Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn – Book Review (Excerpt)

Another day, another book review written and accounted for! I had a wonderful time writing about Treason and an even better time listening to the audiobook by Marc Thompson. The review, as most reviews I write nowadays, can be found in full over at The most important highlights, if you’d rather take a glance at something shorter, can be found below:

Politics in the Galactic Empire is nasty, ugly business. Thrawn is drawn into the situation – a simple week-long bet between Thrawn and Director Krennic (of Rogue One fame) to exterminate a surge of mynocks, the energy cable-chewing vermin seen in The Empire Strikes Back by Grand Moff Tarkin as an instrument to humiliate Director Krennic and ultimately fulfill the Moff’s own ambition of wrestling control of Project Stardust away from Krennic. The Death Star’s chief visionary is hardly going to take that, of course – so he not only offers a near-impossible bet to Thrawn but also demands the Admiral’s actions be subjected to the scrutiny of an observer – enter Assistant Director Ronan, no impartial judge by any measure. One of Krennic’s right-hand men, Ronan is…not particularly likable. He’s a skilled bureaucrat whose trust and belief in the Director seems to amount to religious fervor. Ronan sees the Emperor as a sniveling old dolt, Tarkin as a politicking megalomaniac and Lord Vader as a cold-blooded commander who rules through fear and allows no dissension in the ranks.

Thrawn: Treason is a return to form for Zahn after last year’s Alliances. Not that I didn’t enjoy that – but where that book suffered over a few issues, the chief of which were underwhelming (for the most parts) sections during the Clone Wars. Treason works because it goes back to the basics element that make the Grand Admiral so compelling – he’s a brilliant tactician who studies his enemies through a variety of methods and then dismantles them one piece at a time, using not brute force but their own weaknesses against them. We never see the Chiss Admiral’s inner thoughts – even when we spend some time in his head, what we get is how he perceives the world, as an observer; impartial, almost. Analytical, disciplined and entirely too alien.

 Commodore Farro, who was among the strongest elements of Alliances, continues to shine just as Eli Vanto did in the first Thrawn(2017) novel or Captain Gilad Pellaeon from the original Hand of the Empire trilogy. The dynamic is true and tested for Thrawn and for good reason – like many brilliant minds, he too seems to enjoy bouncing ideas off others of talent, and to cultivate the innate talent in officers who might benefit from a non-standard mentorship more than just your run-of-the-mill Imperial academy approach.

This novel ends on a note that promises an interesting set of new challenges for the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn, if Zahn is given yet more opportunities to continue chronicling his service to the Empire – and who knows, perhaps what happens beyond it – I believe he’s in the perfect position to thread new ground not only for Thrawn but for the wider Star Wars universe as a whole.

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