I’ve had this catch-up sitting on the docket way too long, and it’s finally time to get it out there. I’ve actually had to read a few synopses (I definitely had to Google the plural of that word) to refresh my memory on all the things that happened in this novel.
But, without any further ado, let’s just jump in the the middle entry of Timothy Zahn’s latest Thrawn trilogy, Thrawn: Alliances.
What It’s About
Surprisingly, this novel has little to nothing to do with the events of Thrawn. In fact, you could probably pick this one up without having even read the first one and only experience some minor confusion. It’s an interesting approach, to say the least.
But what’s it about exactly? Actually, it’s two stories in one. The main story takes place during the time of the Empire, when the Emperor senses a disturbance in the Force coming from Batuu and dispatches both Thrawn and Darth Vader to investigate. The second is a flashback story, when coincidentally Anakin Skywalker first meets Thrawn while trying to investigate the disappearance of Padme Amidala on (you guessed it) Batuu.
The stories do meet up at the end, as the story of both time periods leads the characters to a factory on Mokivj. During the time of the Clone Wars, the factory ends up being a hidden Separatist factory that Padme discovers, and is later disabled by Anakin in true Anakin fashion. In the time of the Empire, the same factory is being used by the Grysks to kidnap Force-sensitive Chiss children.
Thrawn explains to Vader, who accuses Thrawn multiple times of treason for holding the ideals of his people above that of the Empire, that the Chiss are often Force-sensitive at a young age, and mostly from the female of the species. They are able to use the children to navigate through the Unknown Regions with the help of their Force abilities. They are able to rescue the children, but Thrawn advises Vader that the Grysk will be an ongoing problem and also that the Chiss are facing some serious internal problems.
What I Thought
Honestly, after having just reviewed Black Spire in which I absolutely loved the use of Batuu, this one is somewhat the opposite. This did actually feel like the story was set on Batuu just because it needed to be for the sake of “hey, we need this to take place here because of the parks.”
I also wasn’t thrilled that this felt almost totally disconnected to the first story. I loved so many elements of the first novel in this trilogy and didn’t love that this went a totally different direction. There were some very nice elements about the Chiss, especially their young, but really other than that and a brief mention of Eli Vanto, this is a very different type of story. I understand that Eli makes a return in Thrawn Treason, the third entry in this trilogy, so I’m very excited to see that play out.
There were some great moment in this, though. I loved the references to Rebels and Thrawn’s failure to squash the Phoenix Cell (AKA Hera and crew), and also his TIE Defender program on Lothal. Not only that, but the moments where Thrawn starts to piece together Vader’s true identity were golden, and when he finally confronts the Sith Lord about it (in Thrawns questioning, prodding manner of course) I was on the edge of my seat. Oh, and also Anakin’s attempts (and subsequent failure) to pronounce Thrawn’s real name actually had me laughing out loud. Finally, seeing Rukh in a canon novel again just felt like it belonged, and I was very excited to see that.
I can’t help but feel, though, that all those positive moments don’t outweigh the moments where I was hoping for just a bit more. Timothy Zahn is still masterful in the way he writes these characters, though – and any criticism here doesn’t take away from that in the slightest.
- Padme goes missing on Batuu sometime after the events of The Clone Wars Season 5.
- Female Chiss children are often Force sensitive and the Chiss use them to navigate the Unknown Regions. Their Force sensitivity fades with age and most adults are unable to use those skills.
- Eli Vanto is off working with the Chiss Ascendancy during this time.
- The Chiss are on the brink of Civil War.
- Anakin Skywalker and Thrawn met on Batuu during Anakin’s bid to find and save Padme.