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Exclusive: Allegiance is questioned in excerpt from Timothy Zahn's Star Wars novel Thrawn: Treason
Wielding his indomitable will and demonstrating an insatiable lust for power, Grand Admiral Thrawn is by far one of the vilest villains in Emperor Palpatine's arsenal of evil ... and perhaps the entire Star Wars galaxy. Now the manipulative military strategist must face the ultimate test of his Imperial fidelity in Thrawn: Treason, a calculating new novel from masterful Star Wars storyteller Timothy Zahn — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive chapter excerpt and chat with its award-winning author to share.
Arriving in our orbit on July 23 from Lucasfilm and Del Rey Books, this is the third book in Zahn's interconnected Star Wars: Thrawn series, following 2018's Thrawn: Alliances and 2017's origin story, Thrawn. The blue-hued, crimson-eyed humanoid warrior first arrived in the prolific sci-fi writer's iconic Heir to the Empire (1991), with his malevolent machinations since on display in Dark Force Rising (1992) and The Last Command (1993).
Here, Thrawn has emerged as the ultimate weapon to inflict order in the Galactic Empire, causing terror in trembling systems across the universe. But the Emperor has even bolder plans for his cruel commander. When Thrawn's TIE Defender program is shut down in favor of Director Krennic’s clandestine Death Star project, he must realize that the fragile balance of power in the Empire is measured by far more than just military genius or tactical proficiency. The awesome power to obliterate entire planets is no match for the most brilliant of minds, even his own.
While Thrawn schemes to secure his legacy in the Imperial hierarchy, his former apprentice Eli Vanto returns with a serious warning about a threat to Thrawn’s homeworld of Csilla in the outer Unknown Regions. Thrawn’s strategic expertise must drive him through a perilous path, calling into question his duty to the Chiss Ascendancy and loyalty to the Empire he has sworn to serve.
SYFY WIRE connected with Zahn on the new Thrawn novel to learn where his chilling Chiss creation is destined in the book's storyline, and why the Star Wars Universe is the biggest and best creative playground to explore.
The Oregon-based author promises a fast-paced plot involving tests of duty, loyalty, and homeworld pride.
"Director Krennic and Governor Tarkin ask Thrawn to find a way to stop some mynock-type creatures that are disrupting one of the Stardust supply lines," Zahn tells SYFY WIRE. "This innocuous task quickly becomes something very different, and Thrawn ends up investigating a highly dangerous threat. Along the way, he once again touches base with Admiral Ar'alani and his old protege Eli Vanto."
Zahn believes part of Grand Admiral Thrawn's appeal is that he's so different from other Imperials we've seen in Star Wars movies.
"He's smart, resourceful, and is able to outthink his opponents instead of simply outgunning them," he explains. "In addition, he has good motivations for his actions. Whether or not the readers agree with his choice of allies, they can at least understand and sympathize with his goals."
For Zahn, Star Wars truly is the ultimate sandbox, a rich backdrop against which a nearly infinite assortment of stories can be written.
"Finding and then writing those stories is something that never grows old for me. As for Thrawn, he's just flat-out fun to write. The challenge with him is to come up with new problems and new solutions while exploring the dynamics as he deals with different allies and enemies and ever-changing military and political situations he finds himself in."
Now enjoy our exclusive chapter excerpt courtesy of Lucasfilm and Del Rey Books below, then tell us if you're a loyal follower of Thrawn and his diabolical deeds. Thrawn: Treason storms books stores and comic shops on July 23.
The door to the suite slid open, and Brierly Ronan looked up to see Director Krennic stride through the opening, his long white cape swirling behind him. “Director,” Ronan greeted him, rising quickly from his chair. “I trust the meeting went well?”
“No, it did not,” Director Krennic said, biting out each word. “Are you familiar with Grand Admiral Thrawn?”
“Ah . . . I’ve heard the name, sir,” Ronan said cautiously. “But that’s all.”
“Then you need to get an education,” the director growled. “The terminal over there—download everything the Firedrake has on Thrawn.”
“Yes, sir,” Ronan said, hurrying over to the terminal. “May I ask what this is all about?”
“You may,” the director said sourly. “Apparently, Thrawn is the latest weapon Tarkin’s picked to launch against me.”
“Weapon.” The director dropped into a chair, deftly flapping his cape back with both hands to get it clear as he sat down. “As in, our dear grand moff’s latest attempt to steal Stardust out from under me.” He snorted. “And the Emperor just sat there and smiled. Smiled.”
Ronan felt a surge of contempt as he keyed the computer terminal. Typical. Instead of providing actual leadership, the kind of guidance Director Krennic gave his staff and workers on a daily basis, Emperor Palpatine chose to entertain himself by pitting his subordinates against each other and watching the resulting battles. “What do you want me to do?”
Director Krennic took a deep, calming breath. “Tarkin has maneuvered Thrawn into wagering the funds for his TIE Defender project against his ability to solve the gralloc problem our Kurost sector shipment line is having. Thrawn has one week to get rid of the grallocs. If he fails, Stardust gets those funds.”
“And Thrawn actually accepted those terms?”
“He did,” the director said grimly. “Which puts us in an interesting situation of our own. We want Thrawn to get rid of the grallocs; but we want him to do it after his week is up.”
Ronan thought about that. “That’s certainly the best solution,” he said. “But what keeps him from simply stopping when his time runs out?”
“In theory, nothing,” Director Krennic conceded. “But in actual practice, he strikes me as the stubborn sort. If he’s close, I think he’ll keep at it.” He gestured toward Ronan. “That’s where you come in. I’ve arranged for you to join Thrawn aboard the Chimaera, where you’ll watch the operation and send me reports on his progress. You’re to note any approach that looks even marginally promising and send me the details.”
“Yes, sir,” Ronan said, peering at the display. Ah—there it was: The navy’s official file on Thrawn. The more unofficial files kept by many of Imperial Center’s hierarchy might be better, but Savit’s private files would be encrypted and he had no way of slicing into them. “So if he does want to give up after his week . . . ?” he asked as he slid a data card into the slot.
“Your job will be to see that he doesn’t,” the director said. “Failing that, you’re to collect whatever pieces he’s found and bring them back so that we can put them together into our own solution. Any questions?”
“Then you’re dismissed,” Director Krennic ordered. “Thrawn’s expecting you; you’re to meet him in the hangar bay.” He pulled out a data card and handed it to Ronan. “Here are the coordinates to the transfer point for the Chimaera to use. Thrawn will know how to decrypt it.”
“Yes, sir,” Ronan said. He tucked away the data card, nodded a farewell, and turned toward the door.
Ronan turned back. “Yes?”
“Watch him,” the director said quietly. “Watch him carefully. He wouldn’t be a grand admiral if he weren’t smart, and there may be more to Tarkin’s gambit than meets the eye.”
“Not a problem, sir,” Ronan promised. “Whatever Tarkin’s planning, I’ll be ready for it.”
From the book STAR WARS: THRAWN: TREASON by Timothy Zahn. Copyright © 2019 by Lucasfilm Ltd. Reprinted by arrangement with Del Rey Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.