Outbound Flight Literature Review

Outbound Flight (27 BBY)

Written by: Timothy Zahn

It is a testament to the large spanning success that Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy was that a spinoff story of sorts detailing some of the events that led to that status quo is a thrilling concept. The Outbound Flight was mentioned a few times with little details during the Zahn trilogy but what was given was tantalizing. An old Republic mission with a few Jedi Masters going off into the unknown. All we knew was that the mission was a failure and the masters were killed.

Of course we also knew that the real Jorus C’baoth was at the helm and he was definitely the biggest draw. And he certainly doesn’t disappoint. He is an arrogant Jedi Master who is always on the edge of falling to the dark side and often rubs people the wrong way due to his superiority complex of Jedi.

It is his relationship with his padawan, Lorana Jinzler, that is the heart of the novel. Lorana is hesitant, unsure, while C’baoth does little to support her. He instead. mostly belittles her or uses her for his own end, such as making sure she is a Jedi Knight and a part of Outbound Flight because he thinks she will be loyal to him.

Another major draw to the novel is seeing Grand Admiral Thrawn pre-Grand Admiral. As younger Chiss rebel, we get to see his rise to power and just how he endeared himself in a manner of speaking to Palpatine. As a bonus we see Jorj Cardas relating with him, as a hyperspace accident puts Cardas and his fellow crew in Chiss space where Thrawn more or less takes them prisoner. They treat each other well though helping each other learn each other’s customs and languages and gaining each other’s resepct.

Now there is one set up of the novel I’m not sure about. For the initial part of Outbound Flight’s journey we get to see that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker were a part of the journey. It seemed a very Lucasian thing to do but not in a good way. It seems they were there mostly to connect it to the time period as they serve very little to advance the story.

Yes it was interesting to see Anakin interact with C’baoth, but at the end of the day were the two characters merely shoehorned in for the sake of
reader interaction? Does it really matter? I think it was pointless, but it didn’t detract from the story either so I accepted it.

Really enjoying the machinations of Thrawn (and to a lesser extent Palpatine) and the other end, the brash attempts at bullying by C’baoth make for entertaining reading. To see what develops influence what is about to happen in the rest of the Star Wars universe is extra satisfying. It connects varying protions such as the Zahn trilogy, the Zahn duology and even taps into the New Jedi Order by showcasing Palpatine’s knowledge of and preparations for the Yuzhaan Vong.

Close to Zahn’s standard he delivered in his original trilogy and much better than his duology and the drek that was Allegience, this is one that actually improved upon second reading.


-Paul Talon

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