Star Wars: Legends – The Last Command Review

It’s time to complete the much loved (and now non-canon, or at least “in the Legends timeline”) Thrawn Trilogy with “The Last Command”. Now I’ve enjoyed the books so far but felt they haven’t quite lived up to the hype I’d heard of them, no doubt brought about by being the first official continuation of the films released in the early 90s. Still, how does the final third of the trilogy compare? Does it go out on a high note? Let’s find out!

Synopsis:

The fragile New Republic reels from the attacks of Grand Admiral Thrawn, who has not only rallied the remaining Imperial forces but has driven the rebels back with an abominable new technology: clone soldiers.

Hopes are dim as Thrawn mounts a final siege against the Republic. While Han and Chewbacca struggle to form a wary alliance of smugglers in a last-ditch attack against the Empire, Leia keeps the Alliance together and prepares for the birth of her Jedi twins. But the Empire has too many ships and too many clones to combat. The Republic’s only hope lies in sending a small force, led by Luke, into the very stronghold that houses Thrawn’s terrible cloning machines.

There a final danger awaits. The Dark Jedi C’baoth schemes in his secret fortress, directing the battle against the rebels, nursing his insanity, and building his strength to finish what he had already started—the destruction of Luke Skywalker…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

The original cover, all of it! Right down to the grubbiness of the paper!

While there were still plenty of talking and stalling in early chapters I will give “The Last Command” a big round of applause for having a great finale. The final battle is on two fronts: Thrawn and his fleet surround Coruscant and threaten them with asteroid strikes, bringing nine of the rocks with them and using computer trickery to make it seem like they have hundreds, meanwhile mad old Jedi C’boath waits in the Emperor’s old throne room in Mt. Tentis to have a showdown with his would-be Jedi followers. Leia (and her newly born twins Jacen and Jaina) and the New Republic high command are stranded on the Capital world thanks to not being able to lower the planet’s shields due to thinking there are hundreds of asteroids ready to rain down on them but my favouritely-named smuggler Talon Karrde arrives with a newly forged Smugglers Alliance and breaks the siege not only with his army but by revealing Thrawn’s nine actual asteroids had already been destroyed, leading to Rogue Squadron launching and joining the battle. Leia soon jumps on board the Wild Karrde (yes, that’s the name of his ship…) with Talon and her personal guard of Noghri soldiers to head to Mount Tantis on the planet Wayland.

Already approaching Mt. Tantis are Luke, Mara Jade (who still wishes to kill Luke even after seemingly siding with the New Republic due to her beloved Emperor having used the Dark Side to plant and subliminal message in her head), Han, Lando and Chewbacca, plus the classic droids duo of R2D2 and C3PO. They intend to destroy Thrawn’s cloning facilities there but Luke and Mara soon sense C’boath waiting for them. As the non-Jedi part of the group head to place bombs on the cloning equipment Luke and Mara confront the Dark Jedi but are faced with not only C’boath but a clone of Luke named… Luuke. Creative! Anyway, it was formed via Luke’s severed hand from Bespin and even has his old Lightsabre, so Luke and Luuke duel while Mara overcomes C’boath’s attempt to persuade her to join his side. Leia, Han and Talon arrive to complicate things further but eventually Luke arranges Mara to cut down Luuke (and therefore free her of the Emperor’s post-death subliminal message) and then Mara kills C’boarth himself for good measure. Everyone escapes Mt. Tantis before the explosion, fleeing in the Wild Karrde, naturally.

The graphic novel cover… Why does it look like Luke has elf ears, or is that just me?

Back at Coruscant and Thrawn receives word from his trusted General Pellaeon that Tantis has fallen and that several of the Noghri were there, but before his report is finished Thrawn’s personal Noghri bodyguard Rukh declares his revenge against the Empire and what they did to his people by quickly stabbing Thrawn with his dagger in what the blue-skinned Grand Admiral describes as “artistically done” before he dies. Rukh is then killed by Pellaeon, who then realises that their army is on the backfoot, their clone labs destroyed and now their genius mastermind was dead so it was probably a good time to retreat. I loved the fact that Thrawn admired the skill and effectiveness of his own murder. We then get a few happy endings, Han, Leia and their twins safe and sound, Luke and Mara strike a friendship where Luke gives her an old lightsabre, and generally the New Republic is safe from the Empire once again.

As with the other two books there were some fun interactions and a few good action scenes away from the finale. Luke confronting and battling back some foes who were “armed” with the Force-cancelling salamanders known as Ysalamiri on a planet called Poderis was good and has a fun scene of Luke escaping by jumping in “pockets” of Force in between the creatures, and a space dogfight at the Bilbringi Shipyards with some of Talon’s Smugglers and the Empire was fun. There was a good subplot where Mara was in the Presidential Palace on Coruscant when some kidnappers come to take Leia’s newborns and her past with the Emperor leads people to suspect her, except Leia herself, who felt Mara try to warn her through the Force when it was about to go down. So it was a wordy book but it wasn’t all talking and scene setting before the big finale.

The Bad:

The Legends re-release cover. It’s certainly very Thrawn-centric, that’s for sure!

All the above being said, there were a lot of scene setting and talking. I complained in the previous review that Timothy Zahn was clearly in love with his own creation when it comes to Talon Karrde, creating any scene with a Smuggler that could’ve easily gone to one of Han or Lando and instead making Talon the main focus, and it’s even worse here. While our anti-heroes from the films run around and do little but worry about things Talon is given several chapters where he’s forming the alliance of Smugglers and giving the New Republic crucial information. That’s not even including his vital role in the big finale! It is a bit much, especially as he is basically like Han and Lando, personality wise. I guess Smugglers don’t come in any form other than likeable cocky rogues!

Other than that, and a subplot involving Mon Mothma and General Ben Iblis finally seeing eye-to-eye again and helping lead the New Republic, there wasn’t that much “wasted time” this time round, which makes sense given the abundance of plot threads to close up.

Overall Thoughts:

But…it was so artistically done.”

I really enjoyed my time with “The Last Command”. It was slow going at the start and there were times when I rolled my eyes at yet another Talon Karrde Smugglers meeting chapter, but at the end of the day the actual finale of the trilogy is really well done, with plenty of action in space and on foot with lightsabres, like all good Star Wars finales should be. When they eventually kill Thrawn off in the current canon they have a lot to live up to as well, as his end here was pretty much note-perfect for the character. Overall, much like the last two books, definitely great in parts but maybe not the literal flawless masterpiece some make them out as.

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