[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hand_of_thrawn_6409.jpg]]
The ''Hand of Thrawn'' duology is a pair of books, ''[[http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Specter_of_the_Past Specter of the Past]]'' and ''[[http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Vision_of_the_Future Vision of the Future]]'', by TimothyZahn. Set in the StarWarsExpandedUniverse, they take place ten years after ''Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy'' (hence, fifteen years after ''Return of the Jedi'').

Supreme Commander Pellaeon looks at the [[TheRemnant Imperial Remnant]], the [[VestigialEmpire scraps of a once-proud Empire]], and concludes that there is one and only one way it may be saved: a peace treaty with the New Republic. But other Imperials are unwilling, and try and sabotage his effort by capturing the messenger Pellaeon is sending. While the Supreme Commander waits for a response, they contrive to make it seem as if [[MagnificentBastard Grand Admiral Thrawn]] has come BackFromTheDead.

Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, the head of the Literature/NewJediOrder, joins his old friend Han Solo for a diplomatic mission--and in the process helps fight off a gang of pirates. Luke holds back, having decided recently to not be so profligate with his abilities, and notices something he might otherwise not have--he can feel a "distortion" in the Force, which as far as he knows is caused only by clones, aboard the pirates' ships.

And taking a much-needed vacation on Wayland, the world that the Emperor used as a trophy case, Senator Leia Organa Solo and her children run into a smuggler who has stumbled across a cache of datacards, one of them the Caamas document.

The Caamasi people were a group of peaceful {{Actual Pacifist}}s, so respected by even some warlike species that "caamasi" was a word for "friend from afar" or similar in numerous languages, and there is even a legend that the first Jedi came to the Caamasi to learn ethical use of the Force. Shortly after the Clone Wars, their planet's surface was razed; the few survivors were offworld or didn't see what initiated the Holocaust, but the genocide had long been believed to have been directed by Palpatine. Palpatine's copy of the Caamas document confirms this--but more importantly, notes that a number of Bothans, working for him, helped to lower Caamas's planetary shields, allowing the destruction. Unfortunately, the document Leia has found is corrupted, and the actual list of names is lost. When the news gets out, the New Republic is engulfed by demands for justice. The heatedness of the debate, with leaders of entire species coming down on either side, leads to a resurging of old inter-species rivalries, and the New Republic begins to fracture...just as word arrives on Coruscant that Grand Admiral Thrawn has returned.

Before the Caamas crisis rose up, this would have caused the New Republic to react decisively and overwhelm the pathetic fleets still guarding what is left of the Empire, but in the current political climate, there is no consensus on if it is even real. The Imperial conspirators spin their webs larger yet tighter. Luke's clone hunt falls short, and he learns that Mara Jade has vanished on a hunt for a mysterious alien ship that's buzzed her twice. Taking a chance, rather than lending his efforts to the larger danger, he listens to the Force and goes after her. Leia struggles desperately to keep the Republic from collapsing into all-out Civil War, and Han mainly works to keep Leia from going crazy. Pellaeon waits, wondering why the New Republic general he's waiting for in an isolated area of space hasn't responded, and utterly annihilates the fleet the conspirators send after him.

That's set up early in the first book. Just another few weeks in the galaxy.
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!!In addition to the character and universe tropes they carry over from the Original Trilogy, these books provide examples of:

* AbsurdlySharpBlade: The [[SharpenedToASingleAtom monomolecular stiletto]], previously seen in Stackpole and Zahn's novella ''[[Literature/TalesFromTheEmpire Side Trip]]''. They can cut through anything, but realistically are very fragile and tend to be ruined by even a single use. For that reason, Shada carries three of them when she breaks into Han and Leia's home.
* BatmanGambit: At the end of ''Specter of the Past'', Pellaeon shows how much he learned from Thrawn. The conspirators have staged an attack on the ''Chimaera'' to make it look like General Bel Iblis has rejected Pellaeon's offer and is attacking him. Pellaeon creates a new variation on one of Bel Iblis' own tactics, [[ContinuityNod the "A-wing slash" from the Thrawn Trilogy]], and uses it successfully against his attackers--thus proving they can't possibly be led by Bel Iblis because he wouldn't have fallen for his own trick.
* BecomingTheMask: The clones of Soontir Fel. They're part of a sleeper cell, becoming [[FarmBoy farmers]]... and they loved the soil too much to return to duty. [[spoiler: Which turned out to be Thrawn's objective - if/when any powerful alien species from the Unknown Regions or outside the galaxy invaded, the sleeper cells would be there to stop them, and would fight all the harder because they'd be fighting for their homes.]]
* BigBadDuumvirate: There are three people working to create and maintain the illusion that Thrawn has returned, but of the three, Disra and Tierce are the ones at odds. Flim mostly serves as TheWatson, though he gets his own jabs in now and again. At the end it turns out that Tierce contributed more to the scheme than anyone else could have realized.
* BigDamnHeroes: Pellaeon's arrival [[spoiler: on the ''Relentless'' at Yaga Minor. Shown from the point of view of the Smug Snake villain, for added value.]]
* BodyguardCrush: Hinted at between Talon Karrde and Shada Du'kal.
* BreakingSpeech: Pellaeon does this to Tierce in the climax of ''Vision of the Future''. His lecture consits of pointing out that Tierce is nothing more than a vision-less, [[RevengeBeforeReason vengeance-obssessed]], [[ManipulativeBastard manipulative]], [[TheChessmaster tactically brilliant,]] [[spoiler: flawed clone of a]] Red Guard [[spoiler: with some of Thrawn's cunning]] who doesn't have what it takes to be a true MagnificentBastard like Thrawn. This causes Tierce's full-blown VillainousBreakdown and Pellaeon shoots down Tierce's MotiveRant during the lecture.
* BrickJoke:
** Subtle (it's never explicitly stated) but remember that tractor beam guy in ''The Last Command'' who Thrawn promoted instead of punishing him because he tried an imaginative solution to prevent Luke escaping his tractor beam, even though he failed? The one who Thrawn then ordered to work on the solution properly? Guess how Lando tries to escape an Imperial tractor beam at the end of ''Specter''...same method, only ''now'' [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome the Empire has a way to defeat it]].
** Also, the beckon call Luke found on Dagobah in ''Heir to the Empire''; here we meet its owner and find out how it got there.
** Lieutenant Tschel, an excitable newbie officer from ''The Thrawn Trilogy'', has become a steady, reliable Major.
* CharacterDevelopment:
** Pellaeon has overcome his earlier anti-alien racism (which fits with him being involved in Daala's opening up of the Empire to other races in ''Darksaber'').
** Fey'lya has also become more rounded from his earlier ItsAllAboutMe SmugSnake ObstructiveBureaucrat persona. Unfortunately, later authors undid this in the ''New Jedi Order'' series.
* TheChessmaster: Tierce, who is actually [[spoiler: a partial clone of Thrawn, though his actual genetic material came from a former Royal Guardsman; it's just that his mental programming included elements taken from Thrawn's own mind]]. As Pellaeon points out, though, he lacks the charisma and leadership necessary to be a truly MagnificentBastard.
* ConflictBall: One attempt to avenge the past leads to a host of ethnic conflicts flaring up nearly destroying the New Republic. More or less justified, and explained on a couple occasions, in that for most species, the Caamas crisis really served as an excuse to legally get at longstanding enemies and rivals. Not a lot of people cared that profoundly about something that had happened so long ago.
* ConMan: Flim, taking part of the villain's plans [[spoiler:disguised as Admiral Thrawn]]. He sometimes upsets Disra and Tierce by accurately referring to their plan as TheCon and saying they shouldn't act like it's anything else.
* ContinuityNod:
** Very frequent. Zahn read the rest of the EU. It's not hard to tell which parts he liked and which he didn't.
** There are also several to the events of ''The Thrawn'Trilogy'', naturally, as a SequelSeries.
* CloningBlues:
** There's a lot of FantasticRacism directed at them, that's for sure. Lando in particular - he calls them "subhuman" behind their backs, and antagonizes them to their faces. (This may be an ironic in-joke, as the character of Lando was originally going to be a leftover Clone Wars clone in early drafts of ''The Empire Strikes Back'').
** Also, at the end of the book, after [[spoiler: the good guys win]], they repeatedly refer to [[spoiler:the near-disaster as a scheme caused by Disra and Flim, the two members of the triumvirate who ''weren't'' clones, despite Tierce orchestrating most of it. How much of that is due to Tierce being a clone, and how much of it is due to Tierce being ''dead'', while the other two are still alive to be tried for their crimes, is not entirely clear. A third option is because Tierce was only included in their existing plot at the last minute]].
* CurbStompBattle: [[spoiler: Shada]] versus [[spoiler: Tierce]]. Considering how much of a BadAss the latter is supposed to be, it's surprising he was defeated so quickly.
* DevilsAdvocate: In ''The Thrawn Trilogy'', Captain Pellaon acted as a Devil's Advocate to Grand Admiral Thrawn, and commended his subordinate for playing this trope in ''Hand of Thrawn''.
* DidntSeeThatComing: The conspirators' plan to make everyone think Flim is [[spoiler:Grand Admiral Thrawn]] works so well that it convinces General Bel Iblis... who, when the attempt at infiltrating the Yaga Minor shipyard goes awry, decides that stopping Thrawn is important enough to sacrifice his own ship and life and prepares to ram "Thrawn"'s. Fortunately for the conspirators, the situation is resolved before this can happen.
* DividedForPublication: The German translation of ''Vision of the Future'' was split into two volumes. It must use more words in German or something.
* DoorStopper: At 694 pages - some versions have more or fewer pages than others - Vision of the Future is the longest Star Wars novel, at least as of 2008.
* DoubleEntendre: Which will become Luke and Mara's [[GoodPeopleHaveGoodSex thing]] all the way into [=NJO=]. I guess we can [[IncrediblyLamePun put one myth about marriage to bed]].
* TheDreaded: ''Something'' in the Unknown Regions has Thrawn's followers spooked and terrified. [[spoiler: Not surprising given they know about the Yuuzhan Vong]].
* DrivingQuestion: Where can we find an intact copy of the Caamas Document? (Technically this is really 'Which Bothans were involved in the attack on Caamas?', but in practice this is resolved offscreen once the Document is found).
* FixFic: Like we said...Zahn read the rest of the EU.
* {{Flanderisation}}: Zahn mocks the other EU writers' treatment of Thrawn as omniscient and undefeatable by having several alien senators (whose worlds were never threatened by Thrawn the first time around) being terrified of his reputation, to which the main characters point out that he was never ''that'' good (he did, after all, ''lose'' in the end, and as clever as he was, Thrawn made a couple of key mistakes that were fatal in the end) in a LampshadeHanging.
* {{Foreshadowing}}:
** [[spoiler:All of Tierce's little tics.]]
** More distantly, there are vague references to the impending [[spoiler: Yuuzhan Vong invasion]].
* GeneticEngineeringIsTheNewNuke: [[spoiler:Tierce]]
* GenreSavvy: Pellaeon is well aware that the New Republic is going to survive the unrest caused by the Caamas Document, would find out if the Empire sent agitators to stir up trouble, and would mete harsh vengeance on them for trying. When some try anyway the first two happen, and the third is narrowly avoided by [[spoiler: Pellaeon's peace treaty.]]
* GilliganCut: A literary example, discussing the events that will later be explored in ''Literature/OutboundFlight'':
--> '''Parck:''' On one side were handpicked units of Palpatine's own private army, equipped with fifteen top-line combat ships. On the other side were Commander Mitth'raw'nuruodo of the Chiss Expansionary Defense and perhaps twelve small and insignificant border patrol ships.\\
'''Mara:''' [[GenreSavvy How badly did Thrawn slaughter them?]]\\
'''Parck:''' Utterly.
* GrandFinale:
** For the publishers, anyway; Bantam Books would soon lose the rights to the series to Del Rey, so as a last hurrah, they brought back the writer of the [[Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy most acclaimed books]] of the Expanded Universe to wrap up the main plot. Additionally, readers who are dissatisfied with [[NewJediOrder later]] [[Literature/LegacyOfTheForce books]] can [[FanonDisContinuity disavow]] their existence and come to a satisfying conclusion here.
** The very last Bantam novel was actually ''[[ComicBook/XWingSeries Starfighters of Adumar]]'', but it was set before this duology anyway, and it rather nicely explains how Wedge went from dating Qwi Xux in the [[Literature/JediAcademyTrilogy JAT]] to being married to Iella from the X-Wing Series here.
* HeelFaceTurn: The majority of the Empire by the end, and Supreme Commander Pellaeon right at the beginning. Sort of. Even in his first appearance, Pellaeon's Heel status was in doubt. Sure, he was an Imperial, but under Zahn, that doesn't by itself make a character evil or even a PunchClockVillain. Here, Pellaeon's one of the good guys. Even in Zhan's earlier work Pellaeon (and other Imperials) was always depicted as a good man, with some [[FairForItsDay fair for the empire]] FantasticRacism, he just happens to work for very bad people.
* IndyPloy / XanatosSpeedChess: ''Constantly'' and ''everyone''. Hero, villain, HeroicNeutral... ''everyone'' is madly struggling to get past the difficulties they throw at each other, all the time. None of the main characters are ''ever'' really certain or secure for long, though they give that impression to their enemies.
* InvincibleHero: This is how Zahn saw the overpowered Jedi of the books. He couldn't retcon them into more Yodalike power levels (Pulling a starfighter out of a swamp wasn't easy), so he insinuated that demigod Jedi are relying so heavily on sheer power that they've blinded themselves to the subtler sides of the Force, like precognition (both in the immediate sense - as an awareness of danger before it hits - and in the longer-term, as visions) and that Luke was drawing on the Dark Side by using the Force as a solution for every problem. Zahn was telling other EU authors that they were making Luke out to be a MarySue and cheapening the Force by making it a source of cool powers and nothing more.
* LegacyCharacter: Kind of. Pellaeon, as TheWatson to Thrawn, has managed to at least halfway match some of Thrawn's tactical genius (as seen at the end of ''Specter of the Past'' when he figures out that the pirate fleet couldn't possibly have been sent by Bel Iblis ''because he used one of Bel Iblis' own tactics to beat it''). Lampshaded in that Pellaeon muses that Captain Ardiff is now in the [[WithDueRespect same]] [[CommanderContrarian position]] that he was to Thrawn ten years ago.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: Ohhhh yes. Can't have an epic without them.
* MacGuffin: An intact copy of the Caamas Document, which would name the Bothans responsible and allow them to be put on trial so people stop blaming the race as a whole. Karrde tries to find one by searching out Jorj Car'das and his information archive, while Bel Iblis tries to get one by an information raid on the Imperial archives at Yaga Minor. In the end [[spoiler:it's actually Luke and Mara who find one, by accident no less, in Thrawn's archives on Nirauan]].
* ManipulativeBastard: Tierce. Pellaeon points out in his BreakingSpeech that Tierce is just a vision-less manipulator instead of a true leader.
* MemeticBadass: In-universe example. Thrawn is perhaps the most terrifying figure the galaxy has ever seen, so even his impersonator's appearance freaks out Lando and others who see him. It takes Pellaeon, who knew Thrawn best and is not threatened by him, to ferret him out.
* MentalFusion: Luke and Mara do this.
* MostWritersAreHuman: ...Okay, yeah, Zahn's probably human. But many of his characters aren't, and a lot of them are in prominent positive or neutral roles which in other books get filled by humans. However, like almost every other EU writer, he consigns Chewbacca to minor roles.
* MythologyGag: Possibly unintentional, but Lando is the one most suspicious of the clones. In the early drafts of "Empire Strikes Back", Lando was ''himself'' a clone left over from the Clone Wars.
* PardonMyKlingon: Colonel Bas, Pellaeon's fighter commander (from commoner stock and thus less refined in his speech than most offices) has a habit of using the swearword "kriff".
* PeaceConference: What Pellaeon's working towards.
* PowerTrio: Disra, Flim, Tierce, generally acting as Id, Ego, and Superego, respectively
%% * ProphecyTwist
* PunctuationShaker: Almost any time Zahn renders an alien language, there are apostrophes in it.
* RabbleRouser: Imperial deep cover agents left behind by Grand Admiral Thrawn activated are after the discovery that a group of Bothans helped the Imps commit genocide of the pacifist Caamasi. The sleeper agents use this tactic, among others, to sow unrest: In one case they start a riot by basically having a guy holler "Justice for Caamas!" a bunch of times in a crowded town square (gathered for a demonstration at a Bothan-owned company) and start throwing fruit, and letting the crowds take it from there.
* RammingAlwaysWorks: When Bel Iblis' plan to infiltrate Yaga Minor with the ''Errant Venture'' fails and the ship is trapped, but the ''Relentless'' is in front of them and [[spoiler:seemingly]] has Thrawn on board, Bel Iblis orders ramming speed. Fortunately, the situation is resolved before it can happen.
* RedStringOfFate: [[spoiler:Luke and Mara, as literal as possible with the Force]]
* SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale:
** As in ''The Thrawn Trilogy'', averted. When Pellaeon bemoans the Empire's sorry state at the start of ''Specter'', Captain Ardiff argues that even only eight sectors represents more than a ''thousand'' inhabited systems. Still [[VestigialEmpire a tiny fraction of what it was]], small enough that it calls ''itself'' the [[TheRemnant Imperial Remnant]], but not insignificant, even if the New Republic could invade and destroy it utterly if it wanted.
** Also, the galaxy map indicates that only the central quarter of the galaxy is mapped and the rest is the Unknown Regions, in contrast to the now canon Star Wars galaxy map in which most of the galaxy is known and the Unknown regions are about a fifth of it.
* SequelHook: The mysterious threat in the Unknown Regions that has Thrawn's followers spooked will later be revealed [[spoiler:to be the Yuuzhan Vong.]]
* ShipperOnDeck: Han, at least, ships Karrde with Shada.
-->"You know, I asked you once what it would take to get you to join the New Republic. Remember? You asked what it had taken to get ''me'' to join up--"\\
"Yes, I remember," Karrde cut him off, an uncharacteristic note of embarrassment coloring his voice. "Kindly bear in mind that I have ''not'' joined the New Republic. And my relationship with Shada is nothing like that."\\
"Neither was mine," Han said smugly, putting his arm around Leia. "That's okay. Give it time."
* ShoutOut: [[ComicBook/XWingSeries Corran Horn]] makes a minor appearance in the first book and shares a somewhat larger subplot with Wedge in the second. Also a general ShoutOut to L/M fans and their [[FixFic requests that Zahn fix this mess]].
* SmugSnake:
** Disra, who's smart, but not nearly as on top of things as he thinks he is, or would like to be.
** Also, Tierce, oddly enough. Once you know that [[spoiler: he's got part of Thrawn's mind]], you realize just how much he ''acts'' like the man... except that he's not as good at hiding smug satisfaction, and he makes many more predictions that don't turn out as planned. And isn't as good at adapting when something goes wrong. Instead of reacting calmly to even disastrously bad news and working out the best response, like [[spoiler:Thrawn]] did, when it was exposed that [[spoiler:the real Tierce had died a decade earlier and the one present now is [[CloningBlues a modified clone]]]], Tierce responds by [[VillainousBreakdown going berserk and trying to strangle the person who revealed his secret]].
* StagedShooting: Inverted - Imperial agents on Bothawui implicate Han on a balcony in shooting at a crowd by using a blaster that fires an invisible (but otherwise real) bolt to hit a device planted next to him on the wall, designed to reflect the shot back towards the crowd as a visible bolt.
* TheStarscream: A successful version with Control of the pirate gang.
* StrawVulcan: The very, very calm Diamala species, who naturally are in conflict with the very emotional Ishori.
* TakeThat: In particular, [[Literature/JediAcademyTrilogy Anderson]], [[Literature/TheCallistaTrilogy Hambly]], everyone behind ''ComicBook/DarkEmpire'', and the ''Literature/BlackFleetCrisis'' got some of the worst. Not saying anyone took Zahn's heed; Luke's ''still'' [[StoryBreakerPower overpowered, even relative to what we'd expect the most powerful Jedi ever to be]].
* TheChainsOfCommanding: Pellaeon never wanted to lead the Empire, which is probably the reason why he was able to save it from final destruction; he was moved by a sense of duty while the likes of Disra were concerned only with power.
* TheyDo: Luke and Mara.
* TitleDrop:
** "The Hand of Thrawn" is the only uncorrupted sentence found on one of the damaged Imperial datacards unearthed at the beginning of ''Specter of the Past''. Everyone speculates about what it might mean, but Luke and Mara only find out when the latter realises what the damaged Chiss fortress on Nirauan, with its five remaining towers, looks like...
** The phrase "vision of the future" is also used at the end of the eponymous book.
* TookALevelInBadass: Weary though he is, Pellaeon has become a highly capable commander in his own way in the years since we first saw him.
* TragicDream: Maybe it was only a ship, but it was a ship that meant everything to Mara.
* TranslationPunctuation: ''Vision'' has a passage where the various fleets of alien warships over Bothawui are given fraudulent orders to {Attack!}, [Attack!], and [==]
* UnusualEuphemism: Shavit. Also "kriff", introduced in these books, has since become StarWarsExpandedUniverse {{fanon}}'s answer to [[Franchise/BattlestarGalactica "frak"]] in its many contexts.
* VestigialEmpire: The Empire under Pellaeon is but a small portion of its maximum size at it's height.
* VillainousBreakdown: Tierce has a rather impressive one, combined with a MotiveRant that gets a lot of his oddities to make sense, when everything gets blown.
* VillainSue: An interesting twist here. Thrawn (especially compared to the straight-up MagnificentBastard of ''The Thrawn Trilogy'') initially shows all the hallmarks of this: ridiculously genius strategist, [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]] ''par excellence'', WickedCultured, and the good guys are practically paralyzed with terror at the mention of his name. Here's the twist: [[spoiler:he never shows up]]. So it's a case of in-universe word of mouth inflating his ''reputation'' to VillainSue levels.
* WeWillNotUseStageMakeUpInTheFuture:
** Flim and Luke both subvert this, though Flim uses "self-powered surface inserts" to simulate Thrawn's [[GlowingEyesOfDoom glowing]] [[RedEyesTakeWarning red]] [[MonochromaticEyes monochromatic]] eyes.
** When Luke uses it, Zahn uses Mara's lines to deliver a concise TakeThat to the ''Literature/BlackFleetCrisis'' trilogy, in which Luke goes around warping people's minds to make them see another person to avoid him being recognised -- not even when he's on a mission, just when he's walking the street -- instead of, you know, wearing a disguise.
* WhamLine:
** Bel Iblis to Booster Terrik near the end: "[[RammingAlwaysWorks And we're going to ram it]]".
** Luke, also near the end: "[[spoiler:Thrawn's copy of the Caamas Document]]".
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: What happened to Carib Devist and the other Fel clones after they chose their side?
* XanatosGambit: In ''Vision of the Future''. The protagonists are on the run from a powerful slaver fleet towards the planet of Exocron. If the slavers pursue them there [[spoiler: the Aing-Tii monks, Force-users who usually don't go out of their territory but hate slavers, will destroy them with weird alien tech]] but if they see the trap and break off pursuit, that works too. Though the 'xanatos' aspect is downplayed for BatmanGambit; the people advising protagonists are counting on [[spoiler: the Aing-Tii monks to save him.]]
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