Star Wars – Thrawn: Treason is the third book in the new Star Wars canon Thrawn series. The series started out with the self-titled Thrawn, followed up by Thrawn: Alliances, and finally this book. As the official site states, this is the final book in the trilogy, but I wouldn’t count Thrawn out yet for possible future appearances.
The entire Thrawn trilogy has been heavily tied into his appearances in the Disney XD series Star Wars: Rebels, and this book is no exception. However, Rebels only really plays a bracketing role in the story. The story starts out with the departure of Thrawn from the series within the episode Jedi Night (Season 4, Ep 10). Within the episode Thrawn is asked by Tarkin to speak with the Emperor about his funding for the Tie-Defender project versus funding for Krennic’s Project Stardust (AKA the Death Star).
That temporary departure from the series is what kicks off the story of Thrawn: Treason. And although this is the third book in the trilogy, Thrawn: Treason can almost be read in isolation of the other two books. There are only a couple of plot points that get carried over from the previous novels and Zahn does a great enough job of giving you their backgrounds so that you don’t really miss much.
The main plot point from the original Thrawn novel that gets carried over is Thrawn’s assistant/translator, Eli Vanto, is back. Eli was chosen by Thrawn as his translator at the beginning of the novel and carried along with him as his personal assistant, essentially becoming Thrawn’s unwitting protégé. At the end of the novel Eli mysteriously vanishes without a trace. As the reader, we know that Thrawn sent him off to the Chiss Ascendancy but the Empire is unaware of his whereabouts.
In the second novel, Thrawn: Alliances, Thrawn and Vader team up to face an external threat to the Empire. This isn’t the primary plot of the novel but one of many. This primary threat is an alien species termed the Grysk. They return in this novel to become one of the primary antagonists. But besides knowing that they exist, there isn’t much from this novel that carries over.
That brings us to Thrawn: Treason. The novel starts out with Thrawn and Krennic in a fight for funding for their respective projects. The debate is overseen by Grand Moff Tarkin, who seems in favor of Thrawn’s Tie Defender project. Thrawn agrees to a wager in order to settle the problem. He will get rid of a gralloc problem (essentially giant mynocks), that has been plaguing the Project Stardust supply routes in one week. If he doesn’t accomplish this goal he forfeits the funding he is requesting.
And that sets off the novel on a journey that I never saw coming. I expected the novel to take this premise, solve it easily, and then the main bulk of the novel would be a separate yet somehow linked adventure. But that was not how it played out. This wager is what set off everything that was to come. One piece of evidence spurred on the characters to continue checking everything out and continued until the final major confrontations at the end of the novel.
The story ended up being rather intriguing and riveting. I kept wanting to know how the next piece of the puzzle fit in with the last. Zahn has crafted an excellent style where Thrawn’s Sherlock Holmes type personality is able to put the seemingly disparate puzzle pieces together into a complete picture, bringing the reader along with him. The descriptions are clearly laid out and everything is so well described that the reader never feels left behind, and even more so, feels just as smart as Thrawn being able to put the puzzle together too. It’s a fun way to read a novel and increases the enjoyment of the book.
Like the previous books, if you are a fan of Thrawn, you are going to enjoy this novel. This novel plays out much in the same way as the previous two did. Thrawn runs into a seemingly unsolvable problem, then manages to solve it.
And that is where I start to run into problems with the novel. Trying not to spoil too much of the book, but I had some problems with the overall plot of the book, as well as some aspects of the characters. First off the appearance of the Grysk was just too coincidental for me. Yes, it is possible that they would show up in the same sector of space that Thrawn was having to deal with an issue. But they weren’t the primary problem he was working on, they just exasperated the issue. They felt like an afterthought. It was all too much “just go with it” for me. Eventually you had to either overlook this plot convenience and move on or give up. Luckily, I was able to move on.
The second issue had to deal with the final battle. Of the final battles there is one that was a lot too self-indulgent for my tastes. It just managed to drag on, and on, and on. And it made Thrawn seemingly infallible. After that battle he is basically bulletproof. He was a super hero able to predict 10, 20, even 30 moves ahead of what everyone else would do. Nothing could ever hurt him. But not only that, there was no reason the story couldn’t have been shorter, improving the reader’s perception of Thrawn. Right now it makes Thrawn feel like an overly indulgent ass just out to humiliate his opponents instead of trying to stop the more important threat.
But besides those two issues, I greatly enjoyed the novel. The characters were great. I really enjoyed the newest additions to the series as well, especially Mole, who was a lot of fun. I even enjoyed Ronan, who was obnoxious at first but slowly began to grow on me. I would love to see more adventures of Eli and Admiral Ar’alani as well, who was the new Chiss commander introduced into the series. She was excellent and a worthy, more “human” addition to the Chiss species.
For my “reading” of the novel I chose to listen to the audiobook like usual. This book was read by the veteran Star Wars narrator Marc Thompson and he once again knocks it out of the park. I have sometimes had problems with his female voices, where they felt a bit jarring, but in this instance I had no issues whatsoever with his narration and his additional character voices for the Death Troopers made them even stronger characters than they even might have been. My only issue with the audio was the background noise used for the transmissions. I actually had to stop listening because I thought there was a problem with my headphones making a buzzing noise that I couldn’t get rid of, only to figure out it was a sound effect added into the background that detracted from the book for me. A slight problem and one that luckily went away after that part of the story.
Overall, I would say that Thrawn: Treason read like the last two Thrawn novels. If you like Thrawn, then you will like this book. If you had issues with the last book, Thrawn: Alliances, which I know some people did, then I think this book picks back up the quality and overall is a lot stronger novel. I would say this is my second favorite of the three books just after the first Thrawn novel. The story had some problems, but overall it was an enjoyable read.