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Courtesy of Random House Words
The cover of the New York Times Bestseller from the classic Star Wars series by Timothy Zahn.

Star Wars Thrawn is the first book in a trilogy by Timothy Zahn that details the rise of Mitth’raw’nuruodo, shortened to Thrawn, as he traverses the ranks of the Galactic Empire.

The story begins with Thrawn being discovered by imperial scouts on an uncharted, unnamed planet in Wild Space. Exiled by his people, The Chiss Ascendancy, he is able to impress the captain of the Imperial Ship by using his cleverness and cunning to sneak on board. He is then brought before the infamous Emperor Palpatine, who recognizes his strategic skill and intellect, allowing him to serve the Empire in exchange for aid to his people should the need ever arise. Palpatine recognizes his superior understanding of space and the unknown regions, so he assigned him to the Imperial Navy, along with reluctant cadet Eli Vanto as an aid and translator.

As the name may suggest, this book puts a lot of emphasis on the development of Thrawn as a character as well as the characters around him. As a duo Eli Vanto and Thrawn often remind me of what Sherlock Holmes and John Watson would have been, had they been in space. Thrawn amazes everyone with his observation, deduction, and forward planning, while Eli tries to explain the social aspect and political complexities that seem to fly over Thrawn’s head.

On his own Thrawn’s character does not seem to grow or change very often despite the numerous promotions he receives. Rather he has a visible effect on the people around him be that socially or in the long-term/career-wise. He is overall a very stable and level-headed character who makes sure to never completely lose control of a situation despite the challenges enemies and allies alike throw at him. Despite this, he never came across as boring or 2-D, and the situations he found himself in do enough talking for his character as it is.

This book also helps a see from a perspective that is somewhat rare in star wars, the perspective of someone actively working for the Empire. Thrawn does a good job of portraying the empire as more of a morally grey organization rather than the absolute evil we are used to seeing. The character Thrawn, while often having a more pragmatic motivation for doing things, also has a compassion for the life around him as well as the art and culture of his enemies. He often tries to mitigate the loss of life as much as he can, and while we do see the ugly side of the empire quite often, the book provides something slightly less seen through this genuine compassion that is also shown.

The writing style and the PoV switch between the three main characters, often kept the book feeling fresh and gave nice breaks when the book otherwise may have become a bit boring or repetitive. While the plot was interesting it is somewhat overshadowed by the character development and actions surrounding it, it does come to a worthwhile conclusion that left me satisfied and wanting more of both the book and the characters.

Final Thoughts
Overall I enjoyed the book, I loved the character development and the plot was satisfying in the end. It is a great mystery, action, and drama mix and for anyone interested in knowing more about an upcoming and past villain in the Star Wars universe this is a great way of breaking into it. With the upcoming Ahsoka show on Disney+ showcasing him as a major villain now is a great time to learn more about a well-loved Star Wars character, and this book by Timothy Zahn does a great job of portraying him. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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