I didn’t want it to end.
I felt more and more dread as I came closer and closer to finishing Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising. Not because of the precarious condition of the Chiss Ascendancy. Not because of Senior Captain Thrawn’s status in the Expansionary Fleet. But because the book was SO GOOD that I dread the wait I would have to endure for the next novel to come out.
I have to admit to having a little bit of doubt about where master Star Wars author Timothy Zahn was going to take his most famous creation. I’ve been following Thrawn’s exploits since Heir to the Empire back in 1991. What more could possibly be said? Zahn already explored Thrawn’s career post-ROJ (albeit now relegated to “legend” status). Dave Filoni explored Thrawn’s career pre-ANH in Star Wars Rebels. And Zahn explored Thrawn’s introduction to the Star Wars galaxy in his trilogy Thrawn, Thrawn Alliances, and Thrawn Treason. Now Zahn was going to go back even farther into Thrawn’s career?
I’m so glad he did.
Not only did readers get a beautifully written journey even deeper into Thrawn’s background, but the whole of the Ascendancy itself. Very minor characters from books past are getting richly fleshed out and new characters are entering into the dialogue. The culture of the Ascendancy is also being given much more detail to not only enhance who Thrawn is but makes it so relevant to our own experiences today.
I’ve always been entranced with Thrawn’s brilliance. Although he is an enemy to the Rebellion and can be truly ruthless, it is hard not to like Thrawn completely. He is a complex character but one who demands to be admired if for no other reason than for his tactical genius. But it’s hard not to root for him too. He is misunderstood, even by his own people. It makes him an underdog and who doesn’t like an underdog?
Zahn wrote this book with alternating chapters between the current activities which revolve around a new threat to the Ascendancy led by a mysterious figure called General Yiv the Benevolent and chapters from Thrawn’s past from as far back as when he became a member of the Mitth family. Zahn does a masterful job of weaving the tales together, complimenting both stories to form one cohesive tale. Plus, you have to love the blue pages, an homage to the blue skinned Chiss.
If you’re a fan of audiobooks, you are in for a treat. Marc Thompson as always does a wonderful job blending together various characters with variations of his voice. He does an amazing Thrawn, keeping the cool, detached, analytical tone in his voice you would expect from the character. It’s also similar enough in tone to the portrayal by Lars Mikkelsen from Star Wars Rebels so it feels seamless to the continuity of the character. When portraying a younger Thrawn, he adds a bit of difference in tone which makes him sound younger. And I love his rendition of Samakro which sounded like a combination of Jack Nicholson and Christian Slater. Plus, Zahn introduces a number of new terms since we’re being introduced to a new culture and it helps to hear Thompson clarify the proper pronunciation.
What I love about Star Wars audiobooks are the added touches the production team uses to tell the story. Original Star Wars music and detailed sound effects enhance it so much. It adds depth to the voice acting by Thompson and fleshes out the characters and the entire tale. If you’re a fan of Thrawn, you can’t afford to miss out on this new addition to the Thrawn legacy.
Title: Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising
Author: Timothy Zahn / Audiobook read by Marc Thompson
Cost: $28.99 ($20.28 on Amazon) / $45 audiobook ($29.16 on Amazon)
Age: 12 and up
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Star Wars, Science Fiction
- Thanks to Del Rey for the review copy!