Nate Discusses Thrawn: Treason and Star Wars

At last we arrive to the finale of the Canon Thrawn Trilogy! It’s been a wild ride but I must say that this trilogy as a whole has been pretty enjoyable. Well, technically I skipped the last book. This book and its predecessor were good enough that I’m interested in going back and listening to that one too. I’ve got some thoughts at the end here that I hope will summarize my feelings of Star Wars as a whole and why I’m both enjoying these books but in the back of my mind hating how they must end. This is how I imagine Ben feels about Dune on some level. There’s a lot of interesting stuff brought into the play, the writing is solid, the characters are engaging, and then… it funnels into a series of projects that seem creatively dead and none of it will ever pan out or matter in the slightest. It sucks, to say the least. I’ll elaborate more when I get there but I’ll start with a summary first.

Summary of Thrawn: Treason

It’s been a number of years since that last book, which I didn’t read, where Thrawn and Darth Vader have a buddy cop adventure into the Unknown Regions and discover the Grysks. Turn out they weren’t a one-off villain either because they’re front and center here. Apparently their thing is that they’re really good at bending client species to their whim. They twist these species to do what they want to the point that they’re willing to kill themselves to avoid the Grysk’s ire. Additionally the Grysks are good at turning populations against one another. Like for example, and this is not an example from the book I’m just spit-balling here, they would install a really polarizing political figure as leader. This guy would build up a support of ravenous loyalists and a bunch of yes-men who think they can use him for their own ends and gains. Meanwhile his opposition will do anything to get rid of him including voting in a geriatric nothingburger. Tension would keep mounting and mounting and mounting until the populace attacks itself and then BAM Grysk invasion and total victory. Again that’s not in the book, it’s just something I might expect from the Grysks and if they’re reading this, I’d like to welcome you to the Planet Earth. As a psychiatry specialist I can help you profile the population and round them up for your re-education centers. Call me!

Anyway the book stars our blue boy Thrawn. The Grysks are no longer just a threat to his people out in the Unknown Regions but they’re now making incursions into imperial space! But we don’t know about that yet. The book starts on a smaller scale. Thrawn wants to fund the Tie Defender project, giving the Empire single-fighter ships that actually have shields and won’t blow up with one laser burst. That uh… that kinda seems like something the Empire should already have? Well, his funding is in jeopardy because Project Stardust (aka the Death Star) is just sucking all the money in the galaxy and the cost of that project is ballooning out of control. How do we solve this dispute? How about a bet! The Death Star is behind because something called the “grolicks” keep attacking the supply ships heading for the Death Star. Director Krenick (the bad guy who dies in Rogue One) tasks Thrawn with solving the problem in one week and if he does, Thrawn’s Tie Defender money isn’t diverted to the Death Star. Additionally Grand Moff Tarkin (the bad guy who dies in Star Wars aboard the very Death Star that we’re building here) will get to something-something-something political machination and take over the Death Star from Krenick (which he does in Rogue One anyway). Thrawn doesn’t really give a shit about all this petty bickering, he’s going to solve this case. The Emperor (the bad guy who dies in Return of the Jedi) approves of this political infighting and we’re off! Also there’s another Grand Admiral on the scene: Grand Admiral Savit. He’s tasked by Tarkin to find a way to secretly help Thrawn!

So where does the name Treason come from? The back-of-the-book seems to indicate Thrawn will have to choose between loyalty to The Empire and loyalty to The Chiss Ascendancy. Eli Vanto shows back up with his new commander from the Chiss: Admiral Arilani (that’s not how you spell it). So where does Thrawn’s loyalty lie? The answer is… both. Their goals are actually in alignment. Defeating the Grysks is beneficial for both the Ascendancy and the Empire. His loyalty comes up a few times but there’s nothing conclusive.

At the end of the day (listen to words about books if you want the full plot breakdown) Thrawn defeats Admiral Savit, who has been behind the attacks on the supply ships, and Arilani/Vanto defeat a few Grysk ships but there’s clearly something on the horizon here. The Ascendancy is on the verge of war, likely with itself and even more likely with Grysk influence. The Emperor doesn’t think the Grysks are a real threat and assigns Thrawn to go to Star Wars Rebels (a show that I guess kids who grew up with it would like, but I missed that age gap and to me it looks very mid. Sorry). The Grysk threat is still out there… somewhere. Someday they’ll arrive and it gives me some Yuzhan Vong vibes in that the baddies are something totally different than what we fought before. Unfortunately that won’t ever happen (or it’ll suck if it does) and I’ll explain that more in my closing thoughts after the rubric!



I give this solid props for tying together the plot threads of the first and second books (again, I only listened to Ben’s recap of the second book). Eli Vanto is back, the Grysks are back, the Death Star is back, Star Wars: Mid (aka Rebels) is back. It’s tying together all the various bits of the fandom during this timeframe and doing it in a way that’s easy to understand even if I don’t have a deep and intimate knowledge of all the various properties that go on around it (Rebels, for example). It also sets up for the future (which will be squandered, but that’s not this book’s fault). The only reason I really can’t give it a 5-star is that this is still Star Wars at the end of the day. It’s confined to the universe of Star Wars and, even worse, Disney Star Wars. It doesn’t do anything surprisingly or incredible outside the Star Wars framework but what it does, it does well.


The first book in the trilogy went back and forth between our blue boi Thrawn and… some woman? Pryce I think was her name? She’s a Star Wars Rebels character and it felt kind of shoe-horned in. The way Ben discusses it, the second book had Thrawn/Vader in the present and Thrawn/Anakin in the past and Padme and the Padme stuff is meaningless. Here there’s Thrawn, there’s Eli Vanto, and there’s Ronan for a few chapters when he breaks off on his own. It all ties together to tell the story at hand and nothing seems wasted. I think Timothy Zahn (or his handlers in the publishing house who make all the decisions) have finally cracked the formula here. No complaints, fantastic job


Nothing fantastic, nothing bad. It gets the standard 11/20 score here.


I really liked this book. It was a solid little mystery, it had a lot of world building, it fleshed out characters I liked, and it was a good story to boot without the usual fluff that these stories typically have. I dare say this felt like a Star Wars adventure, like the ones I read before on the podcast, only more refined and nuanced with some of the characters (for example Thrawn isn’t just an evil jerk-ass). Seriously this really seems like the final form of what these books should strive to be. I only wish that this was the Thrawn we had in the Legends books (more on that in the final thoughts). Solid all around.


I’ll admit I bumped the score up. I originally gave this a grade 3+. My reasoning was it’s a strong recommendation to genre fans (the genre of Star Wars books or of adventure/sci-fi books) and NO recommendation to general audiences. Then I thought about it more and I decided that this would be what I recommend to anyone who is in the general audience who may be at all interested. If you want to look at what Star Wars books have to offer, this is the trilogy I’d start with.



I really like the Canon series’s ability to make old characters feel new and fresh again. Thrawn in the Legends was a new archetype, the mastermind villain, that we hadn’t seen in Star Wars before. But he also was replaced as the final boss in his own series by another evil space wizard (who was insane for good measure). Then Thrawn randomly gets killed by a Noghri and… that’s it. The end. It was just hitting its stride and it failed. Thrawn himself was also kind of one dimensional in that book. I never understood why he fought the rebels and why he wanted power other than he’s a warlord.

Canon Thrawn on the other hand is more nuanced. He joined the Empire to help his people. He believed that a strong Empire is necessary for stability in the galaxy even for those planets outside of it. He acknowledges that the Emperor is an evil space wizard but also acknowledges that the Emperor won’t be around forever and that his position would allow him the opportunity to influence who the next Emperor will be. Thrawn himself doesn’t come off as evil at all (unlike his Legends counterpart who lied to the Noghri people in order to get commando soldiers). He abhors slavery (although understands that the Empire does not necessarily agree) and hates pointless loss of life. He always tries to capture his enemies alive where possible. He’s merciless when people do break the law but he still wants to give them a shot at redemption, even if it won’t completely wipe the slate clean. I understand Canon Thrawn and I even agree with him on some level. To defeat this Thrawn, the rebels would have to not only out strategize him, but defeat him philosophically as well. Why is a New Republic better than an Empire besides the fact that the Empire is run by an Evil Space Wizard? We have to show that the New Republic way of life, while not perfect, is preferable to the alternative. It’s a logical battle on multiple fronts and I would LOVE if Luke/Han/Leia/Mara would take on THIS Thrawn and actually defeat him mano a mano. That would be my dream Star Wars book, I think.

Then I see that Thrawn gets hyperspace teleported with Ezra something from Rebels on a space whale (or whatever) and he comes back at the end of Ashoka and uh… then he leads to the First Order… oh… well… guess I’m sorry for getting emotionally invested.

See here’s the big flaw with Star Wars. After Return of the Jedi (which was a mid-movie propped up by an amazing final space battle and the Luke-Vader-Emperor stuff) the universe felt like it could go anywhere. Our heroes won this battle but the Empire isn’t finished. Do they keep fighting the Empire? Does Luke make his own Jedi Academy? Han and Leia hook up (nice) and then what? There’s a world of possibility, it felt like, and I only experienced a fraction of it through games like Star Wars: Jedi Outcast. Here you’re not one of those people, you’re Kyle Katarn, and yeah… Luke made his own Jedi Order and there’s a New Republic and we’re progressing the story and the universe. It feels like there are so many possible adventures out there and I think it’s cool that it wraps up the Empire arc and then goes into other new directions such as the Yuzhan Vong (and it could suck, I haven’t read many of these books).

The Canon by contrast… sucks. It feels like all of this stuff with Thrawn will funnel into the original movies. From there it will funnel into… shit? Like there’s not a lot of fun adventures between the original movies and the sequel movies because our heroes have to be broken down losers by the end of it all. The sequels then feel like a bigger funnel. I don’t know who The Resistance or The First Order are but they don’t feel like they’re the galaxy spanning forces of The Empire, The Rebel Alliance, or The New Republic. At the end of the 8th movie The Resistance was a school classroom’s size worth of people (and inspired child soldiers don’t count) while The First Order looked like one star fleet. After the sequels concluded I didn’t really know much about Rey or Po and Finn (the most interesting one) seemed to be a side character. I don’t feel like there’s a world of possibility out there for these characters because I don’t really know them and all the characters and the stuff I did actually want was flushed away.

There is nothing after the sequel trilogy. To me it feels like a black hole of creativity. I hear there’s a Rey series and I bet it will suck. I also hear it has been delayed to hell. I suspect that it will be bad or never come out specifically because there’s just no more story left. You already did a smaller scale version of Empire vs. Rebels… again. You already wasted the New Jedi Order. What is there left to do? There’s nothing to do, nowhere to go.

That’s why as much as I love this book and how they FINALLY got it down pat. How they did such a great job at making this Thrawn into a real person and how much I would love to see him go against the original heroes. How interested I am in this Grysk invasion thing… it’s not going to go anywhere. The Grysks won’t show up later on because they can’t come anytime before the sequel series. I suppose they could just set a bunch of stories in the Chiss Ascendancy but that is basically like giving up and making a full-blown spinoff at that point. The Grysks could show up and fight with Rey but… eh? I don’t think they’d be able to pull it off and even if they miraculously did, I’d have to listen to the worst fans on the planet complain about it non-stop.

So there’s my final wrap-up. I really like this canon stuff. I really liked the feeling that the Legends provided, that there could be a bunch more space adventures out there. And I hate that the sequels progressed and ultimately ended in a way where it felt like the universe was over and concluded and there is nowhere else to go.

Nate Creed

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