The Legendary Adventures makes its next stop at Outbound Flight, Timothy Zahn’s earliest chronological novel about Thrawn. A temporary peace has been struck across the galaxy as the Trade Federation is put under heavy penalties after the Crisis on Naboo. Now, the Republic authorizes a mission to the outermost regions of the galaxy, seeking to meet new lifeforms and expand Republic culture beyond its current bounds.
“One can concentrate so closely on the words of a sentence that one thereby misses the meaning. As can happen in any area of life. You must never lose focus on the larger landscape.” – Force Commander Thrawn
Jorus C’baoth, renowned Jedi Knight, is petitioning the Senate to authorize a mission to expand the boundaries of the Republic. The Senate is hesitant to support the project, seeing it as far too big and expensive. When C’baoth thwarts an assassination attempt made on the life of a Senator, who’s changed mind allows the project to move forward, he is given six Jedi Masters, 12 Jedi Knights, and fifty thousand other people to crew the Outbound Flight. Darth Sidious is worried about the project going into the unknown galaxy and plans to destroy it, but before he can, he must secretly remove Anakin Skywalker from the project, alongside his Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, by Mace Windu. Outbound Flight soon runs into trouble when they meet the Chiss Ascendancy, and their mysterious agent, Mitth’raw’nuruodo.
Legends canon was extremely concerned about showing how unpopular the Jedi were in the galaxy, even before the Clone War. The notion of unpopular Jedi are embodied in a single Jedi, Jorus C’baoth, who is obnoxious, brash, proud, and concerned with his own honor rather than others’ well-being. C’baoth demands respect as a Jedi, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of politicians with whom he associates, and he tries to set up a hierarchy amongst the crew of the Outbound Flight, one in which the Jedi rule absolutely and should not be questioned. These attitudes would make it easy to believe that the Jedi tried to overthrow the Senate and Chancellor at the end of the Clone War, I imagine. The exact details of this mission may not be known to the galaxy, especially C’baoth’s attitude, but he was probably not the only Jedi who viewed himself that way.
C’baoth also reveals tension within the Jedi Order itself, as Mace Windu has Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker keep an eye on C’baoth. At this point, it is hard for the Jedi to even trust each other, as some Jedi had their eye beyond the peacekeeping role that they had been granted before. And, to be fair, C’baoth deserves every ounce of mistrust and open hatred that he receives. This growing suspicion between Jedi would sow seeds for future desertion, like Sora Bulq or Quinlan Vos. If the Jedi can’t trust each other in peace time, how badly would their relationship be strained during war time?
If the name Jorus C’baoth started to ring some bells in your head, so would a lot of this story. The colony comes across the Chiss Ascendancy, where they come into conflict with Thrawn himself. It is hard to read this novel as anything other than a secret origin story for the Heir to the Empire trilogy. Here, we see Thrawn in his native territory, amongst other Chiss. He also manipulates a crew of pirates, lead by Jorj Car’das. It is from these interactions that Thrawn learns how to speak and understand Basic, something that he will later use to rise amongst the ranks in the Empire. He destroys a Trade Federation cruiser launched by Sidious, who had attempted to sabotage the project, and Thrawn learns about battle droids from the remnants of the destroyed ships. This hints at him learning about artificial intelligence. Knowing that the rest of this book was designed as a set up for post-Endor material, I am left curious if his questions about battle droids will be revisited later in the Adventure.
Thrawn grows in this novel alone more than he will in later appearances. Mitth’ras’safis’s introduction is a great move, as it provided Thrawn with a foil who was just like him. In later stories, it does not feel like there is an equal to Thrawn’s unparalleled intellect. His brother proves to be this opponent, matching his intellect yet knowing how to better navigate Chiss politics. Thrass proves difficult to overcome, as Thrawn can’t outwit him in combat, as he might most of his enemies. This showdown forces Thrawn to think more strategically, long-term, and rethink his relationship with others in the Ascendancy. Thrawn’s ability to discern enemy patterns through art, and his own strategic thinking, were used almost as super powers post-Endor. It was refreshing to see an earlier Thrawn in this novel, still learning and growing as a commander.
Darth Sidious’ reason for destroying Outbound Flight will be obvious to those familiar with Legends: the Yuuzhan Vong. Both Thrawn and Sidious are worried about coming invaders. Thrawn knows the Vong from their encounters with the Chiss Ascendancy beyond the Republic’s borders. Sidious has learned of their existence from some of his agents, and is preparing the galaxy, and his future Empire, to be able to withstand the coming invasion. Rogue Planet, the previous novel in our adventure, briefly mentioned the mysterious beings who warred on the surface of Zonoma Sekot. Apparently, the Vong are encroaching on the Republic’s borders, even sixty years before their invasion. Sidious and Thrawn’s mutual trust, and working together, sets the stage again for Thrawn’s later ascendancy into the Imperial hierarchy.
Darth Sidious can kill two porgs with one stone: he can destroy Outbound Flight and not open the galaxy to invasion, but he can also destroy a few Jedi along the way. While Order 66 was probably the ultimate plan all along, I doubt Sheev would have passed up opportunities to get rid of a few Jedi along the way. Jorus, making himself known to both the Council and the Senate as a trouble maker, would most definitely be high on the list of Sidious’s targets. We won’t find out until Survivor’s Quest how successfully Sidious and Thrawn took care of the Jedi on board.
If the Legends canon had a common core, it was probably the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, even though it takes place ~60 years after the Crisis on Naboo and ~30 after the Battle of Yavin. By seeding the coming invasion into continuity so early has a twofold effect. First, it ties the entirety of Legends novels under one narrative: the galaxy preparing, or not, for the Yuuzhan Vong. Darth Sidious’s goals throughout his reign were second, at times, to preparing his Empire in defense against the coming invaders. Secondly, it sort of moves the movies from center stage and turns them into secondary stories. Later novels may not reference events from the book, but Thrawn’s exploits in Outbound Flight set the stage for many, many post-Endor stories.
If you’re a fan of Timothy Zahn novels, you’re going to love this one. Its not a thick read, and it is very entertaining to see Zahn, who has typically written in the post-Endor narrative, write in the Prequel era. This book is essential for any Thrawn fan, and for those who are curious to venture into the New Jedi Order era.
Legendary Travel Tips:
-This novel is the first chronological appearance of Thrawn and Jorus C’baoth, but also Jorj Car’das. Jorj first debuted in Spectre of the Past, in 1997. We won’t meet him again on the Legendary Adventure for quite some time.
-The paperback edition contains the short story Mist Encounter. This story recounts exactly how Thrawn came into Imperial service. Readers of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn or Jody Housler’s Star Wars: Thrawn will be familiar with this story, as it was adapted to canon with the addition of Eli Vanto.
-The novel also reflects an early look at the Jedi Mind Meld, a trick frequently used in the New Jedi Order series. Obi-Wan considers the move dangerous, and to be used only by stronger Jedi. This is different than the New Jedi Order’s view, who use the technique frequently to fight the Yuuzhan Vong.
-This novel is preceeded by Jedi Quest #1: The Way of the Apprentice and followed by Jedi Quest #2: The Trial of the Jedi.
The Last Jedi
The Old Republic Era: Dawn of the Jedi: Into The Void | Lost Tribe of the Sith | The Old Republic: Revan | The Old Republic: Deceived | Red Harvest | The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance | The Old Republic: Annihilation | Knight Errant | Darth Bane: Path of Destruction | Darth Bane: Rule of Two | Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil
Attack of the Clones: Rogue Planet
The New Jedi Order Era: Scourge
Canon Novel Reviews:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars Young Reader Reviews:
Adventures in Wild Space: The Escape (Prelude)
So You Want to be a Jedi?
Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
Poe Dameron: Flight Log
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel (Backstories)
Darth Vader: Sith Lord (Backstories)
The Force Awakens: Finn’s Story
Forces of Destiny:
Daring Adventures vol 1 | Daring Adventures vol 2 | Tales of Hope & Courage | Leia Chronicles
LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Reviews:
“A Hero Discovered” 1×01 | “The Mines of Gabralla” 1×02 | “Zander’s Joyride” 1×03 | “The Lost Treasure of Cloud City” 1×04 | “Peril on Kashyyyk” 1×05 | “Crossing Paths” 1×06