Survivor’s Quest by Timothy Zahn

Make sure to have Survivorís Quest on your bookshelf.
Survivor’s Quest book cover

Set: 22 ABY

After fifty years, the remains of Outbound Flight—a pioneering Jedi expedition viciously destroyed by the alien warlord Grand Admiral Thrawn—have been found on the planet Nirauan. The beings who reside there wish to turn over to the New Republic the remnants of the doomed mission. Accepting the gesture will mean a long voyage into the treacherous cluster of stars where the thousands of souls aboard the Outbound Flight vessel met their grim fate.

Embarking on the strange and solemn journey, Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker are unaware that the gravest danger lies within the derelict walls of Outbound Flight itself. As the marooned hulk yields up stunning revelations and unexpected terrors, Luke and Mara find all they stand for—and their very existence—brutally challenged. The ultimate test will be surviving the deathtrap carefully laid by foes who are legendary for their ruthlessness…and determined to complete the job Thrawn began: exterminating the Jedi.

One of the great joys of reading Star Wars novels is finding the next book you get to read is written by Timothy Zahn. With the New Jedi Order books right around the corner for me I had one book left of what is known as the New Republic era; Survivor’s Quest.

Luke and Mara Jade are married, the first book that depicts this, and they soon find themselves travelling across space to reach a deadline that could very well change everything for the New Republic. But nothing is as it seems, naturally, when they board the Chiss ship the Chaf Envoy. A near miss, a fire near explosives, a skulk through the dark and then they finally reach Outbound Flight.

The Chiss have recently discovered the remnants of the ill-fated Outbound Flight which was destroyed by Thrawn, the forgotten son of the Chiss, some fifty years ago. Luke and Mara must deal with intrigue upon intrigue as they try and figure out just what is going on and who is trying to stop them from reaching Outbound Flight.

Zahn manages really well to tell a story about an event that, as of publishing the book, had not been put down in book form yet. Hints are given, references made, but all with the intent of filling it in later, which in my opinion just renews my opinion of Zahn as a writer. It’s all very well to refer to things that people have written or created, but to enticingly refer to things that you will write is masterful.

The only problem I have with Zahn’s writing is his habit of making everything anyone says disbelievable by the main characters if necessary. Everyone is a suspect no matter the lack of information or suspicion, and everything anyone says can be a lie, if necessary. It leaves Luke and Mara trusting no one and suspecting everyone, and it seems a little heavy handed at times.

That aside though, the twists and turns that Survivor’s Quest takes from the second half onwards are really quite brilliant. I was actually left surprised at times when the bad guys turned out to be good and the good guys turned out to be bad. And when the frustrating people turned out to still be frustrating at the end of the book, I was pleased as well. There’s only so much flipping of views you can take before it all starts to be unbelievable.

This book definitely stands on its own, with no need to read any of the previous Zahn books. You’ll get a richer experience if you do, sure, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. Make sure to have Survivor’s Quest on your bookshelf.

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