Blue skin. Red eyes.
The master has returned.
In the Heir to the Empire trilogy, we met Thrawn for the first time. But the new Thrawn novel takes you back to where it began.
The story how Thrawn becomes the Grand Admiral is captivating from beginning to end. Every chapter starts with a page from Thrawn's journal, providing insight in his character. During conversations we get a glimps in the way he analyzes people he deals with, without spelling out his conclusions. Starting at the very bottom he links his path with Eli Vanto, a young cadet who is the only one familiar with Thrawn's native tongue; Sy Bisti.
Recognizing the potential of his young protegé, he carefully manipulates the people in control of his path to have Eli always by his side. Teaching him strategy, insight in human nature and everything else a good leader should possess. Eli, quite unhappy with his career being thrown upside down, reluctantly starts to appreciate the Chiss.
One part that especially stood out for me was Eli noticing that Thrawn is trying to figure him out with subtle questions here and there about his upbringing and analyzing the stories he tells him. We don't get to know which questions exactly, but he then does the same thing with the military. How everything works together, if there's rivalry between cadets. Much later, when Thrawn was dealing with the Moffs, I realized those answers also formed his insight in them.
The other character we see a lot of is Arihnda Pryce. She rises to power to the Governor of Lothal. The insight into the politics on Coruscant is eye-opening. The alliances she forms shape her into the ruthless character we saw in Rebels. Her character development is actually quite intriguing and extremely well-written.
Once again Timothy Zahn proves he is a true master.
Article by: Joel “Mith” Storms