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Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader Team Up in New Star Wars Novel by Timothy Zahn

By Blair Marnell

Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader Team Up in New Star Wars Novel by Timothy Zahn

There’s just no stopping Grand Admiral Thrawn. Even a complete continuity reboot couldn’t eliminate the Empire’s most ruthlessly efficient military commander. While Thrawn will continue to be a featured villain on the upcoming fourth and final season of Star Wars Rebels, his creator, Timothy Zahn, is returning to write a new Thrawn novel.

At New York Comic Con, it was announced that Zahn has finished writing Star Wars: Thrawn Alliances, which will chart Thrawn’s rise in the Imperial ranks and his unexpected partnership with Darth Vader. This will be the first pairing of the two iconic Star Wars villains, but not their first canonical meeting. As noted by ScreenRant, Thrawn encountered Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars and he may have deduced Vader’s secret identity. But at this point, who hadn’t? It wasn’t exactly the galaxy’s most closely guarded secret. 

Zahn introduced Thrawn in Heir to the Empire, a novel that was widely credited with reviving interest in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Thrawn was also a stark departure from the standard Star Wars villains because of his cunning, intelligence, and even his thoughtful approach to military tactics as well as his willingness to study all aspects of his opponents’ culture to better understand them. Through three novels, Thrawn gave Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo all they could handle before he was betrayed and murdered. 

In a sense, the new post-Disney continuity of Star Wars offers a new chance for Thrawn to survive, since his death is no longer canon. The events of the Heir to the Empire trilogy won’t necessarily play out the same way in the new timeline, if they happen at all. Most of the Star Wars: Aftermath novels established a history that simply didn’t fit with the one laid out by Zahn over twenty six years ago. 

While Thrawn has yet to appear in live-action, the fourth season of Star Wars Rebels could conceivably feature Darth Vader and Thrawn together. The third season of Rebels was Thrawn’s official reintroduction to the canon, and it set the stage for Zahn’s Thrawn novel to explain his new backstory. We wouldn’t be surprised at all if the new season of Rebels alludes to Thrawn’s history with Vader. That said, there’s also the possibility that Thrawn could perish during the final season, which would explain why he wasn’t around during the post-Return of the Jedi era in the new continuity. 

But if we had to guess, we would suggest that Thrawn’s fate will be in the hands of his creator for the foreseeable future. Star Wars: Thrawn Alliances will be released in 2018, but there’s no reason that it has to be the end of Thrawn’s journey. He’s simply far too compelling to remain on the shelf forever, and there will always be new aspects to explore or hidden stories to tell. Now, if only someone would provide Mara Jade with the same opportunity, we’d be very happy!

Images: Disney XD/Lucasfilm