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Audiobook Review: ‘Star Wars: Survivor’s Quest’ by Timothy Zahn

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The Essential Legends Collection has been bringing together some of the best and most famous novels from the old Expanded Universe of Star Wars since 2021. The novels get republished under this new line, and are given amazing new cover artwork, for a whole new generation of fans to enjoy and read. Disney sparked some controversy when they decided to scrap the then EU continuity to start fresh with their new canon (back when they bought out Lucasfilm in 2012). But they kept the old expanded universe around under the new label of “Legends.” There have been 28 of these novels brought into the Essential Legends collection banner so far, with more on the way for 2024. This includes Timothy Zahn novels Star Wars: Outbound Flight and the audiobook I’m reviewing today, Star Wars: Survivor’s Quest.

A newer part of this initiative from Del Rey/ Random House Worlds is to give some of the Legends books, unabridged audiobooks, complete with music and sound effects. Only a few of the novels so far have had the treatment, with more slowly released over the coming months. This has been well received from new and old fans alike as audiobooks are gaining more and more popularity and some of the books never got an audiobook the first time around.

[Note: While I am reviewing this book independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Random House Worlds for the purpose of this review.]

What’s Star Wars: Survivor’s Quest about?

Star Wars: Survivor’s Quest is a Legends novel originally published in 2004 and written by Timothy Zahn. The story follows Luke Skywalker, along with his wife Mara Jade, as they visit the newly discovered wreckage of a lost colony ship named Outbound Flight by the Chiss (the same species as Thrawn). The ship mysteriously disappeared not long after its launch before the Clone Wars.

There are many secrets and surprises that await them both on the journey, traversing the wreckage. Neither the Jedi, the Chiss, nor the others they travel with are safe. The book is accompanied by its prequel novel, aptly named Outbound Flight which came out in 2006 and aimed to answer the questions raised in Survivor’s Quest.

Survivor’s Quest was added to the Essential Legends collection line in August 2023, along with Outbound Flight. Both books are some of the first in the new wave to get the full unabridged audiobook treatment!

Review: Star Wars: Outbound Flight Joins the Essential Legends Collection

Star Wars: Outbound Flight by Timothy Zahn. The Essential Legends Collection Banner

Delving into this new Star Wars audiobook’s sounds

I couldn’t imagine anyone more perfect to narrate the audiobook of a Timothy Zahn novel than Marc Thompson. He is somebody that has been narrating Star Wars audiobooks for many years. Thompson specializes in everything Chiss themed, with him having narrated almost every single one of Zahn’s Thrawn Star Wars novels in both Canon and Legends. Thompson has had years of practice with Chiss voices and perfecting the voice of Thrawn in the books. So when it came to narrating both Survivor’s Quest and Outbound Flight, there could be no one else better suited.

Marc Thompson gives a wide range of voices in Survivor’s Quest, including a quite accurate older Luke Skywalker, which took me by surprise! Every character feels unique in the book, with each one having a vastly different but instantly recognizable voice; showing the true testament to Thompson’s abilities as a narrator. Despite Thrawn not being in Survivor’s Quest (with the novel being set long after his  death) there are still plenty of Chiss voices for Thompson to play around with. Each of them feeling different yet still circling back and having the essence of his original Thrawn voice, truly making the Chiss feel like their own race.

Thompson also has a great grasp on the lengthy Chiss names that Zahn is a huge fan of, they almost effortlessly roll off of his tongue, which is an entertaining listen. Not only are his voices impeccable, but the way Thompson narrates the book itself is outstanding. There are  elements to the novel he likes to put his own spin on, such as hearing thoughts in characters’ voices, or sound effects like gasps or laughs, or sounding out of breath just after a battle. This helps add another dimension to the book, and it’s truly a joy to hear it being read out loud.

The sound effects in the audiobook are great. Lightsabers, the general ambiance of a ship or the crackle of characters talking over a com device help immerse you into the novel further than ever before. One truly great effect used comes from that of the Geroons. This species have two mouths and so when they speak, there are several effects to make it seem like they speak from the two mouths. This was shocking and exciting to hear for the first time in this book.

Another key aspect of the audiobook is the music. Whilst nothing new has been created for the book itself, the use of other key Star Wars scores from the franchise is nothing short of great. Music in films always helps make a scene ever more emotional and really resonates with the audience. This is the same for audiobooks. The music is used sparingly, seemingly being saved for the ends of certain parts of the book or chapters. But the way they do use music for this book is special, and truly helped me feel even more emotions when listening to certain scenes.

Timothy Zahn certainly knows how to set up a good mystery in a book, and Survivor’s Quest being so mysterious works well here. I felt that any reveal or surprise that happened during the book, was ever more present and suspenseful as I listened to it being revealed. Something which I think audiobooks can excel at, compared to reading it yourself.

With this audiobook being unabridged, it also includes the short novella “Fool’s Bargain”. This story follows some of the characters in Survivor’s Quest shortly before they join the trip to Outbound Flight. I appreciated this being included, and it makes for a great little listen at the end of the main novel.

Final thoughts on Star Wars: Survivor’s Quest by Timothy Zahn

Overall, I would highly recommend the new unabridged audiobook for Survivor’s Quest, and any of the other ones released for the Essential Legends Collection, if this is anything to go by. It’s clear a lot of work has been put into creating these by the Random House Worlds team, with the finished product feeling like a film for the ears.

This audiobook is long, clocking in at around 18 hours, but every single second is absolutely worth it. Although it may be a little confusing to listen to if you aren’t a big Legends fan, I still absolutely can’t recommend this enough. It is phenomenal!

My rating: 9/10

Star Wars: Survivor’s Quest by Timothy Zahn is available now in most places books and audiobooks are sold. Have you read this Star Wars novel? Do you plan to check out the new audiobook version? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.

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