First Excerpt from Zahn’s Thrawn: Alliances Offers Interesting Canon Connection
The official Star Wars site has released the first excerpt from Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn: Alliances, the forthcoming novel offering a joint endeavor between the Grand Admiral and Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader. While that alone is an exciting prospect for Star Wars fans, the excerpt also offers an interesting canon connection which opens many interesting possibilities.
In the excerpt, Palpatine has summoned both Darth Vader and Thrawn. He has a task for which both his servants are needed and which neither of them are thrilled about. Thrawn’s recent battle of Atollon earned him Vader’s contempt for letting the small group of Rebels escape, and Thrawn favors his TIE Defender project over the Death Star currently in development.
Naturally, Palpatine wouldn’t be Palpatine if his goals weren’t layered: testing Thrawn’s loyalty to the Empire and Vader’s dedication to the Dark Side.
Palpatine sensed a flicker in Vader’s emotions, perhaps a hope that Thrawn would mistakenly believe this was the right time and place to once again raise objections to the Death Star project. Palpatine paused, offering the Grand Admiral the opportunity to do just that.
But Thrawn remained silent.
“While Woldar and Tarkin find and deal with the rebels,” the Emperor continued, “you and Lord Vader will take your flagship to deal with this other matter.”
“Understood, Your Majesty,” Thrawn said. “May I point out that Governor Tarkin is less familiar than I am with this particular Rebel cell. Perhaps a more efficient approach would be for Lord Vader to be offered one of my Star Destroyers and seek out this disturbance on his own.”
Palpatine felt a sudden stirring of anger from his apprentice at Thrawn’s unthinking choice of phrase. A Lord of the Sith was not offered a ship. He took what he wanted when he wanted it.
But like Thrawn, Vader knew when to remain silent.
“You surprise me, Admiral Thrawn,” Palpatine said. “I would have expected a certain eagerness to journey within sight of your home.”
Thrawn’s glowing red eyes narrowed slightly, and Palpatine felt his sudden caution. “Excuse me, Your Majesty?”
“The disturbance is located at the edge of your Unknown Regions,” the Emperor said. “It appears to be centered on a planet named Batuu.” Again, he sensed a reaction to the name. This time, the reaction came from both of them. “I believe you have heard of it?”
Thrawn’s eyes were hooded, the expression on that blue-skinned face swirling with memories. “Yes,” he murmured. “I have indeed heard of it.”
As, of course, had Vader. It was the place where he and Thrawn had long ago interfered, albeit unwittingly, with one of Palpatine’s plans.
But again, Vader remained silent.
“Very well, then,” Palpatine said. “You, Admiral, will command.” He looked at Vader. “You, Lord Vader, will deal with the disturbance.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” Thrawn said.
“Yes, my master,” Vader said.
Palpatine leaned back into the depths of his throne. “Then go.”
The two servants turned and walked toward the door between the double line of red-cloaked Imperial Guards silently lining their path. Palpatine watched them go: the Chiss in his white Grand Admiral’s uniform, the Sith garbed in black, his long cloak swirling behind him.
The solution to this particular puzzle would indeed require both of them. But more importantly, it would address Palpatine’s lingering questions.
He smiled thinly. Time for Thrawn to face his future.
Time for Vader to face his past.
Batuu, the planet named in the excerpt, is the setting for Disney Parks’ Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and is clearly the place where the Chiss had his encounter with one Anakin Skywalker, hinted at in Zahn’s first canon entry Thrawn.
This is how Batuu is described in Star Wars Databank:
A remote outpost on the galaxy’s edge, Batuu was once a busy crossroads in the days prior to lightspeed. With the rise of hyperspace travel, however, the world — notable for the lush trees and mountain spikes that decorate its surface — was left behind, its prominence lost to planets on more popular trade routes. Today, Batuu is home to those who prefer to stay out of the mainstream, and a thriving port for smugglers, rogue traders, and adventurers traveling between the frontier and uncharted space. Significantly, it has also become a safe haven for those looking to avoid the attention of the First Order.
So not only we will learn about Thrawn and Anakin’s adventure during the Clone Wars (where, according to the excerpt, they interfered with Palpatine’s plans), but we will also get an insight into the planet setting of the Star Wars theme parks opening next year.
One of my favorite canon novels, James Luceno’s Tarkin also dealt with the relationship between two characters who had history with one another. Tarkin knew Vader as Anakin in the past and had to earn Vader’s respect. Considering who Thrawn is, he will be able to deduce Vader’s true identity, but I am most curious to see how their relationship will develop. Tarkin and Vader found mutual understanding and respect, but considering that Thrawn has a huge Force shaped blind spot (as seen in Rebels) and is much more strategic than Vader, I could see their relationship becoming quite contentious. We will see how that turns out on July 24th when Thrawn: Alliances is released.
Are you excited, Star Wars fans?
To read the entire excerpt, head over to official Star Wars site.