Timothy Zahn’s newest Star Wars trilogy promises to fill in some of the backstory for the version of Grand Admiral Thrawn seen in the animated series Star Wars Rebels, a character introduced to Star Wars fans by Zahn many years ago.
Despite being an origin story, Zahn subverts the readers expectations by diving straight into Thrawn being a tactical genius. From then on Zahn never takes his foot off the accelerator building a brilliant story full of scheming, downfalls and battle prowess, Thrawn really shines in this story and his rise through the Imperial ranks is explored in great depth.
Within the story, there are two plots that eventually combine into one, the first of the plots focuses on Thrawn, but the second follows Governor Arhinda Pryce, a familiar face from Star Wars Rebels as she ascends to power.
The Empire in which Thrawn serves is racist towards aliens so Thrawn serving as an officer within the ranks would have been impressive enough, but a rise to Grand Admiral surpasses expectations. Therein lies one of the layers of interest in the character; how did he manage to climb the ranks when all the odds are stacked against him.
What Thrawn lacks in political knowledge, he makes up for with his tactical mastery and execution. Zahn shines as he cleverly develops battle plans and enemies for Thrawn to exploit in ways which seem so obvious after explanation, and there are numerous instances where Thrawn is seemingly cornered in a predicament but it’s amazing to see how he once again outsmarts his opponents and embarrasses his colleagues, earning him much disdain amongst high-ranking officers.
Thrawn however, is blissfully ignorant of the political undertones and ramifications of his actions. Within Thrawn, the politics and manoeuvring of players in the elite of the Galaxy’s capital, Coruscant gives new-found depth to characters such as Ahrinda Pryce and the infamous Grand Moff Tarkin.
I went into this novel curious about a character that was so beloved by the Star Wars community, but one of whom I wasn’t so familiar with, but after finishing the book I can now see why he is so loved, leaving me desperate for more of Thrawn and his adventures.