Dark Force RisingPaperback - 1993
Yet most dangerous of all is a new Dark Jedi, risen from the ashes of a shrouded past, consumed by bitterness, and scheming to corrupt Luke Skywalker to the dark side.
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PELLAEON: "I have important information for the Grand Admiral. I don't have time for these little games of yours. "
RUKH: "They are not games. Stalking skills must be practiced or lost."
PELLAEON: "Practice on someone else. I have work to do."
PELLAEON: "I don't care who C'baoth is or whether he felt justified or not. What he did constitutes mutiny."
THRAWN: "It did indeed. Shall I throw him out of the Imperial service altogether, or simply demote him in rank?'
PELLAEON: "I'm serious, Admiral."
MARA: "We may have to."
TALON KARRDE: "We may choose to, we will never have to. Is that clear?"
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SUMMARY FROM WIKIPEDIA:
Prior to the Clone Wars, the Old Republic had constructed a fleet of 200 Dreadnaught-class heavy cruisers that were highly automated, to reduce their crew complements from 16,000 to 2,000 without diminishing their firepower. The flagship was the Katana and hence the fleet was designated the Katana fleet, and unofficially called the "Dark Force". Unfortunately, a virus infected the crews of the entire fleet and drove them insane. The madness caused the crews to "slave" the controls of all their ships to the Katana, and jump blindly into hyperspace. The fleet was never seen again until veteran smuggler Talon Karrde discovers it through a lucky accident several years before the events of the first book.
With access to Emperor Palpatine's private storehouse on the planet Wayland, Imperial Navy Grand Admiral Thrawn presses his advantage to marshal more forces for the battle against the New Republic. Mara Jade, in an attempt to exonerate the Empire's warrant for Karrde's arrest, goes to Thrawn and offers to reveal the location of the Katana fleet. Instead, he has her followed and Karrde is captured.
Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, suspecting Senator Borsk Fey'lya's involvement with the treason charges against Admiral Ackbar, follow one of Fey'lya's aides to New Cov, where they find him in secret negotiations with former Republic Senator Garm Bel Iblis, whom they try to persuade to re-join the New Republic. Bel Iblis fell out with Mon Mothma in the early stages of the Rebellion and since then has been waging his own private war against the Empire. They also discover that Bel Iblis's small fleet consists of Dreadnaughts from the Katana fleet, meaning someone besides Karrde must know its location. Based on Mara's information, Thrawn reaches the same conclusion and starts a search to identify that person.
Jedi Master Joruus C'baoth uses the Force to summon Luke Skywalker. Luke responds to the summons and begins instruction with C’baoth on the planet Jomark, but is troubled to realize that C'baoth is at best a megalomaniac, who believes the Jedi have the right to rule the entire galaxy - and at worst insane.
With Noghri captive Khabarakh in tow, Leia, C-3PO and Chewbacca travel to Khabarakh's home planet of Honoghr, devastated after a space battle that she believes occurred during the war. The Empire, led by Darth Vader, arrived soon after the disaster and began the slow process of cleaning the ecology, winning them the service of the Noghri as elite commandos. Patient investigation allows her to learn that the disaster actually occurred during the Clone Wars, and the Empire has been deliberately prolonging the toxicity of the soil and water, to keep the Noghri in servitude. She convinces the Noghri leaders of the Empire's deception.
Mara helps Luke escape from C'baoth and the two of them rescue Karrde from Thrawn's Star Destroyer. Knowing that Karrde will not hesitate to give the Katana fleet to the New Republic, Thrawn races to capture the other man with knowledge of its location.
Senator Fey'lya, hoping to take personal credit for the fleet's recovery, arranges for his most ardent supporters among the New Republic military to be transferred aboard the recovery ship, unwittingly aiding the Empire in reaching the site first. Han, Luke and Lando succeed in securing the Katana itself from Thrawn's forces, which the New Republic's ships fight off with the aid of Karrde's smugglers, and Bel Iblis's small force of Dreadnaughts.
However, over the course of the battle, they find out that Thrawn has already captured all but 15 of the fleet's ships. They initially believe that it will take Thrawn years to recruit and train enough crewers to man the Dreadnaughts, but the bodies of the boarding troops are discovered to be clones, meaning Thrawn will be able to produce crewers at a much faster rate, and be ready to attack them within months.
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