Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Outbound Flight by Timothy Zahn
Review by Dan Tres OMi (Brother OMi)
Editor's Note: We find that before you purchase Outbound Flight, you should read the Admiral Thrawn series (which takes place about 7 years after ROTJ) and Survivor's Quest (which takes place right before the Yuuzhan Vong invasion). The characters in Outbound Flight appeared in these novels several years before. It will bring a better understanding of their connection.
For several Star Wars EU fans, like the Clone Wars, the Outbound Flight project was a mission shrouded in secrecy. When Grand Admiral Thrawn first appeared on the scene, he definitely brought back the excitement after the death of Palpatine and Vader. Here was the Empire's finest military tactician who was unbeatable. He returns from fighting in the Outer Rim territories and pretty much rolls back all the progress the Rebel Alliance made in just a few months. Coupled with the even more mysterious Jedi clone Jorus C'baoth, Admiral Thrawn gave the Alliance a run for their money. It was in the Thrawn series, that Timothy Zahn introduces the readers to the Outbound Flight project. Luke Skywalker learns that C'baoth perished on the Outbound Flight and Admiral Thrawn was connected to its destruction.
Fast forward almost a decade later and Zahn gives us Survivor's Quest. The Chiss, the species from the Unknown Regions that Thrawn is a member of, summon Luke and Mara Jade. The Chiss have found the remains of the Outbound Flight mission. They arrive to find several humans who survived the assault and crash. Even though we learn more about the Chiss, Thrawn, and Outbound Flight, we still don't really learn what actually happened. No one really knows whether Thrawn destroyed the expedition and what happened to the Jedi on board.
Never fear, Lucas is here. Zahn, an accomplished writer, returns with Outbound Flight. Here he gives us the details of the ship, who spearheaded the expedition and its mission. Six dreadnaugths are linked together by several pylons that work in unison. Sixteen Jedi and 50,000 people including their families are chosen to fly past the Unknown Regions of space.
Of course, galaxy renowned Jedi Joruss C'baoth is adamant about this mission. Like several Jedi, he was becoming disenchanted with the way the Republic was being run and felt it would be a good idea if he set up colonies outside of the REpublic. However, the Senate has other ideas and planned to scrap the project. C'baoth pretty much strong arms the Senate and the Jedi Council (who are skeptical of C'baoth and place Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker on the job).
We learn quite a few things in Outbound Flight. One is that Palpatine secretly set up the mission to rid himself of more of the Jedi. He sensed that C'baoth knew that the Republic was in danger from something elusive. C'baoth was also a very powerful Jedi and Palpatine understood that he must get rid of him. The Outbound Flight project was secretly sanctioned by the Jedi Council because they were still looking for Vergere. They had reason to believed that she was taken outside of the Unknown Regions.
As usual Zahn's writing is superb. He really brings out Thrawn's genius. Of course, Thrawn is young and not yet in his prime but his military acumen is astounding. He continues to beat several opponents even though he is outnumbered and outgunned each time. The capital ship battles are exciting (something I wished the Star Wars EU would have more of). We are introduced to several Jedi. What makes this important is that almost all the Jedi, except C'baoth, question their committment to the Republic. Zahn really introduces how several non- Jedi felt about the Jedi in general through the human and alien characters he introduces. Several see them as baby snatchers and mind controllers. Quite a few believe that being away from the REpublic is a much better prospect. C'baoth on the other hand is arrogant and very condescending to non Jedi. He causes much chaos with the crew of his ship.
Even though Zahn does a great job in answering several questions such as how Outbound Flight was destroyed, how did Thrawn get kicked out of Chiss space by his own people, etc., he still leaves many questions unanswered. C'baoth's madness was evident but how come no one noticed? How did he become a clone? What was the source of his madness? I felt that this book should have answered this question. Yet Zahn left C'baoth a bigger mystery than ever before. We already knew he was mad.
The book is a must read and there are several topics of discussion I deliberately left out.