In this adventure our heroes find themselves fresh off the success of defeating the Empire in A New Hope and in the midst of trying to build a solid Alliance (before Empire Strikes Back). On her way to securing a meeting for the Alliance Leia (and Han, by association) get caught up in an adventure with survivors of the Alderaan catastrophe.

The Star Wars Expanded Universe has come a long way since Timothy Zahn’s first foray, and this book follows in his tradition of forging new ground, yet maintaining the tone of the universe we’ve grow accustomed with. There are major improvements since the first novels, and this book shows that the characters can become dynamic and the plot can be compelling. We get the first whispers of something between Han and Leia, glimpses into Luke’s growth away from a home and a good amount of exposure to the rest of the rich universe.

I liked that the focus of the book was not solely based on epic space battles (though there are definitely space skirmishes, so don’t worry), but on issues that would sprout from massive warfare, like the refugee experience. Through Leia’s eyes we gain exposure to the pain of losing Alderaan and the attempt to find home with those that have survived. I’m assuming that the rest of this series (titled: Empire and Rebellion) will go along the same lines and build on the ships and crews we see here.

Leia and Metara are fantastic foils for each other, but also act to show that there are strong, female, leaders in the Star Wars universe. Both women want to do what is best for those under their protection, but both choose drastically different paths, which really drives the first half of the novel.

I highly recommend this for fans of: Star Wars books, Star Wars, Star Wars films.