In his previous six Star Wars novels author Timothy Zahn has been alluding to some Jedi project in the past called Outbound Flight. Now, as I have only read the first three Thrawn books Zahn has written, I don’t know what he does with Outbound Flight in the duology or Survivor’s Quest. But, now, with Outbound Flight, we get the story of exactly what this project is and how it connects to Luke Skywalker’s time. In short, the project is the brainchild of Jedi Master Jorus C’Boath (we later meet his Dark Side Clone) and it takes 50,000 civilians and a handful of Jedi out into the Unknown Regions of space to hide out and gain strength and increase the number of Jedi until a time when the Republic needs them. What C’Boath doesn’t know is that he is being manipulated by Chancellor Palpatine…better known as Darth Sidious, the future Emperor. This novel takes place in between Episodes 1 and 2.
Like most Star Wars authors these days, Zahn is telling multiple stories at once. He also tells of some human smugglers escaping the Hutts and ending up in Chiss territory. The Chiss inhabit the Unknown Regions and up until this point neither the Chiss nor the Republic knew about each other. The Chiss military commander these humans meet happens to be Thrawn (shocking, Timothy Zahn writes a novel about Thrawn). Thrawn is the non-human Grand Admiral we meet in Heir to the Empire as one of the great threats to the New Republic after Return of the Jedi. This novel shows us how he learned of the Republic, where he met Sidious, and why he might want to ally himself with the Empire. The two storylines of Thrawn and Outbound Flight comprise the core of this novel and eventually they will intersect, as one can imagine.
Yes, but is it good? I guess so. Maybe it is because I still have three more later volumes to read which should pique my interest in Outbound Flight even more, but I had the feeling of “Oh, is that all?” It felt like Outbound Flight should have been this grand thing, and all we have is the fall of a Jedi, some infighting, and the military genius of Thrawn. And? And nothing. This is one of those novels I finish and think that everything that happened just doesn’t matter. Outbound Flight serves to tie things together and illuminate events and individuals that were only referenced novels written years ago, but it doesn’t seem to have importance.
Yeah, I’m disappointed. I’ve read some really great Star Wars novels. This isn’t one of them. It’s not one of the bad ones, but in the grand scheme of things…I’d just as soon skip this one.