Created by the legendary Timothy Zahn 30 years ago, the blue-skinned Chiss military leader Thrawn has captivated Star Wars through three different trilogies of novels and on the animated series Rebels.
The latest trilogy, Thrawn Ascendancy, is just weeks away from the arrival of its final installment: Lesser Evil. Unlike the other two trilogies — all Thrawn books have been penned by Zahn — the Ascendancy collection turns back the clock and explores Thrawn’s history with his people, the Chiss, and the Chiss Ascendancy in the vast Unknown Regions of the Star Wars galaxy. This region far beyond the Outer Rim is also known as the Chaos for the dangers supernovae, gravity wells and black holes posed on trying to navigate the area.
There are no Skywalkers in the Ascendancy trilogy, but there are “sky-walkers” — Chiss children sensitive to the Force who helped the Chiss military fleet navigate the Chaos. The idea of sky-walkers being so obviously close to the Star Wars royal family’s last name has had fans clamoring for more details about the Chiss’ understanding of the Force and if the sky-walkers have any connecting to the Skywalkers.
With Lesser Evil due out Nov. 16, we might just find out. Teasing the new book, StarWars.com recently shared an exclusive excerpt from Lesser Evil — one that shows a key moment in Thrawn’s past and told through the “memories” chapters seen in all Ascendancy books. This memory goes back to Thrawn’s earliest days in the Mitth family and meeting a character who would have a great impact on the future senior captain and eventual grand admiral of the Galactic Empire.
In this excerpt, Thrawn meets Thrass, a character mentioned in the previous two novels but takes much of the spotlight in Lesser Evil. Readers will remember that Thrass was killed during Thrawn’s unauthorized campaign against the Vagaari pirates, which proved a political and strategic disaster and resulted in Thrawn’s ship the Springhawk being taken from his command.
The StarWars.com post also reveals the poster art from Jeremy Wilson, which is included in the Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition.
The “Memory I” excerpt is also chiefly told from Thrass’s point of view, showing him enjoying the task of welcoming new members to the Mitth family. At this point in time, Thrass was an Aristocra — a mid-level member — of the Mitth family.
Of all the duties foisted on low-ranking family members, Aristocra Mitth’ras’safis had often heard, the task of welcoming new merit adoptives to their formal rematching dinner was one of the worst. The newcomers were either highly skilled additions to the Mitth, in which case they tended to have an overblown opinion of themselves and their value; or they were freshly initiated into the Ascendancy military, in which case they were self-conscious and, well, extremely military. Nearly all of the blood, cousins, and ranking distants opted out of reception duty, leaving most of the burden to fall on Trial-borns and other merit adoptives, none of whom had enough pull to avoid it.
Which made Thrass a definite anomaly . . . because unlike practically everyone else in his circle of friends, he genuinely enjoyed the service.
The flashback details the moment the two Chiss males met — with Thrass approaching Thrawn as the new merit adoptive checking out the landscape paintings lining the walls of the reception area on Avidich. As Thrawn fans know, the Chiss military strategist has a passion for learning about others through their art and cultural practices and a keen eye for using that knowledge to his advantage when facing an enemy.
The younger man turned as Thrass walked in through the archway. “Cadet Mitth’raw’nuru?” Thrass asked formally.
“I am he,” Thrawn said.
“Welcome to Avidich,” Thrass said. “I’m Aristocra Mitth’ras’safis. I’ll be guiding you through the various protocols that will fully and officially rematch you to the Mitth family.” He waved a hand to encompass the room. “And try not to be overwhelmed by all the fancy flourishes and curlicues. This reception room is also where dignitaries and emissaries from other families are brought in, and we like to make sure right from the start that they know who they’re dealing with.”
“I wasn’t intimidated,” Thrawn said mildly. “I was merely noting the unusual fact that the same artist who did three of the landscapes also created two of the statuettes. It’s uncommon for a single artist to excel at both artistic forms.”
The excerpt goes on to show Thrawn analyzing the art pieces and correctly identifying the creator as a woman who experienced great tragedy. Thrass is, of course, astounded that Thrawn correctly interpreted the art and wonders if Thrawn has also experienced profound loss.
Read the full excerpt on StarWars.com. Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil releases Nov. 16 from Del Rey.
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