It’s hard to believe that Timothy Zahn first introduced us to the character of Thrawn in Heir to the Empire thirty years ago. Notwithstanding, the blue-skinned, perplexing Chiss strategist remains one of the Star Wars franchise’s most beloved characters three decades later. Fans were elated when the character returned to canon with Zahn’s 2017 novel, simply titled Thrawn. November 16, 2021, however, marks a bittersweet day for fans. Today the final chapter in Mitth’raw’nuruodo’s story (his literary story, at least) comes to a close as Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy – Lesser Evil hits bookshelves everywhere. If the novels are to end here, though, Zahn delivers a masterful send-off.

Star Wars; Thrawn Ascendancy; Lesser Evil
Image: Del Rey Books

Whereas Greater Good was the typical, middling entry of the Ascendancy trilogy, Lesser Evil is without question its epic finale. I was skeptical before reading; Zahn provided a lot of back story and setup through the first two books. Honestly, I feared the series’ conclusion would feel rushed in wrapping up so many storylines. To the contrary, the novel brought near-perfect closure to the Thrawn canon continuity. Picking up where Greater Good left off, Mitth’raw’nuruodo finds himself once again mired in Chiss politics. His burden is significant as he struggles to protect the Ascendancy from utter collapse. He succeeds, no spoiler there, as we know from the previously released trilogy. His victory, however, is not without great cost, and sacrifice.

Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil completes a complex Thrawn

Thrawn Ascendancy; Star wars; Lesser evil
Image: Del Rey Books

The entire Ascendancy trilogy has been building up to the events that led to the beginning of the 2017-2019 trilogy. In this final entry we learn the full details of how the would-be Grand Admiral of the Empire is exiled from the Ascendancy. Cat and mouse games with an unseen enemy, extraordinary battles, and Thrawn’s continued obliviousness of Chiss politics all swirl together in a perfect storm to seal Thrawn’s fate. Minor Lesser Evil spoiler alert – despite his political ignorance, don’t expect for a second that he wasn’t still orchestrating everything. Likewise, everything happens, through luck or otherwise, exactly according to plan.

With Lesser Evil, Timothy Zahn again proves Thrawn to be one of the most complex, enigmatic, and robust characters in all of Star Wars. Likewise, in perhaps the longest Star Wars novel ever (canon or otherwise), Zahn further reminds us why his imagination is among the best in the franchise. He seamlessly weaves every thread of the Ascendancy trilogy into a spectacular tapestry of storytelling… A tapestry that would impress even Thrawn himself.

What’s next?

Image: Del Rey Books

As far as written prose, this appears to be the end of the line for the Chiss warrior. Although, if rumors hold true, we’ll see him in live-action (finally!) in the upcoming Ahsoka series on Disney+. If Zahn is open to suggestions for future, written works, however, I wouldn’t mind reading a series focusing on Admiral Ar’alani. I sense there’s far more to her story than we’ve read so far, especially considering that at the end of the prior trilogy Thrawn sent his aide Eli Vanto off into her service….

Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy – Lesser Evil is on sale now at Penguin Random House and booksellers everywhere.