As we move into the next era of Star Wars, easing from the end of The Clone Wars toward Star Wars Rebels and Episode VII, it’s an opportune time to take a look back over two decades to a landmark 1991 release that led us out of The Dark Times. Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn brought us into a decade that produced Star Wars Galaxy Magazine, Star Wars Insider, Shadows of the Empire, the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition, and The Phantom Menace. It jumpstarted a publishing program that endures to this day and formalized the Expanded Universe — stories set outside of the canon established by the films and TV shows of George Lucas that make the galaxy deeper and richer.

Nobody expected Heir to the Empire to be the massive hit that it was, making the New York Times bestsellers list and pulling together Expanded Universe elements present in West End Games D6 releases as well as other pre-existing information and giving us such characters as Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and Gilad Pellaeon. It christened the capital world of the Republic giving it the name Coruscant and would prove to be influential, much-loved, and ground breaking. But how has the novel aged? Here’s a series of reviews written over the past decade and a half that focus on the original release as well as the 20th anniversary edition released in September 2011.

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