Cover Artist: Two Dots
Publisher: Century/Arrow (UK); Del Rey (US)
Release Dates: 24th July 2018; Hardback, eBook & Audiobook (UK & US)
Available Formats: Hardback (368 pages), eBook (368 pages), Audiobook (2 CD – 810 minutes)
Timeline: 2 years BBY (Before Battle of Yavin)
“I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.”
Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favour, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs—including the Death Star project—the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.
In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown . . . and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance—neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.
Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged—by a test of their allegiance to the Empire . . . and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.
This review is going to be slightly different to normal, so stay with me. Due to circumstances I don’t need to go into, I’ve actually used all of the formats available to finish this book, this means I am going to review all 3 formats of release here in one go!
The cover as always is a striking piece of art. Now, there are two variants thanks to the SDCC and Barnes & Noble exclusives and must admit they are all stunning. I was also lucky enough to acquire a Grand Admiral rank pin badge, which was a pre-order gift from the publisher. A nice touch and something that I think is a great incentive to pre-order.
It is great to see the Sherlock Holmes of a galaxy far, far away back for another airing. Of the expanded galaxy novels and other materials, Thrawn is by far and away my favourite character. He is rebellious, cold, calculating, efficient and empathetic at times. To write a character of such complexity that reads with ease, is a no mean feat! The character of Thrawn is a complete stark contrast to Vader’s ruthless rule over the Imperial troops.
The story takes us through that meeting during a mission to Batuu. Batuu is the central focus of the new Star Wars Land area known as ‘Galaxy’s Edge’ at Disneyland. I think this book adds extra background information and will bring more focus to the area on the park. I have a feeling we may see more literature and other items set around Batuu in the near future to aid this expansion further.
Don’t be fooled by the timeline setting for this novel, it splits the storyline between 2 years BBY and during the Clone Wars era. In the recent Thrawn related books, comics and in Rebels, we get to know that he and Vader have already met, but back when Vader was still the Jedi, Anakin Skywalker. It explores the differences between these two characters and the burgeoning relationship between them. It is at times quite complex and Thrawn does get under Vader’s skin a lot with little jibes and the way he does things.
The way Zahn writes is almost as meticulous as the way Thrawn is perceived to be. There are never holes in the plot and everything gets wrapped up in a neat package delivering the answers every time. It is a great read and listen. If you’re a Thrawn fan like me, you have to read this, but if you’re not I still think this is essential reading. Thrawn is bound to pop up again somewhere and this story will no doubt fill in some of the gaps left.
Ok, so I said I used 3 formats to read this book. The paper and eBook are the same as you’d expect, but I can’t sign off without singing the praise of Marc Thompson and his vocal talents. His delivery of Thrawn’s assured tone is impeccable. On first listening I thought Lars Mikkelsen, who voiced Thrawn in Rebels, was performing again. His delivery of all the characters is excellent throughout. I will say that some of the accents used are a bit unusual and we even get a Stormtrooper with a lilt that harks to the cut Tom Hardy scene from The Last Jedi. I’m not new to audiobooks, but from the early adaptations 20 plus years ago to what you get here is a million miles away. The use of sound effects and music throughout really does spice up your listening pleasure and I will be sure to use this format more often in the future.
I don’t think it was as good as Thrawn and I can’t seem to put my finger on why though. Maybe it’s due to the split storyline, which to be honest is a format that I’m not always a fan of, but in saying that I still did enjoy this book. I’m now hoping for a Marvel comic book adaptation next!
Thrawn: Alliances was released on 24th July 2018 in hardback and is available at all good book stores and through online retailers including Amazon with a RRP of £20. It is available in hardback, eBook and audiobook formats.
Author: Timothy Zahn