Talon Karrde first appeared in the novel Heir To The Empire by Timothy Zahn. He is a sophisticated smuggling chief who, it seems, only operates outside the law because he dislikes the double-dealing world of politics. His philosophy is if you are going to be underhanded, don’t pretend that you are completely legit. He is an honourable smuggler who refuses to have anything to do with slaves of kidnappings. He is a likable man, and it is this, more than anything else that placed him at the top of the largest smuggling alliance in the galaxy.
Standing approximately six feet tall Karrde is neither diminutive nor overpowering. He wears his black hair reasonably long and blown back and has grown an almost impossibly neat goatee. His face is naturally inexpressive with only his eyes giving his emotions away. This enables him to negotiate deals effectively since his opponents cannot tell what he is thinking. He has tanned, weather-beaten skin that makes him look slightly older than he is. He is generally portrayed as late thirties, or early forties in the Thrawn Trilogy, then he is ten years older in the Hand of Thrawn Duology. By the later books his hair is greying and he is more experienced, and, as such is a less commanding character, more of an advisor and teacher than a chief. He still, however, retains the sharp wit that is his trademark.
Karrde was originally a prominent member of the smuggling group that was lead by Jorj Car'das. This organisation was powerful, but concentrated, but then Car’das had a run in with the Jedi master Yoda. Yoda gave Car’das some skills in the force, he was intended to use these to better the galaxy, but instead he began to expand his organisation. He developed the ability to accurately second guess his opponents, and so he managed to swallow huge sectors of space, claiming it as his territory. Then something bad happened. Car’das became ill and weak, he went back to visit Yoda and demanded the ability to lengthen his life. Yoda flatly refused, instead he sent Car’das away to some monks in the far of reaches of the galaxy, there, they taught him to elongate his life and do good. The only problem was his organisation suddenly found itself without a leader.
Karrde watched as the various lieutenants in the organisation fought amongst themselves for power. He tired of it and, through means unknown, took over the organisation himself. Over the years he slowly gained status in the Galaxy, rivalling even the enormous crime empires of the Huts. With the death of Jabba his organisation became the largest in existence. He, at some point acquired his ship the “Wilde Karrde” which became the base of operations when he was not on planet. Like all smuggling ships it is much better armed than might first appear and of course has all the latest forged ID codes.
With the defeat of the Empire at Endor Karrde struggled to remain neutral in the conflict. He believed it would be easier for his organisation to profit if he could serve both of the warring factions as a smuggler. He was, however, politically in favour of the recently forged New Republic, and also was angry at Grand Admiral Thrawn for invading his base on the planet Myrkr. Eventually he allied a coalition against the Grand Admiral, this eventually grew to become the Smuggler’s Alliance, an official organisation comprised of fringers. The organisation was mostly in the charge of Mara Jade, who joined the organisation after saving Karrde’s life when his old Lieutenant was killed.
Over the years Karrde’s passion for information brokering grew. He loved to piece together random facts that had seemingly no relation and form them into a whole that was useful. He honed this skill, and, using his organisation eventually knew almost everything about everyone, or at least had it stored in his vast library of data cards. He began to take a back seat in his organisation, just watching what was happening within it, occasionally talking with Mara about the latest scheme, but over all he retired from duty.
Karrde then developed an obsession, he suddenly began to feel guilty for stealing Car’das’s organisation, he desperately wanted to find Car’das, even though he was afraid that he could be killed by his ex chief. He asked (and paid) Lando Calrissian and Mara Jade to help him in this search. Over five long years they followed leads, eventually tracking him to Exocron, a planet long believed not to even exist. This was fifteen years after Endor and a new crisis had emerged through tensions in the Bothan community. It was believed it could be resolved if a single document could be found. Believing Car’das to have the document Karrde set off to Exocron with his body guard Shada D'ukal.
Upon meeting Car’das Karrde was surprised to learn that his old teacher was proud of him and his efforts to keep the organisation going. Unfortunatly Car’das did not have the document needed, (Luke and Mara eventually found it in Thrawn’s secret castle)., but did have several other interesting titbits. Karrde returned home relieved that he had done no wrong.
Karrde eventually set up a deal with the Empire and the New Republic (after the peace treaty had been signed), where he would act as a two way spy, letting each side have full intelligence on the other. This suited him down to the ground and provided him with a way to go legit while staying true to his routes. Karrde is still present in the Galaxy although has recently been obscure preferring to go about his business unseen.
Kaarde owns two pet vornskrs, dog like creatures that hunt using the force. They are probably the closest he comes to being sensitive. He likes to watch them and their antics and has even had kennels installed on his ship so that he may keep them with him at all times.