Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
Thrawn (Star Wars) (Star Wars: Thrawn) Hardcover – April 11, 2017
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
“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
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
"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.
Why? Why do we love this guy, this "bad guy" that the general Star Wars fan should be rooting AGAINST since we should want the Rebels to win?
Because he isn't like ANY other villain in the SW universe. He is not evil for the sake of being evil, like we have gotten used to seeing. He is not in it to simply increase the Empire's power because he is power-hungry, and he's not manipulating or scheming his way up the military ladder to Lord power and influence over others. He has earned every promotion, and sought none of them. He believes in justice, in the rule of right and in this book we see him openly criticize the policies that keep his aide, Eli Vanto, from achieving the rank he deserves. And while he does feel anger and frustration, he does not allow these negative emotions to overrule his judgment or drive him to reckless actions. He does not over-commit his resources or throw large forces at impossible targets just for the sake of being able to say he succeeded where others failed. He is not afraid to concede a battle as lost. He rarely has to do so, since he is a master tactician, and he spends a great deal of time learning about his opponents' strengths and weaknesses in order to minimize his potential losses. Not because he wants credit for succeeding with higher marks than someone else, but because--and this is important--he cannot abide the wasteful loss of life so prevalent under the command of other high ranking officials. He will take a life if he thinks it is needed, particularly as an object lesson that will prevent future deaths, but that is a rare occurrence. He prefers to teach, to inspire his crew, and is open to suggestions. He is not afraid to accept a suggestion just because he didn't think of it himself.
Thrawn was basically swept away along with the rest of expanded universe characters after the new Star Wars movies came to life and changed the last 25 years of "history", much to the grief of many a fan. However, with this book, which ties in to the “Star Wars: Rebels" animated series, Thrawn has come back to the SW universe. His origin has been slightly tweaked in order to tie him more fully into the canon, but under Mr. Zahn's deft craftsmanship, he is still the brilliant, thoughtful, resourceful Imperial officer we have come to admire. This time around, we get a glimpse into how he managed in Imperial Academy training, his early service under other officers (most of whom are not superior to him in tactical planning and execution), and how his sense of honor and justice sometimes gets in his way in a fleet which does not necessarily live by the same rules.
Even better, with the journal entries at the start of each chapter, we get a glimpse into his thoughts in a direct way for the first time.
The character of Ahrinda Pryce, from the animated series, is better understood if you watch that series since she is not a Zahn creation, but he manages to make her sympathetic enough in the beginning that by the end you can and should be revolted by the path she took as opposed to the one Thrawn takes.
I highly recommend this one for anyone who knows and lives Thrawn, and ask those who want to know what all the fuss is about.
I won't spoil this for you, but if there is a have to read in the new canon this is it! Unlike other recent novels in the SW Universe, the characters are fresh, appealing, and very memorable. You actually find yourself rooting for the Empire every step of the way. Highly encourage old EU fans and those just starting out alike to take time out and enjoy this one! Just finished my second time through it!
Of what I've read, Catalyst was a close 2nd place, Tarkin with 4 Stars, and Lost Stars 3.5 stars in my book. Ashsoka was 2.5, and I won't even bother rating the Aftermath trilogy, which was a huge waste of paper and time!
Top international reviews
That Disney chose to allow the best antagonist from SW Legends come back to life in Rebels, let alone in a new book, shows that they don't turn everything that they touch into dogmess (as I largely believe with most other IP's that they get their hands on.)
The book is loosely set over a period leading up to Rogue One/A New Hope, and expertly threads the rapid rise of Thrawn through the Imperial Navy's ranks, ably assisted by his - at first somewhat reluctant - Aide-de-Camp Eli Vanto, into the events that we know are to transpire through the film's plots.
For those that know the Heir to the Empire trilogy, there are a couple of great twists towards the end that really helped to frame why Thrawn really does what he does.
All I can say is that I really hope Tim Zahn revisits this storyline, perhaps with a follow up tale from Vanto's perspective after the events of this book.
Even if you know/knew nothing about Thrawn, you owe it to yourself to read about (imho) the Galactic Empire's greatest strategist.
More please Mr. Zahn!!
As this novel is written by the author who created Thrawn in the first place it is somewhat intriguing to see how he approaches Thrawn’s transition to the new canon. By setting the book early in Thrawn’s career Zahn manages to perfectly tread the line of fitting his creation into the new canon without actively contradicting or conflicting with anything he had previously wrote concerning the character or his activities. This includes the little in-joke of him not being Pantoran.
It is not an origin story as such but more the explanation of how Thrawn comes to Imperial attention and manoeuvres his ascent up the ranks and becomes a trusted ally to the Emperor not far behind the status of Vader and Tarkin. Much of this is seen from the perspective of Eli Vanto, the ensign who becomes Thrawn’s aid. By adopting this approach the author keeps Thrawn slightly aloof and unknowable, maintaining the ‘alieness’ that makes him unique amongst Imperial officers.
Although entitled ‘Thrawn’ this novel is also devoted to the rise of Arihnda Pryce, who as Governor of Lothal works so closely with Thrawn in ‘Rebels’. It is interesting to note that, perhaps, the major difference between the two characters is that although Thrawn is undoubtedly ruthless he doesn’t seem to change his outlooks, morals or behaviour to any great deal during the course of the novel’s events and his ingratiation into the Empire. Meanwhile, Pryce seems to start of as a reasonably decent person who slides into corruption and villainy. Thrawn’s actions are born out of his devotion to both the Empire and the Chiss but Pyrce’s are essentially orientated around benefitting herself.
After his brief appearance in ‘A New Hope’ Yularen continues to be expanded upon and plays a substantial role in this story, the novel also charting the growing alliance of interests between him and Thrawn. Although Thrawn interacts some with Palpatine he is kept sperate from Vader despite the years this book covers. Ostensibly this is because this relationship looks like it will be a focus of this novel’s upcoming sequel, ‘Thrawn: Alliances’.
A worthwhile revisit of the character by the author.
This latest book is just as well written and is one of the most enjoyable reads in the new Star Wars canon. I've just come off the back of the Aftermath Trilogy, which I thought was pretty dire in terms of plot, characters, and writing, and thank the maker this book is light years ahead!
Expertly written, fascinating characters, a twisting plot, and a real page turner. Well done to Timothy Zahn for making my favourite character even better!
The basic problem throughout the book is that Thrawn is an infallible tactical genius, he is never wrong, he never misjudges anything, and as much as the reader (through the eyes of Thrawn's aide, Eli Vanto, the Dr Watson to Thrawn's Sherlock Holmes) is tempted to think that this time he may have got it wrong, there is always the inevitable Holmes explaining to an amazed Watson section where Thrawn explains how he figured it all out right from the beginning, lifted directly from any given Holmes story. There are even a good few "By Jove, Holmes! You've cracked it!" responses from Vanto for good measure.
There is no 'learning' moment, no operation gone disastrously wrong that has Thrawn learning a valuable lesson from his mistake - no character development at all. It's just Thrawn's rapid rise through the ranks occasionally obstructed by institutionalised racism in the Imperial Navy. He's fully functioning straight out of the box.
The narrative device of Thrawn's journal entries topping each chapter is a bit turgid - essentially it's "the theme of this chapter, dear reader, is (insert as appropriate)" - a tad condescending to the reader as it's better to figure that out for ourselves. Similarly, the constant observations of people's idiosyncrasies by Thrawn in italics is a bit annoying. It beats us over the head with endless reminders that Thrawn notices everything and misses nothing.
Thrawn's use of a species' art as an observational tool is absolutely spot-on, though. This is a skill I possess myself and have employed on many occasions. I can walk in to any pub - literally any pub - and by looking at the art on its walls - The Laughing Cavalier, Barmaid at the Folies Bergere, Dogs Playing Snooker, for example - deduce that when I approach the bar, a member of staff will ask me what I want and give it to me. Whether it's a pint of lager, a cask ale, a cider or a soft drink, maybe even a packet of crisps, simply from observing the artwork I can conclude that these and more items will be available to me upon request. To give Timothy Zahn his due, its replication in the book is uncannily accurate.
Alongside Thrawn's rise, we see the parallel path of an ambitious young woman eyeing a political career. It's pretty clear from the outset that what we're seeing is one person progressing through skill and merit, while the other progresses through connivance and game-playing, with the two of them set to come into direct conflict with one another further down the line. I think we all know who will come out on top.
So, if you're a Thrawn fan, yay - there's lots of Thrawn being Thrawn doing Thrawny things. If you prefer a little character development or a couple of surprise revelations, you won't find them here. Do I have the fortitude to push through the next two volumes in the hope that things improve? Probably not.
It's a shame Thrawn didn't make reference to Outbound Flight or Jorj Car'das anywhere in this book as expected. The Emperor already knew who he was from that book, and a reference back would only enhance both stories.
It would also have been nice to see sections of the book told from the perception of Nightswan; however the fact that this didn't happen only added to his gravitas. Hopefully that isn't giving anything away - but enough away to make you, reading this, to buy the book. It's seriously worth a read.
Thrawn charts the rise of the titular character in the Imperial Navy, and it really makes you root for the guy. In the original Thrawn series, he's pitted against our well-loved heroes, but here he's the eponymous hero, and it helps highlight all those grey areas between good and evil. It offers a lot more depth than someone might expect from a SW novel (but that fans of Zahn know to expect!)
If you haven't read the OG Thrawn trilogy (starting with Heir to the Empire), I would read that first - but this was a thoroughly enjoyable book, and I'm looking forward to picking up the rest of the trilogy!
This, however, was kind of my problem: only the human characters seem to be written with this depth. Thrawn himself, the titular Chiss protagonist, does not struggle in this novel. He starts in a rough position and rises through military ranks, which we’re assured is a difficult task for aliens, but he never has any personal struggle or self-realisation. He essentially starts as a perfect strategist - someone who knows the answer to every outcome- and ends as one. Other than learning to communicate more fluently, Thrawn seems to have no character development, and I felt this took a lot of sympathy and interest away from him as a protagonist.
I understand that Thrawn needed to be beyond ordinary in order to achieve his Imperial rank as an outsider, but I hoped that the novel would at least describe how he might have felt whilst he was captured, renamed and commanded. It doesn’t.
I eventually got frustrated with what felt like a lack of drama, and more like an excelerating timeline of events towards Thrawn’s final promotion. According to my kindle, I put the book down at 76% completion. Perhaps something amazing happens in that last quarter, but for me it would not redeem the lack of personality Thrawn has throughout the novel, outside of being “very smart”.
’Thrawn’ is a well-written book, but if like me you were expecting a Star Wars novel that focused on the perspective of an alien protagonist, you might be disappointed.
But that said, Zahn has done his usual excellent job of adapting to the background material and producing interesting and likeable characters.