Saturday, August 11, 2018

Book Review: 'Star Wars: Thrawn - Alliances' by Timothy Zahn

A continuation on from the first 'Thrawn' canon novel, 'Thrawn: Alliances' by Timothy Zahn, set not long after events in Season 3 of the 'Star Wars Rebels' series, throws the Chiss Grand Admiral and the Dark Lord of the Sith grudgingly together by Emperor Palpatine to investigate a mysterious disturbance in the Force coming from the planet of Batuu, which lies close to the Unknown Regions, that could pose a potential threat to the Empire.

The story also flashes back to a time during the Clone Wars (not long after Ahsoka Tano has left the Jedi Order), as Anakin Skywalker searching for Padmé after she goes missing investigating the disappearance of one of her handmaids, encounters Commander Mitth'raw'nuruodo (Thrawn) of the Chiss Ascendancy above the planet of Batuu. Thrawn decides to help Anakin in his search, but Anakin is unsure of his motives for doing so.

I liked the interaction between Anakin and Thrawn, and the way they played off one another. Thrawn is his usual confident and assured self. Analysing situations and locations, turning them to his advantage. But these methods just seem to frustrate Anakin / Darth Vader. In the flashbacks, Anakin's only thought is of finding Padmé, often rushing in without considering the consequences. The calm and methodical Thrawn is the perfect foil to Anakin's impatience and impulsiveness. With his logic and strategic sensibilities winning out on many an occasion. Whereas in the present day, Vader is all about displaying power, dominance and intimidation (typically Sith), whilst Thrawn displays loyalty and respect for his crew aboard the Chimaera, as well as intelligence and logic, a stark contrast to Vader and his way of doing things.

It was a plus too, and something that we haven't seen too much of, other than in the films or in a few of the Star Wars Forces of Destiny animated shorts, that we saw more of Padmé, and more than just the ambassadorial duties we normally envisage her doing, or being a clichéd damsel for Anakin to rescue. Her narrative is intertwined with the Thrawn / Anakin timeline, and I enjoyed this side of the story a bit more than the present day story. Yes the Thrawn/Anakin-Vader storylines were a bit more action packed with combat and space battles, but I liked the sleuthing and her investigations, which led her to infiltrate, with the help of a ragtag band of locals, and uncover something so much bigger and the source of a potential threat to the Republic. It was really good to see her character fleshed out more, and I'm now looking forward to reading more Padmé in the forthcoming 'Queen's Shadow' by EK Johnston, following her rise from Queen to Senator.

Despite the different timelines, the narrative that is woven through the story being told is done really well and you never lose track of which story you're following. It's all done in such a way that events from both stories reflect off one another too, with certain events in the older story evoking memories and inspiring actions in the present day.

It's a good read, and if you enjoyed Zahn's previous Thrawn books, then you'll like this too. There are also little nuggets for fans of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels to chew on too, which was a nice bonus to pick up on.

I went for the audiobook option, which was narrated by the always awesome Marc Thompson! His narration, in addition with the traditional sound effects and music, always make the Star Wars audiobooks the best way to experience Star Wars books.