WARNING! THIS POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Firstly, I would like to thank Penguin Random House for sending a copy of ‘Thrawn: Treason’ for review.
Looking back to Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016, when I was sat in the ‘Rebels Season 3’ panel and Timothy Zahn (in a video) announced that he was writing a new and canon Thrawn novel I couldn’t contain the excitement. Hell, just watch the video of the panel and you can hear the level of excitement for all things Thrawn.
Fast forward three years and we now have the third part of the new ‘Thrawn Trilogy’.
Three years, three books and all three are very different. ‘Thrawn’ was almost an biography of sorts, detailing Thrawn’s rise to prominence within the Imperial Navy up until just before his character appears in the first episode of ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ Season 3. ‘ Thrawn: Alliances’ jumps between two timelines, The Clone Wars era and the Galactic Empire era (between Seasons 3 and 4 of ‘Rebels’) with Thrawn working with Anakin/Vader in a mystery/action adventure novel and now, with ‘Thrawn: Treason’, taking place in between episodes of ‘Rebels’ Season 4, Thrawn is at war. Threads from the previous two novels are woven together to bring the outside threat that Thrawn has warned Palpatine about in the first book, who we met in the second book and now that threat is on the Empire’s doorstep and only Thrawn, the crew of his Star Destroyer, his former protégé, Eli Vanto and Admiral Ar’alani of the Chiss warship ‘The Steadfast’ can tackle.
Thrawn in drawn into Tarkin and Krennic’s political war and puts hit TIE Defender project on the line. His investigation into a further delay to ‘Project Stardust’ leads him to a Grysk plot. Ar’alani is also pursuing the Grysk and their paths cross, leading the two forces to work together under that watchful eye of Krennic’s Assistant Director Ronan.
They end up in numerous skirmishes with Grysk forces and learn that they have kidnapped Chiss ‘Skywalkers’, Force Sensitive children who use their abilities to navigate hyperspace. Meanwhile, Ronan and Vanto are sent to a mission to investigate further the supply issues facing ‘Stardust’ and reveal a traitor in the Empire.
Thrawn and Ar’alani face the Grysk threat and return to their respective factions. For Thrawn, it means a return to Lothal.
Zahn beautifully slots the events of this novel into the events of Rebels Season 4, it also gives us a definitive timeline of the events of the later half of that season which from the episode ‘Jedi Night’ to ‘Family Reunion… and Farewell’ lasts only a week as that’s the time frame Thrawn was given a week.
Zahn has done a fantastic job of melding the character he created over 20 years ago and seamlessly gives us the Thrawn from his ‘Empire’ trilogy from the nineties but within the canon. And as much as I love Thrawn in ‘Rebels’, the character always shines brightest in the page where we can get into his mind and understand his actions whilst onscreen we have to guess his strategies.
Zahn also masterfully writes legacy characters. Tarkin and Krennic are written so perfectly you feel like you can hear Peter Cushing and Ben Mendelssohn trading lines of dialogue and his new characters have such distinct voices you could almost tell who was talking without being told.
There is a part of me that wonders if this was the story Zahn wanted to tell all along but due to the intricacies of the major players, he needed a way of setting it all up. Firstly Thrawn’ place in the Empire and how he achieved his rank was a much needed story, his loyalty to both the Emperor and the Chiss Ascendency and the character of Eli Vanto needed the time to grow. Thrawn: Alliances needed to keep that burgeoning question of Loyalty alive, whilst also introducing us to some new concepts, the ‘Skywalkers’ were to play a major role moving forward, as were the Grysks and their technology as well as keeping Thrawn’s part in the canon timeline straight in fans heads because of the weaving around the events of Seasons 3 and 4 of ‘Rebels’. It’s was one long tapestry that Zahn executed so well that I look forward to reading the trilogy back-to-back.
As for the future, watchers of ‘Rebels’ know that Thrawn is out there somewhere after his defeat above Lothal at the hands of Ezra and the tentacles of the Purgil. Will we learn more about Thrawn in another novel set after ‘Return of the Jedi’? I hope so, the character is too good to put out to pasture and I feel that after this book has been consumed by the masses, there will be a call for more.
It’s the best of the Thrawn Trilogy by far, it takes so much from the previous two and expands those qualities. I firmly believe that Zahn has been working towards this idea from the beginning of his work in the Canon and the execution could not have been better and well worthy of the 4.5 (out of 5) score I would give it.
Special thanks to Penguin Random House for providing a review copy of the book. Providing My Star Wars Life Debt with products for review does not guarantee positive reviews.
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