Grand Admiral Thrawn has been a fan-favorite character since he was introduced by author Timothy Zahn in Heir to the Empire, the first book in the Thrawn Trilogy and the launching point for the Star Wars Legends Universe. Since the original trilogy in 1993, Thrawn has been such a fascinating character that he was rescued from the oblivion of what was formerly known as the Expanded Universe. His introduction in the Rebels animated series brought him into the official Star Wars Universe in a big way.
Timothy Zahn, who has been writing about this character for decades, has continued to produce novels that delve into this fascinating character and he has recently released the first of the Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy that explores Thrawn’s origins, named Chaos Rising.
The usual problem with prequel novels (and movies) is the lack of stakes. You know the main character will survive and you know where they end up. However, with Mitth’raw’nuruodo (otherwise known as Thrawn), the story was so well written that knowing he would survive didn’t make a difference. It was like reading about Lincoln, Napoleon or Caesar. Yes, we know their fates, but the journey that made them the leaders they became is fascinating; the events that shaped Thrawn are equally fascinating. Plus the fate of other characters is not so clear, so you can certainly be concerned about them.
The story takes us back to Thrawn’s very early days. And the narrative goes back and forth from the current adventure to flashbacks of events earlier in Thrawn’s career. It also gives us a crash course in Chiss culture and their society as a whole.
For those who have read Thrawn: Alliances, his adventure with Anakin Skywalker is given context and overlaps the timeline of this book without retelling that tale. You needn’t read that book to enjoy this one, but I would suggest it.
The one downside to this book is the nature of Thrawn himself. He is so brilliant that he doesn’t appear to make any mistakes, even though one misjudgment from his earlier career is revealed. And even that misjudgment is more about someone taking advantage of his sense of honor than something that truly affects him personally or the Chiss Ascendency. Thrawn is always so many steps ahead that the book is more about waiting for his master plan to be revealed than any true feeling that he’s in danger. Though Timothy Zahn does try to make the danger seem real.
Overall, though, this book was a pleasure to read. Learning more about everyone’s favorite blue-skinned Imperial is always fun and this book was a page turner. I would like to be pleasantly surprised in the next book to see Thrawn suffer some major setbacks as a change of pace, but regardless I’ll be snapping up the next when it’s released. (Of course his eventual exile probably indicates a major setback… unless it’s revealed as part of Thrawn’s master plan.)
You can find Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy (Book I: Chaos Rising) in your local bookstore or in Kindle and Hardcover formats on Amazon by clicking here.
Other Thrawn books:
The Thrawn Trilogy:
Star Wars Thrawn: