Niles Ferrier was the tertiary antagonist in Timothy Zahn's Dark Force Rising and The Last Command. He is introduced as a notorious ship thief who Thrawn coerces into working as his spy within Talon Karrde's Smugglers' Alliance. He is most known for his habitual use of a cigarra and of the wraithlike Defel species.
Before the Series
Ferrier's early life is unknown, but it is known that about a year before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, he was encountered by a young Lando Calrissian, a future ally of the protagonists.
The Thrawn Trilogy
Dark Force Rising
At the start of the novel, Ferrier was clearly already working for Thrawn to restore the Galactic Empire to his former glory. During his first appearance, Ferrier and his wraith are trying to steal ships from the New Republic Defense Force for the Empire. His efforts are deflected when he is confronted by Calrissian and Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. Ferrier escapes and eventually steals three pirate ships for the Empire's use.
Later in the novel, Ferrier played a key role in Thrawn's obtaining the enigmatic Katana fleet after he delivered Captain Hoffner to the Grand Admiral.
The Last Command
In the final novel of the trilogy, Thrawn continued using Ferrier as his main smuggler contact. However, Ferrier's incompetence often clashed with the Grand Admiral's calculating genius. More than once, Thrawn lost his patience with the thief, particularly after he bribed an Imperial lieutenant to attack a group of smugglers. This fruitless attempt to stop scare away the smugglers Karrde was trying to recruit only backfired, leading to exact thing Ferrier and Thrawn were trying to prevent—the Smugglers' Alliance.
After being threatened by Thrawn, Ferrier desperately tried to frame Karrde for the bribery, which almost succeeded in destroying the newborn Alliance. Inevitably, like most of Ferrier's plans, this one backfired, when Ferrier stupidly accused Karrde of doing something he could not have known—unless he himself was the culprit. Afterwards, Ferrier tried to escape with his pet wraith, but was shot down by one of Karrde's allies, Mazzic.
- Ironically, though Ferrier was an agent of Thrawn, he very well may have been one of the New Republic's greatest allies, due to his incompetence. Early in the trilogy, it was known that a tactical genius was returning efficiency to the Empire. However, the Republic was never able to learn his name. This was until Ferrier had a confrontation with Calrissian and Han Solo and carelessly let it slip.