One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy. (synopsis from Goodreads)
Thrawn has been captivating Star Wars fans since his creation by Timothy Zahn in 1991, and it’s a relief to see Thrawn in writing again after the cutting of most of the old Star Wars canon. It’s the origin story that so many have been wanting, and it did not disappoint.
There are many reasons fans took such a huge interest in Thrawn when he first appeared in The Thrawn Trilogy. In fact, you may be hard-pressed to find a Star Wars fan that is familiar with this character who doesn’t find him rather fascinating. He is hyper-intelligent, a tactical genius, and becomes a Grand Admiral for the Empire. Despite his connection to the Empire, it is surprisingly difficult to hate him. In fact, one could claim Thrawn as an anti-villain.
Thus, we as readers are left with the conflict of believing we need to hate Thrawn, but we just can’t do it. His hatred of politics and incompetence among those in charge is understandable, and his tendency to give credit where credit is due (which happens a couple of times through the book) is admirable. Not to mention, Thrawn’s motivations for his decision to work with the Empire are revealed, and it’s difficult to argue with them.
The pacing of the book is done quite well, with a couple sections that seem to drag slightly, however these sections seem to reflect the feelings of Thrawn as he is often given assignments that, to someone like Thrawn, would be considered somewhat tedious. So, in a way, these sections work.
I would be remiss in not also mentioning how well done Zahn writes space battles, and battles in general. It can be quite difficult to visualize what a battle looks like when it is done in space and with technology that we have no knowledge of. Not to mention a lack of knowledge in warfare and ship terminology, however, this is not a problem when it comes to Thrawn. Even in the moments that my knowledge of the above mentioned things faltered, I never once was lost or bored, an issue that I—and I’m sure many others—sometimes have when reading science fiction.
Overall, Thrawn is a great addition to the new canon, and gives long time fans a well done origin story for one of the most popular characters in the extended universe. To those who are not familiar with Thrawn, this is a great place to start seeing as The Thrawn Trilogy is no longer considered canon. (Of course, I would still recommend it, since it’s just a really good trilogy.) Prior knowledge of Thrawn is not necessary to enjoy this book which is one of the reasons I rate this book so highly. It is great for both old and new fans. Highly recommended.