Thrawn Treason is the sheer brilliance of a written work, a novel of outstanding quality that leaves others in the dust.
Thrawn: Treason is the third book in acclaimed author Timothy Zahn’s current Thrawn series. Following on from the previous two novels, Thrawn and Thrawn: Alliances, the novel once again brings the legendary Chiss character to the printed page. Whereas the last novel was a slight letdown after the brilliance of the original, it had so much going for it and had so much promise, it left most other novels in its wake. Now with the release of this new book, can Zahn deliver the goods once again?
Star Wars: Thrawn Treason | By Timothy Zahn
The overwhelming answer is yes, he can. In fact, to my mind, Treason is the best book so far. It doesn’t have the length of the original but what it lacks in length, it more than makes up for in quality. The book is the sheer brilliance of a written work, a novel of outstanding quality that leaves others in the dust. Zahn is a master storyteller, an author that is at the top of his game. To describe the book as sheer brilliance and of a breathtaking standard can’t even come close to the sheer enjoyment that awaits the reader inside the cover. And what is it about Thrawn? Here is a character that is not supposed to be likeable, a dangerous threat to the Rebellion and all its players. A cold, calculating villain that should be feared and to avoid. But, he is so likeable! The character is one that fully intrigues the reader, a villain that we should hate but can’t help but love. A villain that we end up cheering on. And that’s all thanks to Zahn’s brilliance of the written word, his descriptive power, his wonderous character development. The mark of a master author.
And let’s discuss the supporting characters too. I was annoyed somewhat with the exclusion of Eli Vanto from the last novel. Understanding as he wouldn’t really have contributed much in reality to the overall tone or events of the book but annoyed that the character was absent. Here, in this new book, he returns and plays a vital part in the events that unfurl. And his inclusion adds to the enjoyment the reader will gain from the novel. His return is such a welcome one that I had a beaming smile on my face as he made his much-welcomed return. And his is not a throwaway character, not a distraction to the tone or developments of the book. He will play a vital part in the events that will be revealed as the book progresses. Adding to the enjoyment is his confusion at Thrawn’s apparent indifference to him when he and his former mentor finally are reunited. We feel for Eli. We can’t understand the cold shoulder treatment handed to him by Thrawn. However, we get the impression that Thrawn has his reasons, that Thrawn has something up his sleeve that will make the reader understand his motives. And that is the case as the reader will discover.
Now we move on to Commadore Faro. Hers is a character that could easily be a throwaway or disposable one. Instead, Zahn makes her a vital part of the wheel, one of the biggest cogs in the machine. The book needs Faro more than the reader realizes. Again, Faro discovers something second hand that makes her question Thrawn and her continuing loyalty to him. Again, we guess that he has his reasons and again, those reasons will become known by the finale of the book. And they again, for some reason, endears Thrawn to us even more. We embrace Faro as we would a heroic female character. She is one of the strongest female figures ever to grace the pages of a Star Wars book. And she deserves to be. After her actions in the past two novels, her fate at the end of this story makes us smile and feel overjoyed for her but it is tinged with sadness. Thrawn, Vanto and Faro, to all intents and purposes, are a complete team. Each needs each other, each depends and trusts each other and each works best when they are together. Faro’s fate, although deserving, leaves a feeling of sadness as it feels like a complete parting of the ways, an action that, although can be brought to the fore again in the next, if there is one, novel leaves us fearful that the three of them won’t appear in the same novel again. And if this is true, then I for one will miss her.
New characters make their debut in the new story. Admiral Ar’alani of the Chiss ascendency makes a gracious bow. Her part of the book’s engine is again, a vital one. She is introduced as being on a mission at the book’s opening, assisted by Eli Vanto. Her mission at the start of the book’s events seem inconsequential and just a throwaway introduction to a new character but, once again, Zahn knows exactly what he’s doing. Her small entrance is the start of the events described in the book. And it is a small but essential part of the grand scheme of things. An event that will lead to larger consequences and problems later on. She is the perfect foil to Thrawn, an almost equal but also someone who will stand behind her ideals and principles and will argue to the death to get her views and points across. I really hope that she makes a welcome appearance in the literary universe again as she fully deserves to. Yet another strong female character and one the book needs and uses to its credit.
Assistant Director Ronan is another new character introduced. Ronan is the sidekick and informant to Director Orsen Krennic. His is a slimy, devious, unlikeable character, one that from his introduction until the novel’s end, we hope to see get his needed comeuppance. And to a certain extent, he does but not in the way we hope for. He is the quintessential Imperial Bureaucrat, a smarmy, self-centred man. I report to Director Krennic so if you’re rude, nasty or annoy me, I’ll tell him and then you’ll be sorry kind of person. All the way through the book’s events, he keeps reporting to Krennic about Thrawn’s actions. He attempts to undermine Thrawn at every turn. And, by the book’s climax, he believes he has succeeded. Only Thrawn is always a step ahead of the curve and gets his revenge in a sneaky but fulfilling way.
As for the story that drives the book, it is completely enjoyable. It continues the story of events from Thrawn Alliances and expands on them with pure style. The Grysk’s are back as the main villains once again, continuing on their path towards the Empire and the intent to attack them. All the while, Thrawn is tasked with the mission of attempting to solve an inconvenience to Director Krennic and his Stardust project. If Thrawn can deliver a solution to Krennic’s Gralloc (A larger Mynock type of creature, feeding on Krennics supply ships) problem within a week, Thrawn will keep his funding for his TIE Defender program. If he fails, Krennic will take all his assigned resources for Stardust. Almost as soon as Thrawn begins his task, he spots a problem with the scenario he has been presented with. As he watches a Gralloc attack a supply ship, sending the ship to go into involuntary lightspeed, Thrawn notices something isn’t right. Many other supply ships have disappeared in the same way which immediately puts Thrawn on his guard. There’s more to this than first appears and with Thrawn’s investigations and discoveries, a more sinister plot is uncovered. One which will lead to serious consequences and a deadly game of bluff and double bluff. All with The Emperor and Grand Moff Tarkin silently watching every move from the wings.
The book and its events ties in brilliantly with both Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels and the events in both. Scarif and Lothal are mentioned several times, as is Ezra Bridger, to fantastic effect. However, it’s the speech of one character that brings back even greater memories of events that we know are going to come, to an event that will devastate the Empire as their all-conquering Battle Station is destroyed. It’s even mentioned that one person may sabotage the station, giving it a fatal flaw that will go unnoticed until it’s too late. We already know that Galen Erso has placed the flaw into the station and that Luke Skywalker will destroy it. It’s to the book’s huge advantage that these vital points are included as it adds a sense of enjoyment to an already thoroughly enjoyable book.
Timothy Zahn has once again proved he is the master of Star Wars novel writing. His characterization and descriptive powers bring home every aspect of the story he is presenting to us to such an outstanding and rewarding effect. And the mythology and legend of Thrawn are expanded and raised to heights he’s never been to before. And he deserves to be raised up so high. Thrawn is one of the best characters ever created for the Star Wars universe and his continued presence in the continuing stories that are being presented to us is an absolute joy. Zahn’s creation keeps going from strength to strength and I can only hope that the Grand Admiral will once again return in the novel form very soon. For someone, we are supposed to hate and despise, I for one, can’t help but love him and embrace him as one of the best characters ever created. And that is all due to the genius of Timothy Zahn and the ever-expanding universe he has created.
Star Wars: Thrawn Treason by Timothy Zahn is published by Penguin Random House Books and is available to buy from 25th July.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Indiana Jones and Horror movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!
- Imprint: Century
- Published: 25/07/2019
- ISBN: 9781529124019
- Length: 352 Pages
- Dimensions: 240mm x 33mm x 162mm
- Weight: 573g
- RRP: £20.00