original content Star Wars

“Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising” Review

The newest Thrawn book has come out, so check out Ioana's thought on it!

Ioana Balas

After exhausting you, dear readers, with my Hamilton references in every excerpt we got from this book before it came out, now is the time to actually dive into it. As Timothy Zahn always does, he fleshes out this fan favourite character even more in a very interesting way. Thrawn is pretty much Zahn’s creation and he is so well liked that LucasFilm made the beloved Chiss Canon in the show Star Wars: Rebels.

For the past few years, since Disney and Lucasfilm’s rebooted Star Wars Canon brought the illustrious Grand Admiral back for Star Wars: Rebels, Zahn has once again had the chance to slowly, but surely, re-introduce much of the backstory and worldbuilding around the beloved tactician and art aficionado. Across a trilogy of novels, Zahn has re-told the tale of how Thrawn joined Palpatine’s Galactic Empire. But with a brand new trilogy, Thrawn Ascendancy, kicking off with Chaos Rising’s release at the start of the month, Zahn removes the comforting familiarity of Star Wars as we know it and invites us to re-explore the society and life Thrawn left behind in the titular Chaos. The book is very different because it’s not full of events that will matter in the greater story of Star Wars, but it is a great book when it comes to lore. We find out more about Chiss, we meet other kickass Chiss characters, and I really liked how Zahn pointed out that Chiss are not aliens per se, they have more in common with the human species.

I enjoyed some of my time with Che’ri and Thalias, one child and one adult from the Chiss’s strange Force-sensitive sect where navigators lose their Force abilities during puberty. There’s so much potential for tragedy and character-driven pathos in this concept. I can’t wait for the sequels to find out more because the flavour that Zahn gave us in this book made me very interested in characters like these. Che’ri and Thalias might be my favourite new Star Wars characters this year and this says a lot, given that we receive a lot of new content. Of course, until December that can change, but for now I really think you should pay extra attention to those characters, because they have so much potential.

The book explores two time periods in Thrawn’s life, the main taking place before Season 3 of Rebels, and the second presenting us a young Thrawn, making us understand how his tactical and puzzle solving brain developed and showing us his thirst for knowledge. This segment is called Memories and I liked those chapters the most, learning about Chiss families. I actually loved it so much that one of the most talented artists I know and I’m proud to call a friend, Danielle Balanga, created an art nouveau interpretation of younger Thrawn especially for us (shown above), for which we are very thankful.

What more can I say? If you are a Thrawn freak like me, drop anything you’re doing and read this book. Timothy Zahn still has a lot to say about his character and we can’t wait to read more, given that now he extended the timeline in which he’s “playing.” Oh, and not that it’s really a spoiler, but there is a cameo of a well established Star Wars character and the lines exchange between him and Thrawn is one of the funniest things I’ve ever encountered in a Star Wars book. Trust me, you’ll laugh out loud and enjoy the scene.

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