• Thrawn (Star Wars)

  • By: Timothy Zahn
  • Narrated by: Marc Thompson
  • Length: 16 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (33,684 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this definitive novel, listeners will follow Thrawn's rise to power - uncovering the events that created one of the most iconic villains in Star Wars history.

©2017 Timothy Zahn (P)2017 Random House Audio

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What listeners say about Thrawn (Star Wars)

Average Customer Ratings
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Nice To Have Thrawn Back, But...

Timothy Zahn returns to the Star Wars universe with Thrawn, the titular character that first appeared in print back in the 1990s and helped reignite fan’s interest in a galaxy far, far away. 1991, when Heir to the Empire was first published, presented a very desolate landscape for Star Wars fans, and was certainly a far cry from the series current-day resurgence. Back then, we only had three films – Episodes IV, V, and VI. There were no prequels, no other sequels, no real line of novels, video games, Funko Pops! and cartoon series. Fans were starved for more stories set in their favorite cinematic series. Timothy Zahn helped change all that with his initial Thrawn Trilogy, reintroducing us to the heroes of the Rebel Alliance cum New Republic five years after the The Return of the Jedi and the Battle for Endor. Right from the outset, Thrawn was a bold new villain and cunning strategist, and an immediately iconic one at that.

Nowadays, Star Wars is everywhere. The series of Expanded Universe novels was relaunched in the build-up for The Force Awakens, and a series of tie-in novels helped lay the new groundwork between Episodes VI and VII. One question that kept coming up among fans and readers was, Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn? Was there even a Grand Admiral Thrawn anymore, or had his enduring legacy between swept away in the relaunch?

Well, now we know. Thrawn is, indeed, a canonical part of the new Expanded Universe – and still an enormous threat for the galaxy to reckon with. With this novel, Zahn dives into origin story territory, detailing the blue-skinned alien’s rise to power within the xenophobic and fascistic Empire. For readers of Zahn’s original Thrawn novels, the character will be intimately familiar. This is still the same character, his keen intellect and powers of observation fully intact, and reintroduced into the Star Wars timeline between Episode III and Rogue One.

I, for one, am thrilled to have Thrawn back in action again. This is a thinking-man’s villain, one who uses his brains above all else, never relying solely on brawn and bluster to get through the day, but rather through sly, Sherlock Holmes’ style observation and chess-like maneuvers. It’s great to see him again outwitting his opponents and manipulating his way through the Empire’s ranks. The story suffers, though, with a side-plot revolving around Arihnda Price, an ex-miner forced by external powers into the Empire’s employ. The dual narratives provide insight into the political machinations of the Emperor’s regime, and it’s interesting to listen to how both maneuver through the Empire in order to meet their own goals. The biggest problem, though, is that Price’s story is a bit dull with its focus on politics and takes a long while to really get anywhere. The same is slightly true of Thrawn’s narrative as well. While it’s interesting to see him work his way up the ranks, we also know how this story ends. The plot device hanging in the middle of this story, operating behind the scenes and driving Thrawn and Price toward their end-goals, is one that Star Wars fans will be able to peg right from the outset.

Thrawn presents little in the way of surprise, and given the nature of the Empire and the character’s carving their way into and through it, it’s also difficult to find reason to root for any of them. Anyone who is familiar with Star Wars knows exactly what the evil Empire is, what it’s all about, and what it represents. Do we really care, ultimately, if any of these characters succeed in reaching the top of Mount Evil, particularly in light of the story’s lack of worthwhile protagonists? Thrawn works well when we have a central heroic, good-guy (or gal) character to root for, and there’s none of that here. While Thrawn is interesting, it’s never really very exciting or fun, and it never reaches the heights of greatness exhibited in the original Thrawn Trilogy. Sadly, from a story perspective, this book’s a bit of a dud.

Thankfully, Marc Thompson’s narration is brilliant. After listening to his voice talents on Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars trilogy, I was really chomping at the bit to see what Marc would do with Zahn’s novel. In this respect, I was not the least bit disappointed. He presents a number of varied voices, tones, and speech patterns, and does an absolutely superb job all around. The use of sound effects and music throughout help up the ante on the production front, reminding us regularly with its familiar score and laser blasts that this is a legit Star Wars story.

135 people found this helpful

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Un-Surprisingly, Beautiful

Zahn and Thompson come together once more to weave an exceptional story! Zahn has woven another patch into the quilt that is Star Wars. His writing is superb, and thankfully we have someone just as brilliant to narrate! I can not applaud this enough! I also plan on purchasing the physical copy, because apparently there is a pull out poster featuring the Grand Admiral himself! But do yourself a favor and jump into this audiobook!


A few notable aspects that I can remember (re listening after this!) NO SPOILERS!

The story of Thrawn's ascendancy to Grand Admiral.

The unique Chiss twist of the importance in utilizing and preserving resources, which bordered on compassion for others.

The tie in to Star Wars Rebels! Providing a really rich background into why certain events occurred in the show.

A beautiful balance of political intrigue (which I ABSOLUTELY love in the Star Wars universe!), and intense action scenes!

One detail I really appreciated was the depiction and hesitance of Coruscant's underbelly. We typically see this through the eyes of force wielders or soldiers, neither of which really experience the emotions that an everyday person would when confronted with the slums.

78 people found this helpful

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The Sherlock of Star Wars

Timothy Zahn is one of the masters of the Star Wars universe. Thrawn is a masterpiece. A character study of one of the most famous and beloved adversaries in the Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is not driven by evil or domination. The Sherlock of the Star Wars galaxy, he is a master at military tactics and studies the culture and art of varying species in an effort to understand them. This book gives us insight into Thrawn's thought process as he ascends the imperial ranks, artfully handles core world bigotry, tangles with another tactical master and trains another outer rim outsider in his crafts. I loved watching Thrawn outwit humans who felt far superior and learned they were not. This book also featured the backstory of Lothal governor Pryce and her journey down a dark path of ruthlessness. I read this book using immersion reading, while listening to the brilliant Marc Thompson's incredible narration. His character voices are spot on and his beautiful intonations really make the story come alive. I loved Thrawn's voice. This book is another reason why he is my favorite narrator.
A must read/listen for Star Wars fans, Zahn does not disappoint. Political intrigue, action, drama and excitement await within. I took my time to savor this book and was sad to see it end. I hope we have more of the Grand Admiral's adventures both in print and on the big screen.

48 people found this helpful

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Thrawn has survived the purge of the cannon

5 hours in and Thrawn seems to have survived the cannon purge wonderfully he is still Thrawn and this story reinstates alot of thrawns back story that had evolved other the course of Zahns other novels

37 people found this helpful

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Miss the old voice

Love it. But I miss the old voice for Thrawn. The new one lines up with Rebels, but is less powerful.

36 people found this helpful

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Bad sound effects throughout

If you like audio books you won't like this. Its more of an audio drama, with constant ambient sound in the background and very distracting sound effects at every opportunity. This combined with an overly dramatic naration make the whole thing feel very childish. Very disappointing to see one of the best starwars story's reduced to a flashy gimmick of special effects. At this point I guess that is pretty typical from this franchise.

23 people found this helpful

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Somewhat disappointing

While not bad, per se, unfortunately this fell far short of my expectations. The Thrawn character here doesn't compare to his excellent arc in the 'Heir to the Empire' trilogy.

20 people found this helpful

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A Zahn Book - Expertly voiced

This is what I was looking for in a Timothy Zahn Book. I've missed his thrawn. I also want to be first to say the voice actor is perfect, even if Eli is clearly George W. Bush.

19 people found this helpful

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Not in the same league as other installments

What three words best describe Marc Thompson’s performance?

Marc Thompson was incredibly animated. This was great during moments of dialogue where he excelled with emotion and accent. But during general narration, it was distracting. A passive voice is preferred when describing the events, in my opinion. It sounded like Lars Mikkelsen who voices Thrawn in the animated Star Wars Rebels series also voiced Thrawn in this audiobook. If so, that was a great touch. And the sound effects were spot-on. Overall, not my favorite narrator, though.

Any additional comments?

I appear to be in the minority here, but I wasn't all that impressed with this Star Wars addition. I much preferred installments by James Luceno or Michael Reaves. The countless moments where the author attempts to illustrate Thrawn's calculative mind are often trivial scenarios, usually tiny political maneuvers. And the amount of time dedicated to Arihnda Pryce and her dull backstory was a grueling slog. I'm a huge Star Wars fan, so this book was a necessary read, but not the most enjoyable one. I may give it another go at a later date due to its positive reception, but not anytime soon.

16 people found this helpful

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Waited on pre-order for over a week.//

What would have made Thrawn (Star Wars) better?

If there had been any audio playing from the audio file....any what so ever... Im just watching the seconds tick by on my 24 dollar purchase with no audio playing....

Would you ever listen to anything by Timothy Zahn again?

I love Timothy Zahn and own the Thrawn Trilogy.. Have been looking forward to this book since it was announced.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Chris Bledsoe
  • 01-15-20

Don’t understand the high reviews

This is a well narrated book, but I can’t understand the high reviews.

It never once gripped me, Thrawn is basically an invincible master strategist who never makes a mistake and is never in danger. The other characters are stupid compared to his genius, so there’s no threat and no peril, there’s no villain or main obstacle for him to overcome and therefore no stakes and no tension.

I think this got high reviews because compared to most of the other Star Wars books it is better and Thrawn is an interesting, (if totally one dimensional) character. Most of the other Star Wars books are terrible. The best ones by far have been Revan and Darth Plagueis.

Thrawn himself may as well be a robot programmed with flawless strategy and once you read chapter after chapter of him effortlessly defeating enemy after enemy it gets very old very fast.

It also introduces a side plot involving a female character with a seemingly pointless rise to power story that goes nowhere and takes forever to get there. This character I found totally uninteresting.

So I have no idea why this book has the high reviews it does, perhaps children would like it or young teenagers. I can’t recommend it for anyone else.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Miss
  • 01-24-19

Enjoyable story, but

Why all the background buzz!? I can see the sound effects relevant to the story working well - lasers, ships in flight - but a lot of the ‘on bridge’ scenes have a background hubbub that is very distracting, especially when listening in the car. I even thought it was a strange noise my car was making when I first heard it!

16 people found this helpful

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  • Beenay25
  • 08-23-18

Great story. Terrible audio.

The story of Grand Admiral Thrawn's rise to power is brilliant and well written.

The audiobook is nearly unlistenable. The audio is full of sound effects and ambient sound. It's like the grown up equivalent of those books for 3 year olds that have a column of animals down the right hand side that you press for a sound effect. The foley guy slapping the button for droid noises or shuttle engines whenever he hears those subjects mentioned.

Sometimes the background noise is so irritating and loud that you have to really concentrate on the dialogue. I don't need to hear crickets to know that the scene takes place in the wilderness.

The foreground sound effects are grating and unnecessary. I really don't need to hear chewing noises when a character eats. I don't need to hear random beeping and servo noises whenever a droid is mentioned.

The voice acting is mostly ok (Thrawn and the Emperor are spot on) however some characters and the narrator himself come across as artificial and over acted. Probably the worst bit is when Thrawn is talking to an insectoid alien... the overly produced screeching voice and background are akin to finger nails down a chalk board.

A brilliant and well written story completely ruined by terrible audio.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Paul
  • 08-09-18

This brought me back

I really enjoyed the book and this excellent audio book. It brought me back into the Star Wars fold and get me reading the various adventures again and exploring the newer tales and spin offs

14 people found this helpful

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  • David McCullough
  • 11-27-18

My first Star Wars novel

A really great performance, fantastic story and wonderfully fleshed out characters.
Not a mention of the force/Jedi/Sith which was refreshing. An insight into the imperial navy and a side of the stories you wouldn’t normally hear.
Can’t wait to read/hear more about Thrawn.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Warp_Droid
  • 07-01-19

Most enjoyable. Thrawn is a great character.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Some great characters and interesting situations. Thrawn is one of the greatest Star Wars characters in my opinion.

11 people found this helpful

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  • tiffer
  • 08-07-18

Great story with lots of twists

Great story with lots of twists I am looking forward to the next one, will download tomorrow

8 people found this helpful

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  • James
  • 01-29-19

Great story but...

The only downside was the voicing of female characters... they sounded like some very bad drag acts. However the other characters were largely brilliant.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Anu
  • 07-28-18

Great

Wonderful to have a full book focusing on thrawn as a character and not just adversary. Timothy Zann really does him justice as he did in the now legends series. It is set just after the clone wars and really goes into the expanded universe wouldn't recommend to anyone just getting into the many star wars novels but you enjoyed plasma you will love this.

5 people found this helpful

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  • nick
  • 07-11-19

Thrawn

The first new star wars cannon book I've listened to. Looking forward to the rest

4 people found this helpful

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  • Michael Scorgie
  • 07-24-18

Absolutely Fantastic

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn is a perfect Star Wars story with the advantage of the battles feeling realistic unlike the ridiculous tactics seen in the movies or even by Thrawn as seen in Star Wars rebels. In my opinion this book is the best rendition of the character Thrawn yet

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-11-20

why isn't Mr Zahn writing the film scripts??

brilliant. restoring my faith in Stat wars after the latest train wreck of films.
if they adapted these novels for the big screen or even Disney + balance would be restored to the force :p

3 people found this helpful

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  • Gunter
  • 05-23-19

Great yarn, thoroughly engaging and terrific characterisation.

A more sophisticated Star Wars offering for the child fan who became an adult. Very engaging and the characterisation of Thrawn in particular was utterly captivating. The Rogue One of audiobooks.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Steven Dalziel
  • 07-23-18

Brilliantly crafted novel

The narration was magnificent and the story drives a good pace. Enjoyed every minute of it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Fraser
  • 07-31-19

interesting

great story that gives more details to some of the characters from rebels and new characters as well. Cant wait to read the next book in the series

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ryan
  • 07-15-19

exactly what I was after

Star wars seems to be flopping in the cinema, and I could never bring myself to actually read a book. 1st audio book and I was quickly addicted to the story the voice acting and quality.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Brenton Baily
  • 07-04-19

So good

If you like Star Wars download this damn book okay. Great vocal performance and just extremely well written

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kain Jarvis
  • 06-30-19

Amazing book

One of the best star wars books so far and one I very much enjoyed.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-13-18

Fascinating Thrawn, imperial and dark side lore

it was so intriguing to hear of Thrown's background and motivs for joining the Empire.
hope we see more from Elie and his future.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-04-22

Proper good Star Wars, not the modern stuff

Completely worth getting if you want a good audiobook and a great story in the world of Star Wars