#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader team up against a threat to the Empire in this thrilling novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.
“I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.”
Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs—including the Death Star project—the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.
In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown . . . and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance—neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.
Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged—by a test of their allegiance to the Empire . . . and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.
Praise for Thrawn: Alliances
“It’s a science fiction beach read in the best way, brisk and amusing, with some cool additions to the Star Wars galaxy.”—Den of Geek
“Like all of Zahn’s novels set in a galaxy far, far away, it’s an essential read for anyone looking for an artistically done adventure.”—CNET
About the Author
Timothy Zahn is the author of more than forty novels, nearly ninety short stories and novellas, and four short-fiction collections. In 1984, he won the Hugo Award for Best Novella. Zahn is best known for his Star Wars novels (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, Specter of the Past, Vision of the Future, Survivor’s Quest, Outbound Flight, Allegiance, Choices of One, and Scoundrels), with more than four million copies of his books in print. Other books include the Cobra series, the Quadrail series, and the young adult Dragonback series. Zahn has a B.S. in physics from Michigan State University and an M.S. from the University of Illinois. He lives with his family on the Oregon coast.
Read an Excerpt
“I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.”
Emperor Palpatine paused, stretching out his thoughts to the two men standing before his throne, awaiting their reactions.
No. Not men. Of course not men. Men were insignificant, pitiable creatures, fit only to be ruled, or intimidated, or sent to die in battle. These were far more than mere men.
A Chiss Grand Admiral, a strategic and tactical genius. A Sith Lord, ruthless and powerful in the Force.
They were watching him, Palpatine knew, each trying in his own way to glean some understanding as to why they’d been summoned. Grand Admiral Thrawn was observing his Emperor’s voice, face, and body stance. Lord Vader, in contrast, was stretching out with the Force toward his master.
Palpatine could feel all that. But he could also feel the tension between these, his two most useful servants.
The tension wasn’t simply because each wished to be the one standing alone at his master’s side at the center of Imperial power. That was certainly part of it.
But there was more. Much more. Thrawn had recently suffered a serious defeat, permitting a small group of rebels he’d successfully trapped on the planet Atollon to slip through his fingers. That failure had earned Vader’s contempt.
Thrawn, in his turn, strongly opposed the Death Star project favored by Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Palpatine himself, pushing instead for his own prized TIE Defender project on Lothal. So far Thrawn’s opposition had not reached the level of open resistance, but the Emperor knew it was only a matter of time. Vader knew that, as well.
But Palpatine hadn’t brought them here to offer an opportunity for reconciliation. Certainly not to mediate personally in their conflict. There were other, far deeper considerations.
Thrawn had given his oath of loyalty to the Empire. But that loyalty had never been fully tested. Vader stood beside Palpatine as the Sith Master’s apprentice But his pervious life among the Jedi could not simply be ignored nor casually dismissed.
Here, with this intriguing Force disturbance, was the opportunity to deal with both issues.
Palpatine raised his eyes briefly toward the high window in his throne room. The Star Destroyer Chimaera was visible in the distance, a barely discernible arrowhead shape floating high above Coruscant’s buildings and skylanes. Normally, military craft that large weren’t permitted closer than low orbit. But Palpatine had wished the ship to be present during this meeting, a subtle reminder to both of his servants of what had been given to Thrawn, and what could be taken away.
Vader spoke first, as Palpatine had known he would. “Perhaps you sense the rogue Jedi Kanan Jarrus,” he said.
“Or the creature Admiral Thrawn claimed to have encountered on Atollon.”
Palpatine smiled thinly. Of course he wasn’t sensing Jarrus. That particular disturbance had long since been noted, codified, and dismissed, a fact Vader knew only too well. The suggestion was nothing more than a reminder to Thrawn—and to Palpatine—of the Chiss’s humiliating defeat.
Thrawn gave no visible reaction to Vader’s comment. But Palpatine could sense a hardening of his attitude. He’d already promised the Emperor that he would deal with Jarrus and the Phoenix rebels who had so recently slipped through his fingers. Much of that failure had been due to factors not under Thrawn’s control, which was why Palpatine hadn’t taken the Seventh Fleet away from him.
But Vader had no patience for failure of any sort, no matter what the reasons or excuses. For now, he was waiting; but he was more than ready to step in to solve that particular problem if the Grand Admiral failed.
“This disturbance comes from neither,” Palpatine said. “It is something new. Something different.” He looked back and forth between his servants. “Something that will require both of you working together to uncover.”
Again, neither of them visibly reacted. But Palpatine could sense their surprise. Their surprise, and their reflexive protest.
This time, it was the Chiss who spoke first. “With all due respect, Your Majesty, I believe my duty and my abilities would be best used elsewhere,” he said. “The rebels who escaped Atollon must be tracked down and eliminated before they can regroup and join with other cells.”
“I agree,” the Emperor said. “But the Seventh Fleet and Commander Woldar can deal with that without you for now. Grand Moff Tarkin will also be joining the commander while his new assignment is being prepared for him.”
Palpatine sensed a flicker in Vader’s emotions, perhaps a hope that Thrawn would mistakenly believe this was the right time and place to once again raise objections to the Death Star project. Palpatine paused, offering the Grand Admiral the opportunity to do just that.
But Thrawn remained silent.
“While Woldar and Tarkin find and deal with the rebels,” the Emperor continued, “you and Lord Vader will take your flagship to deal with this other matter.”
“Understood, Your Majesty,” Thrawn said. “May I point out that Governor Tarkin is less familiar than I am with this particular Rebel cell. Perhaps a more efficient approach would be for Lord Vader to be offered one of my Star Destroyers and seek out this disturbance on his own.”
Palpatine felt a sudden stirring of anger from his apprentice at Thrawn’s unthinking choice of phrase. A Lord of the Sith was not offered a ship. He took what he wanted when he wanted it.
But like Thrawn, Vader knew when to remain silent.
“You surprise me, Admiral Thrawn,” Palpatine said. “I would have expected a certain eagerness to journey within sight of your home.”
Thrawn’s glowing red eyes narrowed slightly, and Palpatine felt his sudden caution. “Excuse me, Your Majesty?”
“The disturbance is located at the edge of your Unknown Regions,” the Emperor said. “It appears to be centered on a planet named Batuu.” Again, he sensed a reaction to the name. This time, the reaction came from both of them. “I believe you have heard of it?”
Thrawn’s eyes were hooded, the expression on that blue-skinned face swirling with memories. “Yes,” he murmured. “I have indeed heard of it.”
As, of course, had Vader. It was the place where he and Thrawn had long ago interfered, albeit unwittingly, with one of Palpatine’s plans.
But again, Vader remained silent.
“Very well, then,” Palpatine said. “You, Admiral, will command.” He looked at Vader. “You, Lord Vader, will deal with the disturbance.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” Thrawn said.
“Yes, my master,” Vader said.
Palpatine leaned back into the depths of his throne. “Then go.”
The two servants turned and walked toward the door between the double line of red-cloaked Imperial Guards silently lining their path. Palpatine watched them go: the Chiss in his white Grand Admiral’s uniform, the Sith garbed in black, his long cloak swirling behind him.
The solution to this particular puzzle would indeed require both of them. But more importantly, it would address Palpatine’s lingering questions.
He smiled thinly. Time for Thrawn to face his future.
Time for Vader to face his past.
Excerpted from "Thrawn: Alliances (Star Wars)"
Copyright © 2019 Timothy Zahn.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The contests and similarities of the two timelines in this story were fascinating and exciting. Thrawn and Vader made for an interesting leadership team. They both learned from each other in the end. I'm sure that the Emporer enjoyed the game that he set up
The interaction between the characters in the story is very well done. Zahn does a good job in keeping story moving forward while still developing character history and background. I recommend the novel to all Star Wars fans.
Thrawn: Alliances picks up on the story kernel that Timothy Zahn planted in his 2017 novel Thrawn. With the casual mention that the blue skinned Chiss once met Anakin Skywalker in the Unknown Regions, this book fully fleshes out that adventure, and carries onward. Not only do fans get a Thrawn and Anakin story investigating a Separatist plot during the Clone Wars, but a Thrawn and Vader story set during the rise of the Empire. With the Chiss Grand Admiral joining forces with the Dark Lord of the Sith, it’s a volatile alliance that threatens to explode just as much as succeed. Essentially it’s two stories in one with the bonus of Padmé being in the Thrawn and Anakin adventure, thus giving fans a lot to look forward to. The book opens with two prologues, one for each time period, thus setting up the two stories. The first one beings with Palpatine, Vader and Thrawn as the Emperor gives them a mission in the Unknown Regions. He tasks them with going to a planet named Batuu to deal with a disturbance in the Force. The second prologue involves Padmé telling Anakin that she’s received word from one of her handmaidens that there’s something going on in the Batuu area. This part of the story is set during the Clone Wars, sometime after Ahsoka’s departure from the Jedi Order. Once both prologues are set, the book starts with the Vader/Thrawn story, and eventually alternates between the two. The book does a good job of not jumping around too much, so it’s never confusing keeping things straight. It also helps having Anakin and Vader as anchor points for each timeline, clearly delineating which era you’re in. The two stories also build upon each other, with there being some connections and relevance between the two. At the heart of each story is a bit of a detective/mystery plot. Whether it’s Padmé trying to find out what happened to Duja, or what Duja was investigating, Anakin trying to track down Padmé and teaming up with Thrawn to figure out what is going on, or Vader and Thrawn trying to discover the disturbance in the Force that the Emperor felt, there’s a lot of investigation and mystery as the characters look for clues and put together the pieces. Zahn is careful to keep that mystery going so the reader slowly gets a better idea of what is going on as the stories progress. Eventually there’s some action as the characters encounter strange alien species and some more familiar bad guys in the way of the Separatists. Each story has its own payout as you find out what is going on as each one is different. On one hand there is the mystery of what secret project the Separatists are working on, and on the other hand is the mystery of the disturbance in the Force. Overall, the book does a good job of presenting a nice, self-enclosed series of adventures that feels like Star Wars and includes fan favorite characters. It’s a book that slowly ramps up, and eventually hooks you with the elusive answers of what’s going on with the building mystery elements. With the inclusion of Thrawn, Anakin, Vader, and Padmé, the book has a lot to offer, with some team ups we’ve never seen before. For fans of those characters, Thrawn: Alliances is a great read, and I highly recommend checking it out. I give it a four out of five.
Really enjoyable. Even if the one big reveal on the Vader-Thrawn relationship was predictable.
Fascinating insight into Anakin and Padme, plus new lore
There are spots where the book seems to drag a bit, especially whenever Padme is featured...but, overall, the last 100 or so pages really brings it all together into a truly special novel. Thrawn, along with Mara Jade, is a character that screams for inclusion in a movie or live action Star Wars event
This book is awesome! Just like in all of Zahn’s books it manages to bring several different stories together as part of one thrilling adventure. This gives new depth to the relationships that we see in the rebels show also.
Enjoyed the book immensely!
Another winner from Timothy Zahn!
As usual, Timothy Zhan delivers a great story
Very interesting story, some boring parts
Long. Drawn out. Too many flashbacks. “Vader frowned” Vader wears a mask. Masks don’t frown.
Keep this series going