Review: Conquerors’ Legacy, by Timothy Zahn

Conquerors’ Legacy, by Timothy Zahn (Bantam Spectra, 1996)

Conquerors’ Pride left us wondering about the fate of the Human Cavanagh family, with some facing court-martial and/or treason charges and one trapped in a war zone.

Conquerors’ Heritage left us in a very tight spot on one of the Zhirrzh worlds and with concerns about all four members of the Thrr family. Plus, Thrr-gilag’s out-of-clan bond engagement was in danger of being revoked. And there was Zhirrzh Elder Prr’t-zevisti’s chilling discovery.

Conquerors’ Legacy, book three, weaves all these and more into a satisfying and fast-paced read. A significant chunk of the action takes place on the planet Dorcas, as the rival commanders try to find holes in each other’s strategy.

Castor Holloway (Human) and Thrr-mezaz (Zhirrzh) are both strong tacticians, committed to the best course for their people. The war has taught each to fear the other side as ruthless “Conquerors Without Reason”. Through their conflict, each begins to respect the other’s strategy and to realize there’s more to his opponent than he first thought—and much more he needs to learn.

Other plot threads involve both Humans and Zhirrzh dealing with the manipulative Mrachani race on planet Mra, and an intense space battle near the alien Yycroman world of Phormbi. And of course the big questions: will anyone on either side believe Prr’t-zevisti’s revelation? If so, will they act?

Prr’t-zevisti, bless his Zhirrzh heart, has a moment that made me misty both times I read it (this is my second read through this series).

The saga comes together in a suitably grand finale involving a desperate attempt to save one race’s home planet. The only thing I’d like to have seen resolved in a throwaway comment near the end is the fate of the other alien worlds under Zhirrzh domination.

The Conquerors series was published in the 1990’s and the only thing that stands out as dated is the scarcity of Human females in combat roles—and the distress their presence causes some of the men.

A new viewpoint character in this book is Max, the para-sentient, highly intelligent computer from book one. He’s dry, observant, and we don’t spend long enough in his “thoughts” to get intimidated by his superior brain.

I always enjoy Timothy Zahn’s novels, for their fast pace, clever plotting and occasional humour. Oh, yes, and the frequent plot twists at the end that set me looking back at the story in a different light.

I also appreciate what I do not find: graphic or gratuitous sex or brutality or excessive profanity. (Some characters will use “minor” swear words at times.)

One of Timothy Zahn’s strengths that shows prominently in the Conquerors trilogy is tactics: both military and political. I like how he’s not afraid to give readers good role models in military/political leadership as well as among the common folk. He also gives characters who are self-serving, manipulative, or occasionally just plain evil. The latter are surprisingly rare, but it’s probably a more accurate rendering of Human-kind and any other races out there.

He’s one of the few authors whose work I’ve started buying at the exorbitant hard-cover prices because it’s just too long to wait for the more affordable mass-market paperbacks to release a year later.

[Note: Most books I review are written with a Christian worldview. Timothy Zahn’s novels are mainstream science fiction (or speculative) and seem to match the basics of Judeo-Christian morals.]
[Review copy from my personal library.]