Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising is a Jewel in the Crown of Star Wars Books – Spoiler-Free Review!

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September 1st will be a great day for fans of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Though he’s not a new character to the Star Wars franchise, you’ll feel like he is after reading Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising by Timothy Zahn. That Hashtag Show got an exclusive chance to review the book before publication next week. The origin tale of everyone’s favorite blue villain did not disappoint, and sheds some light on the hierarchy inside the reclusive Chiss Ascendancy and her nine ruling families. If there’s ever anything you wanted to know about the Chiss and Thrawn’s awkward start with them, look no more. Chaos Rising is here.

Cover art for Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising by Timothy Zahn
Cover art for Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising by Timothy Zahn

Thrawn Ascendancy isn’t a reboot of his story, is it?

Oh no, my friend. In fact, that’s what makes this book so great. It’s an origin story of a familiar character told from outside the bounds of the Skywalker saga. Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising breaks through the restrictive dogma of a light side and a dark. We get to see a whole new section of the galaxy without the Republic and the Separatists or the Empire and the Rebellion. There are a couple brief mentions of a known connection between Thrawn and another notorious Star Wars character, but that’s where the link ends. We get a whole new cast of heroes, villains and scoundrels to digest. Chaos Rising is the fresh, stand-alone Star Wars tale this franchise needed. The only thing that makes it better is we already know parts two and three will follow this one!

Senior Captain Thrawn of the Chiss Ascendancy
Senior Captain Thrawn of the Chiss Ascendancy

So what is Chaos Rising about?

The story happens late during The Clone Wars, but prior to the events of Revenge of the Sith. We open with a surprise attack on the Chiss home world of Csilla. The commander of the Chiss defense forces, Supreme General Ba’kif sits before the ruling families of the Ascendancy, the Aristocra, and they want answers. Who attacked Csilla? Why? Can they hold off a second attack if they return? And most importantly, when can they retaliate? He doesn’t have those answers yet, but calls on a brilliant and notorious junior officer, Senior Captain Thrawn, to help him solve the mystery.

Thrawn carries some unwanted baggage in this tale. Not everyone likes him, and he’s a politically dangerous liability to the ruling Mitth family. We get a glimpse into his history that tells us why, and see that sometimes being the smartest person in the room is the quickest way to tick everyone else off and make enemies.

The story reads like a old fashioned whodunnit against the backdrop of planetary political intrigue, family jealousy, insubordination, and a world on the brink of war. All the while, the Star Wars equivalent of a Batman without daddy issues and Sherlock Holmes without an opium addiction, seeks out the clues and tries to outwit his new opponent to unravel the threat against his people and the other worlds within the Chaos.

Want to read an early Chaos Rising excerpt? Click here.

Chaos Rising special edition
Chaos Rising special edition

If you’ve enjoyed Zahn’s previous Thrawn works, you’ll love this one. Not just because it’s about Thrawn, but because Zahn has managed to do the impossible task of telling a Star Wars story with a Star Trek flavor. I know, those two genre monsters mixing is like Kong and Godzilla meeting up over Tokyo. They are oil and water to each other; anathema even! But I’m telling you, he did it and it works. The Memories snippets that tell of Thrawn’s early days as a Chiss Defense Academy cadet could be plucked right out of a Star Fleet captain’s log, but fit right in to the galaxy far, far away.

First Edition copies of Chaos Rising will be edged with blue, but only while supplies last!
First Edition copies of Chaos Rising will be edged with blue, but only while supplies last!

How can I get a copy of Thrawn Ascendancy?

Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising is available now for pre-order in regular hardcover, audiobook, and Barnes & Noble exclusive editions. It will land on bookshelves September 1st. Pick up a copy. You won’t be disappointed. Stick with That Hashtag Show for all your breaking Star Wars news and reviews, and as always, to learn more about Star Wars, you can also visit the official website at www.starwars.com.

Want to read more about Thrawn? Check out why his and Ezra’s story from Star Wars: Rebels should be finished up here!

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