Firstly, before I get started, I would like to thank Penguin Random House for sending a copy of this book for review.
Secondly I’d like to complain to Royal Mail for said book not arriving at all, which is why I got the Audiobook on Audible (thanks to having some spare credits). Anyway, time to talk Star Wars.
‘Thrawn Ascendency: Greater Good’ widens the scope of the first book in the trilogy, which spent a lot of time focusing on the Mitth family and gives us a wider view of the Ascendency as a whole, introducing new families and a brand new level of the Chris’s Family Hierarchy, branching away from the Nine Ruling Families and adding the Forty Great Houses, all of whom owe allegiance to one of the Nine Ruling Families.
Continuing on from where ‘Chaos Rising’ ended, the plots from within The Ascendency against Senior Captain Thrawn are mounting as the mysterious Jixtus begins putting his plans in motion to bring chaos to The Chiss.
‘Greater Good’ introduces us to new worlds within the Ascendency and new aliens from within The Chaos, one species, The Agbui, led by Haplif feature very prominently and bring a new perspective to the way the Chiss operate in day-to-day life.
Zahn takes the chess game that he usually plays when writing Thrawn and turns the 2D game board into a 3D board and really gets to play in the niche part of the Galaxy Far, Far Away that he created and sets us on a whirlwind story full of political intrigue and amazing space battles where every tiny detail feels like it has been plotted out before pen touched paper (or fingers touched keyboard).
As always, Zahn held my attention, but there were a few occasions where I wonder where the story was going in terms of the overall plot, there are events happening all over the Ascendency and Zahn juggles them well but some of the plot lines felt pretty slow at times. I’ll even admit that I did struggle slightly with the audiobook for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the new Chiss characters became very confusing, especially the numerous members of one specific Family, where almost all of the names sounded the same. It would become very confusing at times, especially when a number of them were in the same room. However, I’m sure that with a helpful reference, like a Dramatis Personae that is in the hard copy of the book, that confusion would easily have been avoided (thanks Royal Mail).
The second reason I struggled at times, and this feels like sacrilege to even say, but on a couple of occasions, Marc Thompson’s performance pulled me right out of the story when voicing a handful of characters in what feel like impersonations of Star Trek characters. I could easily point out Sulu, Chekhov and Worf voices for crew members of the Springhawk, and personally I didn’t get along with those choices.
Speaking of Marc Thompson, his performance overall was fantastic as always (despite my earlier complaint) and aside from Lars Mikkelsen, he is the only person I would ever want to portray Thrawn. The man deserves some kind of award.
On a whole, I wasn’t as enamoured with ‘Greater Good’ as I was with ‘Chaos Rising’, but what I did take away from this one was that rather than be the second act of a three act play, this one is being used as a vehicle to set up for the third book in the ‘Thrawn Ascendency’ trilogy, titled ‘Lesser Evil’ and out in November, which (I assume) will bridge the gap between ‘Greater Good’ and ‘Thrawn’, the first book of Zahn’s previous series which saw Thrawn rising through the Empire. However I still enjoyed the story, but I think I’d have enjoyed it more had I read it rather than just listened to the Audiobook.
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