I enjoyed Star Wars: Thrawn very much and was looking forward to Thrawn: Alliances. I was dismayed when I discovered that the book splits it’s time between Thrawn’s partnership with Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala, and Thrawn’s reluctant partnership with Darth Vader.
Ugh. I dislike Anakin Skywalker so much, and not because he becomes Darth Vader. He is whiny, angry, and too certain of himself. I find him tiresome. I side-eye Padme Amidala too, because what on earth does she see in this murderous, mopey asshole? Unfortunately, Zahn’s text did nothing to endear Anakin or Padme to me, and I don’t think he handled Darth Vader all that well either. Worse, I listened to a audiobook version narrated by Marc Thompson, whose voice work I enjoyed very much in Thrawn. In this book he emphasized everything I hate about Anakin (smug/whiny) and Padme (also kind of whiny in this story).
The beauty of Thrawn was the view of the Empire we got from three different characters – each committed to the Empire, each an outsider in their own way. It’s the most nuanced view I’ve had of the Empire and the only time I’ve seen Imperials who were anything other than cartoonishly evil. Even Governor Pryce, who is evil in the cartoon Star Wars: Rebels, has nuance. Thrawn: Alliances is short on nuance and suffers for it. for example, Darth Vader is repetitiously suspicious of Thrawn and repeatedly accuses him of being more loyal to the Chiss Ascendancy and then he grudgingly accedes to Thrawn’s wishes hoping to catch him in an act of disloyalty. This is there interaction throughout the book. For someone who does such a great job of capturing the interior life of characters, Zahn has really fallen flat here.
I will still pick up the final book in the series – Thrawn: Treason, but maybe not right when it’s released in late July.