‘Thrawn’ by Timothy Zahn

In 1991, author Timothy Zahn was tasked with the duty to write a trilogy of Star Wars novels that were the sequels to Return of the Jedi. From the get-go, these stories were magnificent and featured an array of new characters (Jacen & Jaina Solo) as well as ones we were already familiar with (Luke, Han, Chewie & Leia). One character that arguably stood out above them all in those books was the then newly created Grand Admiral Thrawn. He was such a hit with fans that even Disney couldn’t overlook him. It’s been out for about a month and a half now, but the alien commander has his own book.

As any Star Wars fan knows, the Empire can be pretty unfriendly to aliens.  They only allow humans in their ranks, so it was an unusual bit of character casting when Thrawn came to light.  He’s a blue-skinned, red-eyed humanoid belonging to a race called the Chiss.  When readers met him in those tales from the early 90’s, Thrawn held the rare rank of Grand Admiral, defeating each and every adversary his fleet came in contact with.  He did so in a unique form of mastery, besting his opponents by studying the artwork of the race of the commander he’d be facing.  From that he could determine their decision-making process, levels of aggression and so forth.  By the end of that trilogy, and this is a spoiler for those 1990’s books, Thrawn was betrayed by his own bodyguard and assassinated.  But fear not, Thrawn-lovers!

Those books were never canon and now that everything Disney does is canon, you can best believe that Thrawn is now officially part of the Star Wars universe.  He was featured in the animated series Rebels and had a self-titled novel released last month, written by none other than the man who created him, Timothy Zahn.  Thrawn focuses on the Chiss mastermind just before his days with the Empire began.  You will get much more than just the art-studying tactics of Thrawn this time around too.  While that remains very much a part of who he is and how his mind works, there is so much more to him that is revealed.  The character development in the book is absolutely brilliant.  Not only do we get significant depth on Thrawn, but also a few of those around him.  Let’s not forget about the writing as a whole, which carries a story that is so gratifyingly detective-oriented at times and military genius at others.

That’s as much as you’re going to get out of me on this novel.  Buy it.  Read it.  You won’t regret it.  I for one am not a consistent novel reader but this thing had me hooked from day one.  After all, why would I want to give anything away?  What I can talk about is the three unique covers that are and were available for the hardcover.  Two of them are similar with the black background being the Barnes & Noble exclusive while the white background is the more common cover available everywhere.  In addition, the Barnes & Noble version, the one I bought, contains a foldout mini-poster of Thrawn with his Star Destroyer Chimaera flying above him.

That leaves us with the third and most sought after version.  At this year’s Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Thrawn publisher Del Rey Books released the book with a special jacket that featured no cover text.  It simply had Thrawn’s full face encompassing the cover with the official Star Wars Celebration logo on the inside of the jacket while being adorned with the logo of the Chimaera.  Know that regardless of which cover your book comes with, the content is the same throughout all three versions.  There are no exclusive chapters, material, etc. to one over the other.  Regardless of what graces the jacket of your Thrawn novel, just know that this is one of the most engaging Star Wars books out there on the market.

Photo courtesy of UnboundWorlds.com





3 Responses to “‘Thrawn’ by Timothy Zahn”

  1. Brian White

    I’m not sure when I will find the time especially with the Art of Wonder Woman film book coming in tomorrow, but I do want to read this! I was so enamored by the Heir to the Empire novel that I was pissed about this whole Disney thing and what is real and what is not. I refuse to watch that stupid Rebels show to see this character. I am glad Zahn got to write this! Does it differ a lot from the character he wrote about all those years ago?

  2. Gregg

    It doesn’t differ at all. If anything, it provides a much more detailed look at the naval commander. There are no force-preventative ysalimiri though as those were discarded by Disney. Fine by me. If you liked Thrawn from Heir to the Empire, you will certainly love this book. As for Rebels, I’m with you. I do not want to see this brilliantly-created character get dumbed down on the kiddy cartoon.

  3. Brendan Tedford

    IMO, Star Wars Rebels is a great cartoon and they have done well with it. It has something for all Star Wars fans regardless of age. They do a fantastic job with Thrawn.