There’s nothing Thrawn wants more than to impress the Emperor. And the one thing standing in the way of fully gaining Palpatine’s favor and trust is a man -- or machine? -- who hides behind not only a mask, but an entire suit of menacing black armor.
The sequel to Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn takes a unique approach to filling out the Chiss’s backstory, alternating between present time and flashbacks to showcase his complicated relationship with Darth Vader … and who Vader used to be.
In these flashbacks, Thrawn and a Jedi named Anakin Skywalker are forced to work together to complete their respective missions. This mirrors the assignment Thrawn and Vader must complete in order to please their shared master.
Grand Admiral Thrawn faces the ultimate test of his loyalty to the Empire in this epic Star Wars novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.
“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.
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Slightly better than its predecessor Thrawn: Alliances, Treason still falls short of the standard we've come to expect from a Zahn novel.
At a certain point, the idea of an all knowing protagonist gets extremely tiresome, and that is exactly how I felt for the entirety of Thrawn: Treason. Couple this with a plot that barely nudges the needle of the status quo by book's end, and you get a story that is admittedly better than the second entry in the series, but ultimately skippable for all but major fans of the character.
While an enjoyable read, this book suffers from being in a restrictive point on the timeline and from a main character that, frankly, stagnates after the trilogy's first installment. The book takes place just before the end of "Rebels," which is a difficult time to introduce - and make compelling - a new "big bad." Though some sense of the Grysk's threat comes in dialogue toward the end of the book, ultimately they fall flat as an adversary; frankly, the inter-Imperial politics and piracy angle would have made better focal points of the plot. Meanwhile, Thrawn's growth and development as a character seem to have severely tapered off after the first novel in the series. Here, he is mostly the same four-steps-ahead-of-everyone-else character he was in the "Rebels timeline" portions of "Alliances." Sadly, it's starting to get stale. There are still bright spots - Zahn writes well and is generally a pleasure to read (aside from a couple instances where he lets arcane details slow down what would otherwise be fast-paced bits of narrative). Eli Vanto is back, and he has some GREAT moments in the book that, refreshingly, don't involve playing Watson to Thrawn's Holmes. Commodore Faro, who starts out as a mostly flat background character, comes more into her own. And we're introduced to more Chiss - Navigator Vah'nya offers a fascinating glimpse deeper into the Chiss, and Admiral Ar'alani - for me - almost steals the show. Ultimately though, given Thrawn's legendary status in the fandom, and Zahn's undeniable stature in Star Wars literature, the failure to have a sufficiently compelling adversary to drive the narrative combined with a stagnated title character make an otherwise enjoyable book less fulfilling than it should have been.
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If "Thrawn-iness" is a thing, then this is the Thrawniest thing to ever be created. It's Thrawn on steroids. That's either going to be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you feel about the character. Regardless, this book falls somewhere in between the first and second installments of the series. It's far better than Alliances, but not nearly as interesting as the original Thrawn novel.
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