Thank the Force we have a new Star Wars novel! A sequel to last years novel Thrawn; Thrawn: Alliances, follows a new adventure involving the titular character Thrawn, this time teamed up with the Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader.
While the first novel was entertaining, the story was very intricate and meticulous, much like the character Thrawn, which made the pacing feel rather slow. That’s not the case in the sequel, which is filled with enticing dialogue, especially between Thrawn and Vader, fueled by well-written tension. As well as exciting action, that is described amazingly for one to visualize in their head. If you add Vader to any story, you’re bound to get a great story. The narrative is about Vader as much as it’s about Thrawn.
The book has two stories, each taking place in a different era in Star Wars. The main one takes place after the Season 3 finale of Rebels, with Thrawn having to prove himself again, after a defeat from the rebels. Then there’s a Clone Wars era story, following Thrawn teaming up with Anakin to search for Padme. Author Timothy Zahn does his best at connecting both stories with themes of trust, characters popping up in both stories, and the definition of the name Skywalker.
In the Rebels era story, Emperor Palpatine senses a disturbance in the force within the Unknown Regions; a region in the galaxy left uncharted and dangerous to travel through. He sends Vader and Thrawn to deal with the disturbance; allowing Vader to confront his past as Anakin, (which Vader has tried his best to move past) with the help of Thrawn. While Thrawn is being tested on his loyalty, determining his future with Vader present, seeing where his allegiance lies, between the Empire or his people, the Chiss.
In the story, we are introduced to a new alien species known as Grysk, which are a rather ugly species, with bodies made for offensive attacks. There is no central antagonist within this story, only Thrawn, and Vader, trying to unravel the disturbance in the Unknown Regions, which is connected to the Grysk. Little is known on the species, but one would assume they have plans for them in the future.
There is also a minor story between the officers under the command of Thrawn and Vader. There’s Commodore Faro, a competent and intelligent officer, who’s always uneasy with Vader around (like everyone else). Then there is Commander Kimmund, leader of Vader’s First Legion of Stormtroopers, who seems a bit annoyed with the mission but proves his worth in battle. While we know the Empire is bad, Zahn doesn’t treat them as they are but does a critique on the problems that the Empire has.
The Clone War era story is incredibly fun, which reads much like a story arc from the series itself. We see a headstrong Anakin who has no problems showcasing his emotions, with Thrawn almost being the voice of reason. However, Thrawn does not undermine Anakin, who so happens to catch up to Thrawn’s level pretty quickly, despite being impulsive (but what else is new for Anakin)? One of the most pleasant surprise while reading, was the amount of time spent on Padme’s involvement in the story. She’s trying to uncover the death of a handmaiden, as well as a secret Separatist factory, run by a new antagonist who isn’t all that interesting.
We travel to new planets, Mokivj is one of them, but Batuu has a more important role to play. Disney’s Star Wars Land in the parks will be set on the planet Batuu and Zahn gives a good description of what we could expect to see in the parks.
The novel is a great addition to the Star Wars canon, while also placing more seeds in the future when it comes to the Unknown Regions, which I am certain will play an even bigger part later on into canon. If you were a fan of the first Thrawn novel, you’ll enjoy this one. If you weren’t, I still recommend you read as it’s a very different story and setting, which feels very fresh. If you’ve never read a Star Wars novel and wonder if this is a good starting point, I say read it. The story stands on its own, with only references to the TV series as a plus.