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[A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away...]
Events that occur before Episode IV: A New Hope.

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Audio Book
Read by Marc Thompson.
Published as unabridged audio CD.

[Thrawn - audiobook]

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Timothy Zahn
Del Rey

Story published as:
Hardback Book (2017)
e-Book (2017)
Audio Book (2017)
Paperback Book (2017)

Story also published as:
Comic Book series (2018)

If you have read this story, please rate it:
1 review [Review score: 3.75 / 5]

After Thrawn is rescued from exile by Imperial soldiers, his deadly ingenuity and keen tactical abilities swiftly capture the attention of Emperor Palpatine. And just as quickly, Thrawn proves to be as indispensable to the Empire as he is ambitious; as devoted as its most loyal servant, Darth Vader; and a brilliant warrior never to be underestimated. On missions to rout smugglers, snare spies, and defeat pirates, he triumphs time and again—even as his renegade methods infuriate superiors while inspiring ever greater admiration from the Empire. As one promotion follows another in his rapid ascension to greater power, he schools his trusted aide, Ensign Eli Vanto, in the arts of combat and leadership, and the secrets of claiming victory. But even though Thrawn dominates the battlefield, he has much to learn in the arena of politics where ruthless administrator Arihnda Pryce holds the power to be a potent ally or a brutal enemy.
All these lessons will be put to the ultimate test when Thrawn rises to admiral—and must pit all the knowledge, instincts, and battle forces at his command against an insurgent uprising that threatens not only innocent lives but also the Empire’s grip on the galaxy—and his own carefully laid plans for future ascendancy.

This story begins approximately 12 years before Episode IV: A New Hope.

Related Stories (in chronological order):

Review by Darth Kondorr, Poland, 2017:

While this is definitely not one of Zahn's masterpieces, it still is a proper, if extremely uneven read. This is one of the long running series of books named after its titular character on which it is focused. While there were great books, like Kenobi or Dark Lord, there were also the pretty average ones like Tarkin.
What seems to be the problem, is that the NEW CANON seems to restrict epic writers like Zahn and Luceno, to a degree, that lets the reader feel, how less fun they have writing in the new ruleset. Both Luceno's Tarkin (and Catalyst for that matter) and Zahn's Thrawn have great, amazing even, elements, that are too few among really boring and uninspired "coming of age/rising in the ranks" elements (and this on a backdrop of hands down some of the best Star Wars books ever written... in the OLD EU).
Another thing is, that in my opinion Star Wars always works best with interwoven storylines, ensemble cast of characters, and both: good and bad guys (and those in between). These biography books narrow the views extremely and take the Stars Wars out of the Star Wars. For all things considered, this might have been a book about a young blue Spock in the sinister equivalent of the Starfleet.
While I loved the second chapter (the one with THE meeting) and the book's final 100 pages, what is in between those are mostly little skirmishes, petty political scheming and a Thrawn, that too often comes across as a wise-ass and not a genius.
Many middle chapters start with a problem that is presented unsolveable, only to be turned into a win-win scenario by Thrawn's thechnoblabble, who might as well say at the end of at least 10 chapters: "I knew that all along you unperceptive fools." All those scenarios have of course a common thread, but to call it a storyline would be too much.
As said, the book makes up in its final quarter when all these dull elements finally go somewhere exciting. Also the hinting at intriguing potential for future stories/threats during the second and final chapters is also a big win, even if it does not really have much to do with the book itself (but with Thrawn's motivations).
Having read the Thrawn trilogy when it was first published, and also having returned to some of his later OLD EU books in the last two years I have to say, that this is definitely the most disappointing one, where at least 150 pages might have been cut in order to lose filler-pages (or as one might call them: caching-pages).

Rating: 3 / 5

Review by Ewan, Star Wars Books & Comics, 2017:

Grand Admiral Thrawn is probably the most iconic Star Wars character never to have appeared on screen. A fan favourite for more than a quarter of a century, Thrawn has epitomised for a whole generation of fans a villain who does not fit the classic Star Wars dichotomy of good and evil: Thrawn was a man of honour, imbued with a sense of nobility, who, due to happenstance, served an immoral Empire and an evil Emperor. More than an outsider, Thrawn was an alien who rose through the ranks of a highly xenophobic Empire to, upon the death of its Emperor, take ultimate control of said Empire. So popular was he that his creator, Timothy Zahn, continued to write stories, both short and long, that continued Thrawn's legacy far beyond his initial trilogy of novels: Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command.
Then, for three years. the fate of this most enigmatic of characters was consigned to Legends status: in effect Thrawn had become a "did he or didn't he exist" character. Until, that is, last year when it was announced that he was to appear in the third season of Star Wars Rebels and would be elevated into the new Star Wars canon universe. Now Thrawn is back, both on-screen in animated form in Star Wars Rebels, and in a new novel by Timothy Zahn.
To be fair, like most other Star Wars authors who have also penned both Legends and new canon stories, Zahn draws from his own pre-existing material. So fans will get a smile when Zahn throws in familiar names, especially a certain Star Destroyer. While this is a nice gesture to the fans, it does mean that certain aspects of the story appears to be nothing more than the retreading of old ground. For example, Thrawn's first encounter with the Empire is a retelling of Zahn's short story Mist Encounter, with a few changes to accommodate this newer story. However, Zahn has chosen a brand new approach to the reader's understanding of his protagonist (and here we must remember that Thrawn is the protagonist of this story): we are given insights and glimpses into the mind and thought processes of Thrawn. In every encounter Thrawn has we are given details of his thoughts and every chapter begins with a synopsis from Thrawn's own guide to strategy and tactics, very much akin to The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Although the story begins with a lot of detail surrounding the Empire's initial discovery of Thrawn following his banishment from the Chiss Ascendency, the story moves quickly, in some places to quickly, as Thrawn moves rapidly through the ranks of the Imperial Navy. While Thrawn is eager to progress to his rightful position in the Navy (certainly rightful in his eyes), Zahn balances this rapidity with the relatively slow advancement of Eli Vanto, from a reluctant ensign to Thrawn's capable aide-de-camp. Zahn includes the story of, depending on your point of view, the rise or descent of Arihnda Pryce: from family mine owner to becoming the Governor of Lothal, as seen in Star Wars Rebels. Clearly Pryce's story acts as the flipside to Thrawn's - while it is Thrawn's own innate abilities, his tactical brilliance and natural leadership skills, that will ultimately gain him his title, Pryce finds herself being manipulated before learning how to turn the tables so she too can climb to the top.
This is a book that will appeal to old and new fans alike. Older fans will once again smile as they recognise that this is the same Thrawn that they admired a quarter of a century ago, while newer fans will gawk as he explains to Vanto (and anybody else who will listen) how he was able to outmanoeuvre not only his foes but also, in some cases, his friends. In short, Thrawn is back! And he hasn't changed one little bit.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

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