Let’s just get one thing out of the way. How amazing is it that we’ve received two Thrawn books in the same year? It’s fantastic yet also deeply saddening. Knowing that this is the conclusion of an incredible origin story and knowing that we’re not really sure what’s next when it comes to Thrawn. Regardless, Thrawn Ascendancy- Lesser Evil is here and it’s the conclusion we wanted, masterfully written by Timothy Zahn of course.
So where do we find ourselves in Lesser Evil? Well, we actually pick up where Greater Good left off. Thrawn is ordered to return home but, as usual, Thrawn decides to make a few stops that fit in with his own grand scheme. With the threat that Thrawn has been chasing becoming increasingly more imposing and dangerous, the Ascedancy is thrown further into chaos as the political conflict at home intensifies.
Despite being bested by the Ascendancy, Jixtus of the Grysks isn’t quite finished yet. A new plan begins to take shape. Rather than relying on agents and puppets, Jixtus infiltrates the Chiss himself, planting the seeds that will tear the Ascendancy apart. With the Ascendancy focused purely on the brewing civil war between the various families, how could they see the Grysk threat when they are busy fighting amongst themselves. That’s where Thrawn steps in. To save his friends, comrades, and the Ascendancy itself, Thrawn has to muster all of his cunning skills to beat the Grysk threat. In doing so, Thrawn may have to sacrifice everything he has worked for in order to save his people.
There is a lot of ground to cover in this book so part of me was slightly worried. Zahn’s trilogy is home to a wide variety of characters who all have their own part to play. Like pawns on a chessboard. So, it isn’t just about wrapping up Thrawn’s story. There are intricate details and a wealth of small sidequests that not only help our supporting cast grown but feed directly into the unravelling story. I think it’s normal to worry when a story like this comes to an end. Especially since Thrawn is my favourite character. However, I am proud to announce that Less Evil nailed the landing and delivered in every way possible.
One of the best elements of Zahn’s trilogy, and believe me there are many brilliant things in this series, are the Memory chapters. From the very start of this trilogy the Memories have aided in exploring Thrawn’s early life- his arrival into the Mitth family and his turbulent ascension through the ranks- as well as the past of additional characters like Thalias. However, Lesser Evil mixes things up by giving us a fresh perspective through the eyes of a character who has only been mentioned by name in this new canon…
This time we get to see Thrawn grown through his brother Thrass’ eyes. If we take a walk through memory lane, you’ll remember that an unauthorised operation against Vagaari pirates, led by Thrawn, actually resulted in the death of Syndic Thrass which subsequently tarnished Thrawn’s reputation. With this in mind, I was actually very surprised to see Thrass again. However, his presence added a lot of emotional weight since Thrawn and Thrass become very close. There’s this tragic realisation that this blossoming relationship will come to an abrupt end with dire consequences. Regardless of the outcome, it was great to have a new dynamic in play which ultimately contextualised the severity of Thrawn’s mission. Thrawn is an uncompromisable machine when it comes to his emotions, but through Thrass we’re able to see Thrawn in a slightly different light.
An aspect that I’ve always struggled with in regards to Zahn’s novels is the overall scope. Even in Greater Good we were dealing with new characters, multiple storylines, different perspectives and even different time periods. With Thrawn being absent for a majority of that book, it was somewhat difficult to keep up. That definitely didn’t seem the case for Lesser Evil. It’s seamless and I think that might be why I hold it in such high regard. Because I didn’t have those initial problems, Lesser Evil just stood out compared to its predecessors.
I absolutely adore the way that Zahn writes, and that applies to all of Thrawn’s stories. Not only does the style complement Thrawn as a character, but the payoff is so rewarding because elements begin to take shape and click into place. You can step back and see the ingenuity behind Thrawn’s calculative mind and truly appreciate the masterful writing that Zahn utilises to bring these fantastic stories to life. Rather than being guided through it by Thrawn, you feel as though you’re in on it. It’s like you have a tactical advange alongside Thrawn himself and that’s a wonderful feeling to have when you’re deeply immersed in Thrawn’s world.
As someone who generally struggles with rather chunky books and worries about the time it takes to conquer such a feat, I had no problem with Lesser Evil which is just over 500 pages. I believe there are two reasons for this. I just finished reading Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff which clocks in at over 700 pages. Afterwards, I felt untouchable. It was an amazing experience as a book reader and I was just hungry for more so I dived head first into Thrawn. Ready for a new challenge. Ontop of that, you have my astronomical passion for Thrawn followed by the fact that Lesser Evil was just too difficult to put down. The story was fun, the writing was strong and impactful, and the pacing was smooth making it a really compelling read. What more could you want from a Star Wars book?
There’s just something so fascinating about Thrawn, and this trilogy has done an exceptional job at building him up and making him more than just a Grand Admiral of the Galactic Empire. Thrawn has a rich history that has been beautifully explored. We’ve seen him rise, we’ve seem him fall, and we’ve seem him perform impossible things. Lesser Evil adds to that legacy and brings Thrawn’s origin to a satisfying close. Fans of Thrawn will absolutely love this final chapter and new fans will be able to revel in the epicness that is Thrawn.
Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Ascendancy – Lesser Evil is available now. Have you read the final chapter of Thrawn’s origin? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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