So I came across the cover of this book...

Cover for Heir to the Empire

...and I was wondering who this "Heir to the Empire" is. This book (or novel, to be exact) takes place after the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, after the Empire was defeated. I'm not entirely clear who this Heir is supposed to be. At first, upon looking at the cover, I thought it was Darth Vader, Sidious' apprentice who would had eventually killed Sidious due to the Rule of Two. Unfortunately... he's already dead. Is this Heir then none other than Luke Skywalker?

Who's this supposed Heir to the Empire?

  • 3
    That book is Legends so I've added the tag.
    – Null
    Jun 23 '17 at 13:48
  • 8
    It gets quite clear once you've read the books by Zahn. I suggest you do it, they are really good - although they are belonging to "legends" territory now since EU got scrapped.
    – Adwaenyth
    Jun 23 '17 at 13:52
  • @Adwaenyth I'll do that. :-) I'll edit my question title as well then.
    – Voronwé
    Jun 23 '17 at 13:57
  • 1
    @Adwaenyth Thrawn is recanonified at least. Jun 23 '17 at 15:36
  • 1
    Agreed with @Adwaenyth. Top of my Star Wars literature list. Jun 24 '17 at 4:43

The book Heir to the Empire names two individuals as the titular heir. The purpose of the title serving as a counterpoint; Just who is the true heir to the Galactic Empire, Leia (and the Rebels) or Thrawn (and the rump Empire)?

The Lady Vader (AKA Princess Leia)

“I understand,” she nodded, wishing she did. “But now you know who I am?”

The alien’s face dropped a couple of centimeters closer to the floor. “You are the Mal’ary’ush,” he said. “The daughter and heir of the Lord Darth Vader.”

Grand Admiral Thrawn

Khabarakh drew himself up stiffly. “We were not the Emperor’s servants,” he grated. “We were a simple people, content to live our lives without concern for the dealings of others.”

“You serve the Empire now,” Leia pointed out.

“In return for the Emperor’s help,” Khabarakh said, a hint of pride showing through his deference. “Only he [The Emperor] came to our aid when we so desperately needed it. In his memory, we serve his designated heir-the man to whom the Lord Vader long ago entrusted us.” [Thrawn]

“I find it difficult to believe the Emperor ever really cared about you,” Leia told him bluntly. “That’s not the sort of man he was. All he cared about was obtaining your service against us.”

In the final novel we have a third contender; Joruus C’baoth.

Pellaeon hid a grimace. Joruus C’baoth, insane clone of the long-dead Jedi Master Jorus C’baoth, who a month ago had proclaimed himself the true heir to the Empire. He didn’t like talking to the man any more than Thrawn did; but he might as well volunteer. If he didn’t, it would simply become an order. “I’ll go, sir,” he said, standing up.

  • Does C'baoth actually appear in the first novel? If not, I feel like that would preclude him from being the titular character. Jun 23 '17 at 14:30
  • 1
    @DisturbedNeo - He's in the first one as well
    – Valorum
    Jun 23 '17 at 14:47
  • Is there any sort of hereditary rule in Star Wars that would suggest Leia is Vader's heir? Even Naboo had elected monarchs. Jun 23 '17 at 18:31
  • 1
    @Azor-Ahai - None at all. Vader didn't even have a recognised position other than being the Emperor's man.
    – Valorum
    Jun 23 '17 at 21:32
  • 1
    @Voronwë - Ahem
    – Valorum
    Jun 24 '17 at 7:04

Mitt...... Mitth...... Mitth'ra...... Thrawn. It's Thrawn.

Grand Admiral Thrawn was a Chiss who took command of the Imperial Fleet after the Emperor and Vader's defeat. It is he who is the main antagonist of Heir to the Empire, as well as its sequels, which make up the Thrawn Trilogy.

While Thrawn takes control of the remaining fragments of the Empire and the Imperial Fleet, there is another force at work who proclaims themselves to be the true heir to the empire: Joruus C'Boath. He believes that he is the intended replacement for the Emperor and that he should be the one to rule. Unlike Thrawn, however, he has no actual power (politically speaking that is, he's actually quite a powerful Dark Jedi), so his claims hold little merit as far as the rest of the galaxy is concerned.

Overall, it's a bit ambiguous as to who exactly the heir truly is, but it was Thrawn who actually took control of the Empire after the Emperor fell, so regardless of who the true heir might be, Thrawn is the literal heir, because he become the new Emperor, in all but name.

  • I think this is correct. Thrawn was the highest ranking officer still in in charge of a sizable fleet and still taking on the rebels. Jun 23 '17 at 15:34

There are a number of key players in the book who could be candidates for "Heir to the Empire":

1. Grand Admiral Thrawn

Thrawn was the only non-human to be granted the rank of Grand Admiral in a secret ceremony years before. He is an excellent tactician and was highly successful at shoring up the remains of the old Empire

2. Mara Jade

She was the Emperor's Hand, a secret Force-sensitive operative who directly did the Emperor's bidding. While she believed she was the only Hand, Grand Admiral Thrawn hinted at the existence of others.

3. Luke Skywalker

Luke is the son of Darth Vader, who was being seduced to become the new apprentice of Darth Sidious (aka Emperor Palpatine) at the expense of his father. Ultimately though, he (and indeed everyone else) was being manipulated by:

4. Joruus C'Boath

Note that "uu" in his name. He was the clone of the Jedi Master Jorus C'Boath, who was lost as part of the Republic's venture to explore beyond the galaxy. Joruus C'Boath is quite insane, perhaps as a result of cloning a Force-sensitive mind. While he was originally a tool for Grand Admiral Thrawn, ultimately he had his own agenda and tried to bend both Luke to become his servant, even to the point of creating a clone of Luke (Luuke Skywalker) from the hand he lost in Bespin.

So who is the "Heir"?

In reality, it is Joruus C'Boath, not Grand Admiral Thrawn. He fell to the Dark Side in his madness, and began to style himself as a new Galactic Emperor. With his power in the Force and his Dark side, he was the the one most likely to succeed Palpatine as Emperor.

  • C'Boath believes himself to be the leader of the Empire, but it's Thrawn who actually takes control of the Empire and remaining Imperial Forces. It's a bit ambiguous, so perhaps I shouldn't have given my answer so definitively. Jun 23 '17 at 14:21
  • 2
    What was with clones and extra u's in that trilogy, anyway?
    – JAB
    Jun 23 '17 at 15:35
  • 1
    How does Joruss C'Boath claim to actually inherit the Empire though? He might be able to take it by force, but that would make him an usurper not an heir. Leia and Luke can claim the title of Emperor by virtue of being the offspring of Darth Vader, while Thrawn can claim it by rank. By being the highest ranking officer still in command, he can say control of the Empire falls to him through the chain of command.
    – Ross Ridge
    Jun 23 '17 at 18:35
  • 1
    @JAB: The explanation I read somewhere (TV tropes maybe?) is that it is a pun for "another you": the clone is another you, and it's name is spelled with another U.
    – wyvern
    Jun 23 '17 at 21:57
  • @RossRidge Had Darth Vader killed the Emperor, how would he have not also been an usurper? The reason C'Boath is the heir is because with the Force, he can control everyone, including Thrawn (which he demonstrated in the second book, IIRC). This is why they needed to put him in the mountain surrounded by Force-bubbles created by ysalimiri.
    – Jane S
    Jun 23 '17 at 22:02

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