“If I were to serve the Empire, you would command my allegiance.”
I have now read all the Thrawn Books.
Fear my powers.
…Which have doubled since the last time we met Count.
So welcome to the current FINAL CHAPTER in the new unified and Story Grouped Star Wars Canon! I still stand by my repeated vociferous stance that the new canon quality material remains consistently strong.
If you’ve kept up with Timothy Zahn’s entire trilogy (Thrawn, Thrawn: Alliances, and now Thrawn: Treason) then you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Now that I’ve done them all I really like that they all differ thematically even though they share many characters.
So with this book fitting about midway through Star Wars Rebels season 4, I’m really liking Thrawn’s overall story now, and between these books and Star Wars Rebels we end up having a pretty thorough idea of his life up until the events of Family Reunion and Farewell.
So… where they go with Purrgils is still a mystery… DAVE.
Once again this Thrawn book is full of mystery and most of the great moments are the reveals as Thrawn solves the mysteries with his SUPER GENIUS POWERS. I always dig that kind of stuff in most Thrawn books.
Perhaps we should investigate further…
SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD!
Thrawn: A Study in Sapphire
So as usual Thrawn’s military genius is what makes him so dangerous and interesting, as far back as his original incarnation. Like the previous 2 books in this series, Thrawn’s character benefits a lot from having a deeper character than his original “unbeatable military mind” origins. Watching Thrawn deal with his fellow imperials and their squabbling politics is great because it’s always a cool opportunity to see those weaknesses. Like many interpretations of his inspiration Sherlock Holmes, he is gifted with all this logic but fails at politics and social skills. In this book, in particular, I think the politics are extra fun since now he’s arguing with characters we know and love (Orson, Wilhuff, Sheev.) While Thrawn doesn’t really “arc” much in this book as a character I really enjoyed watching his effect on all the characters who advertently or inadvertently learn from him.
No one has spent more time with Thrawn than his old Sy Bisti speaking buddy Eli Vanto! Who has been missing for some time but in this book returns with the Chiss Ascendancy. There’s a really cool inversion of Eli and Thrawn’s relationship. Since they met Eli has been the one to usher Thrawn through this unfamiliar Imperial galaxy. Now it’s Eli who is the lone human among the Chiss. Seeing the speciesism play out is definitely interesting if you’ve followed the effect it has had on Thrawn and his career mostly detailed in Thrawn. I love how far Vanto has come since his days as an ensign on the Strikefast.
There Will Be No Bargain
So the crux of the plot of this book revolves around a bet between Thrawn and Krennic which I thought was super funny. Thrawn isn’t really the betting type but is also aware of the weaknesses of others.
This is one of those things where I’m like…
And the Emperor and Tarkin are kind egging them on the whole time. It’s something that could be a super silly premise for a sitcom but actually works well in this book and doesn’t end up feeling out of place. It also kinda plays into Thrawn’s poor grasp of politics and Tarkin trying to knock Krennic down a few pegs all the time.
In the end, this little bet was one of my favorite things about this book.
So when Eli returns he doesn’t come alone. He brings Admiral Ar’alani and the crew of her ship the Steadfast. While we don’t end up getting much more insight into the Chiss beyond this crew it is still a welcome world to glimpse into. More time is given into the skywalkers and their second sight used for navigations in the Unknown Regions. In fact, one of the navigators Vah’nya interacts with Vanto quite a bit and is a really interesting character. I also dug that Thrawn dealing with his people wasn’t exactly any easier than Thrawn dealing with Imperials. Both the Empire and the Ascendancy question his loyalties and motives.
So most of this book has Thrawn working with imperial command and dealing with their speciesism and constant scrutiny. Only now the dynamic has shifted and he outranks most of the others. Lots of references to how others view him all regarding how he wastes time with paintings and his talents must be exaggerated… Where Thrawn’s crew has seen his work, others see him as some sort of fraud and don’t believe this blue dude has skills.
Always trying to bring homie down just cuz of the color of his skin.
You go Thrawn.
Cain’t nobody hold you down.
Hide n go Grysk
Once again we encounter the mysterious Grysks. A warrior race that threatens the Ascendancy as well as the Empire. Once again the emphasis on them leaving no trace and using self destructs more often than probe droids makes an appearance. There’s also a new twist on their danger which I enjoyed. They like killing things and being cloaked. A lot of the interesting space battle tactics involve the Grysks and their toys and how Thrawn is able to utilize them. Like, how many ways can tractor beams become interesting? Thrawn is able to think of lots. The grysks themselves remain dangerous and is one of the main reason we get the super awesome team-up of Imperial Ascendancy strike force!
“It’s Treason Then.”
So the title raises some interesting questions immediately. And on first glance and summary, it’s something I took as focusing mainly on our titular hero himself. But after reading the book the concept of treason is something that really spans MANY of the characters and their motivations. I liked that this concept affected everyone’s motivations and perceptions of each other. It’s really easy to point at the blue dude and his homies and call them treasonous but does that deflect from the real traitors? And does loyalty mean following superiors treasonous orders? Where does one’s loyalty ultimately lie? These are the deeper things that go beyond the surface of the whole treason title. I was glad to see the book go deeper than I anticipated.
I’m sorry I judged a book by its cover.
Bits and Pieces
Lots of details I enjoyed like mentions of Lothal and Ezra Bridger, you can’t hide from Vader, plenty of tractor beam shenanigans, Eli and the Skywalkers, Jabbering blues, wookiee food, Ronan the mini-Krennic, TIE Defenders, Grand Admiral shenanigans, hello Pellaeon, RIP Skerris, Faro the witness, and yummy Klauzon-36!
While this book is pretty much Thrawn being Thrawn, the other characters really make it interesting. Seeing the characters loyalties points of view change throughout is fun and turns out very rewarding at the end. Like I said before, a mystery story holds all the enjoyment in the reveals and those are always done well. *chef’s kiss* I know Thrawn’s story is on hold for now and I am super excited for whatever the future holds for him and Ezra Bridger. I know Dave has first dibs on that story but I would be very interested to see whatever Zahn could bring us after that door is opened. I think a Thrawn/Ezra story could be even more enjoyable than the Thrawn/Vader story we already got. In fact, Thrawn stories get really good when he is dealing with things he doesn’t understand and Ezra could fill that prerequisite quite well.
Thanks for coming to my ted talk.
– Sal P.
“A servant with divided loyalties is no servant at all.”