Choices of One, by Timothy Zahn (Del Rey, 2011)
Masterful storytelling, complete with multiple plot lines and one of Timothy Zahn’s signature plot twists… and a spectacular climax that had me cheering out loud.
Choices of One has a cast that includes Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Mara Jade and Thrawn, and it takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
It can’t be easy to write about established characters whose future has already been mapped in other novels (the Star Wars series now extends forty-plus years past A New Hope). The writer has to be true to who the characters are at that point in the timeline, and not do anything that will rewrite their future. To add to the challenge, Timothy Zahn brings characters who can’t meet yet into very close proximity – and pulls it off in style.
Only Thrawn can make me cheer for the Empire (well, for his section anyway) and that’s because Timothy Zahn knows how to create good characters working in their own corners of a bad structure. Thrawn knows the Empire is corrupted, but from his perspective, it’s still the best option out there for galactic stability. Instead of sweating what he can’t control, Thrawn handles his own sphere of influence with justice and fairness.
Hugo-Award-winning Timothy Zahn is my favourite author. The Random House site says he’s “one of science fiction’s most popular voices, known for pitting realistic human characters against a well-researched background of future science and technology.” This may be the best of the Star Wars books he’s written to date, and I’ve enjoyed them all.
Along with his Star Wars and Terminator novels, he’s written somewhere around 30 other satisfying science-fiction novels. For me, it’s been worth hunting down the out of print ones from his early days. I’ve previously posted reviews of Conquerors’ Pride, Conquerors’ Heritage and Conquerors’ Legacy. Recent titles include the Cobra Wars and Quadrail series.
Choices of One is a sequel to his novel Allegiance, and although you don’t have to read them in order there will otherwise be spoilers. Here’s an interesting recent interview with Timothy Zahn. If you need more convincing, here’s an excerpt from Choices of One.
[Review copy from my personal library, and worth every penny of the hardcover price.]