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Literature / Thrawn: Treason

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Spoilers for Thrawn and Thrawn: Alliances will be left untagged. You Have Been Warned.

Thrawn: Treason is a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel written by Timothy Zahn, who previously authored Legends works including the original The Thrawn Trilogy that first introduced the character into the franchise, as well as the preceding novels, Thrawn which had explained the titular character's new origins in the Continuity Reboot, and Thrawn: Alliances which explained Thrawn’s first meeting with Anakin Skywalker.

It was released on July 23, 2019.

The novel contains the following tropes:

  • A Father to His Men: Thrawn (especially by Imperial standards) is incredibly supportive towards his crew in general, (ordering that an incompetent tractor beam operator be given extra training, and that a more competent one be tested for promotion) but it is clearest with Faro, who he has encouraged and mentored for years, and who he has gotten promoted to Admiral, which he tells her with clear pride in her growth.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The fact that Project Stardust is this lies at the heart of why Grand Admiral Savit decides to steal from its supply lines. He thinks the massive resources that are going into building the Death Star are a colossal waste, because he believes it's only a matter of time before somebody figures out a way to blow it up. So he tries to preemptively salvage as much as he can be stealing turbolaser components that can be used to reinforce his star destroyers.
  • Badass Cape: Subverted. Assistant Director Ronan wears a cape just like his boss Director Krennic, but instead of seeing it as baddass, other Imperials privately mock it as a pompous affectation. What's worse, this novel reveals that Krennic made the capes mandatory among his senior staff.
    • Played straight at the end of the novel, as Ronan is able to stop Grand Admiral Savit from shooting Thrawn by whipping the cape at Savit to throw off his aim.
  • The Bet: When Tarkin suggests having Thrawn take a crack at solving Director Krennic's gralloc problem, he suggests that the reward would be to divert some of the Stardust budget to Thrawn's pet TIE Defender project. Krennic counters by suggesting that he would be willing to agree to the deal if Thrawn can solve the problem in a week. Krennic then privately tells Ronan to watch Thrawn and to make sure that he solves the problem in longer than a week. While Thrawn uncovers the conspiracy behind the gralloc problem, he doesn't fulfil his end of the deal to the letter, so Krennic gets to keep his budget.
  • Blind Obedience: As far as Ronan is concerned, Director Krennic is the single greatest man who ever lived, and his entire worldview begins and ends on the altar of Krennic's infallibility.
  • Call-Forward: Grand Admiral Savit is convinced that someone will eventually figure out a way to destroy the Death Star and then all the money and resources that went into its construction will be wasted. It ends up happening a lot sooner than the 10 or 15 years he estimated, though.
  • Canon Immigrant: The Dashade species from Legends is introduced into the Canon in this novel.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A great deal of attention, mostly mocking, is brought early on to the cape Ronan wears. During the battle between the Chimaera and Savit's flotilla, Ronan uses the cape to save Thrawn's life.
  • Clark Kenting: Major Dayja Collerand of the Imperial Security Bureau goes undercover using the alias "Mole", in order to investigate some pirate gangs. The bulk of his disguise consists of altering his posture, demeanor and voice inflection.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Thrawn's confrontation with Grand Admiral Savit's four Star Destroyers. Thrawn is able to predict Savit's actions almost to a tee and manages to fight the battle without even being aboard the Chimaera, leaving it to Commodore Faro. The battle is also notable because there's not a single casualty and Thrawn himself is on the Firedrake, Savit's own Star Destroyer..
  • Dramatic Irony: In the epilogue, Palpatine subtly threatens Thrawn by saying that after he finishes up "the business on Lothal", they're going to have a long talk. Anyone who's seen the series knows that Thrawn never comes back from it.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Ronan spends much of the book being this; a combination of thinking like a typical Imperial and already being prejudiced against Thrawn due to Thrawn's opposition to Krennic and the Death Star makes him misinterpret a number of Thrawn's actions. An early example of this is when he sees Thrawn ask his protege Faro a trick question, and assumes (having seen this before among other Imperial officers) that he plans for her to get it wrong and then humiliate her when she does. When Faro gets the answer right and explains her reasoning, Ronan is surprised that Thrawn is pleased, as it never occurred to him that he might be sincerely mentoring her to be a better officer.
    • However, his crowning moment is when (having shown laudable powers of observation by realising one of the Chiss girls is Force-sensitive) then spins it out into a theory that Thrawn has been given a secret mission by the Emperor to sabotage and destroy these Chiss "Jedi". It is his belief that he can help in this that leads him to accept Thrawn's suggestion of working for the Chiss at the end of the novel, with internal dark musings that if Thrawn is not doing this, Ronan will prove to be a deadly enemy for him and the Chiss. As soon as he's out of earshot, Thrawn and Ar'alani immediately start talking about how they can use his inevitable treachery to feed tailored information to the Imperials.
  • Exact Words: Used by Thrawn and against him.
    • Twice during the confrontation between Thrawn and Grand Admiral Savit, Thrawn said to his fellow Grand Admiral on Savit's Star Destroyer Firedrake bridge that he leaves his Death Troopers behind (Savit has assumed that Thrawn leaves them on the Chimaera), he never said how far they were behind and they were actually still in the shuttle that brings him aboard the Firedrake. Also, the Chiss Grand Admiral said that there will be no loss of life, the Chiss never said that nothing will get damaged, shown as Faro neutralises Savit's TI Es without killing their pilots.
    • The bet between Thrawn and Krennic to fix the vermin problem turns on this. Finding out they're a Red Herring and fixing the real issue does not, technically, count. And thus, Krennic won the bet.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Being captured and "broken" by the Grysks (who won't hesitate to inflict such treatment on children). Due to this, Vah'nya asks Eli to kill her, and the other Chiss navigators, if the ship falls to them.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Two of the Death Troopers under Thrawn's command are nicknamed "Pik" and "Waffle". Eli Vanto lampshades this trope by suspecting that these intimidating soldiers have these cute nicknames to obfuscate how dangerous they are.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: This novel provides further confirmation that everyone in the Imperial military hated Director Krennic's guts.
  • The Ghost: Two, one for the Empire, one for the Rebels.
    • On the side of the Empire, Vader comes up as a candidate to oversee Project Stardust, which freaks out Ronan because Vader would figure out his contempt for the Emperor and "address it".
    • On the side of the Rebels, Ezra Bridger. Palpatine has taken a distinct interest in him and towards the end of the book, orders Thrawn to address the threat posed by Bridger and his allies.
  • Genuine Imposter: When caught by a group of pirates on Tiquwe, Eli pretends that Ronan is merely a look-alike, whom they are using to infiltrate the local Imperial base, which would also explain their perfectly genuine passes (Eli claims they're very good fakes) and Ronan's uniform. To his credit, Ronan plays along, hamming up the stereotypical snobbishness of Imperial bureaucrats and making it look like an act.
  • Hidden Depths: Assistant Director Ronan at first appears to be nothing more than a pompous jackass hellbent on obstructing Thrawn's mission. But he turns out to be observant enough to correctly figure out Vah'nya is Force-sensitive because of a fraction of a second reaction and street-smart enough to play along with Eli's improvised cover story when they encounter the pirates on Tiquwe. He also saves Thrawn by whipping his cape enough to throw Savit's aim, causing the blaster bolt to miss Thrawn by a few centimeters.
  • Interquel: The events of this novel occur a few weeks following the events of Thrawn: Alliances, at some point between the season 4 episodes "Rebel Assault" and "Family Reunion – and Farewell" of Star Wars Rebels
  • Logical Weakness: Thrawn's ability is usually restricted to visual art because other forms involve several people adding their own interpretations in their parts. If the creator is the composer and conducts and performs personally then music works even better than his usual, to the point of predicting the entire battle shot for shot ahead of time.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Savit plans to get rid of Ronan by shooting him "while attempting escape", but Thrawn anticipates this and forces Savit to take Ronan to the bridge, where witnesses would prevent him from simply shooting the two.
  • Meaningful Name: A slicer named Mole turns out to actually be an undercover ISB agent.
  • Mind Probe: Besides "third sight" (seeing outside), some Chiss navigators also possess "second sight" (seeing inside), which allows them to probe the minds of others. The process appears to be bidirectional, so the one being probed is also being exposed to the prober's thoughts and memories. It's risky, since the two can get stuck in each other's memories.
  • Mind Rape: Vah'nya uncovers that the Grysk have weaponized this type of mental invasion against Chiss navigators, both to find out what they know and to break their spirits. The lion's share of navigators we encounter are preadolescent children.
    "I’ve seen what the Grysks did to her. How they probed deeply into her mind and soul. How they found her deepest desires and fears, her most comforting memories and her most cherished hopes. How they twisted and tarnished and bent all of them to their will. How they broke her soul."
  • More than Mind Control: This is what makes the Grysk so terrifying. The client species they subvert into their service become so enthralled to the Grysk that their loyalty is absolute. As Commodore Faro muses...
    "Now, for the first time, she truly understood why Thrawn was so deeply concerned about this particular threat. An enemy who could enslave the hearts and minds of their captive species so thoughtfully that they were willing to die on the Grysks' behalf - even when their masters were gone, even when those masters would never know whether those slaves had fulfilled their final orders - posed a terrible threat to the galaxy. With an enemy like that pulling the strings, one could never be certain if an ally was still an ally, or a subservient species still subservient. The Grysks could wear a thousand faces, and could wield a thousand weapons."
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The trick of hiding torpedoes behind a densely-packed fighter wing comes from the Legends novels Hand of Thrawn duology, and a similar tactic is previously employed in The Thrawn Trilogy.
    • At the end of the book, Thrawn arranges for a talented commander to be transferred from Savit's fleet to his own, a man named Gilead Pellaeon.
  • Passed-Over Promotion: Commodore Faro is starting to chafe in the role of Thrawn's flag commander, believing that a promotion to task force commander was long overdue by now and unable to dismiss Ronan's assertion that Thrawn was blocking the promotion for some reason. It's because Thrawn had been trying, and succeeding, to get Faro command of an entire fleet, not just a mere task force.
  • Red Herring: For the first 2/3 of the novel, the reader is led to believe that Governor Haveland is the one responsible for the theft of the project Stardust supplies. It turns out that the real culprit is Grand Admiral Savit.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Ronan, despite some surprising abilities (see Hidden Depths above), is nowhere near as competent as he thinks he is, and continuously underestimates his superiors (except for Krennic, who he hero-worships). His final thoughts in the book are that if Thrawn advising him to join the Chiss is not due to a secret plan with Palpatine to destroy the Chiss Jedi (a plan that doesn't exist and Ronan pulled out of thin air after a single astute observation spun out too far), Ronan will prove to be a deadly enemy for him and the Chiss. As soon as he's out of earshot, Thrawn and Ar'alani immediately start talking about how they can use his inevitable treachery to feed tailored information to the Imperials, and the reader has seen enough of the PO Vs from all three characters to have no doubt that Ronan doesn't have a hope in hell of matching wits with either of them.
  • So Proud of You: Thrawn when he passes on the news that Faro has been promoted to Admiral, and congratulates her on how capable she's become, shows this as strongly as such a reserved person can.
  • Take a Third Option: When the Emperor agrees to Thrawn's suggestion of sending Darth Vader to personally oversee Project Stardust, Thrawn tells Ronan that he has two choices: return to Stardust and risk having Vader's mind-reading expose Ronan's concealed contempt for the Emperor or flee to the edges of the Empire and hope no one finds him. Since neither option is a good one, Thrawn then suggests a third one: Ronan could go to the Chiss Ascendancy with Admiral Ar'alani and serve the Empire by helping the Chiss deal with the Grysks. Ronan is initially reluctant but has little choice but to accept. Ronan also thinks that Thrawn may be secretly working on destroying the Force-sensitive Chiss, whom he believes to be as bad as the Jedi were.
  • Taking You with Me: When questioned by Ar'alani after the final battle, Eli explains that his plan, should the Grysks win, would have been to load the navigators and himself into a shuttle along with as many explosives as he could pack and then detonate all of them when the Grysks tried to board. This would also keep his promise to Vah'nya to kill her and the other navigators in the event of defeat.
    • When Savit realises he's screwed and facing treason charges, he attempts to invoke this on Thrawn. Not only does he fail (due to some surprising heroism from Ronan, though one can reasonably assume Thrawn would have won a physical fight with Savit even without this) but firing a non-stun blaster on the ship's bridge turns out to be the necessary legal pretext for removing him from command until an investigation can be launched.
  • Uncanny Valley: In-Universe example. Eli Vanto gets to see what two Death Troopers - who are said to have been medically augmented - look like without their armor as part of an undercover operation. While they aren't unattractive or have any hideous alterations underneath their helmets, Eli notes that there is something visually unsettling about them and their behavior.
  • When He Smiles: Thrawn's smiles, even when he's genuinely happy about something (usually a display of competence or foresight from an underling he's fostering) tend to be slight and understated, and may not be noticed at all by anyone who doesn't know him. However, when he congratulates Faro on being promoted to Admiral the narration implies that he gives a much more open one.