Specter of the Past is the first book in The Hand of Thrawn Duology by Timothy Zahn. It was first published by Bantam Spectra on November 3, 1997. Narration for the abridged audio version was performed by Anthony Heald. Narration for the unabridged audio version was performed by Marc Thompson.
From Hugo Award-winning author Timothy Zahn, whose unprecedented bestselling trilogy continued the saga of George Lucas' blockbuster films and became a landmark in the history of science fiction publishing, comes Specter of the Past, the first in the epic two-volume series The Hand of Thrawn. Now Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo must battle to safeguard the fledgling New Republic from a dead Imperial warlord—and from itself.
Once the unquestioned master of countless solar systems, the Empire is tottering on the brink of total collapse. Once commanding an invincible armada of Star Destroyers, its fleet has been reduced to a skeleton force. Day by day, neutral systems are rushing to join the New Republic coalition. But with the end of the war in sight, the New Republic has fallen victim to its own success. An unwieldy alliance of races and traditions, the confederation now finds itself riven by age-old animosities.
Princess Leia struggles against all odds to hold the New Republic together. But she has powerful enemies. An ambitious Moff Disra leads a conspiracy to divide the uneasy coalition with an ingenious plot to blame the Bothans for a heinous crime that could lead to genocide and civil war. At the same time, Luke Skywalker, along with Lando Calrissian and Talon Karrde, pursues a mysterious group of pirate ships whose crews consist of clones. And then comes the most startling news of all: Grand Admiral Thrawn—believed to be dead for ten years—is reported alive. The most cunning and ruthless warlord in Imperial history has seemingly returned to lead the Empire to triumph.
As Han and Leia try to prevent the unraveling of the New Republic in the face of this fearful and inexplicable threat from the past, Luke sets out to track down the rogue pirate ships. To do so, he will team up with Mara Jade, with whom he will share his growing mastery of the Force and the ever-present threat of the dark side. All the while, lurking in the shadows is the enigmatic Major Tierce, a disciple of Emperor Palpatine, sharing his long-dead master's lust for power, schooled in the devious stratagems of Thrawn himself, and armed with his own dark plans for the New Republic and the Empire.
The Empire stands at the brink of total collapse. But they have saved their most heinous plan for last. First a plot is hatched that could destroy the New Republic in a bloodbath of genocide and civil war. Then comes the shocking news that Grand Admiral Thrawn—the most cunning and ruthless warlord in history—has apparently returned from the dead to lead the Empire to a long-prophesized victory. Facing incredible odds, Han and Leia begin a desperate race against time to prevent the New Republic from unraveling in the face of two inexplicable threats—one from within and one from without. Meanwhile, Luke teams up with Mara Jade, using the Force to track down a mysterious pirate ship with a crew of clones. Yet, perhaps most dangerous of all, are those who lurk in the shadows, orchestrating a dark plan that will turn the New Republic and the Empire into their playthings.
- ISBN 9780553095425; November 3, 1997; Bantam Spectra, US hardcover
- ISBN 0553478931; November 3, 1997, Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, Audio cassette.
- ISBN 0783884346; May 1998, MacMillan Publishing Company, 512-page largeprint hardcover.
- ISBN 0553298046; September 1, 1998, Bantam Spectra, 416-page paperback.
- ISBN 0553504177; September 3, 1998, Bantam Spectra, 416-page paperback.
- ISBN 0739316699; March 2005, Random House Audio, Abridged cassette.
- ISBN 9780804128483; September 17 2013, Random House Audio, Unabridged Audiobook Download.
- ISBN 807186949X; 2004, EGMONT ČR, 291-page Czech paperback (Přízrak minulosti).
- ISBN 954528336X; 2004, Trud, 368-page Bulgarian paperback (Призрак от миналото)
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