I just finished listening to the Thrawn pentalogy by Timothy Zahn, voiced by Marc Thompson who did an amazing job.
WTF didn’t Lucas/Disney turn these books into movies? If done well, they’d be a thousand times better than the trash they’re making.
Apparently these books were made “not canon” when Disney crapped on the franchise. But with Star Wars: Rebels (which is actually pretty good), Admiral Thrawn is back in. And given the rebranding of the books (check Amazon), I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Thrawn in the future.
Here are the books in order because the titles are confusing:
Heir to the Empire trilogy = Thrawn Trilogy
- Heir to the Empire
- Dark Force Rising
- The Last Command
The Hand of Thrawn = Thrawn Duology
- Specter of the Past
- Vision of the Future
So, why are these books worth reading/listening to?
- The stories are enjoyable — space opera in the Star Wars universe. You can actually listen to ’em with your kids (if you have ’em and they like SW)
- Familiar characters — Han and Leia…and their kids, Luke, Lando, Chewy, etc.
- Cool new characters — Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, Thrawn
- The voice acting is excellent. (Minor annoyance: the “alien” sounds worked into the speech…animal grunts and groans and whinnies and FM enough already.)
Personally, I need to re-listen to the books because of Thrawn. He’s positioned as the infallible admiral…a grand strategist….totally amazeballs.
But you go into the books knowing that the New Republic wins. Because…duh. If Thrawn is all that then….how?
So, as a writer I’m interested in how Zahn:
- Makes Thrawn awesome and compelling and brilliant
- Without stupid plot contrivances
I haven’t figured out quite how he did it. I have a few ideas but no specifics.
In my books I have a somewhat similar situation in that I have powerful characters that need to lose — but do so in convincing ways. What I’ve done so far is try to:
- Show them doing all they can, but it not being enough
- Show them doing all they can but making mistakes b/c of bad info or not enough info or just b/c people make mistakes
- Something legitimately new that they couldn’t have conceived of being introduced so that the tables are upended
- Introduce malicious, hidden action/schemes by third parties
Pretty much all of the above I think you have to make sure the reader knows but the characters don’t–or, maybe better said, the readers figure/find it out first and then sh!t happens to the characters.
This all seems like pretty standard stuff — which I’m only assuming b/c I thought of it (ie, nothing special about me). And by standard I mean that I’ve absorbed the above by reading / watching stuff. And I also guess that the above are somewhat similar to how try/fail cycles are pulled off.
All of the above is why I need to re-listen to the Thrawn books. I’ve been winging it, as you can tell.