Star Wars is home to many great characters and a plethora of books. Some of the best books in the legends material are the Thrawn Trilogy which includes Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command. All of these beloved books were written by Timothy Zahn, arguably the best Star Wars writer. I have now read 4 of his Star Wars books, the original Thrawn Trilogy and this latest Thrawn book which is part of the new canon. These books all rank in my top Star Wars books and for good reason…Thrawn.
In the legends Trilogy, Thrawn is more the villain and Luke, Leia and Han are more the main characters of the story. The prowess that Thrawn shows against these heroes who had just taken down the Empire is amazing. The original trilogy takes place directly after Return of the Jedi where this latest book takes place before A New Hope. The stories are unfortunately not connected since one is canon and the others not. In this book, Thrawn takes on the role of “hero”. I put that word in quotes deliberately as Thrawn is a part of the Imperial Navy, an organization we all know to be led by the Tyrannical Emperor Palpatine.
Thrawn isn’t inherently good but he isn’t evil either. His motivations are his own and it isn’t until the end of the novel that we learn what his true motivations really are. This reveal is something I was looking forward to the entire book as I wondered why he was so loyal to the Empire. The book stars with the Empire being stationed on a “wild” planet when they are attacked by an unknown alien. The alien eventually reveals himself as Thrawn, a Chiss. Due to his new relations with the Empire, he is given a translator, new character Eli Vanto. Vanto works with Thrawn as his translator for much of the book even going into the Imperial officer academy together with Thrawn and then being stationed with him on assignment after assignment.
Eli is most certainly a good person and this book shows the idea that, while the Empire as an entity is evil, the people within are not necessarily of that same mind. Eli is loyal to the Empire and believes in his missions but he believes in being kind and good to others. Thrawn and Eli hold a special relationship throughout the book and grow extremely close. Eli learns tactics from Thrawn and Thrawn learns human and Empire culture from Eli. The two make a great team and it is a joy to watch, especially the tactical growth from Eli.
The book is entitled Thrawn but has 3 main character. Thrawn himself, Eli Vanto and Arihnda Pryce. Arihnda is best known as the Governor of Lothal as seen on the popular Star Wars: Rebels. I was glad to get more information about this character as I found her insufferable on the show. In book form, Timothy Zahn brought new perspectives to the character which was first introduced in the comic Servant of the Empire and then made known on the show Rebels.
Pryce comes from a mining colony where an attempt to push her out of her mine is performeed by the planets corrupt Governor Azadi. Pryce seeks assistance from Senator Renking who has her sign the mine over the Empire instead of allowing the Governor to have it. Neither is a good deal but Pryce signs the mine over. We then get to see her rise in power from Senator’s assistant the the eventual Govenor of Lothal. How she gets there and her cunning are interesting to behold. She is ruthless and, in many instances, heartless. We see her evolve in terrible ways that made me like the character that was purely annoying to me on the show.
I mostly listened to the audio version of the book and voice actor Marc Thompson stole the show. He provided the voice acting for several other Star Wars books including all three Aftermath books, A New Dawn, and Dark Disciple to name a few. The man knows how to create different voices. Compared against many other audio books I’ve listened to, he is the best voice actor I’ve heard with Jim Dale (Harry Potter Franchise) close behind. Where Dale has a captivating voice, Thompson makes each character sound different to where it often seems that different voice actors are playing the parts.
For many years now I have stated that The Emperor is my favorite Star Wars character. After reading this fantastic novel, Thrawn is right at that same level for me. As a tactician he is unmatched and his personality riveting. If I knew Thrawn in real life, I would hate him but, in the books, I absolutely loved him. Timothy Zahn is an amazing Star Wars author and gave us fans a villain that deserves to be in the films. Credit should be given to Timothy Zahn for the wonderful story and characters that he brought to life. I look forward to Zahn’s next Star Wars book Thrawn: Alliances (releasing July 24) which tells Thrawn’s story after the first book and will feature him teaming up with Darth Vader. I have it pre-ordered and ready to enjoy just like all of you wonderful readers should do as well.
5 out of 5 Couch Cushions!!!
I certify Thrawn written by Timothy Zahn as “Grade A Buffoonery”, Couch Crunchers highest mark.