The Book That Launched a Thousand Stories

Today’s post is a little off-topic, in that it’s not specifically about The Old Republic. It is however, Star Wars related.

Yesterday, Random House released an excerpt from Drew Karpyshyn’s upcoming novel Revan. I’m looking forward to reading it, but today’s post is not about Revan, it’s about Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, or as I like the to call it the book that launched a thousand stories.

It was twenty years ago that I walked into a bookstore and my jaw dropped at the sight of a Star Wars display containing a bunch of hard bound books called Heir to the Empire. What you have to remember about 1991 is that there was no internet to speak of. Things like readers, e-mail, RSS feeds, etc. were not our sources of information. Unless you read the book section of the newspaper, there weren’t a whole lot of ways to know that this book was coming.

Furthermore, Star Wars at that time was an after thought. Everybody knew about it, and most people had seen the films, but it was no longer front and center in our pop-culture. Heir to the Empire and its sequels changed that serving as a launchpad for the series of books, novels, and comics we have today; including the Old Republic.

Prior to this we had the three films, the Han Solo trilogy by Brian Daley (may he rest in peace), Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, and a Lando Calrissian trilogy. All of these were separate adventures that didn’t bring all the main characters together, nor did they really tie into the main story of Star Wars. In fact Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was meant to be a low-budget sequel to Star Wars in the event that the movie flopped. Lucky for us it didn’t and we got The Empire Strikes Back instead.

Heir to the Empire was the first real story that brought all of the main characters from the films back together in an all new adventure, and in the uncharted galaxy that was post Return of the Jedi. Zahn took us back to that galaxy far, far away for the fist time in a long time, and it was glorious. That is until you realized that you were going to have to wait a year before you could read Dark Force Rising, and then wait another year for The Last Command.

As I mentioned in the beginning, the book was released 20 years ago, and there is now a 20th anniversary edition with annotations by Timothy Zahn. I don’t know if I’ll get, but I may just pull my original copy off the bookshelf and give it another read.

It’s truly a story worthy of the Star Wars name, and as we wait for the release of the Old Republic – a story driven MMO, I can only hope that the stories they’ll tell will be as good this.

May the Force be with you!