Ok, so yes, Yes, and YES! I’m not breaking any new ground by singing the praises of what Timothy Zahn was able to do in the Star Wars Universe. Reading Thrawn gave me the same sense of wonder and excitement that I experienced when reading original Thrawn Trilogy starting with Heir to the Empire when I was a teenager. I felt and still feel that it should have been Episodes VII, VIII, and IX. You can imagine my disappointment when Disney bought the franchise and arbitrarily labeled every Star Wars book including the beloved original Thrawn Trilogy, “Legends” status.
In Thrawn, Zahn is telling a quintessential military science fiction narrative with a considerable dose of Sherlock and Watson dynamic between Thrawn his counterpart, Eli Vanto. As an added bonus, fans of the show Star Wars Rebels should read this to get a wonderful backstory of Phoenix Squadron’s antagonist.
The novel introduces us to our treasured Mitth’rew’nuruodo Thrawn, who appears initially to be an exile from the Chiss Ascendancy during a mission in unknown space. After the initial interaction, Thrawn is paired with a cadet translator, Eli Vanto, and recruited into the Imperial Navy. The point of view is told mostly from Vanto’s perspective, and it’s through this lens we learn about Thrawn’s views on tactics and strategy. Viewers of Star Wars Rebels will get a treat, as we also see the rise of Governor Arihnda Pryce. Her story progresses as she back-stabs her way to eventually become Governor of Lothal.
Zahn still writes each narrative brilliantly, and Thrawn’s meteoric rise to Grand Admiral is done superbly. How awesome it is that we are also treated to tremendously flushed out supplemental characters and even have interactions with Grand Moff Tarkin and Emperor Palpatine.
Zahn’s deep understanding of the Star Wars universe allows him to fully immerse the reader in a way that they can imagine a brilliant Star Wars movie. What a treat this was to read and how different/awesome it would have been if he were tasked to write the train wreck that was the Aftermath trilogy, instead of the sub-par Chuck Wendig. One could only imagine.
tl;dr – Definitely read this. It will probably be one of the only enjoyable experiences in the new Disney Lucasfilm SWU.