Star Wars: Thrawn

Star Wars: Thrawn Book Cover Star Wars: Thrawn
Star Wars
Timothy Zahn
Random House
April 6, 2017

In this definitive novel, readers will follow Thrawn’s rise to power—uncovering the events that created one of the most iconic villains in Star Wars history.

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.

After Thrawn is rescued from exile by Imperial soldiers, his deadly ingenuity and keen tactical abilities swiftly capture the attention of Emperor Palpatine. And just as quickly, Thrawn proves to be as indispensable to the Empire as he is ambitious; as devoted as its most loyal servant, Darth Vader; and a brilliant warrior never to be underestimated. On missions to rout smugglers, snare spies, and defeat pirates, he triumphs time and again—even as his renegade methods infuriate superiors while inspiring ever greater admiration from the Empire. As one promotion follows another in his rapid ascension to greater power, he schools his trusted aide, Ensign Eli Vanto, in the arts of combat and leadership, and the secrets of claiming victory. But even though Thrawn dominates the battlefield, he has much to learn in the arena of politics, where ruthless administrator Arihnda Pryce holds the power to be a potent ally or a brutal enemy.

All these lessons will be put to the ultimate test when Thrawn rises to admiral and must pit all the knowledge, instincts, and battle forces at his command against an insurgent uprising that threatens not only innocent lives but also the Empire’s grip on the galaxy—and his own carefully laid plans for future ascendancy.


Note: This review will contain spoilers for the original Thrawn trilogy.

Thrawn (the character) is one of the biggest fan favorites in the history of Star Wars. Author Timothy Zahn’s original Thrawn trilogy is considered by many fans to be the pinnacle (and start) of the old canon Star Wars Expanded Universe. Prior to that trilogy, all the “extra” Star Wars materials took place around the time of the original films. Zahn put out a series that was 6 years later and added a lot of new material to the franchise. The Rebel Alliance was the New Republic, Han and Leia were married and about to have a baby, the Empire was all but defeated, and more.

On top of all that he introduced Thrawn, one of the greatest Star Wars villains. Thrawn is loved because of his military genius, making him one of the few non-Force users to be a threat. If you are 3 steps ahead of everyone else, Thrawn is 5 steps ahead of you. That characterization largely remains the same in this new novel. Zahn seems to have done the best he can to keep Thrawn the same in the new canon. Thrawn now pops up before the original trilogy instead of after, but his role remains the same (crush the Rebels).

This book did come out after season 3 of Star Wars Rebels, where Thrawn serves as the new main villain. He was not in every episode there so we only received some sparse exposure to him. However, it was enough to show that Thrawn is still Thrawn and this book greatly exemplifies upon that.

Thrawn (the book) deals with how Thrawn (the man) joined the Empire and rose through the ranks. This is not a simple journey, as the Empire is largely made of anti-alien people. In addition to simply being an entirely new culture, the deck is stacked against Thrawn from the beginning. But like other villain novels, such as Tarkin, we see how the rise to power comes about. Whereas Tarkin was primarily ruthless, Thrawn is able to maneuver individuals like chess pieces. He does not start out this way; in the beginning of this novel, his skills for politics fail in comparison to his military genius.

Along with Thrawn, the book also develops some other interesting characters such as Governor Pryce (a secondary antagonist in Star Wars Rebels). While there did seem to be some restrictions on Zahn simply because of how the New Canon is set up, longtime Star Wars fans will be happy to see that Thrawn is truly back.

August 13, 2017

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