Tag: Grand Admiral Thrawn

Grand Admiral Thrawn’s origins & plans explained

Source: ScreenRant

The inclusion of fan-favorite Star Wars Legends villain Grand Admiral Thrawn in the official Disney canon was the biggest announcement to come out of Celebration last year, and after the third season of Rebels, readers now have an opportunity to see the Chiss’ beginnings. Author Timothy Zahn’s recently-published novel Thrawn takes us back to the alien’s first days with the Empire as he quickly rose through the ranks while dealing with a government prejudiced against nonhumans. That was the biggest difference with the “new” version of Thrawn; instead of being the main antagonist in a post-Return of the Jedi world, he’s a prominent Imperial officer in the time before A New Hope. This means it’s possible to see him interact with classic villains like the Emperor, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Darth Vader.

When Thrawn arrived in Rebels, he was already in the position of Grand Admiral, so his past was a story that had yet to be told. Things have come full circle as Zahn, who originally created Thrawn in the 1990s, had the opportunity to re-introduce the character to a new generation of fans. While the book doesn’t contain as many juicy connections as other novels in the canon have (possibly a product of Thrawn’s place in the timeline), it still makes for an interesting study of the ever calm and calculating Grand Admiral and reveals what his true intentions in the galaxy far, far away are.

RECRUITMENT TO THE EMPIRE

At the start of this tale, Thrawn, under the guise of being exiled by his people, is captured by the Empire on a planet in Wild Space and brought aboard the Star Destroyer Strikefast commanded by Captain Parck. There, Thrawn informs the Imperials about great threats that are out in the universe, warning, “You would do well to learn of them.” Intrigued, Parck assigns young Cadet Eli Vanto (who heard myths of the Chiss in his youth) to be Thrawn’s aide and translator and plans to bring Thrawn before Emperor Palpatine on Coruscant. Parck is convinced the Emperor will be interested in what Thrawn has to say, believing it could be of value to both the Empire and his own career aspirations.

When in the Imperial Palace, Thrawn uses his connection to Anakin Skywalker as a means of piquing Palpatine’s curiosity and tells the Emperor of the dangers that are in the Unknown Regions, saying the jeopardize the futures of the Empire and the Chiss race. Thrawn hopes to strike a deal with Palpatine, offering his knowledge of what lies in the Unknown Regions for the Emperor’s “consideration to my people.” Palpatine, who has a great fascination with this corner of the universe, agrees to the terms (after Thrawn swears loyalty to him), and offers him a place within the Empire. Instead of merely being Palpatine’s advisor, Thrawn is sent for training at the Royal Imperial Academy, with Vanto in tow to stay alongside Thrawn and teach him the language and customs of the humans.

As expected, Thrawn’s placement in the Academy is met with much scorn from senior officers and other students. Thrawn, who already had extensive combat training on his home world, is set to graduate in three months with Vanto and immediately placed into a command position. This perceived special treatment, along with his alien heritage and origin from the Unknown regions, are the sources for contempt towards Thrawn and Eli. Nevertheless, the two persevere and make it through their schooling relatively unscathed (save for an assault at the hands of other cadets). Much to Vanto’s chagrin, he learns his first assignment is to be an aide to Lieutenant Thrawn on a cruiser called the Blood Crew. Instead of his chosen career track as a supply runner, Eli is forever tied to the mysterious Chiss as Thrawn becomes a major force in the Imperial navy.

ASCENSION THROUGH THE RANKS

One of Thrawn’s most recognizable traits is his high intellect, which proves to be an invaluable skill in military command. Thrawn and Vanto form a dynamic similar to Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, as Thrawn is able to analyze whatever problems come their way from a rather interesting perspective that few would even think of. All Thrawn has to do in some instances is study a culture’s art to learn all he has to in order to obtain an advantage. His prowess at thwarting the efforts of various smugglers, pirates, and others consistently impresses his superiors, and Thrawn earns promotion after promotion as he consistently demonstrates his skill in strategy to eliminate any problems he faces.

If there is one shortcoming with Thrawn, it’s that his methods can be quite unorthodox when compared to standard Imperial procedure. For all his knowledge of combat and tactics, Thrawn is nearly oblivious when it comes to politics, and he constantly finds himself in hot water due to actions such as assuming command from his ship’s captain during a battle and laying waste to a planet’s farmlands and water springs in order to completely destroy any traces of a pre-spice vein that lies underground. Thrawn and Eli are frequently brought in for hearings, only to receive a pass since ultimately, they get the job done. Thrawn becomes a high-ranking officer in the navy, eventually earning himself the title of Admiral and his own Star Destroyer. He’s even able to form an alliance with Lothal’s Arihnda Price in order to pull some strings and give Eli his long-overdue military promotion. Thrawn’s relationship with Price is part of the book’s subplot that sees Price attempt to gain as much political traction as she can – by any means necessary.

Thrawn is highly successful in carrying out his missions, but he does not have a perfect record. An individual known as “Nightswan” escaped Thrawn’s clutches during an operation, and the Chiss becomes obsessed with tracking him down. His quest leads him to an insurgent uprising taking place in the Outer Rim territories (perhaps the proto-Rebel Alliance that was seen in the earliest seasons of Rebels), which is under the leadership of Nightswan. The site of the book’s final conflict is Scrim Island on the planet Batonn, where the insurgents have taken hostages in the Imperial garrison. After an Imperial strike on the planet fails (under Admiral Durril), Thrawn takes control of the mission and seeks out Nightswan – not to kill him, but to have a conversation.

THRAWN’S TRUE OBJECTIVES

In his talk with Nightswan, Thrawn peels back the layers of his own personal plan. Prior to joining the Imperials, Thrawn was exploring the galaxy far, far away and witnessed the very end of the Clone Wars, when the old Republic transformed into Empire. Instead of being exiled by the rest of his species, it was simply made to look that way as Thrawn tried to lure the Empire to his location. When he was picked up, his initial hopes were to just examine the Empire’s “political and military structure” in order to determine if they could be useful against whatever threats are present in the Unknown Regions. Instead, he was unexpectedly offered a job in the Imperial navy and learned more than he originally intended.

Thrawn is aware that there is corruption within the Empire (and has suspicions about a “secret project” – the Death Star), but he sees it as a necessary evil in order to maintain order in the galaxy amidst the chaos rebels present. He intends to stay within their ranks during Palpatine’s reign, and when the Emperor passes away, Thrawn will use his high-standing power and influence to help select the new ruler – who ideally will have less evil inclinations. In the meantime, Thrawn offers Nightswan a position in what he calls the Chiss Ascendency in exchange for his insurgents leaving the Imperial facility. Thrawn describes the Ascendency as a group that will “stand against forces far more evil than you face now,” but Nightswan still refuses. The situation is dealt with through another one of Thrawn’s unusual military approaches, as well as the unforeseen actions of Price – who was embarking on her own personal mission to save her parents from a war zone.

After receiving assurances from Palpatine that the Death Star is a valuable asset to the Empire and the weapon will not be used against the Chiss people, Thrawn assumes the position of Grand Admiral and meets Darth Vader (Thrawn doesn’t know Vader’s true identity). In the novel’s epilogue, Eli Vanto is sent to the Unknown Regions at the behest of Thrawn in order to see if he could aid the Chiss Ascendency in any way. During their time together in the Empire, Thrawn had become fond of Eli’s leadership and military abilities, seeing much potential in him. Vanto is presumably taking the position that Thrawn had once offered to Nightswan. The book ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, closing out on Eli first interacting with the other Chiss. Not much is revealed about the Ascendency, perhaps being saved for another time.

CONCLUSION

Thrawn is very much an origin story for its namesake, detailing how he became the Grand Admiral that haunted the Ghost crew in the most recent season of Rebels. For anyone with a passing familiarity with the character, the fact that he rose to his spot via tremendous brilliance isn’t truly anything new, but it’s still great to see Thrawn fully entrenched in the new canon, becoming a larger part of the franchise. Reading about his exploits and seeing how he outsmarts his opponents at almost every turn is fun, and makes up for the lack of some more “major” revelations that were at the heart of novels such as Bloodline and Catalyst.

Zahn ends his latest Star Wars book with an obvious sequel set-up, and hopefully he gets a chance to further explore the character and the Unknown Regions. Lately in the canon, there has been a lot of emphasis put on these uncharted areas of the universe, including Palpatine’s contingency plan highlighted in the Aftermath trilogy (which hints at the First Order’s origins). Whether the Unknown Regions factor into the upcoming films remains to be seen, but it’s nevertheless highly interesting. Fans will want to learn more about the Chiss Ascendency and Thrawn’s overarching goals, and odds are we haven’t seen the last of him yet (outside of Rebels, of course).

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn is now available.

Star Wars: Grand Admiral Thrawn explained

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Source: ScreenRant.Com and MoviePilot.Com

The big news coming out of this past summer’s Star Wars Celebration was the announcement that a certain legendary character from the original iteration of the Expanded Universe (that overflowing collection of novels, comic books, short stories, and video games) would be popping up in the new Disney-owned Star Wars saga: Grand Admiral Thrawn, the villain originally introduced to take the place of the fallen Dark Lords of the Sith, Darths Sidious (Ian McDiarmid) and Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones).

The only alien that Emperor Palpatine trusted to climb the Imperial ranks, the good admiral will first be popping up in the season 3 premiere of Star Wars Rebels (where he’ll be voiced by Lars Mikkelsen) before arriving once again in book form, in the appropriately titled Star Wars: Thrawn. The latter is scheduled to be released on April 11, 2017 and will act as a prequel to Thrawn’s television run, covering his first encounter with the Empire and ending just before Rebels‘ third season.

Newer viewers and readers can be forgiven for not being familiar with Thrawn, and even those battle-hardened story veterans may need a bit of a refresher, given just how many decades it’s been since the character was initially established – and given some of the continuity problems that the reintroduction of the character can cause. It may be necessary all around, therefore, to ask one simple question: Who Is Grand Admiral Thrawn?

SO, WHO IS THRAWN?

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“To defeat an enemy you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art.” – Grand Admiral Thrawn

When publisher Bantam Spectra and Lucasfilm agreed in the late 1980s that a trilogy of novels set in the immediate years after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi would be a tremendous financial success, Timothy Zahn was selected to be its author. Zahn, in turn, realized that he would need a villain not only to propel the books’ plot, but to also stand up to the legacy of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader (who, at the time, were unknown to both be Sith Lords, a revelation which wouldn’t come to light until nearly a decade later, in Episode I: The Phantom Menace).

Zahn’s accurate instinct was to create an antagonist who would represent a wholly different approach to Imperial hegemony; one who valued strategy over brute force, creative contributions from subordinates instead of simple blind obedience, and who possessed an unshakably calm demeanor as opposed to the rage-filled outbursts from Lord Vader (and, later on, Kylo Ren [Adam Driver]). Thrawn is an individual who prizes art above all else, both for its external beauty and for its intrinsic ability to carry an entire people’s psychological disposition within it. By studying a civilization’s art, along with dabs of its culture and history, he could deduce the strategies they would deploy on the battlefield, allowing him to always be three steps ahead of whatever opponent he was currently facing. When combined with his very alien appearance – blue skin, jet-black hair, glowing red eyes – the resultant effect is a character who is wholly unique in all of Star Wars, from the movies to the rest of the old EU to, most recently, the television outings.

In short, it’s absolutely no surprise that Lucasfilm would bring him back into the new Star Wars canon status quo.

Fans finally got their wish when Thrawn’s appearance was revealed in the latest Star Wars Rebels Season 3 trailer. The reveal of Thrawn comes in around the 1:55 mark.

THRAWN’S ORIGINAL ROLE IN THE FIRST EXPANDED UNIVERSE

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In the years before Episode IV: A New Hope, Thrawn is able to do the impossible: work his way up the Imperial ranks in a largely human-only club, where he eventually reaches the dizzying rank of grand admiral (another invention by Timothy Zahn) and is eventually made the commanding officer in charge of exploring the Unknown Regions, those uncharted territories beyond the galactic rim.

He returns from his mission four years after the Galactic Empire’s defeat at the Battle of Endor to fill the Emperor’s larger-than-life shoes (robes?), attempting to shore up the shrinking Imperial numbers, topple the still-fledgling New Republic, and reassert Palpatine’s New Order once and for all. This campaign, which comes so narrowly close to being successful, forms the basis of Timothy Zahn’s inaugural trilogy of books: Heir to the Empire (1991), Dark Force Rising (1992), and The Last Command (1993) (which, collectively, have since come to be known as the Thrawn trilogy, for obvious reasons).

trilogyDie-hard fans know that Thrawn was a character who was introduced by author Timothy Zahn in his first novel Star Wars: Heir to the Empire. That novel eventually turned into a trilogy (Dark Force Rising and Last Command were the other two) and was the first set of stories to follow the conclusion of Return of the Jedi.

As the final volume in this series comes to a close and as the grand admiral’s immaculate plans start to miraculously unravel, the unexpected happens: Thrawn is betrayed by one of his most loyal servants, being stabbed in the back while sitting in his command chair aboard his flagship, the Star Destroyer Chimera (even here, with the double shock of betrayal and death ravaging him, Thrawn never loses his trademark calm, wryly noting “But… it was so artistically done”). Just like that, the gravest threat that the New Republic has yet faced dissipates, allowing the government time to stabilize and granting Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) the chance to, at long last, create that New Jedi Order he has long been burdened with initiating.

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That would, obviously, seem to be the end of Thrawn, but he is resurrected, both literally and figuratively, five years later, for Zahn’s next big Star Wars outing: Specter of the Past (1998) and Vision of the Future (1999), which together comprise the Hand of Thrawn duology. With the still-existing Empire on its last legs (yes, once again) and with the New Republic on the verge of disintegration and civil war (again), Grand Admiral Thrawn’s clone rises to take his progenitor’s place, and the sheer announcement of his “return” is enough to place nearly the entire galaxy into a state of panic.

In an interesting, if somewhat cliché, move, Zahn offers two twists almost back-to-back, which serve to end The Hand of Thrawn, starting with the revelation that the man presumed to be the admiral’s clone is actually an imposter, and ending with Master Luke discovering the real clone, who was created immediately after the real Thrawn’s death a decade earlier but has yet to be awoken. After a debate over the morality of killing the genetic offspring (since he technically has committed no crimes and all), the clone dies, anyway, when Luke and his compatriot are forced to blast their way out of the cloning facility.

PREQUELS, RETCONNING, AND THE FUTURE

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Timothy Zahn ultimately couldn’t resist playing with his most famous creation one final time, doing so across the novels Survivor’s Quest (2004) and Outbound Flight (2006), with the former having more to do with Thrawn’s legacy than anything else and the latter being a prequel, delivering a full story based off of an off-hand reference made in the Thrawn trilogy about a key episode in the grand admiral’s secretive past. Interestingly enough, it is in these final Thrawn outings that we glimpse some of the continuity difficulty that Dave Filoni, the showrunner of Rebels, and Zahn himself will now be facing in their attempts to assimilate the iconic character in this new iteration of the Expanded Universe.

To explain, let’s back up for a moment. As part of his efforts to furnish the story for his initial trilogy of books, Zahn had nearly free reign in providing his own explanations for a number of mysterious plotlines that were left over from the movies (such as what, exactly, the Clone Wars were, or how Palpatine could have been a Force wielder without having been a former Jedi Knight). But once the prequel trilogy started to arrive on the scene, bringing along with it the official answers to these riddles, Zahn needed to attempt to reconcile the two continuities. Hence, none other than Darth Sidious himself makes an appearance in Outbound Flight – which is now inserted in between The Phantom Menace and Episode II: Attack of the Clones – striking a bargain with the newly-discovered Thrawn out in the Unknown Regions to help him start to pick off Jedi, some 10 years before the Purge. (An effort was also made to place the episode – and all of Thrawn’s backstory, more generally – in the context of preparing for the eventual war against an extra-galactic alien race known as the Yuuzhan Vong, whose arrival formed the basis of the “New Jedi Order” publishing program that lasted from 1999 to 2003 and which consisted of no less than 19 books.) It was a fine narrative needle to try and thread, but Zahn plugged away at it dutifully, fudging the details in order to make a general fit.

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Such a messy integration is seemingly needed once again, as both the author and the Rebels writing staff have indicated that references to the character’s past (and now-invalidated) adventures will be included in both the television episodes and the new novel, a move which can potentially open a Pandora’s box of continuity chaos. Will the character’s earlier alliance with the once-and-future Emperor Palpatine be carried over, and, if so, will extra moves be taken to scrub all the old-EU-specific detritus away from the narrative core? Will the brilliant battlefield strategies that older readers were originally delighted by 25 years ago in Heir to the Empire be dusted off and repurposed for Rebels – something which could bore the long-time fans? And, finally, will the more out-there scenarios, such as having several Thrawn clones waiting to run around the galaxy once their genetic antecedent bites the dust, be invoked – possibly in Episode VIII or IX? (It’s a possibility which, actually, isn’t that far-fetched, given that Rebels and its predecessor, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, have already brought Darth Maul [Ray Park] back to life, robotic spider legs and all.)

And all of this doesn’t even address the fundamental issue underlying the entire enterprise – should the new Expanded Universe stories address, or otherwise reinforce, their older, non-canon versions? If left unchecked, such a move would ultimately and inexorably lead to the boundary between the two versions being erased entirely, resulting in an even bigger, inchoate mess than what the original EU was during its more awkward early days (after the Thrawn trilogy and before Del Rey imposed a strict top-down game plan on the narrative proceedings).

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Just when you thought the news couldn’t get any better, Timothy Zahn himself revealed to the mass audience that a new Star Wars novel will be released in April 2017 simply titled Star Wars: Thrawn. The novel will look to shed some light on this fan-favorite character.

But all of those are future concerns best left to a different day. For now, all that Star Wars fans should concentrate on is the fact that one of the most brilliant additions to that galaxy far, far away is set to become, at long last, a canon resident – and that he’s probably here to stay.

Star Wars Rebels Season 3 trailer to feature Grand Admiral Thrawn

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Source: ScreenRant

The trailer for Star Wars Rebels season 3 premiered at the ongoing Star Wars Celebration in Europe, with Rebels show-runner Dave Filoni (who also worked on the animated Star Wars: Clone Wars TV show) there to present the preview. Longtime Star Wars fan-favorite actor Warwick Davis (Wicket from Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi) hosted the panel, as Filoni and the Rebels voice actors Tiya Sircar (Sabine Wren) and Sam Witwer (Darth Maul and Emperor Palpatine) discussed what lies ahead for characters such as Sabine, Darth Maul, Ezra, and more in season 3.

Said Rebels season 3 trailer is now online and starts off by recapping events from the Rebels season 2 finale – including, Ezra’s (Taylor Gray) close encounter with Darth Maul and the Sith Holocron. The rest of the trailer contains many an exciting reveal about the episodes ahead on the Disney XD animated series, including an action scene that involves Mandalorians (one screened as an extended clip during the Rebels panel at Celebration). However, none of those reveals are quite as exciting as the confirmation that Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) will make his debut on Rebels during season 3.

You can watch the full-length trailer for Star Wars Rebels season 3 above – and then check out the new poster, below.

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The Rebels season 3 trailer confirms that Thrawn will serve as the primary antagonist for the Ghost and its crew this season, as far as the Imperial side of things is concerned. However, as the above Rebels poster suggests, Ezra and Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) – the latter now blind from his encounter with Darth Maul in the Rebels season 2 finale – will do battle with Maul in one way or another throughout Rebels season 3.

In the trailer, we see the Sith Lord attempting to make Ezra his “apprentice”, recognizing that Ezra (who looks noticeably older and more mature with his new haircut) is already being pulled towards the Dark Side. During the Star Wars Rebels panel at Star Wars Celebration, a clip was shown featuring another encounter between the show’s heroes and Maul… one that ended on a cliff-hanger where Kanan was placed in mortal danger, much to the Celebration crowd’s frustration. Filoni indicated that Kanan will become something akin to a blind samurai warrior during Rebels season 3. The trailer supports that idea, showing that Ezra’s mentor has now grown a beard and must rely on his connection to The Force (as well as his still-functioning senses) more than ever before.

There are other fun teases in the Rebels season 3 trailer, including a brief appearance by Wedge Antilles: the legendary X-Wing pilot and Rogue Squadron member, who here is shown as just a young Imperial pilot ready to defect from the Galactic Empire. Suffice it to say, Rebels season 3 is already making good on the show’s promise to continue expanding the Star Wars universe – while at the same time, bringing in other characters and connecting to key events from other Star Wars movies, TV shows, and novels alike.

Meet Grand Admiral Thrawn

Source: ScreenRant

The Rebels season 3 trailer revealed several intriguing tidbits about the episodes that lie ahead. However, the most exciting reveal in the footage was that of season 3’s main antagonist: beloved Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Star Wars Legends) villain, Grand Admiral Thrawn. In addition, Thrawn’s creator, Timothy Zahn, is confirmed to be writing a new canon novel featuring the character that will be published in 2017.

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Zahn appeared during the Rebels panel at Star Wars Celebration by way of a pre-recorded video message, saying it was an “incredible honor” for him to work with Filoni and the rest of the Rebels crew to adapt Thrawn for the animated TV show. You can check out the official cover artwork for Zahn’s upcoming Star Wars: Thrawn book, below:

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Thrawn, a blue-skinned alien (who belongs to the race known as the Chiss) and tactical genius who serves the Galactic Empire, was introduced in Zahn’s Heir to the Empire book trilogy (set five years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi). The character took command of the Empire’s forces following the death of Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars Legends continuity, but will presumably serve a different role in the newly-established Star Wars canon. Thrawn’s addition to the Star Wars Rebels ensemble in season 3 has been rumored for some time now, based on the idea that “this time he will be using his evil brand of genius against the heroes of the starship Ghost.”

Here is what Filoni had to offer the crowd at Star Wars Celebration, with regard to Thrawn’s legacy as part of the Star Wars EU (prior to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012):

“You couldn’t have grown up a Star Wars fan without encountering Thrawn in Heir to the Empire. It was a dark time when there weren’t any more movies, and it blew our minds that there could be more.”

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Grand Admiral Thrawn will be voiced on Star Wars Rebels by Lars Mikkelsen (House of Cards), the older brother of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story costar Mads Mikkelsen. You can check out screenshots of Thrawn from the upcoming Rebels season 3 above. That includes an image of Thrawn alongside the Planetary Governor of Lothal, Arihnda Pryce, who’s also making her Rebels debut in season 3 (after only being mentioned by name during the seasons past).

Star Wars Rebels season 3 premieres on Disney XD in fall 2016. Star Wars: Thrawn will be published in 2017.