Chaos Rising (Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy #1)

Chaos Rising Book Cover Chaos Rising
Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy
Timothy Zahn
Del Rey
September 1, 2020

Discover Thrawn’s origins within the Chiss Ascendancy in the first book in an epic new Star Wars trilogy from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

Beyond the edge of the galaxy lies the Unknown Regions: chaotic, uncharted, and near impassable, with hidden secrets and dangers in equal measure. And nestled within its swirling chaos is the Ascendancy, home to the enigmatic Chiss and the Nine Ruling Families that lead them.

The peace of the Ascendancy, a beacon of calm and stability, is shattered after a daring attack on the Chiss capital that leaves no trace of the enemy. Baffled, the Ascendancy dispatches one of its brightest young military officers to root out the unseen assailants. A recruit born of no title, but adopted into the powerful family of the Mitth and given the name Thrawn.

With the might of the Expansionary Fleet at his back, and the aid of his comrade Admiral Ar’alani, answers begin to fall into place. But as Thrawn’s first command probes deeper into the vast stretch of space his people call the Chaos, he realizes that the mission he has been given is not what it seems.

And the threat to the Ascendancy is only just beginning.


Ah, prequels. Showing how characters we already know and love before we ever knew them. While the previous Thrawn books talk about Thrawn’s past, here is where we actually see it. Parts of this book also take place at the same time as Alliances (in the previous trilogy), fleshing out further details of that particular Clone Wars adventure. And this book does assume you’ve read the previous trilogy. It pretty freely uses names of technical concepts with no explanation because those topics were covered in the previous books. I wouldn’t call it impossible to read Chaos Rising first, but you’ll get more out of it if you read everything in publication order.

Now, something I normally hate about prequels is that they take away suspense. Because other stories are chronologically later, you know certain characters can’t be killed. But here, it’s a very limited number of people. Thrawn’s been in a fair amount of media since his reintroduction to the canon, but the Chiss in general haven’t. So, most of the characters are fair game as this story unfolds.

The other thing that bugs me about prequels is reversing character development. In military matters, Thrawn is still the chessmaster he’s always been. But his slowly developing understanding of politics goes back to being non-existent. When he analyzes a situation, it’s from a purely military perspective unless someone else points something political out to him. While this does annoy me slightly, it’s also clever because it gives a near-unstoppable character like Thrawn a flaw that can be exploited on the basis that he’s still young and inexperienced in this area.

He also seems more compassionate in his youth. I attribute at least part of this to the fact that he’s still a captain. He can keep casualties light in a way that an admiral commanding more people (including pilots in easily-shot-down fighters) cannot. But we know from the future books that that’s where he ends up. And it’s so much fun to see just how he got there.

August 8, 2021

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