Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy (Book II: Greater Good) suffers from “middle book fatigue” but offers up compelling political intrigue, expansive world-building, and a healthy dose of battle strategy.
Review: Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy (Book II: Greater Good)
With the triumph of Thrawn’s latest victory for the Chiss resting on his shoulders, he and his allies find themselves in a race to save the Chiss Ascendancy from an unseen enemy that has yet to be extinguished. But the enemy is almost as clever as the Sherlockian-like Thrawn, opting to further the rifts between the ruling families, rather than attack them among the stars in battle.
These enemies bring some of the most interesting elements within the novel, revealing their infiltration through rich flashbacks. If you enjoy familial drama, then the rivalries between the ruling Chiss families will captivate you.
While the Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy boasts the fan-favorite Thrawn as the central character, his own story often takes the backseat in terms of narrative structure. Thrawn is the sun of the trilogy and the books are simply exploring the characters that are caught in his orbit. The plots that do directly relate to Thrawn feel lackluster — we’re told about his flaws, but they never fully come into play.
Zahn is a master at creating characters and Greater Good has a plethora of interesting characters that interact with each other in various ways, but I was still left wanting to know more about them. When so much of the story is driven by character choices and conflict, having so many uniquely different characters can be frustrating.
You might be intimidated by the size of Greater Good, but Timothy Zahn has a true genius for writing prose that keeps you engaged with it’s fast-paced style. At times the story wanders away from the central plot, to the extent that key factors set-up in the first half of the book are forgotten by the second half, but it ultimately manages to tie it together in the end.
I have a passing interest in Thrawn and his exploits, so Greater Good falls somewhere within my “good Star Wars books” ranking. It’s a fun read, with intriguing characters, but in the end it’s just alright for me. The Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy started strong with Chaos Rising, however Greater Good has left me hoping it can pull off a strong finish.
Whatever my qualms with Thrawn Ascendancy, there is something truly special about having a series written by Timothy Zahn about a character that he created thirty years ago in Heir to the Empire. Nine years ago this month, Disney’s acquisition de-canonized the Expanded Universe and Grand Admiral Thrawn, but — against all odds — he was brought back to the canon through Star Wars: Rebels, The Mandalorian, and his own novelizations.
For fans of Thrawn, the Thrawn Ascendancy and all of Timothy Zahn’s work is a dream come true and this trilogy is bound to find a special place on the bookshelves of Star Wars fans.
Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good is out today.