Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil makes its shadowy villains too mysterious

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Thrawn Ascension 3: Lesser Evil sees the influence of its titular character spread.

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Three decades after introducing and helping Grand Admiral Thrawn to the Star Wars universe revive the suffrageBeloved Star Wars writer Timothy Zahn has accomplished another incredible feat. With his Thrawn Ascension trilogy of novels, he has firmly established a fascinating new region of the galaxy and revealed the epic backstories of his iconic villains.


Throne Ascendancy Book 3: Lesser Evil, which hits shelves on Tuesday, completes the story that began in last year’s Chaos Rising and picks up where Greater Good left off earlier this year. It also fills in the backstory indicated in Xhanso Of earlier The Thrawn trilogy, neatly trying out all of his recent novels together.

The story brings us back to Chis Ascendancy, the separatist government of Thrawn’s blue-skinned, red-eyed species in uncharted regions of the galaxy, as a cowardly villain undermines its stability by whispering in the ears of ambitious members of their ruling families. . This maneuver brings Chis to the edge of civil war, leaving the super-smart Thrawn and his allies to stop it.

These events take place around the same time that the Clone Wars (between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith) are taking place in the regular Star Wars galaxy, but there is no major crossover beyond a few offhand references. It takes place in the 2017 Thrawn novel before the trilogy begins, coinciding with the character’s appearance in the Rebels CGI animated series.

In three novels, Zahn is convinced that the rules and terminology of Chis Ascendancy are in our heads and he wastes little time delving back into political intricacies and military intrigues. He conveniently reminds us of the events of the previous book, introduces a new threat and sets Thrawn on a fun new adventure.

However, the politics are sometimes a little too complicated – this 548-page novel includes the biggest cast ever and it jumps between them regularly. A character changes their name as they join a new Chis family, which makes it easy to forget who they are and what their relationship is to Thrawn.

There are also casual references to battles and events from previous books that made me wonder “what happened then?” Zahn’s dedication to developing Chis is commendable, but the lack of familiar Star Wars planets and systems can make this corner of the universe feel a little too isolated. Coruscant, Tatooine and Yavin will always ring the bell, but locations in uncharted territories aren’t as prestigious (hence the name, I guess).

Thankfully, these are momentary annoyances. Thrawn, his supporting characters, and his rivals are so charming that you can power through the occasionally puzzling callbacks to his past campaigns. Each of the space battle scenes is beautifully written, Thrawn’s strategy is stylishly played out, and it all makes for an excellent final battle.

As in the previous novels in this trilogy, we get flashbacks to an earlier point in Thrawn’s career. These give us a more intimate understanding of their characters and relationships, but sometimes disrupt the pace of the main story to a frustrating degree. Jumping back and forth in the timeline seems like a tiring narrative, especially since past events in this case have limited impact on the story of the novel.

The novel’s shadowy baddie Xixtus, an agent of the overbearing grizzly species, is also very enigmatic. Through the two trilogy of Thrawn novels, Zayn establishes Grisk as a major threat to the galaxy, but we still know very little about him. They act through subordinate “client species” to undermine powerful targets (in this case, the Chis) before their vast fleet swoops in to annihilate their enemies.

This cool concept has allowed Zahn to create different customer species in each of the books in this trilogy, but last time we learned more about Grisch. Jixtus is present throughout the novel, but hides his features behind a veil and a customer orders from the vessel. The finale of a trilogy felt like the ideal opportunity to reveal more, but this novel only gives us a sense of Grisch’s power and fails to make him a more personal enemy.

Despite this, Lesser Evil tells a compelling story and closes in on Thrawn’s origin story in a way that will satisfy fans. Zayn sets up a new corner of a familiar universe along the way, features a fascinating band of new characters and an intricate political tapestry, and slides well into his previous Thrawn stories.

It’s unclear what’s going to happen to Thrawn next — he may appear in the live-action Ahsoka Tanno show on Disney Plus, but we don’t know when that will happen, nor does it seem likely that Zahn will be involved. Hopefully the author will soon have a chance to return to the Chis and his highly mysterious enemies.

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