Science Fiction Novel

Star Wars: Outbound Flight

Author: Timothy Zahn

Published By: The Ballentine Publishing Company

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            If you have been reading my Star Wars reviews, you will know that my favorite Star Wars novelist is Timothy Zahn, dating back to the incredible Star Wars novel comeback, The Thrawn Trilogy.  During that trilogy, we learned of an unsuccessful Jedi space expedition into the Unknown Regions known as Outbound Flight, but we only learned the basics – that Thrawn had somehow had a hand in destroying the mission and that the leader of the mission had been cloned.  We never really knew all of the particulars.  That is, until Timothy Zahn expanded upon things in the novels Star Wars: Survivor’s Quest and its prequel counterpart Star Wars: Outbound Flight.

            In Survivor’s Quest, Luke Skywalker and new wife Mara Jade enter the recently found remains of Outbound Flight and soon discover that what was once believed to be a decimated crew actually had some survivors thanks to the quick thinking and ultimate sacrifice of Jedi Lorana Jinzler and Chiss Syndic Mitth’ras’safis.  In Outbound Flight, we learn the origins of the expedition, its passengers and crew and the factors that led to its demise.

            Outbound Flight began as Jedi Master Jorus C’baoth’s dream.  He had many reasons for wanting to explore the Unknown Region, first and foremost his premonition of a devastating war in the galaxy (this takes place before the events in Attack of the Clones).  Second on his list is to hopefully recover missing Jedi Vergere who had been captured by beings known as Far Outsiders (later to be revealed as the Yuuzhan Vong) during a mission on Zonama Sekot (Rogue Planet).  His other reasons behind Outbound Flight were rather clouded, leading Jedi Master Mace Windu to worry about C’baoth’s intentions and his relationship with the darker side of the Force.  To that end, Master Windu requests that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker join Outbound Flight for a time in an effort to ascertain if C’baoth’s plans for the project were more sinister in nature.

            As the journey begins, Obi-Wan starts to observe a new and possibly darker side of C’baoth.  Ever-present arrogance aside, C’baoth has begun speaking of his Jedi passengers as leaders of the project, placing them in charge over the non-Jedi passengers and crew and essentially disregarding the Jedi teachings that state Jedi are to serve not to rule.  The more Obi-Wan observes, the more worried he becomes about the direction C’baoth has taken this project to.  Meanwhile, other factions seek to destroy Outbound Flight before it can even truly embark upon its mission.  Those factions are sinister indeed, led by the mysterious Sith known as Darth Sidious and when they accidentally link up with the inhabitants of the Unknown Regions, the fate of the expedition known as Outbound Flight is sealed.

            I enjoyed this new look into the origins of Outbound Flight.  As always, Timothy Zahn has done an excellent job in weaving a story that keeps the reader captivated and yearning for more.  I was truly upset every time I had to put this book down for such trivial things as eating, sleeping and working.  Who better to tell the origins of characters he himself created?  In expanding upon the characters originally created for The Thrawn Trilogy, Timothy Zahn gave us better insight into their actions throughout the novels they appeared in.  Readers get to see the early beginnings of how Thrawn began linking what he knew of a culture’s art and its fighting strategy.  We learn of the reasoning behind the destruction of Outbound Flight.  We also learn that the clone of C’boath that appears in The Thrawn Trilogy may be somewhat insane, but definitely exhibits some of the beliefs of the original man.  In fact, if you ask me, C’baoth had crossed the line of the Dark Side long before he ever stepped on the deck of Outbound Flight.

            Of course, like the numerous books about the Titanic, Star Wars fans know what will happen at the end of this novel.  But the fun is in getting to that end – all of the bits of intrigue that lead up to the disastrous ending of Outbound Flight – that makes this novel so enjoyable.  After reading this novel, you will know how the expedition came to fruition despite the arguments against it, you will have insight into the various passengers and crew members that made up the project, you will gain new insight into the character of the man credited with its destruction, you will learn of the various plots put into play to ensure its destruction, and you will learn how a few selfless and heroic acts ensured that some would survive the destruction of the main project.  If any novel in the Star Wars Expanded Universe served as an entertaining way to tie up loose ends, Star Wars: Outbound Flight is the one.  Thank you, Timothy Zahn, for renewing my faith in your Star Wars novelization prowess!  I bow to you!  Now bring me more!


For more Star Wars books by Timothy Zahn, check out:

Star Wars: Allegiance

Star Wars: Survivor's Quest

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