YMMV / The Thrawn Trilogy

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Is Thrawn's continued use of the Noghri, Mara Jade, Ferrier, and C'baoth, despite it being painfully obvious they can and will disrupt his plans a case of him holding the Idiot Ball, or an indication of how unwilling he is to eliminate potentially useful people no matter how unlikely it is that they can be incorporated into his plans?
    • Is Thrawn's analysis of art really how he comes to his conclusions or is it simply the myth of his own invincibility that he has created?
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The books produced at least three extremely popular characters - Thrawn, Mara and Talon Karrde, but the most surprising success story might be the relatively minor character of Pellaeon who would go on to much greater things.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In The Last Command Han and Leia start trusting Mara after she risks her life to save their newborn children Jacen and Jaina from being kidnapped. Years later, Jacen would pull a Face–Heel Turn and kill Mara. Oddly enough the irony of this was never pointed out in the latter book.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Thrawn's treatment of the Noghri becomes this after Outbound Flight, where he, as a young officer, expresses some distaste for slavery.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Luuke being an insane clone of Luke Skywalker becomes especially ironic when one remembers that Luke Skywalker's film actor, Mark Hamill, ends up voicing The Joker, who is an incredibly insane supervillain.
  • Ho Yay: Pellaeon seems to admire Thrawn a good bit, respecting him and thinking of him in an arguably fond manner. He also takes Thrawn's death pretty hard. For Thrawn's part, he seems to respect Pellaeon and makes an effort to keep him in the loop and explain things even when it's unecessary.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Thrawn is as adept a master manipulator as Palpatine was, and a better military strategist and tactician than he, Vader or anyone else in the galaxy. Not surprising, as Zahn partially based him on the original Magnificent Bastard.
  • Moral Event Horizon: C'baoth. General Covell. Mind Rape. You do the math. Also Nightmare Fuel.
  • Narm: Seriously, Luuke? You couldn't come up with anything better, Thrawn?
  • Nightmare Fuel: Probably an Adult Fear more than anything else, but one of the plots in Heir to the Empire has Leia pursued by Thrawn's Noghri commandos. Thanks to Indy Ploy after Indy Ploy she escapes them each time, but no matter where she runs and what tricks she and her family pull to throw them off, they find her. She's not safe anywhere. And she's pregnant. Thrawn might be Affably Imperial, but he wants to take her children away.
    • What Joruus C'baoth did to that one Imperial in The Thrawn Trilogy. We don't see it happening, but for a little while after it's over the Imperial is the viewpoint character, and he's basically nothing more than an extension of C'baoth's will. A few pages later and Captain Pellaeon sees a report that the Imperial who was escorting C'baoth just... died a few hours after being separated from the mad Jedi. Worse, Covell had already been the viewpoint character once before, and the contrast between the highly competent Deadpan Snarker that he was and the worshipful puppet he was MindRaped into was utterly horrifying.
    • Joruus' fondness for controlling and moulding people is pretty creepy in general, but it gets extra disturbing when Thrawn buys his loyalty by promising to give Joruus Luke and Leia and Leia's unborn children.
    Thrawn: Consider what a man of your skill could do with brand new Jedi. Mould them, change them, recreate them in any image you choose.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • Zahn used the Star Wars role-playing game as a mine of source material, apparently on the advice of Lucasfilm.
      • If his foreword to the Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook for the RPG (West End Games d6 version) is to be believed, he was fairly put out when all the new research material arrived at his doorstep, fearing it would undermine what he'd already figured out. Turned out to be a great boon, since whenever he needed a particular kind of ship or piece of technology, odds are it had already been detailed in one of the RPG books. One wonders if Thrawn's masterful use of Interdictor cruisers was already thought out and the books just gave him the name, or inspired by their write-up in the RPG manuals.
    • In the sidebar notes of the 20th Anniversary Edition, Zahn mentions a few cases where fans accused him of referencing stuff from current culture, not realizing that the references were older.
      • Some complained of him ripping off Star Trek when mentioning the 'borg implant' that Lando's assistant had, but 'borg' is just a abbreviation of cyborg, a term that had been around for many years before (and, in fact, was used as a slang term in at least one issue of Marvel Star Wars).
      • A reference to a Corellian Corvette (you've seen one; Princess Leia was escaping in one at the start of the original Star Wars) had some claiming he named it for the car, not realizing the car had been named after a type of small Age of Sail warship. The fact that the name for the ship predated Zahn's writing also was a factor.
  • Only the Author Can Save Them Now: By the author's own admission, he'd basically written himself into a corner writing up a plausible ending due to Thrawn being that good of a bad guy. It took what most would consider a series of improbable setbacks in the last quarter of the books to give the good guys any chance to win.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Admit it, if you read these books, you liked it when Thrawn kept winning.
  • Villain Sue: Thrawn is praised as a good villain but the amount of times he utterly out classes the heros, including Luke Skywalker one of if not the biggest Bad Asses in all of fiction, is more than a little eyebrow raising.
    • A good example happens in the first book when C 3 PO is voicing Leia and Thrawn deduces out of more or less nothing that it's a droid because that would be "logical". It's a pretty blatant Ass Pull to show what a good villain he is but its really just lazy writing.