The Last book of the Thrawn prequel trilogy – Star Wars Thrawn: Treason – is out.
Treason improves on a number of elements compared to the previous two books. The Grand admiral is still in control of the Imperial Star Destroyer Chimera. There he has an excellent crew who were trained by and if found inadequate removed form their post. Thrawn still does his thing – he still analyses his opponents art to ascertain their traits, skills and likely course of action. Unlike the previous novels the crew of the ISD Chimera are not left in the dark. Thrawn draws them into the conversation. With their help he manages to stay one step ahead of the enemies of the Empire.
From the perspective of the reader we are the crew of the Chimera. We are the ones being drawn into the conversation about psychoanalysis and battle tactics. In essence the reader gets the clues to the puzzle when Thrawn does. For author Timothy Zahn this task is not easy. It must not feel like the gift of analyzing his opponents is something only Thrawn can do. That would become tedious and would be a move away from the Sherlockian-origin of the Grand Admiral. On the other hand, if the space battles were too predictable the reader would find nothing interesting in the exploits of the Thrawn and the crew of the Chimera. The author raised the stakes considerable in this book by providing vivid details of space battles and Thrawn’s inner monologues. And the author has succeeded in providing a gripping story.
The story of Thrawn Treason
So what is Treason all about? Grand Admiral Thrawn is called to deal with the disappearance of supply ships intended for project Stardust – which is the code name for the Death Star. Before long characters such as Grand Moff Tarkin and director Krennic get involved. What follows is a game of Mynocks and Grysks. The latter refers to a species from the Unknown regions that has troubled the Chiss people for some time now pose a threat to the Empire as well.
Author Timothy Zahn proceeds to establish this threat quite deftly. In raw strength little can stand in the way of the Empire. It easily outnumber any enemy a thousand to one. The Grysk however are infiltrators, they can bind people to their wills. Through such client species the Grysk can rule of large swathes of space. With the help of his old protégé Eli Vanto Thrawn takes on this threat, as well as enemies from within the Empire.
Star Wars Thrawn Treason rewards the reader with a multi-layered story in which the principal characters takes on various threats that are inter-related. That said, there are number of issues with Thrawn: Treason. The first is the near absence of the Palpatine and Vader, both have developed special relationships with Thrawn but only the former is briefly shown in this book. Another problem I encountered was a difficult to understand middle part of the story. I understand its beginning and its end, but there are a number of abrupt plot developments in the middle that I found problematic. At one point Eli is sent on a special mission with a select crew. While the mission is understandable I cannot understand what its impetuous was? It is like a few paragraphs were missing for no good reason.
While I think this is a successful conclusion to the Thrawn Prequel trilogy I feel the stakes were not high enough. As with every origin story we already know the ‘hero’, in this case Thrawn, survives and indeed attains the position of power we know from the original Thrawn Trilogy. As such, the stakes were not high enough as the outcome was never in doubt. You can ask, what was the point? I am sad to say there is not much of a point to this trilogy. It is entertaining, but we do not see the Thrawn from his original trilogy. This third book does better in this regard than the other two, but it too cannot make this prequel trilogy ‘meaningful’.