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Star Wars Thrawn: Treason

“If I were to serve the Empire, you would command my allegiance.”

Such was the promise Grand Admiral Thrawn made to Emperor Palpatine at their first meeting. Since then, Thrawn has been one of the Empire’s most effective instruments, pursuing its enemies to the very edges of the known galaxy. But as keen a weapon as Thrawn has become, the Emperor dreams of something far more destructive.

Now, as Thrawn’s TIE defender program is halted in favor of Director Krennic’s secret Death Star project, he realizes that the balance of power in the Empire is measured by more than just military acumen or tactical efficiency. Even the greatest intellect can hardly compete with the power to annihilate entire planets.

As Thrawn works to secure his place in the Imperial hierarchy, his former protégé Eli Vanto returns with a dire warning about Thrawn’s homeworld. Thrawn’s mastery of strategy must guide him through an impossible choice: duty to the Chiss Ascendancy, or fealty to the Empire he has sworn to serve. Even if the right choice means committing treason.

Author: Timothy Zahn
Cover artist: Two Dots
Release date: July 23, 2019
Pages: 352
ISBN: 9781984820983

Timothy Zahn returns for the final book in his Thrawn trilogy and it’s safe to say that this is the best out of the three as it’s the satisfactory culmination of all that has gone before. With that comment is a warning, you need to have read the first two books in the series.

Treason takes place during the latter part of season four of Rebels and Thrawn leaves Lothal to have a conference with the heavyweights of the Empire; The Emperor, Krennic, Thrawn and Tarkin are discussing the Death Star’s construction. Krennics’ “Stardust” project is not cheap and Thrawn’s TIE Defenders also requires funding, credits that Krennic yearns for. Therefore, a wager is made. If Thrawn can get to the bottom of some logistical difficulties that is haunting Krennic, then he keeps his Defender program. If he doesn’t, the funding goes to Krennic.

Thrawn investigates and as ever, there are many layers to be peeled back and treachery to be found on all sides, and of course Thrawn does his best to stay one (or many) steps ahead to hopefully come out on top at the end.

The intrigue comes with the arrival of the Chiss and his former friend, Eli Vanto. They’ve found evidence of the Gryks (enemies of the second book and a huge threat to the Chiss) making themselves known within Imperial space and now a balance has to occur. Can Thrawn help his own people as well as staying loyal to the Empire that has taken him in, and can he do both without upsetting either?

There is plenty of good in this book and when these questions are central to the writing, it’s a captivating read. Zahn really knows how to write Thrawn and when there are potential pitfalls it makes it all the more exciting.

However, and again this is my big criticism, as in Thrawn: Alliances, Thrawn and has no flaws. He’s perfect. He is able to foresee everything and anything, he sees things that literally no one could see and ensures he always comes out on top. This is incredibly frustrating and makes the character one that no one can relate to. A man with flaws is not a bad thing, in fact, it gives them something for a reader to latch on to, and Zahn just can’t write any into his beloved character. Flip this to Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron and there isn’t a character there without demons and problems, and that novel is fantastic.

One character that Thrawn has written well is the returning Eli Vanto. Eli was the protégé to Thrawn in the first novel and his absence was missed during the second. Eli is clever, calculated and kind. He’s a character you’d like to go for a drink with and get to know and his progression from book one to three is well written. It was a joy to see him back.

Another fun aspect of this novel was finding out more of the Grysks and the Chiss. The Grysks have a way of subverting a number of people to their will with little effort making them a huge threat to all. They’re a menace and dangerous and Thrawn has introduced an enemy that could haunt the Empire for a while. Where as the Chiss are calculated, smart and deep in history, the more I find out about them, the more I want to know.

Zahn has delivered a satisfactory conclusion to his trilogy on this beloved character. It is the best of the three as the tension builds up to a frenetic and fun end, but, if Thrawn is going to live on past the conclusion of Rebels I would love to see someone else take the reins and see what else, apart from perfection, can be found within Thrawn.

Thank you to Century Publishing for the advanced copy used for this review.

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Thrawn: Treason (Star Wars) (Star Wars: Thrawn)
  • Timothy Zahn
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • Hardcover: 352 pages