Brought to you for August by Máire Brophy, Secretary to the Octocon Committee!
Last year, I finally got around to watching Star Wars Rebels which introduced me to the bone chilling villain Grand Admiral Thrawn, a master tactician who seeks to understand a culture through art in order to exploit it. We’ve yet to see Thrawn in live action but he’s due to make an appearance soon in the new Ashoka show coming up in August.
Despite the in-out-shake-it-all-about nature of what is canon in Star Wars, several people recommended the Thrawn trilogy of books to me. These are Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command, written by Timothy Zahn in the early 90s and set a few years after the Return of the Jedi. While much of the books are definitely not canon, there are many threads and themes here that have been picked up by the recent Star Wars expansion into TV. They explore open questions of how the rebellion struggled to transition to governance and how imperial forces would remain and despite the destruction of the empire.
Whether Thrawn is really the Heir to the Empire, remains to be seen, but he is always several steps ahead of the people around him, including the rebellion, and has a fair idea how people will react before they do. He’s also different to the Emperor and Vader as a villain, as he is much cooler and tactical in his approach. He’s accompanied throughout by Pellaeon, who is somehow both his bumbling sidekick and the best of what the imperial remnants have to offer. Pellaeon has already graced our screens in Mando season 3.
I enjoyed the books, and found them easy enough to read. They don’t offer the tense court intrigue of the likes of A Game of Thrones but they do give a great depiction of Thrawn and how the world responds to him. You have no trouble believing he would climb the ranks of the empire in spite of his outsider nature (oh he’s blue, did I mention that, with red eyes), and that the Emperor would bring him to his side in a quiet way. Characters from the original trilogy try to navigate his opposition in amongst their own burgeoning bureaucracy, but Thrawn steals the show. It’s definitely whet my appetite for the new show.