Grand Admiral Thrawn Turns 30, Which Means 2021 Should be Called Thrawnty-Thrawnty-One

In 1991, author Timothy Zahn brought back Star Wars in a big way, with his novel Heir to the Empire, a continuation of the franchise after the events of Return of the Jedi.

One of his secret weapons was Grand Admiral Thrawn, who’s gone on to become a fan-favorite character, and who’ll return in a new book next year, Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good, along with some additional merchandise to celebrate the three decade mark since he first appeared.

Since his first appearance, Thrawn has become one of those characters that’s endured. When the Expanded Universe was rendered non-canon to make way for the sequel trilogy, Thrawn was one of those casualties, but was later brought back into the fold as a major character in the animated series Star Wars Rebels. Since then, Lucasfilm has brought Zahn back for a number of books about the character, starting with 2017’s Thrawn, which was followed by Thrawn: Alliances and Thrawn: Treason.

This year saw the beginning of a new trilogy, the Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy, which kicked off with Chaos Rising, an origin story about how Thrawn got his start before he met the Empire. Earlier this year, Zahn told me this new trilogy is a bit different from the prior one—he was contracted to write three books from the onset, and as a result, was able to plan the entire story across an entire trilogy, rather than writing single installments.

Image: Del Rey

According to io9, Zahn is following up with the further installment of that trilogy next year (May 4th), with Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good, which continues the adventures of the character as he rises through the ranks of the Chiss Ascendency. Here’s the blurb:

Thrawn’s latest triumph still rests newly on his shoulders. Despite leading the Chiss to victory and bringing glory to the House of Mitth, the true threat to the Ascendancy has not yet been extinguished. Their foes do not send threats or ultimatums, or mass ships on the edge of the Chaos. Their weapons come cloaked in smiles and generosity—gifts offered freely, services granted unconditionally.

Across the Ascendancy, seemingly inconsequential events could herald the doom of the Chiss. As Thrawn and the Expansionary Defense Fleet rally to uncover the enemy plot, they discover a chilling truth. Rather than invade Chiss capitals or pillage resources, this mysterious enemy strikes at the very foundation of the Ascendancy by widening the rifts between the Nine Ruling Families and Forty Great Houses below. As rivalry and suspicion sow discord among allies, each warrior must decide what matters most: the security of their family, or the survival of the Ascendancy itself.

io9 notes that Del Rey and Lucasfilm are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the character with some additional merch—they’ve partnered with clothing line Out of Print for a signed, limited edition of Chaos Rising with a slipcase and special cover (running for $150), as well as a shirt bearing the original cover art for Heir to the Empire. 


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