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"I have sensed a disturbance in the Force." Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation "I have sensed a disturbance in the Force." Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor's favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs—including the Death Star project—the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it's not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there's more behind his royal command than either man suspects. In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth'raw'nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown . . . and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance—neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store. Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged—by a test of their allegiance to the Empire . . . and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.


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"I have sensed a disturbance in the Force." Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation "I have sensed a disturbance in the Force." Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor's favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs—including the Death Star project—the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it's not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there's more behind his royal command than either man suspects. In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth'raw'nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown . . . and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance—neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store. Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged—by a test of their allegiance to the Empire . . . and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.

30 review for Thrawn: Alliances

  1. 5 out of 5

    Khurram

    A very good book and continuation of Thrawn's legend/legacy. If I am a little disappointed it is because as good as this book was, it is simply with Timothy Zahn writing Thrawn and Vader I did not want good I was expecting great. However Very good is very good. This book book is set in two time periods. Going back to the line in the first book where a meeting between, then General Anakin Skywalker and Thrawn, during the Clone Wars was mentioned. The majority of this book takes place in that era, A very good book and continuation of Thrawn's legend/legacy. If I am a little disappointed it is because as good as this book was, it is simply with Timothy Zahn writing Thrawn and Vader I did not want good I was expecting great. However Very good is very good. This book book is set in two time periods. Going back to the line in the first book where a meeting between, then General Anakin Skywalker and Thrawn, during the Clone Wars was mentioned. The majority of this book takes place in that era, as well as the current problem. One thing I like very much in this book is Zahn's writing the differences between Anakin and Vader, and how Vader refers to the memories of Anakin as "the Jedi's". Zahn also did a great job of showing the precognition powers the Force sensitive use. As the story progresses I saw the reason for this. The second era that this book is set in is right after Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels, right after Thrawn's biggest defeat to date. So his standing and loyalty is in question. There is a lot of verbal sparing and jockeying for the number 2 position in the Empire between Thrawn and Vader. Usually with Thrawn coming out on top. However there is a great deal of respect between the two the telling point of that is Thrawn was still alive as Vader is not known for his patience. There are elements taken from other Star Wars pre-Disney era books. One of the ideas come from the Golden Age of the Sith comic series where a couple of Force sensitives found another way to earn a living out of their talents, and a material that has not been used in the Disney era as of yet, as well some more of the behind the scenes of Order 66. A very good book, that is slightly slow in places. I think this was the only stumbling block for me as with Vader in the book I was expecting a lot more action in the book. Though the lack of fights did show Vader's other skills that are sometimes forgotten because of his fearsome reputation and displays of power.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alejandro

    Both Emperor’s enforcers… together! This is the second novel re-introducing in the new Expanded Universe Canon of Star Wars (post Disney bought) to the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn, focused on his days previous to the events of the original movie trilogy. This novel is set in two time periods: “Now” is after the episode “Zero Hour” (Star Wars: Rebels’ Third Season Finale); and “Then” is after the episode “The Wrong Jedi” (Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Fifth Season Finale). THE GRAND ADMIRA Both Emperor’s enforcers… together! This is the second novel re-introducing in the new Expanded Universe Canon of Star Wars (post Disney bought) to the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn, focused on his days previous to the events of the original movie trilogy. This novel is set in two time periods: “Now” is after the episode “Zero Hour” (Star Wars: Rebels’ Third Season Finale); and “Then” is after the episode “The Wrong Jedi” (Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Fifth Season Finale). THE GRAND ADMIRAL & THE DARK LORD “Now” is about a mission set by the very Emperor Palpatine to his closest servants: Lord Darth Vader, dark lord of the Sith, and Grand Admiral Thrawn, commanding officer of the Imperial Seventh Fleet. Emperor’s most powerful agent and his best combat tactician. There is an unusual disturbance in the Force, located in the planet Batuu, at the far areas of the Outer Rim, quite near of the border to the Unknown Regions… …and Palpatine wanted to be investigate it at once… …of course this will serve him well to test, once again, the loyalty of his two best Imperial enforcers. Thrawn employs his personal flagship, the Imperial Destroyer Chimaera (led by Commodore Karyn Faro), in charge of the overall mission, while transporting aboard to Lord Darth Vader, accompanied by the First Legion (special forces unit, lead by Commander Kimmund (part of the 501st Legion (Vader’s personal stormtrooper company))), in direct charge of the investigation of the disturbance in the Force. Needless to say that Vader will soon enough clash against Thrawn, due their QUITE different commanding styles and choices to approach situations… …but they will need to find common grounds to work along, if they want to success in their joint mission… …after all… …it’s NOT the first time that they work together!!! THE CHISS COMMANDER & THE JEDI GENERAL “Then” is about a personal mission of Jedi General Anakin Skywalker, looking for Republic Senator Padmé Amidale (his secret wife), whom got missing after attending to the calling of Duja (one of her once personal handmaidens of her days as Queen of Naboo) in the planet Batuu (does sound familiar, from the first section of this review? Aaah, the Force and its odd sense of balance!) Once there, still in orbit, Anakin meets with Chiss Ascendancy’s Commander Thrawn (I won’t even try his original Chiss name), whom was assigned to understand the conflict of the Clone Wars, and whom at once offers assistance to Anakin on the quest for Padmé. I can tell you that it’s awesome how Timothy Zahn (the author) narrates how Skywalker/Vader uses the Force, making you to grasp quite better how powerful (and useful) ally, the Force is. Also, it’s interesting how Darth Vader refers to his experiences as Anakin Skywalker, refering as “The Jedi”, that I understand must be his way to protect in some kind of twisted way his past persona from the awful and murdering acts perfomed by the Dark Lord of the Sith.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aristotle

    The Force Is Not Strong With This One This was ultimately a disappointment. My 5th Timothy Zahn book, this was the only one i didn't give four or five stars. To put it simply it wasn't a good story. The relationship between Darth Vader and Thrawn was a big let down. "Your actions are treasonous" Darth Vader "Trust me" Thrawn This was said over and over. Vader acted like a whiny child. " I'm telling the Emperor your allegiance doesn't lie with the Empire" Na na na Thrawn was his typical Sherlock Chiss, Va The Force Is Not Strong With This One This was ultimately a disappointment. My 5th Timothy Zahn book, this was the only one i didn't give four or five stars. To put it simply it wasn't a good story. The relationship between Darth Vader and Thrawn was a big let down. "Your actions are treasonous" Darth Vader "Trust me" Thrawn This was said over and over. Vader acted like a whiny child. " I'm telling the Emperor your allegiance doesn't lie with the Empire" Na na na Thrawn was his typical Sherlock Chiss, Vader and Anikan were his Watson, always trying to figure out what Sherlock sees. Thrawn/Anikan/Padme part of the story was underwhelming. What's with Anikan's 'Double Vision'? Fill my eyes with that double vision. No disguise for the forces double vision. It was too slow and the relationship between Anikan and Thrawn wasn't fully fleshed out. Always nice to visit the Star Wars world but this trip wasn't as much fun as the previous ones.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Pramik

    After perusing Star Wars: Thrawn, I was left hoping that Timothy Zahn would continue penning more adventures showcasing the incredible intellect, battle tactics, and personal fortitude of the titular Grand Admiral (who remains my all time favorite villain). I first assumed that Thrawn was going to be a stand-alone, but I sensed the potential for more. Thankfully, Thrawn became the first entry in a new series dedicated to Thrawn’s origins and backstory prior to the original Thrawn trilogy Zahn pe After perusing Star Wars: Thrawn, I was left hoping that Timothy Zahn would continue penning more adventures showcasing the incredible intellect, battle tactics, and personal fortitude of the titular Grand Admiral (who remains my all time favorite villain). I first assumed that Thrawn was going to be a stand-alone, but I sensed the potential for more. Thankfully, Thrawn became the first entry in a new series dedicated to Thrawn’s origins and backstory prior to the original Thrawn trilogy Zahn penned in the 1990s. Hence, we have the follow up novel, Thrawn: Alliances, which adds yet another classic Star Wars villain to the mix, the dreaded Darth Vader himself. Plot-wise, Thrawn: Alliances relies more on action as opposed to the first novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the tone and pace of Thrawn, but I appreciate the fact that there is less political red tape, power plays, and backstabbing here and more on-the-ground action that puts Thrawn – who has now become a Grand Admiral – in full command. The primary story arc places Thrawn alongside Darth Vader as both have been paired up by Emperor Palpatine to explore a threat looming in the Unknown Regions. It’s no secret that neither man truly wants to work alongside the other, and this sentiment is shared no more strongly than by Vader himself. While Thrawn seems agreeable to establishing a working relationship between them to achieve their end goal, Darth Vader isn’t exactly that invested, preferring to work alone. This generates much of the story’s tension and it’s a compelling dynamic to watch unfold. (As a side note, we also learn something rather unique about the Chiss. It counts as a spoiler, so I can’t discuss it, but it proves to be a vital plot point and I thought it was a very creative detail.) Unlike Thrawn‘s dual-sided plot that was related in real time, Thrawn: Alliances showcases a split narrative using flashbacks. While the principle plot focuses on Thrawn’s and Darth Vader’s mission in the story’s present day, the parallel plot focuses on a time when Thrawn (serving the Chiss Ascendancy) partnered up with Anakan Skywalker (the future Darth Vader) on a mission to an alien world. This ties into the present day narrative as Thrawn tries to subtly discern if Vader is actually Anakan Skywalker beneath his dark visage. Vader does not take too kindly to these attempts to resurrect old/painful memories, which also drives his dislike of Thrawn. To be fair, Thrawn does not antagonize Vader – he simply seeks to prove to himself whether Vader is the same person he once knew or if the man Anakan is lost forever. In the end, Thrawn discovers his answer, for better or worse. This split narrative propels the novel’s action as well as parallels the lives of its leads. Anakan’s plot shows him as separated from his beloved Padme (who eventually strikes out on her own to find him) and forced to work alongside an alien (Thrawn) he knows nothing about. However, it’s not a spoiler to reveal that his and Thrawn’s teamwork is less rife with tension than it is when the plot switches to the present-day’s showcasing of Thrawn and Vader’s dealings. Interestingly, Thrawn set the stage for Thrawn: Alliances as, in the first novel, Thrawn makes casual mention to the Emperor that he once met Anakan, whom he called a noble warrior, but is saddened to learn he has “died.” In that novel’s final pages, we see Thrawn’s introduction to Vader, though at the time the Grand Admiral doesn’t seem to suspect that both men – Anakan and Vader – are one and the same. Hence, part of Thrawn’s personal quest here is to uncover the truth and put some of his suspicions to rest. In this way, Thrawn: Alliances presents an interesting look into the concept and theme of self-identity and how this spills over into how other people choose to view and accept us. Concerning Thrawn, we can see a set up here that I sense will be explored more fully in the third installment, Thrawn: Treason (set to release in 2019) and possibly beyond where his loyalties to the Empire will be tested. One gets the sense that Emperor Palpatine isn’t fully convinced that Thrawn is in service to him solely for the Empire’s benefit but also to benefit Thrawn’s own people, the Chiss. Hence, moving the crux of the action to the Unknown Regions, from which Thrawn hails, is intended to see whether or not Thrawn will keep the Empire’s interests at heart. As stated in my review for Thrawn, Thrawn isn’t an evil or a morally bad person as he belongs to a category of villains I like to call Conflict of Interest. These villains, under different circumstances, might not have been villains at all and are only deemed as such due to their alignment against the story’s heroes, thus creating a moral conflict of interest. Thrawn fits perfectly within this category as what makes him a villain at all is that he serves the Empire. However, as we learn in Thrawn, his reasons for doing so aren’t for personal glory but the good of the Chiss. Seeing this put to the semi-test here is interesting and provides ground for Zahn to explore in subsequent novels regarding how Thrawn defines himself – as a servant of the Empire or a member of the Chiss Ascendancy. Thus, Thrawn harbors two “identities,” one as a high-ranking officer within the Empire and the other as an “exiled” officer from among the Chiss. Thrawn seems to have no trouble seeing himself as both; however, there are others around him (namely the Emperor) who won’t take too kindly to knowing he has split allegiances. But the character who is given an even more detailed treatment regarding self-identity is Darth Vader. In the present-day narrative, Vader is self-actualized and there is no question as to how he views himself and his personal allegiances. However, this is contrasted with his younger, “real” self Anakan Skywalker, from the way he tackles problems to his relationship with and love for Padme. In juxtaposing these scenes with moments of Vader being his iconic, fearsome self, we see both an inner and an outer conflict taking shape. It’s akin to a similar character identity conflict seen in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (an odd comparison, I realize!), one of my favorite movies. In the film, audiences witness Holly Golightly’s internal and external conflicts with her own persona – is she the simple country gal, the wannabe starlet, or the chic Manhattan party girl? She defines herself in different ways at different times, but it doesn’t always mesh with how other characters perceive her. By comparison, though Thrawn’s loyalties are tested to determine how he views himself (a servant of the Empire or of the Chiss), it is Darth Vader who gets the Holly Golightly “treatment.” To himself, Darth Vader sees Anakan like a second, old identity that is, for all intents and purposes, “dead,” much like how Holly strives to distance herself from her bucolic roots. However, that doesn’t prevent Vader from not recalling memories of his younger days, which functions as the internal conflict. The external conflict arises when Thrawn subtly tries to get Vader to recall his former “self” as Anakan Skywalker, the man Thrawn once met and was honored to work alongside. Though Thrawn never openly tries to drag Vader’s old self out of him, it’s clear he is trying to discern who resides behind Vader’s mask – the courageous Anakan Skywalker or the fearsome Darth Vader. In this way, Thrawn plays the role of Paul (from Breakfast at Tiffany’s) who strives to extract Holly’s true identity and sense of self. In the end, Thrawn reaches his conclusion with a sense of finality tinged with regret. It’s a sentiment readers can’t help but sympathize with, adding a degree of depth to a fast-paced space adventure story. Overall, Thrawn: Alliances is a solid follow up to the first entry in Zahn’s new Thrawn series, and I think it was a smart move to compare and contrast two classic Star Wars villains as well as shift the plot away from a political arena and more into a traditional space opera. Fans of Thrawn should not miss this entry as it’s a compelling sequel as well as a good set up for future stories showcasing the brilliant Grand Admiral Thrawn. Content: Language – Very sporadic PG-level words (nothing worse than what one might hear in a Star Wars film). Violence – There are some typical sci-fi fight/action scenes as well as perilous moments where characters face sundry threats, from being captured/imprisoned to physical fights. The type of action here is akin to a Star Wars film and is devoid of graphic blood or gore. Elsewhere, Darth Vader has moments where he considers inflicting pain upon Thrawn, with whom he has a testy relationship, but ultimately he decides not to do so. Later, we are told that some children were kidnapped, but said children are eventually rescued and are unharmed. Sexual Content – None.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ben Brown

    I think it’s time that I just admit the cold, hard truth: I’m not a fan of Timothy Zahn’s writing. Or, perhaps a more accurate way to put it: I’m not a fan of Timothy Zahn writing Star Wars. Man, does it hurt for me to admit that. In the course of the last year, I’ve read both of Zahn’s new “Thrawn” novels, and I had the same exact issues with both books: two-dimensional characters. Boring stories. A predilection towards overexplaining plot elements that are completely inconsequential. A predile I think it’s time that I just admit the cold, hard truth: I’m not a fan of Timothy Zahn’s writing. Or, perhaps a more accurate way to put it: I’m not a fan of Timothy Zahn writing Star Wars. Man, does it hurt for me to admit that. In the course of the last year, I’ve read both of Zahn’s new “Thrawn” novels, and I had the same exact issues with both books: two-dimensional characters. Boring stories. A predilection towards overexplaining plot elements that are completely inconsequential. A predilection towards underexplaining plot elements that needed way more fleshing out. Flat prose. Characterizations of iconic characters (*cough*cough*Darth Vader*cough*cough) that are completely at odds with how I know them. I could go on, but in short: these books are just not for me. Maybe one day I’ll go back and check out his acclaimed Heir to the Empire – I’ve heard time and again just how amazing it is - but based just off of what I’ve seen of Zahn’s style in these books, I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to do so.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    Thrawn teams up with Anakin and Darth Vader in two different eras. The story shifts back and forth between a mission Thrawn and Vader are sent on between Season 3 and 4 of Rebels and a mission Thrawn recalls that took place in the same area with Anakin and Padme during the Clone Wars. I liked how the stories paralleled one another. I also liked how Zahn described Vader's force powers working in battle, where he was actually seeing a second or two into the future and so knew how to counteract wha Thrawn teams up with Anakin and Darth Vader in two different eras. The story shifts back and forth between a mission Thrawn and Vader are sent on between Season 3 and 4 of Rebels and a mission Thrawn recalls that took place in the same area with Anakin and Padme during the Clone Wars. I liked how the stories paralleled one another. I also liked how Zahn described Vader's force powers working in battle, where he was actually seeing a second or two into the future and so knew how to counteract what would happen. On the minus side, Vader and Thrawn's relationship mainly consisted of "You are a trader.". "No, you just need to trust me". This happened 7 or 8 times in the book. Vader comes across as a bit of a buffoon who just wants to kill anyone who could pose a threat to him while Thrawn is this infallible Sherlock Holmes. Still, I liked it better than the previous, self-titled Thrawn novel.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    How the flying fuck did I not know about this book?? I NEED IT NOW.

  8. 4 out of 5

    HBalikov

    Alliances is the second book of the new series. I did not read the earlier “Thrawn Trilogy” written by Zahn over 25 years ago. This series is Zahn’s reinvestment in Mitth'raw'nuruodo, more commonly known as Thrawn. In the first book, we see The Empire discover Thrawn as a “castaway” in a chance encounter in the outer regions. What The Empire didn’t quite understand (at that point) is that Thrawn is a member of the Chiss Ascendancy, a race that was not prominent in The Empire’s data base. In this Alliances is the second book of the new series. I did not read the earlier “Thrawn Trilogy” written by Zahn over 25 years ago. This series is Zahn’s reinvestment in Mitth'raw'nuruodo, more commonly known as Thrawn. In the first book, we see The Empire discover Thrawn as a “castaway” in a chance encounter in the outer regions. What The Empire didn’t quite understand (at that point) is that Thrawn is a member of the Chiss Ascendancy, a race that was not prominent in The Empire’s data base. In this book, we are taken to two periods of time: The past, when Thrawn meets Anakin Skywalker; and, the present when Emperor Palpatine orders Darth Vader and Grand Admiral Thrawn to seek out the source of a “disturbance in the force.” I will not dwell on the plot. Zahn is one of the most prolific writers of Star Wars “permutations.” I am not sure why Thrawn attracted him, but it is clear that the Chiss Ascendancy has kindled some creative spark and that Zahn has used his talents to weave Thrawn into the existing narrative given by the movies’ Episodes I-VI. In the first book, Thrawn, there are the briefest encounters between the rising star of the Emperor, Thrawn, and the Emperor’s Sith acolyte, Vader. Vader is wary of Thrawn and finds that he cannot use the Force to reveal much about Thrawn’s motivations or his loyalty to The Empire. In Thrawn Alliance, these two are coupled by the Emperor and both reflect, for very different reasons on an early encounter at the “edge of the Unknown Regions” where they first met and where the underlying elements of this novel’s plot originate. If you have the opportunity and can afford the acquisition (My library was kind enough to acquire the CDs.), I recommend listening to Marc Thompson read the novel to you. For me, it makes a lot of this interaction more believable because Thompson has such skill at tone and inflection. Without this augmentation, I find that Thrawn Alliance verges on being an “empty suit:” Not offensive to the eye, but offering little enhancement to the original Star Wars narrative. On the other hand, we now have both the Chiss and the Grysk as formidable peoples. How Zahn plans to integrate them into the “official” story going forward, may be of interest. My rating is based on the dramatic enjoyment of Marc Thompson’s presentation. Without it, the rating would drop a full star.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/08/07/... A Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader team-up? Yep, definitely one of the best ideas in the history of best ideas. A typical buddy story though, this is not. Thrawn: Alliances is the sequel to the Thrawn, at the end of which our eponymous character meets the Dark Lord of the Sith himself. Following his defeat in season 3 of the animated Star Wars: Rebels, Thrawn is summoned by Emperor Palpatine to his throne room along wit 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/08/07/... A Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader team-up? Yep, definitely one of the best ideas in the history of best ideas. A typical buddy story though, this is not. Thrawn: Alliances is the sequel to the Thrawn, at the end of which our eponymous character meets the Dark Lord of the Sith himself. Following his defeat in season 3 of the animated Star Wars: Rebels, Thrawn is summoned by Emperor Palpatine to his throne room along with Darth Vader, where they are given a joint mission to investigate a force disturbance on the far-flung planet of Batuu. It would be a good learning experience for both of them, the Emperor reckons knowingly, watching his powerful apprentice and accomplished admiral comply reluctantly to his orders. Frequently at odds when it comes to matters of the Empire, Vader and Thrawn don’t exactly make a picture-perfect partnership, but Palpatine also knows something no one else does: the two of them have worked together before. Flashing back to a period set during the Clone Wars between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker says good bye to Padmé Amidala as she prepares to embark upon a clandestine diplomatic mission. After she goes missing, Anakin takes off in search of her, on the way encountering a mysterious officer of the Chiss Ascendancy named Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo—Thrawn. Desperate to find his wife, Anakin decides to team up with him for the sake of efficiency, even though Thrawn’s shadowy purposes in the system have yet to be figured out. I confess, when I first discovered the duo timeline format of this novel, I groaned a little inside. I’m not a big fan of multiple timelines in books, and the last Star Wars book I read that utilized this device did not go so well. I’ve got to hand it to Zahn, though; the flashbacks sections were woven neatly through the narrative and he managed to juxtapose past and present smoothly, mirroring certain events and bringing important themes to the forefront. Speaking as someone who isn’t all that enamored with the author’s past work and thought the original Thrawn trilogy was a little overrated, I was actually quite impressed with the ingenious way the story of Thrawn: Alliances played out. I also loved the dynamics between our two main characters. Readers got to experience the evolution and growth of Thrawn in the preceding volume, watching him rise through the ranks to become one of the most powerful figures in the Empire. This puts him nearly at the same level as Darth Vader in terms of influence and the attention he receives from Palpatine, resulting in a palpable undercurrent of resentment between the two powerhouses who are in constant competition for the Emperor’s favor. Thrawn is still in repentant mode following his recent defeat, and Vader knows just how to twist the knife, using the incident to question the Chiss’s loyalty to the Empire. Thrawn, however, is well aware of his own clout and is unconcerned with the accusations, proving himself to be one of the few people in the galaxy who can question the Sith Lord’s orders without being immediately force-choked for his insolence. In the Clone Wars timeline, the relationship between Thrawn and Anakin is lot a different. Young, brash, and impatient, Anakin is solely driven by his main objective to finding Padmé, and calm, logical Thrawn is the counterbalance to this impulsiveness. Though Anakin often chafes at Thrawn’s more levelheaded suggestions, there is also a sense of grudging respect from the young Jedi for the Chiss commander’s tactical thinking and strategic brilliance. The only aspect I didn’t like about these past flashbacks is Padmé POV, which I thought got in the way of the relationship development between the two protagonists. Though I understand why her perspective would be needed, her chapters were slower comparatively to the action-packed sections featuring Thrawn and Anakin who are like secret agents on a fact-finding mission to get to the bottom of her disappearance. Following the recent trend of Star Wars novels exploring the world of the “bad guys”, Thrawn and Vader’s story also presents readers with an interesting point of view with regards to the inner workings of the Empire. Both characters have their own team of underlings, showing stark differences between their management styles and how they are viewed through the eyes of their respective subordinates. I also feel that this new Thawn is more nuanced than his now-Legends counterpart. In the new canon, the grand admiral is portrayed as less evil, with good intentions and laudable qualities such as loyalty and respect to the men and women who work under him. While it would be a stretch to call him a good person since he still works for the Empire while admitting they are tyrannical, I can see how he could be considered a lawful neutral character—a respected opponent rather than a true villain. It’s a testament to Zahn’s skill, for he’s able to make Thrawn relatable and admirable, even if you don’t agree with his every move. In sum, if you enjoyed the first Thrawn book of the new canon, then you’ll probably wish to pick up Thrawn: Alliances for the continuation of the character’s story arc. It’s a worthy sequel which I would also recommend to Star Wars fans, especially if you followed either Star Wars: Rebels or The Clone Wars animated series (the latter of which is going to be returning with a new season, as was recently announced). And of course, if you love the characters of Thrawn or Darth Vader, then this book is an absolute must-read. Audiobook Comments: Another fantastic performance by the very talented Marc Thompson. His Darth Vader voice isn’t the best I’ve heard from a Star Wars narrator (that distinction would probably go to Jonathan Davis) but his Thrawn is pretty spot on. Listening to a Star Wars audiobook is always a treat.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Neil R. Coulter

    Thrawn Alliances starts out strong. Thrawn is more interesting in this novel than the previous (new canon) book. And it’s always fun to have a Vader team-up story; it was a good formula in Tarkin and Lords of the Sith. It seems interesting in the beginning as Timothy Zahn weaves two stories together throughout the novel—one story about Anakin, Padmé, and Thrawn in the Clone Wars, and another story about Vader and Thrawn (which answers the question of what Thrawn was doing when he left Lothal for Thrawn Alliances starts out strong. Thrawn is more interesting in this novel than the previous (new canon) book. And it’s always fun to have a Vader team-up story; it was a good formula in Tarkin and Lords of the Sith. It seems interesting in the beginning as Timothy Zahn weaves two stories together throughout the novel—one story about Anakin, Padmé, and Thrawn in the Clone Wars, and another story about Vader and Thrawn (which answers the question of what Thrawn was doing when he left Lothal for the beginning of season four of Rebels). Unfortunately, Thrawn Alliances has some integral flaws that (for me, at least) steadily diminished the overall quality of the novel. The first of these is the main character himself. Thrawn is perfect. That’s fun to read for a while, because he is perfection without arrogance. But really: in this entire book, Thrawn doesn’t make a single mistake. He is never wrong. About anything. He is not pushed beyond his limits. He has no weakness. And a whole book of that gets really old by at least halfway through. The second fatal flaw is that Thrawn is the Sherlock Holmes of Star Wars. That’s fine (though, as above, I wish that we had some indication of potential weakness). The problem is, when you pair Vader with a Sherlock Holmes character, it turns Vader into Watson: bumbling along a few steps behind Holmes/Thrawn and always being made to look a little foolish because he can’t see the bigger picture as Thrawn can. And because this novel is two stories, we see dumb-Anakin and dumb-Vader next to Thrawn. Obviously, Anakin is pretty dumb; there’s no way around that. But Vader is at his best when he’s in charge and vicious. He can show weakness in the presence of the Emperor, but a whole book of him appearing weak again and again on Thrawn’s ship is just no fun. The final flaw I’ll mention is that the last 50 or so pages of the book devolve into one action scene after another. Any of these might be fine in a movie, but I found them really boring to read about in prose. “Good guys run into room; destroy droids; run into another room; destroy more droids; fly away.” “TIE fighters attack some ships; the ships fire back; some ships explode.” Boring. Star Wars novels should embrace the fact that the novel is a different artistic genre than the movie, the TV series, the graphic novel. Do what a novel form does well, not what works great in a movie. Minor stylistic annoyance: Every time Anakin's spider-sense kicks in, the text switches to italics and every sentence begins with "Double vision." As in: "Double vision: two bolts at torso, one bolt at head, three droids entering the room." I'm pretty sure I could understand what's going on without even the italics, but definitely without the constant "Double vision." Minor (unintentional?) humor: The Force-dancing empty Vader suit decoy. Some of the Force powers used in this story are . . . well, they seem more appropriate to something like the old Droids cartoon than the current Star Wars canon. I like that Thrawn asks Padmé the question that we all think about when watching the prequel trilogy:“Politics is built from individuals,” Thrawn said. “The Separatists wished to leave the Republic. Why didn’t you simply allow them to go?” (249)Exactly! That’s the question no one else in Star Wars is asking: Should the galaxy be united under one government, no matter how benevolent and good that government intends to be? It doesn’t seem that the current movie trilogy is capable of even asking questions like that, let alone resolving them satisfactorily. But I hope future novels will wrestle with those complex issues.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Campbell

    I hated rating this book so low but I just had a hard time getting into it. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the last Thrawn book which has been one of my favorite of the new cannon books. I’m not sure the back and forth in time frames really worked here and I think it took way to long to sort of link these stories together. It felt like a fast pitched story that wasn’t worked out well due to success from the first book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eric Allen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. TL;DR for the TL;DR Hated it. Was boring and pointless, ending with all the pomp and acclaim of a mouse farting. A completely superfluous subplot was forced into the book and serves no purpose. The main character doesn't seem to have any real reason to be in the book at all. And it was just not an enjoyable book to read. Nor was it, in any way, a good follow up to the first book, which I really, really enjoyed. TL:DR This book is completely and wholly pointless. It goes nowhere. There is nothing at TL;DR for the TL;DR Hated it. Was boring and pointless, ending with all the pomp and acclaim of a mouse farting. A completely superfluous subplot was forced into the book and serves no purpose. The main character doesn't seem to have any real reason to be in the book at all. And it was just not an enjoyable book to read. Nor was it, in any way, a good follow up to the first book, which I really, really enjoyed. TL:DR This book is completely and wholly pointless. It goes nowhere. There is nothing at stake. It doesn't resolve anything, because there's nothing to resolve. It's basically Thrawn and Vader teaming up because reasons, and having nothing at all to do but bitch at each other. I loved the first book. It was exactly the kind of Star Wars book I'd been looking for at the time I discovered it. It had a lot of plotlines that felt like they were going to continue, and I was excited to see the next step in their progression. Instead, all of that was shoved aside for a boring, soulless teaming up of two characters who probably have MUCH better fanfiction about them teaming up out there. And to make matters worse a COMPLETELY SUPERFLUOUS flashback plot to Anakin and Padme was shoved into the book, taking up nearly half of the page count. This part of the story serves absolutely no purpose at all. And Thrawn is in it because Thrawn's name is on the cover of the book. He's literally there because reasons. He has no reason to be, and felt rather tacked on to a storyline that already feels tacked on to begin with. Half of the book doesn't feel like it belongs in the book, and the other half of the book doesn't feel like it has any reason to exist. How did we get this as a follow up to the first book, which I completely loved? It just makes no sense at all to me how we got from there to here. I really dislike Anakin, Padme, and the Clone Wars era of Star Wars, and I really did NOT need more of them here. And Zahn tried to make Thrawn look smarter by making Darth Vader look like an imbecile. Just, no. I can't believe I'm saying this about a Star Wars book written by Timothy Zahn about Grand Admiral Thrawn, but I fucking hated it. I hated every single word of it. It was a boring chore to read through, and it has no reason to exist. There is very little in the way of plot. The pacing is terrible. And it just sort of ends, with little to nothing actually resolved. It took me a month and a half to read this thing, because it was just so boring and pointless. If you care about my random bitching about the book as I read through it, I've included them below. I haven't spell/grammar checked or proofread any of it. So, yeah, it's not going to be the best writing in the universe. I'm having an extremely hard time getting into this one. The majority of the book, thus far, has been made up of flashbacks about Anakin Skywalker looking for a disappeared Padme Amidala... Okaaaaaaay, why am I reading about Anakin Skywalker in a book about Grand Admiral Thrawn? I don't particularly like Anakin Skywalker as a character outside of the Clone Wars TV series. No one ever portrays him as, in any way, likable. The tragedy of Darth Vader is that Anakin Skywalker was supposed to be the best of the best. He was supposed to be the greatest hero of the Republic. We never see that supposed hero in any of the movies. He's a whiney, self-absorbed douchelord, so when he falls to the dark side, it's really no surprise. It's not shocking. You know exactly why he fell to the dark side. It's because he's a whiney, self-absorbed douchelord. (and for the record, both Firefox and Grammarly recognize "douchelord" as an actual word) It's not because the best of the best was tempted, it's because one of the worst was tempted, and didn't have very far to fall. That, in my opinion, was George Lucas' biggest mistake with the prequels. This mistake was rectified in the Clone Wars TV series. Anakin in that series is charming, charismatic, heroic, brave, loyal to the Republic, his fellow Jedi, and the clone troopers under his command, has a sense of humor, and he's often selfless. He IS the best of the best, but he's also shown to have flaws. He has a bit of a temper, and he sees nothing wrong with killing an enemy to remove the threat that enemy poses forever. Which kind of freaks out the rest of the Jedi around him sometimes. It comes as a HUGE shock that THIS Anakin would fall to the dark side. Unfortunately, NONE of the authors that write books about his character use THAT portrayal of Anakin. They usually use the character shown in the movies, and unfortunately, THAT Anakin is a completely unlikeable crybaby. When you don't like or don't care about the characters, it is VERY hard to enjoy a story about them. I do not like Anakin as he is portrayed in the movies, and that is the portrayal that Timothy Zahn is using for his character in this book. I was SO into the first book of this trilogy. Learning about how Thrawn worked his way through the ranks to become a Grand Admiral. Watching a young woman work her way up in the Imperial hierarchy to become a very terrifying, and believable villain. Watching Thrawn's buddy, through loyalty to Thrawn, finally, reach what he's dreamed of all his life. These were things I loved and wanted more of. That was what I was looking forward to. This book has none of those things, so far. It has been about 70% flashback to a completely unlikable character, and 30% not all that great a portrayal of Darth Vader sort of messing around with Thrawn on a completely pointless mission thus far. There is a reason that I have read one, and only one, book from the Clone Wars era of Star Wars. I just don't find the period of time to be very interesting. Outside of the Clone Wars series, which is awesome and every Star Wars fan should watch, it's kind of a very boring part of Star Wars lore, that is rife with contradictions and stupidity, because George Lucas was so set on making a combined homage to Asimov's Foundation and End of Eternity, that he didn't really stop to think about how all of the elements fit together. I don't know, I might not even finish this one. It is VERY hard to care when the majority of the book has focused on characters that I don't like, in a time period I find boring. I'll give it a few more chapters to figure out what it's doing. I really hate to dump a Star Wars book by Timothy Zahn, but man, this one really isn't doing it for me. Uhg, taking a break from this one to reread some Asimov, maybe then I can come back and plow through the terrible characters in this book. Okaaaaaaay. I've gotten back to this book. I'm about 1/3 of the way through it now. I have to say, I'm not really diggin' it. There are a few things about it that are really annoying me. First, and most glaring, is the fact that the author is doing something that I really hate with this book. He's trying to make Thrawn look more intelligent, but making Darth Vader look like an idiot. Here's the thing. Darth Vader may be impulsive, and allow his emotions to rule him. But he's not stupid. Neither is Anakin Skywalker for that matter, and Zahn is doing the same thing with him. If you want to show me how intelligent your character is, make him the smartest man in a room full of geniuses. Don't make him the smartest man standing next to a bag full of hammers. That proves nothing except your lack of understanding of the characters you're writing, and of human interaction. Especially when you take a character that has 40+ years of history and portray him as the dumbest schlub in the room. Also, Thrawn is a military tactical genius. He's not a two-bit detective. I'm not reading a book about him to read about his adventures as a two-bit detective. I'm reading it, to see him dominating space battles and being the tactical genius that he is. Too much of the book is devoted to Anakin and Padme, two of the most wretchedly wooden, dry, emotionless, and boring characters ever to be seen on film. There is a loooooooong stretch here in the first third of the book from Padme's point of view that just felt like it dragged on forever. There was little that was accomplished by this section of the book that needed such length, or even to be from her point of view. I have always hated her as a character. And it has NOTHING to do with Natalie Portman. Natalie Portman is an excellent actress that can give a very good performance given the right material and direction. She really had nothing to work with for Padme, and George Lucas is notorious for being very bad at directing actors. I don't like Padme, because she's not a character. She has no personality at all. She is just there to do what the plot says she should do, and say what the plot says she should say. Nothing she ever does makes any sense, because she's never shown to be an actual person who is making these decisions for any real reason that makes any sense to her as a character. She just goes and does a bunch of random stuff, stupidly putting herself in danger, for no reason, just because. It makes her both very boring, and very frustrating, and I, frankly, just don't care about her, or anything she does. I don't want to read long stretches of this book about her. She is, quite literally, my least favorite Star Wars character. Yes. I would take Fucking Jar Jar Binks over her. At least HE makes sense as a character. He has clear motivations. He may be stupid, annoying, horifically racist, and clumsy, but I understand what he's doing, and why he's doing it. I can't say the same for Padme, because nothing she does makes sense, because she's not a character with any visible motivation driving her. She just does things, because reasons, and then shit happens because the plot says so. Man, I was so looking forward to this book, and I am just really not enjoying it at all. I want to finish it. I hope it gets better once I get past this mind-numbing set up. But man, it is not easy. So, something I'm seeing is people talking about how Zahn keeps portraying Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader as too similar to each other? Um. Really? Because you do realize they're the same person, right? One thing I can say for George Lucas is that his characters are generally consistent with themselves throughout the cycle of films. They learn and grow (most of the time) but they're generally the same people by the end, just with more life experience under their belts. Anakin/Vader is a really good example of this. Anakin is impulsive, arrogant, has a temper, and lets his emotions rule him. Vader is impulsive, arrogant, has a temper, and lets his emotions rule him. Just because he's been through some shit, and put on some black armor, it doesn't make him a different character. He's the same character, just in a new situation. Love it or hate it. Respect or disrespect George Lucas. That took some real thought to pull off while also remaining consistent. He had to make a character with the same personality traits as Darth Vader, but as a young man who still believes in the good that he can do with the Jedi Order. And, generally, he did pull it off. The dialog is terrible, and the acting is wooden, but Haydin Christensen's Anakin Skywalker acts exactly like a younger version of Dark Vader would. That kind of contradicts what I said earlier in the review about Vader falling to the dark side, but I feel that there could have been a bit of wiggle room in there to have a character that truly believed in the Jedi and the Republic, and was trying very hard to be a good man, but falling short of it and just saying fuck it when Palpatine showed him another way. That could have been a real tragedy. Instead we got "turn to the dark side" "yeah, okay." Another good example is Luke. The Luke in Jedi is the same Luke from Star Wars, just having lived through Empire. In the end, after all that he's been through, and all of the growth that he's done, he still loses his temper. He's still naive enough to believe that everything will go his way. This is consistent with the character that he was in the beginning of the story. He's learned some very hard life lessons, and grown as a character, but he's still the same person. He also shares many personality traits with his father, which is also a big thumbs up on the consistency front. I finally figured out WHY I feel like this book is so boring. Well, other than horrible pacing and unlikable characters. Okay, so, there's something of a formula to a Star Trek episode. You've got the opening sting where you get a captain's log entry, then something happens, and you usually get a closeup of one of the character's faces looking frightened or perplexed with a music sting, and then fade to credits. The opening sting of a Star Trek episode, the vast majority of the time, has little to nothing to do with the plot of the episode itself, it's just there to get you to watch the rest of the episode. A lot of the time it just feels like a chore to get through before the actual episode starts. It's kind of a pointless waste of space, most of the time. This entire book feels like a Star Trek opening sting that was just dragged out to the entire episode, rather than being over with at the beginning. Nothing in this book feels like it's happening for any real reason. There's, literally, no reason for anything to be happening here. The entire story is a pointless prologue that isn't important, and I've yet to be given a reason to care, because nothing in this story is happening toward any reason or purpose. The flashbacks to Anakin and Padme feel especially superfluous, because they have absolutely nothing to do with the main plot of the book so far at about 75% through. There is no point or purpose to this, and Thrawn is just there because reasons. He has no reason whatsoever to be in that part of the story. The freaking book is named after him, and he has no real reason to be in half of it. And the pacing, good god, the pacing. Zahn flips between these two plotlines at the weirdest moments, leaving lots of points in the book where things feel incomplete, and you start wondering if you flipped two pages by mistake. These two storylines do not belong together in the same book, and the problem is made worse by the fact that the author really doesn't seem to know when its appropriate to switch between them. This book is extremely frustrating. Okay, yeah, so, the Anakin/Padme storyline. Yeah, that goes exactly nowhere. It doesn't even really have much resolution. It just sort of ends. Oh me, oh my, I sure am glad it cluttered up half the entire fucking book and had zero point or payoff. That sure was a story that needed to be told. What? Sarcasm? Why would I be sarcastic? Look, perspective writers, and hell, professional writers blow this one sometimes too. DO NOT INCLUDE CHARACTERS IN A BOOK JUST TO INCLUDE THEM!!! IF THEY DO NOT HAVE A PURPOSE TO THE PLOT, THEY DO NOT BELONG IN IT!!! IF YOU WANT TO HAVE THEM IN THE STORY ANYWAY, YOU ARE REQUIRED TO REWORK YOUR ENTIRE PLOT BEFOREHAND SO THAT THEY ARE CRUCIAL TO IT IN SOME WAY!!! OTHERWISE, FUCK OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO ONE, AND I MEAN NO-FUCKING-ONE, WANTS TO READ ABOUT THEM IF THEY ARE SUPERFLUOUS TO THE PLOT. IF YOU ARE REALLY PROUD OF THE CHARACTERS, AND REALLY WANT TO INCLUDE THEM, FUCKING GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO DO!!! SOMETHING OTHER THAN BUSYWORK THAT'S ULTIMATELY NOT IMPORTANT TO ANYTHING, AND DOES NOTHING BUT FILL UP SPACE IN THE BOOK!!! Ahem. Yeah, and the "present day" shit is pretty well pointless in the end too. No resolution, because there wasn't really anything to be resolved. This book was completely pointless. There was no purpose at all. It exists just to exist. I mean. Darth Vader teaming up with Grand Admiral Thrawn. That is a recipe for epic. You really have to work at it to make it this pointless, mind-numbingly stupid, and boring. I absolutely loved the first book. Where did that go? What the fuck happened here? Was the author given a mandate from Lucasfilm to include certain things in the book that just didn't mesh with the rest of the book? Because it kind of fells like that may be the case. So like, Vader and Thrawn are chillin' with the Emperor in the beginning, and he vaguely announces that there's a disturbance in the Force. Not a great disturbance. Just a normal, everyday disturbance, apparently. A mediocre disturbance in the force, if you will. He then points vaguely off in ---that---> direction, and tells them to piss off and go find the source if they're bored or something. So they do. And, well, that's pretty much all there is to the plot. They never actually find this mediocre disturbance in the Force. It's kind of like the author forgot about it at the end. Nothing is really resolved, and there's not really much reason to care if it was or wasn't. The ending is just as unsatisfying as the whole rest of the book leading up to it. The lack of anything of real substance in the final pages is the cherry atop this turd sunday.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Landry

    I felt Zahn spread himself too thin on this one. The multiple timelines hindered the progression of the overall story, and I never felt really invested in the Thrawn/Vader present timeline. It was also heavy on filler content that wasn't all that consequential - drawn out battle scenes, figuring out how to escape from a cell, etc. All in all, a considerable step down from the first book--one of my favorites in the new canon--and simply not up to par with the quality we're accustomed to with Zahn I felt Zahn spread himself too thin on this one. The multiple timelines hindered the progression of the overall story, and I never felt really invested in the Thrawn/Vader present timeline. It was also heavy on filler content that wasn't all that consequential - drawn out battle scenes, figuring out how to escape from a cell, etc. All in all, a considerable step down from the first book--one of my favorites in the new canon--and simply not up to par with the quality we're accustomed to with Zahn.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Wee Lassie

    Is this book making me like the blue space Nazi? This feels slightly self defeating on the part of Star Wars - having said that, I can't wait till Thrawn gets his first live action appearance, if its anything like this book it is going to be awesome.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Mood: checking this page almost every day to see if the release date has come yet. I really just need to put it on my calendar. hahaha

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jim C

    This is a sequel novel that involves Thrawn which has mostly been seen in the series Rebels and with Darth Vader. In this one, the Emperor has sensed a disturbance in the Unknown Regions and he decides to send Thrawn and Vader to investigate. They do not care for each other even though they have a shared history with each other when Vader was Anakin Skywalker. This novel tells the story of Vader and Thrawn and also Thrawn and Anakin. I enjoyed this book more than the first and one does not need t This is a sequel novel that involves Thrawn which has mostly been seen in the series Rebels and with Darth Vader. In this one, the Emperor has sensed a disturbance in the Unknown Regions and he decides to send Thrawn and Vader to investigate. They do not care for each other even though they have a shared history with each other when Vader was Anakin Skywalker. This novel tells the story of Vader and Thrawn and also Thrawn and Anakin. I enjoyed this book more than the first and one does not need to read the first one to understand this one. This book was an excellent look into the different styles of the characters. With the Anakin and Thrawn story we get to see the contrast of the two characters. Thrawn is cool, calm, and collected and one could make the comparison that he is the Sherlock Holmes of this universe. He studies the situation and then decides his course of action. Anakin is the opposite as he is brash and charges into the situation without any thought. This contrast is also in the forefront with the present story as we see the different management styles of Thrawn and Vader. Thrawn is hands on and encourages his crew to learn and develop. Vader manages by the use of fear and one does not want to fail under Vader as that usually means death of the perpetrator. I loved the look into these contrasts and to me was the highlight of this book as the missions were just okay. The present mission did leave a bit of a cliffhanger and could lead into something. In my opinion, the new canon books have not been the best with a few exceptions. This one falls under the exceptions as I enjoyed it from the first page. The author did an excellent job with the characters as I had no problem hearing their respective voices and it is always a plus when I have no problem hearing in my head James Earl Jones' voice as Darth Vader.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sud666

    "Alliances" is the second book in, what I assume, the Thrawn trilogy. I really enjoyed the first book. The second one was not as good, but still a nice read. The primary problem is the wonderful story of Thrawn and his relationship with Vader/Anakin is bogged down with sections regaling us with Padme's latest round of stupidity. The story takes place in two different times. The first part is during the Clone Wars and it's a story of how Anakin/Thrawn went to save Padme's stupid ass. The second sto "Alliances" is the second book in, what I assume, the Thrawn trilogy. I really enjoyed the first book. The second one was not as good, but still a nice read. The primary problem is the wonderful story of Thrawn and his relationship with Vader/Anakin is bogged down with sections regaling us with Padme's latest round of stupidity. The story takes place in two different times. The first part is during the Clone Wars and it's a story of how Anakin/Thrawn went to save Padme's stupid ass. The second story, a much better one by far, is during the Empire as Grand Admiral Thrawn and Lord Vader attempt to track down a disturbance in the force. The first part of the story was annoying (not the Thrawn/Anakin parts which were quite good) since we have the tenuous concept of a highly trained spy getting lost on a mission. So, naturally, Padme uses her elite training as a Galactic Senator (aka talking heads) to try to finish the mission. Of course. Since, obviously, her Senate training didn't prepare her to run a covert operation by herself-she promptly makes a hash of it and then hangs out, as usual, waiting for Anakin to come bail her out. Bear in mind, prior to this, her major contribution has been getting captured on Geonosis and then getting bailed out by two score Jedi. So yeah...it was stupid. The second part of the story with Thrawn and Vader comes off much better. I won't spoil it for you but there is something more than just some rebellious elements at play. Vader and Thrawn make an interesting combination. That is where the story really flourishes. It is a shame the focus couldn't have been on these wonderful characters without the distraction of Padme's brainless stupidity. Next time-if you do a story like this one, stick to the great characters like Vader, Sidious and Thrawn. Let Padme do what she does best- makes speeches and do dumb shit and getting saved by Anakin for another book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    I miss the Expanded Universe. This reads like a cartoon script. When measured against the four Expanded Universe Thrawn books it is disappointing. When you walk in to a library you have around four different types of fiction: Young Children's, Grade Schooler novels, Young Adult and Adult. Previously, Star Wars had appropriate books for all the different ages of its fans. Now, novels that are below the level of current YA are being sold to adults. Disney needs to get wise that high level readers I miss the Expanded Universe. This reads like a cartoon script. When measured against the four Expanded Universe Thrawn books it is disappointing. When you walk in to a library you have around four different types of fiction: Young Children's, Grade Schooler novels, Young Adult and Adult. Previously, Star Wars had appropriate books for all the different ages of its fans. Now, novels that are below the level of current YA are being sold to adults. Disney needs to get wise that high level readers can tell the difference between what they were receiving prior to its acquisition of Star Wars and what is being published now. Disney is killing fans slowly. In their first Canon Thrawn book, we find the character is now a really nice guy. In the last book of the Expanded Universe Thrawn trilogy, we see the Noghri Rukh in an ending worthy of "The Godfather." In this book, non cartoon watchers, meet the new Rukh- an annoying comic sidekick. What happened? Strangely, Disney will sometimes continue to receive my money for books- and Mr. Zahn too'- but for "Legends" labeled books. I can't stand the simplistic writing of Canon.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Andreas

    I enjoyed some parts while others bored me enough to make me skim through pages (which I never do). Still I think that I enjoyed this book more than book one. Certain characters from book one that I found boring weren't in this book. Although there were plenty of uninteresting characters in this book as well.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    This was an ok Clone Wars era story which was more about Anakin/Darth Vader than it was about Thrawn, and even then, I got the impression Vader was only in it to add a bit of weight to what was otherwise an unmemorable story. Unlike the first (Disney canon) Thrawn book, there was little character development and exploration of the blue Chiss alien’s backstory and inner workings. Rather, Alliances focused on two missions years apart which both feature Thrawn; in the earlier he accompanies Anakin This was an ok Clone Wars era story which was more about Anakin/Darth Vader than it was about Thrawn, and even then, I got the impression Vader was only in it to add a bit of weight to what was otherwise an unmemorable story. Unlike the first (Disney canon) Thrawn book, there was little character development and exploration of the blue Chiss alien’s backstory and inner workings. Rather, Alliances focused on two missions years apart which both feature Thrawn; in the earlier he accompanies Anakin on a sort of rescue mission which becomes much more, and later, teams up with Vader to investigate a disturbance in the force. Whilst both stories are action packed and full of Star Wars themed moments, there wasn’t any real sense of urgency or interest from my part. Take away Vader and Thrawn and replace them with lesser known characters and the story would largely play out the same. I had high expectations for this sequel but unfortunately the book didn’t live up to them. 2.5/5 stars.

  21. 4 out of 5

    RG

    After reading the previous Thrawn novel I wanted to get into this one as soon as possible. I dont think it really counts as a Thrawn novel as I fell like even though he was the common thread or character in both stories, he wasn't really necessary to the plot. The two stories really highlighted more about Vader/Anakin and Padme. I wasnt overly fond of Zahn making Vader seem infeior intellectually to Thrawn and at times seem really stupid. I liked the elements of Anakin turning towards the darksi After reading the previous Thrawn novel I wanted to get into this one as soon as possible. I dont think it really counts as a Thrawn novel as I fell like even though he was the common thread or character in both stories, he wasn't really necessary to the plot. The two stories really highlighted more about Vader/Anakin and Padme. I wasnt overly fond of Zahn making Vader seem infeior intellectually to Thrawn and at times seem really stupid. I liked the elements of Anakin turning towards the darkside slowly. Will check out reviews for the 3rd before purchasing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Since I read the first book before I started using Goodreads, for some context I would like to add that the first book would have been a four star review for me, with the general feeling that it was a great start in the same vein as the Hornblower books. Zahn really has a tough job in a number of ways: 1. He has to "reimagine" his own character in a way that's not strictly beholden to the old EU portrayal and distinct enough to stand on its own in new canon... all the while without confusing or al Since I read the first book before I started using Goodreads, for some context I would like to add that the first book would have been a four star review for me, with the general feeling that it was a great start in the same vein as the Hornblower books. Zahn really has a tough job in a number of ways: 1. He has to "reimagine" his own character in a way that's not strictly beholden to the old EU portrayal and distinct enough to stand on its own in new canon... all the while without confusing or alienating fans. 2. He has to work within the confines of the new canon and Lucasfilm's continuity plans -- this is made somewhat more difficult since he's: a. Working within the timeline between Rebels and Rogue One/ANH b. Working with Darth Vader and also the Clone Wars-era Anakin Skywalker c. Juggling with portrayals of Thrawn in Rebels 3. Zahn, as an author, also has to deal with the inevitable problem of being a normal person attempting to write about a super genius. With respect to items 1 and 2, I actually wrote "I do want to recognize that books will often not present revolutionary storylines simply because they can't damage the prime canon" in my review of Moebius Squared and I still think that's a good summation of the basic issue with modern Star Wars literature. I think -- until proven wrong, hopefully! -- that modern Star Wars literature under the aegis of a Lucasfilm actively developing the property can, at best, only hope to deepen the appreciation of certain events in films and live-action TV (if it comes). So that's one of my primary criteria for looking at this book with a critical eye. The other is, of course, the eponymous character of Thrawn -- how is he written? How does he develop? Is he used compellingly enough to support a third volume? This book has two storylines that are used to demonstrate the dichotomy of the Force in a lot of ways; the first storyline follows Anakin Skywalker in the Clone Wars era, while the second follows Darth Vader just after the Rebels era. Already there is an immediate dichotomy being set up, and it's only reinforced by Anakin's (or Vader's) actions in each timeline. Additionally, the storylines themselves also physically intersect, providing Vader with the proper stimuli to encourage him to react and speak about past events, reinforcing the intersection for the reader. Now, at this point in the review, you might be saying "Well, Anakin Vader Vader Vader, that's fine, but this is a Thrawn book, so what about Thrawn?" That's the essential problem I have with this book and the reason it only gets three stars: Thrawn functions mainly as a foil for Vader and a poor one at that. There's very little development of Thrawn as a character or for his background. Additionally, this book is ostensibly a continuation of Thrawn's storyline from Rebels, but that leads to another issue -- the book generally hinges on knowledge of Thrawn's appearances in Rebels to deepen interest in itself. Rather than standing on its own (or on the shoulders of the previous book), it's a "sequel" to the TV show. So if you haven't seen his appearances in Rebels, many of the references made to them in this book will fall flat. Thrawn's portrayal is diminished compared to the first book because of this, but also because he's essentially become an embodiment of the omniscient third-person narrator. In the first book, Thrawn's perception and deductive abilities were portrayed much like Sherlock Holmes's in both the Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch versions, with italicized passages summing up clues and flashes of perception. Here, it's the same, but the passages are generally what a third-person omniscient narrator would use to describe people and what they're doing if the narrator were a poor author -- which I know for a fact that Zahn is not. But it does come across as a narrative shortcut and crutch. Thrawn's observations in this book generally seem to fall into three categories: 1. Omniscient: he sees something and makes an observation to introduce knowledge the reader does not know and could never have known 2. Obvious: he sees something not shown to the reader and comes to an obvious conclusion 3. Narrative: he sees something and that observation is used as narration to introduce the reader to an obvious conclusion You'll notice that none of these three types of observations are genius-level or even entertaining, but rather different narrative tools, which is why I think of Thrawn in this book as a simple third-person omniscient narrator made into a character. One of the most common examples of 3 is the "present" (post-Rebels) storyline Thrawn observing some character revealing their nervousness or lack of knowledge. It's boring, it's not genius, and it really doesn't add much to the story compared to normal narration of someone sweating nervously or twitching. So what we end up in this book is a story about Anakin Skywalker, how his actions foreshadow the birth of Darth Vader, how Darth Vader thinks of Anakin Skywalker, and what kind of person the man behind the mask is. This story is driven by Thrawn's narration and bloodhound-like chase after a mystery in both timelines. After reading this book, I know a lot more about Darth Vader, and not much more about Thrawn. This deepens a lot of the things that Darth Vader appears in, but that's really not the point of a series about Thrawn. The only bright light here is that I can only hope that Thrawn's story and character have become a bit "untouchable" because he's due to appear in the cinematic universe... which is unlikely. I would have liked this book a lot more if it had been released as a stand-alone under the title Darth Vader: Alliances.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    I was very excited for this novel when it was announced. Perhaps that is part of the problem. I admit that I haven't been the biggest fan of the new canon novels up to this point. I have enjoyed those written by Claudia Gray and last year's Thrawn novel but in general I've found the new canon lacking something. For the first time since I've been reading Star Wars literature I could not get invested in a novel written by Timothy Zahn and featuring Thrawn as a character. That's why I say perhaps h I was very excited for this novel when it was announced. Perhaps that is part of the problem. I admit that I haven't been the biggest fan of the new canon novels up to this point. I have enjoyed those written by Claudia Gray and last year's Thrawn novel but in general I've found the new canon lacking something. For the first time since I've been reading Star Wars literature I could not get invested in a novel written by Timothy Zahn and featuring Thrawn as a character. That's why I say perhaps high expectations are to blame. I tried to care about the story and I just couldn't I found the portion set during the Clone Wars to be particularly boring. The stuff with Thrawn and Vader was a little more interesting but that wasn't a high bar to clear. I guess I'm tired of stories that feature Imperials with competing interests. It was a thread in last year's Thrawn novel and has been a subplot in a lot of the new canon novels including: A New Dawn, Tarkin and 'Lords of the Sith'. It is getting to the point where I start to wonder why the Rebel Alliance didn't just wait for the Empire to fight itself out of existence. I will say that I enjoyed the sections that showed the Storm Troopers in action. The Empire did have capable troopers, who knew? I listened to the audiobook and Marc Thompson is a hero. This is hardly the first Star Wars novel I have only managed to finish because of his performance and talents. Sadly, I don't expect that this will be the last Star Wars novel that I finish only because of the performance of Marc Thompson. Perhaps in a couple of years I will listen to this novel and enjoy it more but for right now it is just okay. I don't think that reading this book is essential to appreciate either Vader or Thrawn as characters.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    This is one of those books that leaves you feeling that you WANTED to like it more than you actually did. The structure of jumping back and forth between how Thrawn and Anakin Skywalker first encountered each other during the late stages of the Clone Wars and then are teamed up again by Palpatine around the time period portrayed in TV's "Rebels" series SHOULD make for a more rounded narrative, but I found the secondary characters in BOTH time periods so bland and forgettable that ultimately I fo This is one of those books that leaves you feeling that you WANTED to like it more than you actually did. The structure of jumping back and forth between how Thrawn and Anakin Skywalker first encountered each other during the late stages of the Clone Wars and then are teamed up again by Palpatine around the time period portrayed in TV's "Rebels" series SHOULD make for a more rounded narrative, but I found the secondary characters in BOTH time periods so bland and forgettable that ultimately I found myself forcing myself to the finish line. I'd stick to the first New Canon Thrawn novel unless you are a real completionist.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    Disney has officially killed Star Wars. Between this and the mess that was The Last Jedi, the galaxy far, far away is in a state of disrepair. We need this franchise rebooted and returned to its roots, NOW!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ross

    This book delivers the old 1970s Star Wars feel. That's what I love about it. Despite a good bit taking place during the Clone Wars, Timothy Zahn has a rare talent for capturing the heart and soul of what makes Star Wars appealing: action, suspense, intrigue and character development. The last one is most important. I absolutely loved the back and forth between Darth Vader and Thrawn. You rarely get that kind of debate in the movies, because every other Imperial is scared to death to debate Vade This book delivers the old 1970s Star Wars feel. That's what I love about it. Despite a good bit taking place during the Clone Wars, Timothy Zahn has a rare talent for capturing the heart and soul of what makes Star Wars appealing: action, suspense, intrigue and character development. The last one is most important. I absolutely loved the back and forth between Darth Vader and Thrawn. You rarely get that kind of debate in the movies, because every other Imperial is scared to death to debate Vader. Not Thrawn, though! For goodness sake, give your characters room to breathe. Every time I read a book by Zahn, I'm reminded that he needs to write for movies.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Keithly

    Thrawn Alliances is a hard book to judge. I've always enjoyed Zahn's plots when it comes to novels featuring Zahn. This book has some rather interesting developments for Thrawn, Anakin, and the Republic during the Clone Wars. Plus, there is a second time line that takes place during the time of the Rebels television show between the third and fourth seasons. As one might expect, each plot line holds clues for the other. However, as great as the plot and some of the twists are, some of the other p Thrawn Alliances is a hard book to judge. I've always enjoyed Zahn's plots when it comes to novels featuring Zahn. This book has some rather interesting developments for Thrawn, Anakin, and the Republic during the Clone Wars. Plus, there is a second time line that takes place during the time of the Rebels television show between the third and fourth seasons. As one might expect, each plot line holds clues for the other. However, as great as the plot and some of the twists are, some of the other parts of his novels aren't as great. When I started this book, I mentally noted that at some point main characters will get captured, and they will construct an elaborate method of escape. This is kind of a hallmark of Zahn's work. Sure enough, it happened. In addition, the story occasionally bogs down with scenes that take pages where a few sentences or a paragraph would suffice. For instance, at one point, Padme is floating down a river and attempting to evade detection by the enemy. This goes on too long. Speaking of Padme, I liked her portrayal in this novel. She has the "get it done" attitude Star Wars fans come to expect from the prequels and The Clone Wars. I also liked Thrawn. He is famous for his intellect and powers of deduction. I felt many of his observations were warranted. There were some where he need not have made Anakin, Darth Vader, or Padme play the guessing game of how he knew what he knew. Darth Vader was a mixed bag. In parts, he was the fierce Sith warrior readers would expect. In other places, he wasn't as impressive as one would hope. Frequently, he was caught off guard by Thrawn's intellect. It seems like he should be more of an equal to Thrawn in his own way. As for Anakin, he was about as impulsive as one would expect. He was also brash. However, I felt that he too suffered in Thrawn's shadow. As cool as Thrawn is, a novel that features Anakin/Darth Vader as prominently as this one did should have made the Dark Lord of the Sith a little less a Watson to Thrawn's Holmes. In addition, it would have been enjoyable to see Anakin simply unleash with his saber in combat instead of frequently rely on tricks and McGuyver like tactics so often. This book was marketed as featuring Batuu and Blackspire Outpost. This is the setting of Disney's new Star Wars theme park opening in 2019. While Batuu was in the book, it didn't really get a chance to shine. Most of the truly important action occurs elsewhere. It didn't seem like the Blackspire Outpost really had a chance to develop character. One of the strengths of the book was the First Legion. These were troopers pulled from the 501st to work with Vader. Rukh, Thrawn's Noghri assassin, is also featured. These characters shined. Their combat scenes were a lot of fun. There were also some space combat scenes that I enjoyed. Overall, this is a worthwhile read. It is hard to grade. I'd say 3.5 stars is about right with the high point being the overall plot and the low point some of the action scenes.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bon

    *Hanging head in shame* I completely lost interest. I'm not sure if it's because the parallel timelines, or... something. There's something for me in reading about something you know doesn't end well, and while it's great to read about Padme being a badass, when I know how it all goes south... I dunno. DNFing at 33%.

  29. 4 out of 5

    DiscoSpacePanther

    What can I say? My favourite Star Wars author given another round with the best villain of the Empire era - and not only that, he's allowed to play with the best spaceship in all of Star Wars! A brief rundown: we have two timeframes. First, towards the end of the clone wars, Anakin Skywalker and Thrawn must team up to find Padmé, who has failed to check in whilst on a covert mission on the planet Batuu. Second, Darth Vader and Thrawn mmust work together to overcome a threat that the Emperor has f What can I say? My favourite Star Wars author given another round with the best villain of the Empire era - and not only that, he's allowed to play with the best spaceship in all of Star Wars! A brief rundown: we have two timeframes. First, towards the end of the clone wars, Anakin Skywalker and Thrawn must team up to find Padmé, who has failed to check in whilst on a covert mission on the planet Batuu. Second, Darth Vader and Thrawn mmust work together to overcome a threat that the Emperor has foreseen originating from the planet Batuu. This is the first time I've read a book where Timothy Zahn has tackled either Anakin or Vader, and he manages to get to the crux of their characters very well: Anakin is impetuous, with conflicted loyalties between his overwhelming concern for Padmé and his duty towards the Republic; Vader, on the other hand, remains solidly obsessed with his loyalty to the Emperor. Thrawn is, well, Thrawn! He is as Thrawnlike as ever, and it is as enjoyable as ever. Also, Padmé gets an opportunity to shine in this story. I was worried that it would be a plot element where Anakin has to rescue her, but that never actually happens - she is capable and resourceful and gets a crowning moment of awesome when she uses her personal weapon against an apparently impervious foe. The only real flaw in this book is perhaps the fact that Thrawn's deductions are again always flawless. It would have been nice to see him tentatively starting out on his Holmsian career, and making the odd mistake - but he never really does, so we get to miss out on that potential character element. That one small niggle aside, I can say that I really enjoyed this Star Wars novel. Zahn's usage of the TIE Defender is wonderful to read, partly because I've wanted to see this happen since I first played the TIE Fighter game way back in the '90s, and partly because the TIE Defender is just awesome - no need to say more. Except there is more - we even get to have Darth Vader piloting a TIE Defender, just like in the Treachery at Ottega missions from the game. I was solidly in uncritical fanboy mode when that happened! And then we have Darth Vader stating that these early production TIE Defenders need to be faster and more heavily armed (let's hope they eventually get given ion cannons in canon, too)! The rest of the Zahn trademarks were there (except Mara - she's still not re-canonised!) - Rukh the noghri assassin; capable stormtrooper squads; mysterious and threatening aliens from the Unknown Regions. Zahn even manages to get Anakin to say "Point!" at one moment in the story. I enjoyed that so much - and I hope Zahn gets to write some more Thrawn Star Wars. Highly recommended to all Star Wars fans.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Silvana

    Now I know why the overall rating is not as good as the first one. I am going to be very critical. (view spoiler)[The book promised us an interesting dynamic of the two most revered enforcers of Darth Sidious: Thrawn and Vader. Was it really the case for me? Not really. I found the dynamic to be imbalanced and repetitive. Thrawn spent of most of his time being Sherlock, while Vader spent most of his time grumbling and acquiescing to Thrawn's obviously logical explanations. At some other times, t Now I know why the overall rating is not as good as the first one. I am going to be very critical. (view spoiler)[The book promised us an interesting dynamic of the two most revered enforcers of Darth Sidious: Thrawn and Vader. Was it really the case for me? Not really. I found the dynamic to be imbalanced and repetitive. Thrawn spent of most of his time being Sherlock, while Vader spent most of his time grumbling and acquiescing to Thrawn's obviously logical explanations. At some other times, they're basically dancing around each other with the same tune over and over again. Vader said he did not trust Thrawn, Thrawn replied and asked for Vader's trust. It goes on, like, ad nauseam. I actually enjoyed the subplot involving the troopers from Vader's personal guard and Thrawn's own ship crew. And look how those TIE Defenders kicked some galactic arses! We need a Lost Stars novel (minus the romance) for Capt. Skerris and we could even include some Wedge Antilles in it during their time at the pilot academy. But I digress. Back to Thrawn. Now, he was reduced to a supporting character here. I was elated when reading at the beginning of the book that it took place right after his defeat at Atollon. Why not dwell on that? I want to know his reaction to killing Bendu and failed in capturing the Phoenix Squadron! Instead, Not only we got lots of Vader (more than I want), but we also got lots of Anakin. And Padme. Yes. Them again. The flashbacks with Padme and Anakin failed to excite me as well. I mean, how many time we had to watch Anakin went blazing his way to save Padme? Granted that Padme could take care of herself and all that, but seriously this plot is not only old, but a karking fossil. The conflict presented here was nothing special and the drawn-out battle scenes (in the ground) made me want to skim the pages. I wished Zahn gave more meat to the 'so-called disturbances in the Force' (which was their mission) story. Instead of giving the Chiss children - holy hell, Force wielders! they're important! - more pages, there were more on Padme and Anakin and Thrawn getting around the compound and played hide and seek with the very uninteresting villain. Rants aside, there were a few moments that I love: Thrawn and Padme talking about the Separatists and Anakin's decision to blow up the factory turned out to be disastrous for the people and their planet. (hide spoiler)] Ugh, maybe bring Eli Vanto back? And for Chiss sake, give us more Thrawn!

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