The original Thrawn trilogy of books has been something I have been meaning to read for years. As someone who has what can most charitably be described as a misguided interest* in the Star Wars book extended universe, I had heard about the books a while ago and never got to them. Having only read the Disney Thrawn books, I decided that was simply unacceptable and finally had to read the originals. Here were my thoughts!
*It’s a crippling addiction.
1. Thrawn is genuinely interesting!
While I have never watched the Star Wars cartoons, I have seen all the live action films and read way too many books. I tell you that so I can say that Thrawn is without a doubt the most interesting villain to appear in the universe. You read these books and find yourself hoping to spend more time with him than the beloved heroes, which is rarely a feeling Star Wars gives you. He’s intelligent, witty, and simply put, a worthy foe. Anyone who has read any Star Wars book knows what a rarity that actually tends to be.
2. The fucking clones
LUUKE! Luke Skywalker dueled with his clone who Zahn labeled LUUKE. So bad! Clone stuff is really tough and a lot of cool shit over the years has been hobbled by weird tacked on clone stuff (Logan comes immediately to mind). It’s really tough to do well. Here, it was kind of a mixed bag. But the takeaway is that that goddamn throwaway line by Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars about “the Clone Wars” has dictated so much of what has happened in Star Wars since. It sucks!
3. The lost fleet of the Emperor!
While it is not the most embarrassing thing Rise of Skywalker lifts from the books, the lost fleet of the Emperor in Skywalker really strained credulity. It is done **MUCH** better in the Zahn novels mind you. It’s not as many ships, and the benefit of the clones storylines is that they are able to justify how all these lost ships are gonna be filled. It just feels very cheap overall and only serves to make the story less personal and more like a retread.
4. The Revolution is not complete.
(No picture really came to mind for what I should post for this item so enjoy an image from The Star Wars Holiday Special!)
Han Solo and Luke Skywalker were revolutionaries without any obvious tools to actual run the galaxy upon defeating the Emperor. Leia never seemed to have enough competent peers to help her in running the galaxy. It was inevitable that without any true vision for a better and more just galaxy, the Rebellion run by elites was not going to be enough in it of itself. It was important to establish all of this directly. Good job, Zahn!
5. The story actually exists just for it-fucking-self.
I cannot express how much it was genuinely shocking that Thrawn was successfully defeated and killed at the end of the books. This I suppose is less of a testament to the books themselves and more of a comment on the current state of “franchises” but wow was it ever nice to feel like a story was being told for the sake of its own story. Even the current Star Wars books in the Disney Canon feel like they are written as if Disney is hedging bets. Unreliable narrators populate the books to the extent that you can only assume Disney’s book division is preparing for the day they can erase the book’s mythology without resetting the whole new EU. It’s terribly condescending. This however actually was satisfying in its own right to the point that I want to revisit it. Unheard of for Star Wars books.