Star Wars Book Review: “Thrawn: Treason” by Timothy Zahn

Star Wars Book Review: “Thrawn: Treason” by Timothy Zahn

*This review of Thrawn: Treason may contain minor spoilers.*

Grand Admiral Thrawn returns in Timothy Zahn’s latest, Thrawn: Treason, which is set during the events of the fourth season of Star Wars Rebels. Thrawn is drawn away from his dealings with the rebels on Lothal when he’s informed by Grand Moff Tarkin that funding for his TIE Defender program will be diverted to another project known as “Stardust.” A project which, of course, is headed by Director Orson Krennic.

Krennic has run into difficulty along one of his supply lines, thereby placing the “Stardust” project behind schedule. Supply ships are being attacked by creatures known as grollocs (from the mynock family), and some ships have disappeared altogether — presumably destroyed. Tarkin proposes that if Thrawn can apply his considerable analytical skills to solve the pest problem for Krennic — within one week’s time — he will retain funding for his pet project. Thrawn agrees, as does Krennic with the proviso that his second in command, Assistant Director Ronan, accompany and observe.

Once on the scene, however, Thrawn soon discovers there is much more going on than was initially believed. The Grysks, an alien threat to both the Chiss Ascendancy and the Empire, seen previously in Thrawn: Alliances, appear to be responsible. It soon becomes evident there may also be a threat from within the Empire itself. Grollocs just might be the least of anyone’s problems.

The return of Eli Vanto in Treason is a welcome one, as he’s become one of my favorite characters from the print canon since his first appearance in Thrawn. He was missed in Alliances, but more than makes up for that absence here. Vanto has been in service to the Chiss Ascendancy, under the command of Admiral Ar’alani. His own analytical skills and ability to detect patterns have been useful to the Chiss, but he’s frustrated by the vague nature of the larger scope of his duties.

That frustration abates when the Steadfast, under the command of Ar’alani, encounters Thrawn’s Chimaera. The Steadfast has been looking in to the Grysk threat to the Ascendancy, and the two Admirals decide to work together for mutual benefit — even though Imperials working with alien races is not the normal course of events. It could be considered an act of treason…

Treason and loyalty are very much the themes of this new Thrawn Trilogy. And it comes into play not just for Thrawn himself, but for several characters in varying ways. It seems at times everyone is eyeballing everyone else, spinning questions in their heads — “Can I trust this person?” “Where do their allegiances lie?” “Who is this person, really?”

A standout in Treason is Commodore Karyn Faro, serving under the command of Thrawn. She’s smart and quick, and well-suited to Thrawn’s style. She proves herself time and again, even if she doubts herself on occasion or Thrawn’s confidence in her abilities. Another is Chiss Navigator Vah’nya. She has struck up a friendship with Eli during his time on the Steadfast, even as some of his crew mates look at him askance. I hope to see more of Vah’nya in the future.

Honestly, there are so many wonderful characterizations in Treason. Even the smallest supporting characters add value to the story. Zahn continues to prove himself a shining star. The way he was able to reinvent a fan favorite like Thrawn, keeping what made the character special yet making him feel new, could not have been easy but the end result feels effortless.

References to other canonical entries, such as Star Wars Rebels and Rogue One — where we learned “Stardust” was the code name for the Death Star — only add to the seamless connections between the animated series, novels, and films. The Star Wars galaxy is ever-expanding, and Zahn’s contributions are invaluable.

With Thrawn’s current whereabouts in question (along with Ezra Bridger) after the Rebels series finale, one wonders when/if we’ll see him again. Let’s hope it’s not too long an absence. Till his situation is resolved, we have Thrawn: Alliances, the culmination of this outstanding Thrawn Trilogy from Timothy Zahn, to tide us over.

My rating: 4/5

You can purchase Thrawn: Alliances now from Amazon.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing a copy of this book for review purposes.

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