Top-Secret Dossier on Grand Admiral Thrawn

By: Meg Dowell


It’s highly unusual to find an alien in command of Imperial forces. The Empire made an exception for one Chiss intellectual.

Timothy Zahn’s upcoming novel, Thrawn: Alliances, continues Grand Admiral Thrawn’s quest for power as he follows the orders of Emperor Palpatine -- and teams up with the Sith Lord Darth Vader in the process. However, a conflict between their distinct personalities appears to be imminent.

Thrawn is such an important piece of the Star Wars universe that his creator, Timothy Zahn, adapted his storyline from Legends origins into full Canon literature.

Whether you’ve met Thrawn before or are hearing about him now for the first time, this is your chance to cross paths with a character unlike anyone else we’ve encountered in this galaxy far, far away. You may have seen him in Rebels. You might even remember him from an old-school video game. But if you haven’t explored his full backstory yet, your time has come.

Required Reading

Before the sequel hits Youtini Canon subscriptions this August, be sure to pick up Zahn’s debut Canon novel. Thrawn introduces its title character into the novel Canon universe for the first time, telling the story of how an alien strategized his way into the highest ranks of the Imperial navy -- and somehow won the favor of a highly-prejudiced emperor.

It’s not often we get to hear the Empire’s side of the story. Set before the events of A New Hope, you’ll get a unique glimpse into how the Imperial fleets really operate, and what it takes for a total outsider to become a respected military leader serving a dictator and his apprentice.

Don’t miss out on this thrilling page-turner available in our online store now.

Previous Appearances

Heir to the Empire (Legends series)

The Empire didn’t die when its two heads of darkness did by the end of Return of the Jedi. Thrawn first appeared in Zahn’s original trilogy, during which he plots to destroy the New Republic once and for all -- and comes face-to-face with Luke Skywalker and other well-known heroes.

This epic trilogy reunites readers with characters they know and love while introducing them to new faces they won’t want to leave behind, making it a great way to start exploring the Expanded Universe. You can find all three books in our online store.

Outbound Flight (Legends novel)

Before Thrawn was a renowned admiral working under the command of Emperor Palpatine, he was a Chiss fleet commander defending the Unknown Regions of the galaxy. Even then, Zahn depicted him as a skilled military strategist, as he managed to outsmart and defeat his opponents seemingly without effort.

This is the perfect read for anyone interested in learning more about the nonhuman species that make up the Star Wars galaxy. This novel is available in our online store.

Choices of One (Legends novel)

Set in the time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, this Zahn novel exposes readers to Thrawn’s rise to power and reveals his unknown involvement in the destruction of Alderaan, Princess Leia’s homeworld. Since there’s likely to be devastating tension between Thrawn and Vader in Thrawn: Alliances, it pays to see how the two imperials clash in this legends story.

You’ll love this book if you can’t resist Star Wars stories that show how lesser-known characters fit into the much bigger universe. Our store offers this Legends title.

TIE Fighter (Video game)

This was the first Star Wars video game that put players on the Empire’s side. It features a newly-promoted Thrawn as he seeks to destroy an Imperial traitor, and shows how resilient the alien is under the service of Emperor Palpatine.

Star Wars Rebels (Canon animated show)

Rebels covers stories of the Rebel Alliance in the few years preceding the events of Rogue One and A New Hope. Thrawn comes alive on-screen for the first time at the start of the show’s third season, when the Grand Admiral sets out on a season-long mission to destroy the Rebellion before it can grow further.

Thrawn Marvel (Canon comic book series)

Star Wars: Thrawn, a six-part Marvel comic miniseries, adapts the story of Zahn’s debut canon Thrawn novel into a panel-by-panel story experience. Long-time comic lovers and newbies alike will greatly benefit from seeing the events of the book play out in full color before diving into the sequel.

Excerpt from Thrawn: Alliances

Check out an excerpt from Timothy Zahn’s upcoming novel below. You could cut the tension between Palpatine’s servants with a lightsaber...

Working together ?

  This time, it was the Chiss who spoke first. “With all due respect, Your Majesty, I believe my duty and my abilities would be best used elsewhere,” he said. “The rebels who escaped Atollon must be tracked down and eliminated before they can regroup and join with other cells.”

  “I agree,” the Emperor said. “But the Seventh Fleet and Commander Woldar can deal with that without you for now. Grand Moff Tarkin will also be joining the commander while his new assignment is being prepared for him.”

  Palpatine sensed a flicker in Vader’s emotions, perhaps a hope that Thrawn would mistakenly believe this was the right time and place to once again raise objections to the Death Star project. Palpatine paused, offering the Grand Admiral the opportunity to do just that.

  But Thrawn remained silent.

  “While Woldar and Tarkin find and deal with the rebels,” the Emperor continued, “you and Lord Vader will take your flagship to deal with this other matter.”

  “Understood, Your Majesty,” Thrawn said. “May I point out that Governor Tarkin is less familiar than I am with this particular Rebel cell. Perhaps a more efficient approach would be for Lord Vader to be offered one of my Star Destroyers and seek out this disturbance on his own.”

  Palpatine felt a sudden stirring of anger from his apprentice at Thrawn’s unthinking choice of phrase. A Lord of the Sith was not offered a ship. He took what he wanted when he wanted it.

  But like Thrawn, Vader knew when to remain silent.

  “You surprise me, Admiral Thrawn,” Palpatine said. “I would have expected a certain eagerness to journey within sight of your home.”

  Thrawn’s glowing red eyes narrowed slightly, and Palpatine felt his sudden caution. “Excuse me, Your Majesty?”

  “The disturbance is located at the edge of your Unknown Regions,” the Emperor said. “It appears to be centered on a planet named Batuu.” Again, he sensed a reaction to the name. This time, the reaction came from both of them. “I believe you have heard of it?”

  Thrawn’s eyes were hooded, the expression on that blue-skinned face swirling with memories. “Yes,” he murmured. “I have indeed heard of it.”

  As, of course, had Vader. It was the place where he and Thrawn had long ago interfered, albeit unwittingly, with one of Palpatine’s plans.

  But again, Vader remained silent.

  “Very well, then,” Palpatine said. “You, Admiral, will command.” He looked at Vader. “You, Lord Vader, will deal with the disturbance.”

  “Yes, Your Highness,” Thrawn said.

  “Yes, my master,” Vader said.

  Palpatine leaned back into the depths of his throne. “Then go.”

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About Meg Dowell

Meg is a health science writer by day and a Star Wars enthusiast 24/7. What started out as one spontaneous movie night with her dad quickly morphed into a lifelong quest to read everything that has ever been written about the world’s greatest fictional galaxy. She lives in Illinois with her cat, dog, and medal-worthy book collection, and believes any conversation in which Star Wars references are applicable is one worth having.

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