Tag: Grand Admiral Thrawn

17 things you never knew about Grand Admiral Thrawn

Source: ScrenRant

The newest Star Wars book, Thrawn, gives the modern Disney canon its first longform novel about one of the most intriguing characters in the history of the Expanded Universe. While the book goes some way to fleshing out the character that most new fans will only know from Star Wars: Rebels, there’s a lot of interesting backstory behind Grand Admiral Thrawn and his impact on the Star Wars universe as a whole. Many of Thrawn’s older tales have been relegated to non-canon Legends, but they’re still very interesting reads. The character’s first appearance, in the series of books that came to be known as The Thrawn Trilogy, kicked off the Expanded Universe in a big way, and left a lasting impression on fans that has allowed the character’s popularity to endure for decades after his initial appearance. To help you get the most out of the new novel, here are 17 interesting and little-known facts about Grand Admiral Thrawn.

17. THRAWN WAS ENVISIONED AS THE OPPOSITE OF THE EMPEROR


Believe it or not, there was a time when the rules of the Star Wars universe weren’t as firmly entrenched as they are now. Back in this bygone era, not every antagonist was necessarily an evil wizard with a fondness for dressing all in black and ruling the galaxy with an iron fist of fear. Following the logical popularity of Return of the Jedi, novelist Timothy Zahn was given the difficult task of attempting to follow up the original trilogy of movies with a brand new set of Star Wars stories. Of course, Emperor Palpatine and his attack dog, Darth Vader, were off the table as a result of their recent demise, meaning that Zahn had to go back to the drawing board to invent a villain that would drive his new stories further. In a genius stroke of storytelling, Zahn decided to create a character that, while still terrifying in his own way, was as far removed from The Emperor and Darth Vader as possible. Instead of wearing all black, Grand Admiral Thrawn dresses in white. Instead of motivating his troops through fear, Zahn uses battlefield promotions as a carrot to dangle in front of his lieutenants to get the most out of them. The result is a character who’s every bit as iconic as Emperor Palpatine (despite not having received as much publicity), but who introduces unique new ideas to the Star Wars formula. Eventually, subsequent writers would fall back on copying existing Sith characters, but this merely serves to make Thrawn all the more compelling by comparison.

16. THRAWN KICKED OFF THE EXPANDED UNIVERSE

There were very few stories set in the Star Wars universe that were released before Timothy Zahn’s book, Heir to the Empire, arrived on store shelves. Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and The Star Wars Holiday Special aside, the only place that fans of the series could experience the adventures of a galaxy far, far away was in George Lucas’ trilogy of movies. Naturally, when approaching the task of expanding this universe to create more stories, Zahn copies the pre-proven formula, writing a trilogy of novels that each told a larger story, mirroring the serial format of the Star Wars movies, and wrapping everything up neatly at the end. These books went on to become the quintessential Expanded Universe tales, laying the framework for hundreds of other novels and stories that were told with the same characters. Had The Thrawn Trilogy, as it’s commonly known, not proven successful, it’s very likely that the entire Star Wars franchise would have withered away to nothing in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace. If Thrawn hadn’t been quite as compelling of a villain, there’s a good chance that the Star Wars Expanded Universe would have turned out to be every bit as sparse as the Indiana Jones wider canon. Such a concept doesn’t bear thinking about.

15. FANS THINK THRAWN’S NAME REFERENCES HIS CREATOR

The influences that go into the name of a Star Wars character aren’t always easy to trace. Nobody knows where the names “Watto” or “Nute Gunray” came from, and while we do know that “Luke” was George Lucas’ childhood nickname, the logic behind most of his characters’ names will probably never be explored. With Thrawn, though, many fans think that they have a clue. The Grand Admiral was initially created by Timothy Zahn, and some believe that, as with Luke Skywalker, this character might be named for his creator. Zahn does sound an awful lot like Thrawn, and it would make sense for the writer of Heir to the Empire to want to name himself after the coolest character in the book (naming Mara Jade “Timothy” probably wouldn’t have worked). Alas, this has never been confirmed and will probably always remain a rumor, but it’s nice to think that Zahn’s name is forever embedded in Star Wars canon, albeit in an altered form. He definitely earned it.

14. LUCASFILM HAS WANTED TO BRING THRAWN BACK FOR DECADES


The problem with a tight, well-written series of books that come to a conclusive and neat ending is that you have to say goodbye to your primary antagonist. In The Last Command, the third novel in the Thrawn Trilogy, everyone’s favorite blue-skinned Imperial is stabbed to death by one of his bodyguards, after it’s revealed that his dominion over the alien Noghri race is based entirely on a lie, and that Princess Leia of all people is their rightful ruler. But while this makes for a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, it’s clear that Timothy Zahn didn’t anticipate just how popular his character would become, leading Lucasfilm to try desperately to find a way to bring the character back to life long before the studio was sold to Disney. Back during the production of The Clone Wars animated series, producer Dave Filoni made plans to introduce Thrawn to the prequel series in order to bring some fun Expanded Universe flavor into the show. This idea was ultimately put on hold, but was revisited later in Star Wars Rebels, which is why Thrawn is now a key character in the CGI Star Wars mythos, after years of planning.

13. THRAWN OWNS THE HOLY GRAIL


Easter eggs connecting the Star Wars and Indiana Jones universes are not uncommon, but for the most part, they’re limited to pictograms of R2-D2 and C3PO in Raiders of the Lost Ark. There are far fewer cases of Indy references popping up in Star Wars, but if any character is going to pull off a connection between the two franchises, it’s Grand Admiral Thrawn. The Grand Admiral’s office is a treasure trove of hidden references to wider Star Wars canon, but the crowning jewel in his collection is the Holy Grail, as seen in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which can be seen on the left in the photo above. Hidden away in the shadows of the office, this isn’t merely a case of fan speculation, as the art director for Star Wars Rebels, Kilian Plunkett, has confirmed that the team really did sneak the Grail into the scene. Clearly, Thrawn’s collection of ancient artifacts is more impressive than anyone had realized – the only question that remains is how the Grand Admiral got hold of such a rarity!

12. THRAWN ALSO OWNS SOME STAR WARS CONCEPT ART


As if owning a universe-shattering piece of otherworldly Indiana Jones memorabilia isn’t enough, there’s also another fantastic piece of art in Thrawn’s gallery which goes so far as to break the fourth wall. Among his collection is a piece of concept art originally drawn by Ralph McQuarrie, the visual artist who crafted much of the look and feel of the Star Wars movies. McQuarrie’s work was influential in helping George Lucas to convince studio executives at Twentieth Century Fox that they should take a chance on his quaint little science fiction story, and the artist is responsible for designing Darth Vader, the Millennium Falcon, and C3PO, among many other characters. If you can think of something fantastic from A New Hope, there’s a good chance that it originated in one of Ralph McQuarrie’s paintings. Thrawn seems to think that the artist deserves high praise, as he has a piece of McQuarrie’s art gracing his wall. It’s best not to think too hard about the in-continuity explanation for McQuarrie’s artwork – supposedly, it fell through the same hole in time and space that brought the Holy Grail to Thrawn’s doorstep.

11. THRAWN CAMEOS IN PLENTY OF VIDEO GAMES


Considering the impact that Grand Admiral Thrawn has had on the Star Wars Expanded Universe on a whole, it’s no wonder that plenty of the media that’s now considered non-canon “Legends” material pays tribute to the iconic Imperial baddie. This extends to several video games, with Thrawn popping up, if briefly, in strategy games including Galactic Battlegrounds and Empire at War. These references make sense considering the subject matter of these games, wherein players command large armies of troops – after all, when ordering Imperial soldiers to attack an enemy, it makes sense that many players would feel like they’re fulfilling a Thrawn power fantasy. The Grand Admiral also appears in brief cameos in other games, though, including the zippy shooter TIE Fighter. Here, strategy and tactics are far from the intended gameplay design, but a subtle mention of Grand Admiral Thrawn ties this game together with the rest of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, even if the game itself is no longer considered canon.

10. THRAWN IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FIRST ORDER


When The Force Awakens first released in theaters, Lucasfilm was deliberately vague about the events that had led the galaxy to its current state, with the First Order fighting against General Organa’s Resistance. Over time, though, more details have been filled in, including the explanation for how the First Order came to be. As Thrawn has become a more significant player in the new canon, his contributions to the story have been expanded. According to the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy of books, Thrawn, himself from beyond the Outer Rim of known space, is the one who helps plot the Empire’s course to explore the Unknown Regions of the galaxy. In so doing, the remnants of the Empire have a place to hide away and regroup following the death of the Emperor, before returning as the First Order. It’s therefore as a result of Thrawn’s influences on the Empire that the First Order was able to rise to power. Fans are hopeful that this means the Grand Admiral is still alive in the time of the upcoming Episode 8, The Last Jedi, and that he could make an appearance in the modern films as a leader for the First Order.

9. THRAWN’S VOICE ACTOR WAS NOMINATED FOR AN ANNIE AWARD


It’s no small task to approach a character that’s primarily only ever been portrayed in silent media, such as novels, and attempt to give them a distinctive voice. Everyone will have their own impression of what a character like Thrawn will sound like, and voice actor Lars Mikkelsen had a lot of expectations to live up to when joining the cast of Rebels to provide a believably eloquent yet imposing voice for the popular character. Thankfully, Mikkelsen did a fantastic job with Thrawn, to the point that he was nominated for an Annie Award for his work voicing the character on Rebels. Annie Awards celebrate successes in animation, so being nominated for one is a prestigious experience that proves just how powerful Mikkelsen’s performance is. Mikkelsen was nominated in the category of “Outstanding Achievement, Voice Acting in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production”, and while he ultimately lost out to Carlos Alazaraqui’s work on The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show, he’s certainly established himself as the definitive take on the character — at least from a vocal perspective.

8. THRAWN’S VOICE ACTOR IS GALEN ERSO/HANNIBAL’S BROTHER


You might have guessed this already, but Lars Mikkelsen, the actor who provides the voice of Thrawn in Rebels, is indeed the older brother of acclaimed actor (and the subject of Hideo Kojima’s mancrush) Mads Mikkelsen – himself another Star Wars alum, after playing Jyn Erso’s father Galen in Rogue One. While not as famous as his younger brother, Lars Mikkelsen has had a prestigious career filled with appearances in plenty of popular television shows. He played Viktor Petrov in seven episodes of House of Cards, and took on the role of the villainous media magnate and mind palace user Charles Magnussen in season three of Sherlock, providing a suitably disturbing baddie to follow up Andrew Scott’s Moriarty. With credentials like these, it’s no wonder the team behind Rebels thought that Mikkelsen would be a perfect fit to voice Grand Admiral Thrawn, and if the villain ever comes to the big screen, Lucasfilm could do worse than painting Hannibal’s brother blue to create a truly unsettling live-action version of the character.

7. THRAWN WAS AMONG THE FIRST NON-MOVIE CHARACTERS TO BECOME AN ACTION FIGURE


Star Wars is all about the toys. Both George Lucas himself and the Disney corporation have made plenty of money selling action figures to eager fans, and we’re more than happy to snap up whatever new toys arrive on the market, regardless of whether or not the characters have a significant role in the Star Wars movies. Back in 1998, Kenner released an expansion to their popular Power of the Force range of action figures that featured a selection of characters from the Expanded Universe. These included a clone of the Emperor and an evil Luke Skywalker from the Dark Empire comic book range, as well as multiple figures based on characters from the Thrawn Trilogy. The Grand Admiral himself is represented in the range, alongside other characters introduced by the books, including Mara Jade. While these figures were beaten to the market by toys based on the Shadows of the Empire video game and novel, Thrawn’s figure still remains one of the earliest examples of a Star Wars toy that’s based on a character who doesn’t appear in any of the movies, paving the way for far more action figures based on the Expanded Universe in the coming years.

6. THRAWN WORKED WITH ANAKIN SKYWALKER


It seems that Darth Vader has met pretty much every significant character across all of Star Wars canon, and happened to be in the right place at the right time to rub elbows with major players even long before becoming the Emperor’s right-hand man. The new Thrawn novel provides details of how Thrawn once met the young Jedi before his fateful duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar, and hints that, unlike most of the galaxy, Thrawn is aware of Darth Vader’s former life. The new novel, which was written by Timothy Zahn in his return to writing for Star Wars, contains several vague references to past books by Zahn – just enough to hint that these events in Thrawn’s backstory still took place in the new canon, but not enough to nail things down. There’s every possibility that Zahn will return to the series later to provide more details and stories about Thrawn’s past, but for the moment, it seems that Rebels and other cinematic Star Wars stories will be dealing with the character’s future.

5. THRAWN IS AVAILABLE AS A LEGO FIGURE

https://moseisleychronicles.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/thrawn.gif?w=1024

Something that longtime fans could only dream about happening for many years, after decades of waiting, Thrawn has finally been made available in Lego form. The ultimate benchmark of Star Wars figure popularity (and cultural relevance in general), modern Lego sets feature a wide variety of characters from throughout modern canon, including several sets based on Rebels. One such set, 75170 The Phantom, comes with three figures – Kanan Jarrus, C1-10P (better known as Chopper), and Admiral Thrawn. Interestingly, the name of Thrawn’s figure is technically incorrect. Described simply as “Admiral Thrawn”, the figure doesn’t represent Thrawn’s full rank within the Empire as Grand Admiral. This could be a simple mistake, or a deliberate decision to keep the figure’s name shorter for identification purposes. As Admiral Thrawn has limited connections with the Phantom in the Rebels television show, this appears to be an example of Lego Master Builders wanting to squeeze a popular character into a set, one which is greatly appreciated by fans who’ve been waiting a long time to see the character in the flesh.

4. THRAWN INSPIRED AN ENTIRE RACE IN THE OLD REPUBLIC


When Grand Admiral Thrawn first appeared in Heir to the Empire, he was the first of his species to turn up in a Star Wars story. Naturally, with the popularity of the character, his people, the Chiss, began seeping through into other stories, appearing as a species with a large empire that exists just beyond the borders of known space. In modern canon, the Chiss are still a mostly unknown force, rarely entering Republic or Imperial space. But in the story of BioWare’s mass multiplayer role-playing video game, The Old Republic, the Chiss are far more connected to the story, and are available as a playable species for gamers to choose. To a certain extent, this makes sense within the confines of the game, as the story takes place thousands of years in the past during a war between the Republic and Sith forces that appear from the Unknown Regions. At the same time, it is a little strange that, following this war, everyone in the Republic instantly forgot that the Chiss ever existed. Star Wars can be strange sometimes.

3. THRAWN JOINED THE EMPIRE WITH NOBLE INTENTIONS


Considering the Empire’s xenophobic stance on alien life forms, Grand Admiral Thrawn stands out as something of an anomaly. His bright blue skin and glowing eyes stand in direct contrast to the predominantly white human soldiers and lieutenants of the Empire, making his presence among their ranks very perplexing. Thrawn’s reason for joining the Empire in spite of their policy against non-humans is because he believes there’s a greater threat hiding beyond the borders of known space. This could suggest a major plot point for a future Star Wars movie, or a hint that the Vuuzhan Vong from the Legends continuity may eventually appear in modern canon as well. For the Emperor’s part, his reason for relying on Thrawn, besides his skills as a strategist, are because nobody available knows the Unknown Regions better. This knowledge proves useful, no matter Thrawn’s origin – although he’s hardly given a place of prominence among the ranks of the Imperials.

2. THRAWN WAS THE FIRST LEGENDS CHARACTER TO BECOME CANON


Back when Disney first purchased the Star Wars franchise, the decision was quickly made to wipe the slate clean and start over with a brand new canon. Aside from the movies and CGI television shows, no characters or events were considered in-continuity with the new universe, in order to give new teams of writers the freedom to craft original stories that didn’t need to fit within decades of lore. For a while, it seemed like everything old had been completely thrown out – until, that is, Grand Admiral Thrawn was confirmed to be appearing in Star Wars: Rebels. Since then, the floodgates have opened, and more characters previously deemed non-canon have made their return. Who knows? If the decision hadn’t been made to bring back Thrawn, we might not have ever seen these classic characters again – so it’s worth celebrating the Grand Admiral’s pioneering return, even if it doesn’t seem like Mara Jade will be coming back anytime soon.

1. CORUSCANT MADE ITS DEBUT ALONGSIDE THRAWN


Back when George Lucas was planning his prequel trilogy of Star Wars movies, he made the decision to fit the stories in around existing Expanded Universe stories. Part of that involved including the planet of Coruscant, the home of the Empire (and the Republic before it) in Episode I. The planet had originally appeared in Heir to the Empire, wherein the New Republic has set themselves up in the former Imperial palace that had been built on the ruins of the Jedi temple. In Heir to the Empire, Thrawn makes use of a series of plants that decorate the palace, which react to sound by changing color, in order to listen in on the conversations that the Republic are engaging in. Through this sneaky tactic, he’s able to spy on Luke, Leia, and the other heroes, and predict their actions. This element fo the story has never appeared in other media, but the planet of Coruscant has gone on to be hugely important to the Star Wars series as a whole, and it’s all thanks to the first book to introduce Grand Admiral Thrawn.

As exciting as Thrawn’s history might be, though, it’s exciting to see where the character goes in future. Now resurrected and able to escape his untimely assassination, Grand Admiral Thrawn is free to appear time and again throughout the Star Wars stories that will be told in coming years. While not all elements of his backstory have made it into modern canon, the future is looking bright for this red-eyed Imperial, and his continued opportunities to make life difficult for the Rebel Alliance and the New Republic.

Star Wars’ THRAWN coming to Marvel Comics

Source: ScreenRant

He’s the villain too good for Star Wars to scrap – and now, THRAWN is coming to Marvel Comics. The announcement came from Lucasfilm directly at San Diego Comic-Con, revealing the cover of the first issue of the series boasting one more menacing look at the blue-skinned, red-eyed Grand Admiral of the Empire. But for the diehard fans who already read through Timothy Zahn’s novel Thrawn, it’s mainly the artistic reinterpretation you have to look forward to… and not a brand new story starring the fearsome villain.

After being born from nothingness by Zahn in his infamous and aptly-titled “Thrawn Trilogy” of Star Wars novels, Lucasfilm’s decision to render the entire Star Wars Extended Universe non-canon hurt Thrawn fans most of all. But modern audiences and readers weren’t robbed of the great Imperial antagonist, as the story group at Lucasfilm reintroduced Thrawn into the world of Star Wars Rebels – and called Zahn in to craft the new (old) villain’s origin story. An origin story now making the leap from printed page to comic page.

The ongoing Thrawnaissance™ comes as no surprise to the fans in the know, as both Thrawn’s original story, and Zahn’s most recent Thrawn novel earned accolades. Which means writer Jody Houser (Mother Panic) and artist Luke Ross (Darth Maul) will have a high standard to meet when they launch their THRAWN series at Marvel beginning in February 2018.

The first cover image of the series is also what fans have come to expect, since little more than Thrawn’s icy stare is needed to excite existing fans, and attract the attention of casual Star Wars enthusiasts. Even if Houser hadn’t already made a name for herself at Marvel, DC, and beyond, the story of an unknown alien plucked from unknown space rising to the heights of the Emperor’s regime is a strong enough framework on its own. But having already worked in the galaxy far, far away on the Rogue One comic adaptation, she’s an easy choice. And for those already reading Darth Maul‘s pre-Episode I comic, Luke Ross is a perfect fit.

The panel in which the comic was announced also revealed some impressive cover art for the upcoming Mace Windu comic series, and comments from the writers of the previously announced slate of The Last Jedi tie-in novels. We’ll be bringing you some of those comments and images in the coming days.

It still may not be the big screen starring role many feel Thrawn always deserves (it seems the ship has sailed), but Lucasfilm’s commitment to keep Thrawn in the public eye is something. Will you be following along as Thrawn rises from obscurity to authority through cunning, deceit, and devious genius?

THRAWN #1 arrives in February 2018.

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.