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“I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.”

Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root―its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs―including the Death Star project―the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown . . . and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance―neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.

Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged―by a test of their allegiance to the Empire . . . and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.

Writer: Timothy Zahn
Cover Artist: Scott Biel
Publisher: Del Rey (US)/Century (UK)
Publication Type: Novel
Page Count: 342
ISBN: 9781780898667
Retail Price: $28.99/£20.00
Release Date: 26th July 2018

Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs—including the Death Star project—the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown….and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance—neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.

Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged—by a test of their allegiance to the Empire….and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.

Having recently enjoyed the ‘first’ Thrawn novel (first of the new canon that is) I eagerly anticipated the second novel from one of the Jedi masters of Star Wars novels, Timothy Zahn. Even more so as the précis for the book gave us the outline that this book would be exploring new ground for Disney era stories (so far) in delving in to the time of the Clone Wars.

With two timelines linked by common locations (and of course our main characters), the story zips between the ‘modern’ story of Thrawn and Vader investigating a disturbance in the Force felt by the Emperor, and the Clone Wars story where Anakin sets off in search of Padme who has gone missing, only to run in to Thrawn and form an unlikely alliance.

If you’ve read any of Zahn’s previous books, you’ll know who good his characterisation is and this book is not different – Padme and Anakin are every bit the post Geonosis couple trying to keep their relationship secret from everyone around them, Vader is the committed Sith Lord, treating his former self as an almost separate person, and Thrawn is the tactical, methodical and scheming character we’ve come to expect. During several conversations with Vader, he makes some direct mentions of his previous encounter with Anakin, almost willing him to acknowledge his former self and confirm Thrawn’s suspicions.

A nice carry over for the previous book is the way Thrawn’s thoughts are portrayed as an inner monologue, and this is extended in the new book to Anakin/Vader when using the Force to pre-empt attacks from assailants – of which there are many through both timelines.

Also interesting in this book is one of the primary locations – Batuu, and specifically Black Spire outpost which is the setting for the Galaxy’s Edge experience currently under construction in the Disney theme parks. Whilst the setting could have been any outlying planet, the decision to use Batuu was presumably made in order to start tying it into fans consciousness ahead of the attractions opening in 2019. I have seen first-hand that this has also spread to the Star Tours ride with the final landing point being Black Spire Outpost, so there seems to be a co-ordinated approach to introducing the location to fans.

The book is every bit as exhilarating and fun as the previous book, and this story adds further depth the characters of Padme, Anakin, Vader and Thrawn whilst maintaining the traits that are already familiar from previous works across print, TV and film.

Given his history with Star Wars, I’d love to see a Zahn-penned movie or TV series as he really captures the essence of existing characters and locations and seamlessly weaves them into new stories.

A recommended read, and I for one can’t wait for more Thrawn and more from Timothy Zahn.