Star Wars is back and bigger than ever. As any Star Wars fan will attest, there's a lot more to this beloved galaxy far, far away than just a series of blockbuster movies. For over 20 years, the franchise has included a popular range of New-York-Times-bestselling novels, and the latest books are considered just as much part of the canon as the films.
That's why fans were eagerly anticipating the Lucasfilm Publishing panel at #NYCC2017. Just as we'd hoped, Lucasfilm gave us the lowdown on an upcoming Star Wars novel, currently titled Thrawn Alliances. Check out their latest tweet, which depicts the working cover for the book.
The "Alliance" in question is a thrilling one. This novel will explore Thrawn's continued ascent through the ranks of the Empire, and will see the Grand Admiral work alongside Darth Vader himself. Zahn's previous novel, Thrawn, hinted that his blue-skinned hero actually teamed up with Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars. We can assume we'll get some more hints at that "first contact," if not an actual flashback.
The Return Of Grand Admiral Thrawn
Created by legendary Star Wars author Timothy Zahn back in 1991, Grand Admiral Thrawn became one of the most famous villains in the old Star Wars Expanded Universe. The Grand Admiral was a ruthless adversary, an Imperial who believed in the need for order to be imposed across the Galaxy. He was a member of an enigmatic alien race known as the Chiss, noted for their blue skin and glowing red eyes, and over the decade that followed Zahn revisited the character many times.
When Disney purchased Lucasfilm back in 2012, they ultimately recognized that the old Expanded Universe constrained them in creative terms. By then, novels and comics had literally charted the future of the Galaxy up to a hundred years after the events of A New Hope. Any future Star Wars films would be hopelessly restricted by this complex weave of continuity. To the sorrow of fans all over the world, Disney rendered the classic novels and comics non-canon (they used the term "Legends").
That doesn't mean ideas from the old Expanded Universe were forgotten though. Fans were delighted last year when Grand Admiral Thrawn returned to the Star Wars canon as a villain in #StarWarsRebels, and he's due to return again in the upcoming final season. Even better, last year Lucasfilm brought Timothy Zahn back to the Star Wars universe to present Thrawn's new-canon backstory. Now, excitingly, it seems Zahn has also been commissioned to write a sequel.
The reality is that Timothy Zahn's "Thrawn Trilogy" essentially put Star Wars back on the map in 1991, launching the old Expanded Universe. Without Zahn's success, it's very possible that George Lucas would never have returned to the film franchise he launched in 1977, and that Star Wars would never have become the cinematic juggernaut it is today. It's wonderful to see Lucasfilm continue to honor the classic novels, carefully importing beloved characters into the new canon.