Chaos Rising

Chaos Rising is the first book in Timothy Zahn’s new Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy, and it’s off to a good start for Thrawn fans. In this adventure, readers get a deeper look in the Chiss Ascendancy, their politics, how their military works, their allies and enemies, and another peek into Thrawn’s past. Zahn weaves together an enjoyable and intriguing military sci-fi adventure as Thrawn and several other key Chiss characters navigate the dangers of the Unknown Regions in order to protect the Chiss people. In doing so, Thrawn comes up against a dangerous alien threat and has to pit his strategic genius to outsmart them.

First off, if you’re a Thrawn fan, you’re going to want to check this book out. The book dives a bit into Thrawn’s past, tells a story set during The Clone Wars, and weaves in the other Thrawn books to tell a new chunk of Thrawn’s life. In this book, you see a Thrawn who is skilled but still learning. He’s not completely confident, and he does make some mistakes here and there, especially when it comes to politics. Furthermore, it dives into how the Chiss culture, government and military works. Readers will learn a lot more about the Chiss, as well as the other alien species in their area of space. On top of that, the book sets up the trilogy for a new villain that threatens the Chiss. All of it is compelling stuff for Thrawn fans that you will not want to miss out on.

For those who are more interested in other characters, Zahn does a nice job of balancing Thrawn out with Ar’alani. This isn’t her first appearance, as she also appeared in Outbound Flight, Thrawn, Thrawn: Treason and elsewhere. However, this is the first time I’ve really gotten invested with the character. By exploring her backstory more, and showing how she rose up the ranks with Thrawn, it adds a ton of depth and interest. It’s enough to make you want to go back and read those other books to remind you of what she’d done previously. But she’s not the only other character that steals the spotlight from Thrawn. There’s also Thalias, a new character that gets a lot of page time as she explores her place in the galaxy. Thalias is a former sky-walker who decides to become a caretaker, a person who takes care of sky-walkers while they’re deployed, and thus ends up on a lot of missions with Thrawn. Alongside Thalias is Che’ri, the young sky-walker she’s in charge of. These characters help explore other aspects of the Chiss, as well providing some different viewpoints and character personalities. While Thrawn’s cunning can be interesting, it’s nice to have some more normal characters who are exceptional in their own ways. Together, they all strike a nice balance for the story.

The story itself takes place before, during, and after Thrawn: Alliances Clone Wars storyline. In that book, there were two storylines, one following Thrawn and Anakin, the other Thrawn and Vader. Chaos Rising actually collides into the one storyline before splitting back off to show readers what happened afterwards. There are also chapters entitled “Memories” that flashback to previous key events in Thrawn’s life, from his adoption by the Mitth family, to one of the events that caused him to have a falling out with Chiss favor. It’s a little odd at first as the story jumps around, but it quickly starts to aid the story as it yields valuable information on the characters and past events. Once you start to get familiar with the characters and where the story is taking place, it’s easy to get swept away and invested.

While Chaos Rising might not be the best Thrawn book ever, it’s nevertheless a good one and very enjoyable. I’m not sure how well it would work for new readers, but for anyone who is already invested with the character, you’ll get a fun ride out of this one. I really enjoyed the new characters and there’s some good action, twists and turns as the story unfolds. Best yet, it’s setting up a new trilogy which means there’s more to come with these characters. I give Chaos Rising a four out of five metal bikinis and look forward to seeing where Thrawn goes next.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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