Review published on December 13, 2017.
Star Wars: Thrawn is a standalone novel based on the early career of Grand Admiral Thrawn. He is an alien, who is incredibly clever and belongs to a race of people that the Emperor is interested in. Thrawn goes to the academy and has to contend with xenophobia. Many want to stop his rise through the ranks.
If you have only seen the films, you will not know this character. He has been in a few original novels. This book is set just before the appearance of the character in the ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ TV series. No knowledge is needed of the character to enjoy this novel though, so do not let the unknown name dissuade you from reading it.
Thrawn is an intriguing character and the reader really begins to want him to succeed. His aide, Eli Vanto, is the Dr. Watson type character, always asking questions and explaining Thrawn’s tactics to others. The reader really relates to his particular journey and the problems that knowing Thrawn brings him.
The rise of a soldier does not sound that interesting plot wise, but this novel is so much more about out-thinking opponents rather than pitched battles. A real page turner, the novel gives the impression that Thrawn will succeed but the reader does not know how this will happen. His calculating tactics are fun to read and are never the obvious solutions to a problem. There is a sub-plot involving a female administrator who is trying to make her way to power within the Empire. It adds a context of what is happening politically on Coruscant, the main planet in the Empire.
This novel briefly reminded me of Star Wars: Tarkin, being the origin story of an admiral and both have similar book covers. They are, however, vastly different characters, as well as completely different styles of story.
This is one of the best of the new Star Wars novels. If you are a Star Wars fan, especially of Rebels or the original novels, then it is a must read. If you like sci fi with a bit of depth, then try this, don’t let the Star Wars part put you off. This is a well-constructed novel in its own right. The handling of the racism is very well done, and it shows how sci fi novels can handle difficult subjects.
Angela Finch 5/4
Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
Arrow 9781784752958 pbk Dec 2017
Linda Hepworth Previews the Words by the Water Festival 2018