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Thrawn (Star Wars) Hardcover – April 11, 2017
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“The origin story of one of the greatest Star Wars villains . . . a book that fans have wanted for decades.”—The Verge
“A satisfying tale of political intrigue . . . Thrawn’s observations and tactical thinking are utterly captivating.”—New York Daily News
“Quite the page-turner.”—Flickering Myth
About the Author
Timothy Zahn is the author of more than forty novels, nearly ninety short stories and novellas, and four short-fiction collections. In 1984, he won the Hugo Award for Best Novella. Zahn is best known for his Star Wars novels (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, Specter of the Past, Vision of the Future, Survivor’s Quest, Outbound Flight, Allegiance, Choices of One, and Scoundrels), with more than four million copies of his books in print. Other books include the Cobra series, the Quadrail series, and the young adult Dragonback series. Zahn has a B.S. in physics from Michigan State University and an M.S. from the University of Illinois. He lives with his family on the Oregon coast.
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"Thrawn" rectifies that.
From a only-barely modified origin story that will be very familiar to those who read the short "Mist Encounter" to bringing Thrawn days before his debut in "Rebels", we see the journey an alien has to take to rise to the pinnacle of military rank in the xenophobic Empire. There are familiar notes including character and ship names readers of Zahn's Legends material, new material including Thrawn's young protege, and for those who require an Imperial villain, we have Arhinda Pryce and her ruthless climb to political power that also explains a great deal about her character on Rebels and how she and Thrawn became allies of a sort. There's also a surprise twist to Thrawn's backstory that should catch even longtime readers off guard. And for the first time ever, we're permitted a glimpse into Thrawn's mind rather than seeing him filtered through a human POV.
New-canon only fans may find things like the explanation of the "civilian casualties" on Batonn strange or not in keeping with the so-far almost simple-minded insistence in new canon on black and white morality, but readers familiar with Zahn's work recognize this is a design feature, not a bug. If the book had any real flaws, it was a somewhat underwhelming antagonist in "Nightswan", and some of the battle sequences get VERY long-winded as Eli (the narrator) talks through analyzing them. But overall the book is the high quality and characterization we have come to expect from Zahn. Other than Catalyst this is, thus far the only must read new Star Wars thus far, and the only one which is a must read for its own sake.
But then Thrawn came back thanks to Rebels. And even better, it was announced that Timothy Zahn would be writing a new Thrawn book.
Excited doesn't even begin to describe how I felt.
Though this is a new story for Thrawn, many of the essential elements from the old books are present. While there's no Pellaeon, Eli Vanto is just as interesting and developed. Learning more about Governor Pryce was a nice touch as well.
While the old EU will always be canon in my heart, this book gives me hope for the new canon.
His conversation with Nightswan at the end was a story in and of itself. I had to smile when reading and rereading those particular pages. I'm hoping that Tim Zahn was hinting at another book when he made mention of Thrawn working with Anaking Skywalker
OK, now for the downside. I really want there to be some interaction between Thrawn and Darth Vader. There wasn't any and very little between Thrawn and the emperor as well. We got more of that character interaction in Choices of One than in this novel. Serious bummer. Zahn also didn't address too much how an "alien" such as Zach had to fend off prejudice and such beyond the academy. That warranted more exploration. Who knows - maybe Tim Zahn will write another novel devote to the future grand admiral. I wouldn't mind hearing more about his thoughts on the rebellion or even taming some of Wild Space.
I really want to give this 5 stars, but I can't. I enjoyed the book. It is great to get Thrawn back into Star Wars canon. Maybe the original trilogy seemed so good because we all missed Star Wars and the prequels hadn't come out yet (maybe never should have). But this wasn't the spectacular work I was waiting for. Is it worth a read? If you are a Star Wars fan, absolutely. Is it make or break? Not really. It is a good addition for a Star Wars fan, but I wouldn't break the bank over it.
The structure of beginning each chapter as an entry in Thrawn's journal elucidating a fine tactical point is enjoyable. Thrawn's line-by-line observations of body language interspersed in most dialogue scenes wears thin though.
The fact that this book manages to fit nicely into both the Legends and Canon timelines is a treat that will likely be increasingly rare. If you are an long-time fan looking for an origin story to a classic E.U. villain or a current fan who would enjoy watching Disney's Rebels with your kids more if the Imperials had a intriguing political backstory, then this read will be worth your time. Enjoy!