Choices of One is the second full length novel by Timothy Zahn that is an independant story and not connected to his previous work. In his previous effort, Allegiance, a lot of was left lacking. This time around, he scores a big win!
Based on the cover artwork, it is evident that Mara Jade, a Zahn creation, will be front and center in this story. Unlike his last two works (Allegiance, Outbound Flight), the central Star Wars characters straight from the films take center stage here. Zahn finds a balance behind the many wonderful character creations he is known for and Luke, Leia Han, and the rest of the group.
What makes Choices of One a winner to me personally is the use of his created characters. Mara, Paelleon, ... wait for it ... yes, Thrawn is back, this time as a "Senior Captain". The use of these characters shine like they haven't since the original Thrawn Trilogy almost twenty years ago.
The plot, which really takes the point of view of four different groups, (1) The Rebels, (2) Paelleonon the Chimarea with the mysterious Lord Odo, (3) Thrawn and another terrific Zahn creation, and smuggler Jorj Car'das, flying on a freighter alone, seemingly unconnected to the rest, (4) and then Mara with the renegade Stormtroopers introduced in Allegiance, known as the "Hand of Judgement".
Each of these four groups are eventually drawn together to the planet Poln Major where a suspected Imperial governor is suspected of treason by negotiating with the Rebels. The Rebels are coming to sign the deal, while Mara is coming to execute him. However, nothing is as simple as it seems... to give any more away would mean to give spoilers, and we are not doing that here.
The plot, though independent of any known events from the films or any of Zahn's other works, is one of seemingly epic scale featuring suspense mystery, and just an all around, absorbing read that makes it difficult to put down. Though, one complaint I had with Allegiance, is back here, as sometimes events are slowed with endless action sequences at time. Though one can't complain that the writing is at fault; it's more of a personal preference.
Anyone who has read the previous Zahn novels, especially in sequence, knows that some of these characters simply cannot interact because they do not meet until many years later, most significantly, Luke and Mara. Yes, in a brilliant twist, the two seemingly come together, working together even, physically acknowledging each other, yet, they technically do not meet to contradict any future timelines. Anyone with knowledge of this backstory will be thoroughly entertained.
Lastly, there's Thrawn, who has become sort of a cult Star Wars expanded universe creation. Many fans, myself included, want a reason to actually root for him, Imperial and all. And Zahn finds a way here. No, he has not become a Rebel sympathizer, but plays an important part against an alien warlord, Nuso Esva, that threatens both sides alike.
Those Zahn diehards wanting the old gang back together, and wanting something that made him one of the most beloved Star Wars authors will not be disappointed when reading Choices of One!