The latest “Star Wars” book is full of everything you’d expect from the franchise. Space fights, philosophical discussions of the Force and Jedi, and complicated relationships during political strife. And it’s the perfect escape that will have you hyped for the return of “Star Wars.”
“Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy (Book I: Chaos Rising)” — written by Timothy Zahn — is a really deep cut as far as “Star Wars” books are concerned. It tells the story of Thrawn, who eventually goes onto be an imperial commander. He makes several appearances in “Star Wars Rebels” and has his own book series about his career with the Empire. This is a prequel to all of that, showing us his original story.
The casual “Star Wars” fan won’t necessarily jump right into this book (and if they do, it’s still a worthwhile read). It’s a prequel to a spinoff about a character who exists outside the main “Star Wars” film. So yeah, it might be a hard sell to someone who only likes “The Force Awakens” or hasn’t watched anything other than “Return of the Jedi.”
But “Star Wars” will love this book because it is a brief escape from reality, and it will get you so pumped for whatever comes next in the “Star Wars” universe.
Rather than a typical review, I thought I’d break down five things for you to know about “Thrawn Ascendancy” in case you’re thinking about picking it up.
Here are five things to know about the book.
This feels like a ‘Star Wars’ book
From the opening page, you know you’re in the “Star Wars” galaxy. It’s technically a little farther away in Thrawn’s homeworld Csilla, the heart of the Chiss Ascendancy, but it feels like you’re in the same universe. The descriptions of different star fights and battles feel straight out of a “Star Wars” movie. Even the dialogue is reminiscent of what you’d hear in a film, too. And it is enhanced by listening to “Star Wars” music. I listened to “The Rise of Skywalker” score while reading and it instantly helped put me in the galaxy far, far away.
Thrawn is one of the most complicated characters in ‘Star Wars’
We know Thrawn as a master tactician and strategist. He’s stern, he’s logical and he’s calculated. But he’s often portrayed as something of a villain, especially when we’ve seen him in “Star Wars Rebels.” In this book, we learn there’s a lot more behind his story. He takes tactical risks to save his people. He cares for the young and has empathy for struggling admiral. So as much as we know he’s a star of the Empire, he’s still someone we can appreciate.
It enhances our understanding of the Force
The book includes several characters that the Chiss race call “ozyly-esehembo.” In English, it translates as “Sky-walker.” These people are Force-sensitive people — mostly female — who help direct Chiss starships across the galaxy. Their powers fade as they grow older. The book references how Skywalker is a common last name in the inner galaxy — a reference to Anakin Skywalker. The use of “Sky-walker” allows this book to present another understanding of how the Force can be used, and how an entirely different race handles the Force. It’s funny that they refer to as a “Sky-walker” but it makes sense. We tend to think of Force users as Jedis. But really, it can be anyone with abilities that some consider to be unnatural.
A major ‘Star Wars’ character appears
I won’t spoil the cameo appearance here because there’s actually some tie-ins to another “Star Wars” book. But the brief return of a prequel trilogy character was the perfect jolt of energy to push me to the finish line. It’s a worthwhile return and makes me want to read through some other Thrawn books to learn a little more. That’s all for now.
There’s so much more to the story
This is the first book in an entirely new trilogy, which means we’ll be getting two more books about this story. And it’s a good thing. It’s a story worthy of multiple books. I really can’t wait to learn more about the Chiss and the Nine Ruling Families, and how Thrawn’s military career develops from within it. Even more, the book takes place during the Clone Wars — years before the book “Thrawn,” which takes place when the Empire is already established. That book is followed by “Thawn: Alliances” and “Thrawn: Treason.” And then there’s the “Star Wars: Rebels” series. So there is so much Thrawn content out there that the story of the military leader never ends.