That Chiss Imperial Grand Admiral is back for the last lap of the newest Thrawn book trilogy and it may be my favorite Thrawn-around yet.
Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn: Treason is set during the 4th season of Star Wars Rebels – aka that zone between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The Grand Admiral is called away from driving back the rebels of Lothal to be pulled in the middle of a bureaucratic slap fight between Grand Moff Tarkin and Director Krennic.
Funding for Thrawn’s menacing TIE defenders is about to be redirected to that little secret program known as Stardust. But he’s given a challenge as a chance to get it back – solve a Stardust supply chain issue in a limited amount of time. It all sounds very administrative but as usual there’s a lot more going on than initially meets the eye.
The good news (for me at least) is the grating quality of Thrawn: Alliances is gone. We’ve got one antagonist who pushes it at times but I was more distracted by his Krennic-lite personality shtick. I couldn’t tell if it was a case of not being able to use Krennic in the story or an imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery in-universe situation for the character. Either way there’s a lot more interesting characters in this book to focus on.
One of the elements I enjoyed was that this volume feels wider than the previous two entries. He may be the big guy on the cover but this isn’t just Thrawn’s story. This book is also about Thrawn’s second-in-command Commodore Faro’s and her growth. It’s about his former protégé Eli Vanto and his bridging between two worlds. It’s a story of “there’s always a bigger fish” and why the Empire would never reach its power potential long-term. And to top it all off we’re finally getting to spend some time with some members of the Chiss Ascendancy.
Admiral Ar’alani’s investigation of the Yuuzhan-Vong-vibing Grysks, conveniently crosses paths with Thrawn’s mission, but Zahn makes it worth your while. Ar’alani herself is definitely someone you’d want on your side and Vah’nya, one of her Chiss Navigators is so very intriguing. I especially appreciate that Zahn gave Vah’nya wants and dynamic emotions when she could have been relegated to a function of the plot. In fact I enjoyed these characters enough that originally I was left wanting by the end because, in the grand scheme of things, this is only a skimming of Chiss culture and the Ascendency’s current situation. Then it occured to me how cool it could be for them to have their own books.
Thrawn himself is still clearly playing on another level but some of the aforementioned characters aren’t that far away. With a character as smart as Thrawn it would be so easy to make all the other characters look like idiots. But Zahn instead reframes that whole situation into being more about the resource of information.
The whole treason aspect though? Well, I wouldn’t say the title is a misnomer, but I wouldn’t say the tension in the book is the same one that’s advertised. The Emperor is not so much the looming presence the cover implies. And the treason concept that gets bandied about and thrown at a few characters but it never seemed like a real question for our title character. There’s a certain power in believing you’ll always find a way. Plus Thrawn’s going to do what Thrawn’s going to do. The Empire would have done well to listen to him more.
Note: While Thrawn: Treason could stand on its own, it does build on concepts introduced in the previous two books. I’d recommend re-reading them first or at least reviewing a recap. It’s been a while since I’ve read them and while I got by okay there were moments where not remembering everything from before felt like I was missing part of the bigger picture in this story.
The publisher provided FANgirl with a copy of the book for review. As usual opinions are my own.
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