabridged version.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ryan
  • 21-04-18

excellence as always

zhan writes another beautiful novel that characterizes everyone beutifully. this is my real episode 8-9

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tonks Baggins
  • 09-01-18

Great version of a great book!

Timothy Zahn's books set the precedent for amazing Star Wars stories. This duology is a great look at what went wrong with some of AU's storylines and goes deep into the character of Luke Skywalker in a unique way. Zahn does not get as much praise as he deserves for creating unique and strong female characters. His books are always a delight and this one is no exception. Marc Thompson is a wonderful narrator, his version of Luke Skywalker is particularly good and he does unique voices for all the characters. I would definitely buy it just for his narration, I hope he does many more Star Wars books!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful