Thrawn Treason, the final installment to Timothy Zahn’s most recent (and officially canonized) novel trilogy, is now available. I have been eagerly awaiting this novel because the first two were absolutely enthralling. While I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, it was not quite what I expected in the final installment of the trilogy.
A short review from the first two novels will help set the stage for Thrawn Treason.
The first novel (Thrawn) featured the story of how the Chiss strategist Mitth’raw’nuruodo, Thrawn for short, became a grand admiral in the Imperial Navy. He was so successful due to his supernatural understanding of strategy and tactics plus his knowledge of the Unknown Regions (in which the Emperor was keenly interested). He also mentored Eli Vanto, who at the end of the book accepted a position as an officer in the navy of the Chiss Ascendancy.
The second novel (Thrawn Alliances) featured two interwoven and parallel stories: one with Thrawn and Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars, and another with Thrawn and Darth Vader concurrent with the events in the Rebels animated series. The Emperor sent Thrawn and Vader to investigate a disturbance in the force near the backwater world Batuu (the one featured in Disney parks). They uncovered a plot by the Grysk species from the Unknown Regions to build their forces for potential conflict with both the Empire and The Chiss Ascendancy. They also discovered that the force disturbance came from force-sensitive Chiss children, who could navigate hyperspace with their precognition abilities, kidnapped by the aggressive Grysks.
Thrawn Treason takes place shortly after his triumph over the Grysk kidnappers in the second novel. Caught in between the political maneuverings of Grand Moff Tarkin and Director Orson Krennick, Thrawn is sent to solve a pest problem interfering with supply routes for the secretive Stardust project. With funding for his TIE Defender project on the line, Thrawn discovers a plot that runs much deeper than a simple pest problem.
Once again, his loyalty is put to the question as he encounters both a Chiss warship (with Eli Vanto on board) and several Grysk ships trespassing in Imperial space. He straddles the line between loyalty to the Empire and to the Chiss (insisting that the two are not in conflict) as he uncovers the Grysk plot. The events of the novel conclude immediately before Thrawn arrives at Lothal in his final encounter with the Ezra Bridger and the rebel crew, depicted in the final episodes of the Rebels animated series.
When I first learned the title of the novel, I was expecting a direct confrontation between him and either the Emperor or the Chiss Ascendancy. But because of the events in the final episodes of Rebels, this could only take place after his disappearance with Ezra Bridger into unknown space. I was a little let down to learn that I will still have to wait to learn what happens with Thrawn after his defeat over Lothal.
Expectations aside, the novel was excellent. Sometimes, it’s almost overwhelming how good Thrawn is. He is not a character that is easy to identify with. But Zahn solves this by introducing other less-perfect characters, such as Eli Vanto and Commodore Karyn Faro, who progressively learn to grasp and understand Thrawn’s tactics. Additionally, there are still so many questions about the Unknown Regions, why Palpatine was so interested in them, and what happened there in the years after the Empire’s downfall and The First Order’s rise. The Thrawn series has begun to answer many of these questions, detailing why navigating the Unknown Regions is so difficult and perilous, how navigation is possible through force-sensitive navigators, and what types of dangers and civilizations lurk there.
In summary, I recommend this novel for any Star Wars fan. Thrawn is a captivating character, and his story isn’t finished yet.
Click Here or the image below to pick this up via digital, audio or physical form. We would like to thank Disney Lucasfilm Press/Penguin Random House Audio/Del Rey for providing the review sample.
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If your only motivation in reading this review is to decide whether or not to read Star Wars: Master And Apprentice, let me make this simple for you. Stop reading this review, grab a copy of Master And Apprentice, and read it immediately. To this point (after reading every single canon novel and junior reader) I can say that no other novel has connected to and expanded the Star Wars Universe in a more meaningful way for me than this novel.
If you aren’t convinced yet, please continue reading my short no-spoiler review.
Master And Apprentice, written by Claudia Gray, is the earliest novel, in terms of chronology, in the Star Wars Canon. The main storyline is set about 8 years prior to Episode I: The Phantom Menace, featuring Qui-Gon Jinn and his 17-year old padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Immediately after an encounter with one of the Hutt gangsters, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are sent to assist Rael Averross (a rather unconventional Jedi Knight who apprenticed under Dooku prior to Qui-Gon) in resolving a political situation involving the planet Pijal and its moon and the greedy Czerka Corporation.
Due to Qui-Gon’s cryptic mentorship style and his faith in the ancient Jedi prophecies, which Obi-Wan and most of the other Jedi consider to be useless relics of the ancient mystics, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s relationship is strenuous at best. The conflict at Pijal will put to the test both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s relationship and the credibility of the ancient prophecies, while hinting at the the deeper seeds of conflict in the republic that would come to fruition in the prequel trilogy.
One of the reasons I love Claudia Gray’s writing so much is her mastery at creating depth and dimensionality with the characters in her novels. This creates an immersive experience with which readers can’t help but connect. In Lost Stars, Gray won our hearts with her ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story featuring the new characters Thayne Kyrell and Ciena Ree. In Bloodline, Gray takes our beloved Leia Organa and adds a depth of understanding that few other authors have managed to accomplish when dealing with characters from the films. Gray’s work in Master And Apprentice follows suit by adding a delicious backstory for Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon (for which I’ve desperately been waiting), while also introducing us to endearing (and unique) new characters such as Rael Averross — the rough, unconventional Jedi with a heart of gold, and Pax Maripher and Rahara Wick — the noble-hearted jewel smugglers.
This novel ties into the events of the main Star Wars storyline possibly more than any other canon novel. Many of the other novels expand the Star Wars universe by telling parallel or off-shoot stories, which are enjoyable to read but ultimately non-essential. But the events in Master And Apprentice naturally set the stage for the prequel trilogy to a degree that it could be considered a prequel novel to the prequels. It also drops a hint or two that are fueling my own theories for the upcoming release of Episode IX: Rise Of Skywalker.
As I said in the intro, Master And Apprentice is a must read for Star Wars fans of all varieties.
Click Here or the image below to pick this up via digital, audio or physical form. We would like to thank Del Rey/Random House for providing the review sample
Thrawn Alliances No Spoiler Review
If you are reading this review to decide whether to read Thrawn Alliances, let me save you some time. Stop reading this review immediately, and grab a copy of Thrawn Alliances and read it. There are no caveats or conditions. This novel is simply a must-read for any and every Star Wars fan. Really, it’s that good.
Thrawn Alliances is the sequel to the Thrawn novel written last year by the character’s original creator, Timothy Zahn. Zahn does a masterful job building on the epic origin story of Thrawn and his rise in the Imperial ranks, as described in the novel Thrawn, and his involvement and pursuit of Phoenix Squadron in the Rebels animated TV series.
The novel is set shortly after the Battle at Atollon (depicted in the Rebels TV series) where Thrawn’s seemingly inevitable defeat of Phoenix squadron was foiled unexpectedly by the intervention of The Bendu. Emperor Palpatine assigns Darth Vader and Grand Admiral Thrawn to the edges of the known galaxy to investigate an anomaly in the force. While Emperor Palpatine apparently understood and accepted the reasons for Thrawn’s failure at Atollon, Vader viewed them as unacceptable excuses. So when Palpatine put Thrawn in command of their mission, Vader’s resentment for Thrawn only grew deeper. Perhaps sensing his apprentice’s growing disdain for Thrawn, an asset that Palpatine was quite fond of, Palpatine orchestrated the mission to allow Thrawn to win over Vader’s respect through his strategic genius. And Thrawn did just that.
To make matters more interesting, the novel also describes a parallel encounter years earlier between Thrawn and General Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars. Thrawn, at this time a Commander in the Chiss Ascendancy, teams up with Anakin on the edges of Wild Space to stop a top secret Separatist facility that threatens both the Chiss and the Republic. In both stories, Thrawn accomplishes victory in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds through his uncanny ability to thoroughly understand his enemy and exploit their weakness. But while Thrawn and Vader accomplish victory over this battle, the war for control in the Unknown Regions has only just begun…
There is so much to love about Zahn’s approach and style in this novel. He takes and improves elements from some of the best Star Wars Canon novels to craft an amazingly entertaining narrative. While many of the recent Star Wars novels tell multiple stories set in different time frames in the novel to tell the overall story, none have so artfully interweaved these stories to build such suspense and gratifying resolution. While several of the novels explore Vader’s character arc in the years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, none so effectively compare and contrast Anakin Skywalker’s brash impulsiveness with Darth Vader’s impatient decisiveness. While several of the novels cause readers to root for the “bad guy,” none cause readers to feel such profound awe and respect for the “bad guy.” While some novels explore the expansiveness of the Star Wars Universe, none so compellingly open a new frontier in the Star Wars Universe that is every bit as exciting as the one we originally fell in love with.
Not only does Thrawn Alliances contain a fantastic and entertaining story arc, but it adds more pieces to the overall Star Wars storyline that fill in a bit more of the puzzle of what happened between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. We’ve learned that the secrets of the Unknown Regions were crucial to Emperor Palpatine’s “contingency plan” that eventually allowed the remnants of the Empire to give birth to the menacing First Order. We are now learning that Thrawn’s association with the Emperor may have been the key to give birth to the contingency plan in the first place.
If I haven’t convinced you to read Thrawn Alliances yet, let me make one final attempt. I have read every single canon novel and junior novel that has come out since Disney purchased the franchise (many of them multiple times). Some of the novels aren’t worth reading. Most of them are very enjoyable and add a considerable element to my understanding and enjoyment of the Star Wars Saga. Both Thrawn and Thrawn Alliances remain at the top of the list. Trust me, they are worth the read. What are you waiting for?
Click Here or the image below to pick this up via digital, audio or physical form. We would like to thank Disney Lucasfilm Press/Penguin Random House Audio for providing the review sample.