Adult Novel

Heir to the Empire

Timothy Zahn
May 1, 1991
Artwork by
Narrated by
Marc Thompson
Takes place in
In the
New Republic
This massive bestseller and absolute must-read ventures into uncharted waters for the Star Wars universe and captures the heart of the saga.
Community Rating

Heir to the Empire is essential reading material because without it, the rest of the Expanded Universe might not exist. In this book, Zahn manages to construct a new type of Star Wars villain in Grand Admiral Thrawn who defeats his enemies with superior intellect that is every bit as overwhelming as Vader’s Force choke. Luke, Han, Leia, and the entire cast of the Original Trilogy make their triumphant return and must find a way to deal with this new threat who is poised to bring back the Empire even stronger than it was before.

Timothy Zahn has arguably crafted some of the most important books in the Expanded Universe and they all started with Heir to the Empire.

Publisher's Summary

After destroying the second Death Star and freeing the galaxy from the Emperor’s clutches, Luke, Han, and Leia find themselves trying to lead the fledgling New Republic into a new age. However, in the far reaches of space, a new threat rises from the ashes of the Empire in the form of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Despite only having the remains of the Imperial military at his disposal, Thrawn’s intellectual prowess promises to push our heroes to their absolute limits. Timothy Zahn changed Star Wars forever when he released Heir to the Empire in 1991, and it continues to have a profound impact on the fandom to this day. It proved that Star Wars could not only live beyond the story of the original films, but that it could thrive. All Expanded Universe books were born out of the spirit of this novel, making it essential reading for all fans.

Other Books in this Series

Heir to the Empire
Dark Force Rising
The Last Command
The Thrawn Trilogy Boxed Set

Our Verdict

This massive bestseller and absolute must-read ventures into uncharted waters for the Star Wars universe and captures the heart of the saga.

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Andrew Bell - Heir to the Empire - Adult Novel
Andrew Bell
Video Department Coordinator
Look, this book kinda gets put on a pedestal. Everyone goes on and on about how great it is. Well guess what? THEY ARE RIGHT TO DO SO. I would wager that this book is more universally loved than any other Star Wars book and by all kinds of different Star Wars fan with varying opinions. While there are a few moments of what we refer to as "weird Legends stuff", it isn't nearly enough to distract from the awesome original characters and twisting plot. Kids, go read this book and get some culture.
Charles Hanckel - Heir to the Empire - Adult Novel
Charles Hanckel
Vice President, Podcast Department Coordinator, Podcast Host
Heir to the Empire is some of Timothy Zahn's best work. It set the stage for what Star Wars could be—particularly in the written format—after the Original Trilogy. All of your favorite characters are back including Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewbacca as they're thrown into a battle with the Empire they thought they had defeated. From the ashes of the Second Death Star rise a new villain who manages to be every bit as formidable as Darth Vader without any of the Force powers: Grand Admiral Thrawn!!
Eric Eilersen - Heir to the Empire - Adult Novel
Eric Eilersen
Heir to the Empire changed the Extended Universe forever by basically creating it. That cannot be overstated. The novel, itself, is tremendously entertaining, and Zahn proves himself to be an indisputable master of world building and character creation as he brings in multiple new (future fan favorite) characters that weave seamlessly with our established heroes. At times, I found myself yearning to go back to other storylines while in the midst of others that weren't quite as entertaining, but that's merely a testament to the strength of Zahn's creation.

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