The name Grand Admiral Thrawn has become quite popular nowadays due to the fact that the character is set to see his first live-action appearance in the upcoming ‘Ahsoka’ series that’s going to be released soon. In that regard, Thrawn is becoming increasingly popular with Star Wars fans. Of course, those who stuck by him during the events of ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ would be more than familiar with his work.
But not a lot of fans know that Thrawn was first created as a character in the non-canon Legends novel series called the Thrawn Trilogy. Of course, while these books are no longer canon, Thrawn was given life by author Timothy Zahn, who was the one responsible for conceptualizing Thrawn’s entire character. And after Thrawn became canon in ‘Rebels,’ Zahn followed up his story with several more books.
So, with that said, let’s look at all of the Thrawn novels in order of publication and in terms of chronological reading order.
All Thrawn Books by Order of Publication
Timothy Zahn gave life to Grand Admiral Thrawn by releasing the original Thrawn Trilogy books in 1991. That was when Thrawn joined the Star Wars world as the so-called heir to the Empire. But because the entire continuity was changed with the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm, the original Thrawn Trilogy is no longer canon. Still, Zahn wrote more about Thrawn in the canon books that were released after he was introduced as a canon character in ‘Star Wars: Rebels.’ And here are all of the Thrawn books released regarding publication dates.
Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy (1991-1993) – Legends
- Heir to the Empire (1991)
- Dark Force Rising (1992)
- The Last Command (1993)
Star Wars: The Hand of Thrawn Duology (1997-1998) – Legends
- Specter of the Past (1997)
- Vision of the Future (1998)
Star Wars: Thrawn (2017-2019) – Canon
- Thrawn (2017)
- Thrawn: Alliances (2018)
- Thrawn: Treason (2019)
Star Wars: The Ascendancy Trilogy (2020-2021) – Canon
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising (2020)
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good (2021)
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil (2021)
Thrawn Chronological Reading Order
If you want to read all of the Thrawn books chronologically, we have you covered. Take note that the Legends books are not part of the current canon but were supposedly used by the ‘Ahsoka’ series as inspiration for Thrawn’s post-Empire storyline. But these books are still engaging enough to read for any Star Wars fan.
Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising (2020)
Date of Publication: September 1, 2020
Series: Thrawn Ascendancy
Timeline: 19 BBY
Thrawn’s origins within the Chiss Ascendency is talked about in ‘Thrawn Ascendency,’ which is the first book that tells the story of the future Grand Admiral of the Empire. In this storyline, we get to see Thrawn’s origins in the Unknown Regions of the galaxy, which is chaotic and uncharted. Within that chaotic part of the galaxy is the Chiss Ascendency, which is the home to the mysterious Chiss and the rulers that govern the entire Ascendency.
Normally, the Ascendency is peaceful and calm amidst the chaotic part of the galaxy where it is located. However, daring attacks on the Chiss capital plunged the entire Ascendency into chaos as no one understood who or where the attacks came from. That was when the Ascendency decided to dispatch Thrawn, who was one of the brightest young military officers that they had. Born without a title but was adopted by a prominent family, Thrawn was tasked to find the source of these attacks.
Thrawn was able to piece together the puzzle that steadily led him to the answers that he was looking for. However, after he probed deeper into the stretch of space that his people call the Chaos, he started to understand that the mission that was given to him was not as simple as he thought it was. And that was when things became clear that this was only the beginning for him.
Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good (2021)
Date of Publication: April 27, 2021
Series: Thrawn Ascendancy
Timeline: c. 18 BBY
After the events of the first book of this trilogy, Thrawn and his allies now have to act to make sure that they save the Chiss Ascendency from this enemy that they don’t know much about. While he may have triumphed in their first battle against this enemy, Thrawn and his allies now have to embrace the fact that there is still a bigger threat out there. And he has to make sure that he extinguished this threat before things go out of hand.
The problem here is that the enemy doesn’t use conventional tactics that Thrawn is familiar with. Instead, they hide among the Ascendency as the enemy cloaks itself through generosity while slowly bringing about events that could very well doom the entire Chiss Ascendency. In that regard, Thrawn and his Expansionary Defense Fleet now have to work together to uncover the plot of their enemies before things become too uncontrollable. And the scariest part is that this unseen enemy focuses more on widening the rift between the different ruling families of the Ascendency and is basically attacking the stability of the government from within.
Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil (2021)
Date of Publication: November 16, 2021
Series: Thrawn Ascendancy
Timeline: c. 18 BBY (present) / Between c. 39 BBY and 19 BBY (flashbacks)
This book is the dramatic conclusion to the ‘Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendency’ trilogy, which is the origin story of Thrawn and how he was able to save his people from an unseen threat. In the final book, the Chiss Ascendency’s stability is in jeopardy because a crafty enemy from the Chaos of the Unknown Regions has been working hard to divide the Nine Ruling Families. In that regard, trust has now become an issue for the entire stability of the Ascendency as the rulers are now divided in terms of their views.
Thrawn and the Expansionary Defense Fleet is now working their best to make sure that they get to the bottom of the civil unrest that’s been happening in the Chiss Ascendency. As such, Thrawn now has to dive into his past to see the mysteries behind the rise of the First Ruling Family of Chiss to make sure that he gets to the bottom of the problem that’s been plaguing the Ascendency and to see to it that the future of his people is secured. But Thrawn ends up discovering more than he could bargain for as he now has to choose between giving up everything or ensuring the salvation of the Chiss Ascendency.
Imperial Era Books
Date of Publication: April 11, 2017
Timeline: Between 13 and 11 BBY–2 BBY
After the events of the Thrawn Ascendency trilogy comes the Thrawn trilogy which takes place during the reign of the Empire. At this stage, Thrawn has already risen up as one of the most powerful and influential military commanders in the entire Empire. However, while that may be true, his rise to power and origins within the Imperial military ranks still remain mysteries to a lot of people. And that’s where the Thrawn trilogy during the Imperial era comes into play to tell us the story of one of Star Wars’ greatest villains.
So, in the storyline of ‘Star Wars: Thrawn,’ we get to see the different events that led to Thrawn’s rise as one of the greatest strategists in the history of the galaxy, as he eventually became known for his ruthlessness as a military commander and in the use of lethal warfare. Thrawn is rescued by Imperial soldiers that were able to bring him to the Empire, where he impressed Emperor Palpatine himself. In that regard himself indispensable to the cause of the Empire and even earned the respect of none other than Darth Vader, the loyal servant of the emperor.
In this book, Thrawn goes on to capture smugglers, spies, and pirates alike while showcasing his brilliance as a military commander. On the other hand, his methods didn’t exactly sit in well with the other Imperial officers due to the fact that he seems to be someone who is on his way to a quick rise to the top. He gets promotion after promotion in his ascension to power as one of the highest-ranking officers in the entire Imperial navy. But while that may be true, he ends up realizing that the world of politics still escapes him as he isn’t as quick-witted when it comes to political affairs as he is in the world of military strategy.
Thrawn becomes an admiral and has to put all of his knowledge, training, and experience to test. He has to go up against an uprisings throughout the galaxy as there are people that are threatening to loosen the Empire’s grip over the several systems.
Thrawn: Alliances (2018)
Date of Publication: July 24, 2018
Timeline: 19 BBY (Past), Between 2 BBY and 0 BBY (Present)
After rising as a high-ranking officer within the Empire, Thrawn now has to work together with Darth Vader, who has seen the abilities of the Chiss Grand Admiral firsthand but is yet to truly understand whether or not he can be relied on. In that regard, they now have to work together in the Unknown Regions of space, where an unknown threat is now on the rise. Neither of them knows whether or not the consequences of this uprising can threaten the Empire but they do know that they have to work together to find out more about this “disturbance in the Force,” as Emperor Palpatine described it.
While they may be unlikely partners in this mission, Thrawn and Vader are both formidable in their own right and are now even more dangerous when they are working together. Of course, Palpatine knows that this wasn’t the first time that they worked together on a mission because, in the past, there was a point wherein General Anakin Skywalker of the Jedi Order worked together with Commander Thrawn of the Chiss Ascendency. As such, they were already familiar with one another despite the fact that Thrawn didn’t initially think that he already worked with Vader in the past.
Now on a personal quest, they now have to face different types of dangers in a world that is entirely foreign to both of them. They forge an uneasy alliance despite the fact that they weren’t sure of each other’s motives. But because they need to work together and fight side-by-side with one another, this was an uneasy alliance that required them to trust one another to test their allegiance to the Empire and to defeat an enemy that requires their combined efforts.
Thrawn: Treason (2019)
Date of Publication: July 23, 2019
Timeline: 0 BBY
Aptly entitled, ‘Thrawn: Treason’ allows us to see the ultimate test of Thrawn’s loyalty to Emperor Palpatine as he is now placed in a situation wherein even the emperor isn’t sure of his allegiance. Nevertheless, Thrawn assured Palpatine from the very start that his service to the Empire automatically came with his allegiance.
Since swearing his loyalty to Palpatine, Thrawn has played the role of the Empire’s most dangerous commander as he was able to pursue his enemies with incredible ruthless. However, while Palpatine had one of the most dangerous men under his employ, he still dreamt of something a lot more dangerous. Thrawn’s TIE Defender program was put on hold in favor of Director Krennic’s Death Star project. And that was when Thrawn started to realize that even the smartest minds cannot compete with the ability to destroy entire planets in one shot.
Thrawn, of course, still worked hard to secure his place in the Imperial hierarchy despite the fact that Palpatine has shifted his focus on the Death Star. However, Eli Vanto, his protégé, returned to him to tell him something dire that had happened to his homeworld. Now, Thrawn has to make a choice between the Chiss Ascendency or his loyalty to the Empire as any choice that he makes will lead to treason.
Heir to the Empire (1991)
Date of Publication: May 1, 1992
Series: The Thrawn Trilogy
Timeline: 9 ABY
Chronologically speaking, this book was the very first Thrawn storyline ever introduced as it wrote about Thrawn and what happened to him and the Imperial remnants after the fall of the Empire. And because this book was written in 1992, it belongs to the Legends storyline instead of the currently established canon.
But while ‘Heir to the Empire’ may no longer be canon, it still is one of the best books to read in relation to Thrawn and the mindset that he carried throughout his entire history as a character. The storyline takes place after the events of ‘Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi’ as there were rumors of Imperial remnants threatening to regain control over the galaxy under the leadership of a man named Grand Admiral Thrawn, who sought to lead the Imperials against the New Republic during a time when Luke, Leia, and Han had already helped bring peace to the entire galaxy by defeating the Empire.
Leia and Han are now married but are now carrying the burden of leading an entire government that was still recovering from the ashes of the Empire. Meanwhile, Luke is now establishing the foundations of his Jedi Order. Nevertheless, the Empire’s final warlord is now looking to make a stand against the New Republic as Thrawn found important discoveries that could very well shake the foundations of the peaceful regime that the heroes were able to lay down after the defeat of the Empire. And this storyline will allow us to see our favorite heroes in a new adventure that’s set to help them grow more as characters.
Dark Force Rising (1992)
Date of Publication: May 1, 1992
Series: The Thrawn Trilogy
Timeline: 9 ABY
After the success of ‘Heir to the Empire,’ ‘Dark Force Rising’ follows it up with the second installment of a planned trilogy of books that tells the story of the years after the defeat of the Empire. In this book, we get to see more of the events surrounding Grand Admiral Thrawn’s plans and machinations as he is set to unleash his wrath over the entire New Republic while using weapons that he was able to find hidden.
During this timeline, the Republic was still as fragile as ever even after the defeat of the Empire. Of course, Thrawn is looking to make use of the fragility of the Republic to launch a massive campaign that seeks to destroy the Republic and reinstate the might of the Empire with the aid of powerful weapons that were beyond the comprehension of our favorite heroes. In that regard, Thrawn plans to turn the tide of battle in his favor by using these powerful weapons to his advantage as he is now looking to take over the entire galaxy as the heir to the Empire.
Nevertheless, there are some people within the Republic that are threatening to tear it apart. At this time, Princess Leia was pregnant with Jedi twins. But she still worked hard to bring a proud and powerful alien race into the fold of the Republic so that they would have allies in the upcoming battles against Thrawn and the remnants of the Empire. On the other hand, Han and Lando are now in a race against time to try to prove that there’s a traitor in the Republic, only for them to discover that there is a fleet of powerful warships that Thrawn is looking to send down on them and their allies. Of course, Luke now has to face the ghost of a dark Jedi that is also looking to re-establish the dominance of the dark side.
This dark Jedi is now looking to use his power against Luke Skywalker to enthrall him and bring him over to the dark side in an effort to fully corrupt him. In that regard, this is a brilliant tale with different perspectives from our favorite Rebel heroes as they all have to face their own fair share of trials and tribulations in ‘Dark Force Rising.’
The Last Command (1993)
Date of Publication: April 1, 1993
Series: The Thrawn Trilogy
Timeline: 9 ABY
After ‘Heir to the Empire’ and ‘Dark Force Rising’ were able to captivate the world of sci-fi, the final installment of this trilogy comes in the form of ‘The Last Command,’ which is also the final book of the original Thrawn storyline. ‘The Last Command’ is the climactic conclusion to the war between our Rebel heroes and the resurgent Imperial forces under the command of Grand Admiral Thrawn, who now has a lot of weapons that he believes are more than enough to shatter the peace in the galaxy and force entire systems to fall under his command.
The fragility of the Republic is now at the peak as Grand Admiral Thrawn now has clone soldiers under his command. This has forced the galaxy back into an era of temporary darkness as Thrawn is now looking to unleash his full might against the Republic in one final siege. On the other hand, our heroes are yet to give up because Han and Chewy are now trying to form an alliance with smugglers that they believe could help defeat Thrawn and his men. On the other hand, Leia is working hard to keep the remnants of the Rebel Alliance together while she prepares for the birth of her children.
But Thrawn’s forces are far too powerful for any of them to handle, and that means that a small force composed of Luke is the final hope against this massive army. He has to travel into the very heart of the stronghold of Thrawn’s cloning machine, where he has to face the dark Jedi named C’baoth, who is secretly scheming in the dark fortress as he now seeks to destroy Luke. In that regard, Luke and his friends are now in the middle of the toughest challenge of their lives as they try to make sure that the peace that they worked so hard to achieve does not get shattered to pieces by Thrawn and the dark Jedi.
Specter of the Past (1997)
Date of Publication: November 3, 1997
Series: The Hand of Thrawn
Timeline: 19 ABY
The success of the original Thrawn Trilogy was one of the thing that allowed us to see the brilliance of Timothy Zahn as a sci-fi author. He followed up his success with ‘Specter of the Past,’ which is the first part of a two-volume series entitled ‘The Hand of Thrawn.’ And in this story, Luke and his friends are now looking to keep the Republic safe from itself and an Imperial warlord that’s looking to shatter the peace.
Despite the fact that the Empire used to be the unquestioned master of the entire galaxy, the force of the Empire has now been reduced to a small skeleton force that could no longer take over the galaxy on its own. More and more independent worlds that used to be under the Empire are now joining the New Republic. While that may be true, Leia is still working hard to hold the Republic together and to make sure that it doesn’t fall victim to its own success as there age-old rivalries between different worlds and leaders resurface. But the problem is that there are more enemies rising by the minute, especially because former warlords are still on the run and are looking to make it more difficult for Leia to keep the Republic together.
Meanwhile, Luke, Lando, and Talon are now looking to pursue a group of pirate ships consisted entirely of clones. But the biggest problem is that Grand Admiral Thrawn, who they believed was dead, had resurfaced after ten years and is looking to shatter the peace of the Republic by leading the Empire against the Republic. The most cunning Imperial warlord has become a threat once more as Han and Leia are now looking to prevent the destruction of the New Republic against this seemingly unbeatable threat from the past.
Luke, however, has to track down a group of pirate ships with the help of Mara Jade, who used to be loyal to the Empire but has become an unlikely ally to him. Mara has proven herself powerful in the Force and is looking to share her mastery over the Force with Luke despite the fact that the dark side is still looming in the shadows.
Vision of the Future (1998)
Date of Publication: September 1, 1998
Series: The Hand of Thrawn
Timeline: 19 ABY
‘Visions of the Future’ follows up on the success of the first book of the ‘The Hand of Thrawn’ series as it concludes the entire storyline. The story that was established in ‘Specter of the Past’ concludes as Luke, Leia, and Han are now in the middle of a civil war that’s about to erupt due to the rumors that the long-dead Grand Admiral Thrawn has been resurrected. In that regard, they are now looking to hold the entire Republic together as rumors of this threat are spreading across the galaxy like wildfire.
Due to how weakened the Empire has become, sowing the seeds of discord in the New Republic is the best way for the Imperials to weaken their enemy as the remnants of this once-powerful force are now looking to make one last push in an effort to defeat the New Republic. After implicating the Bothans in the genocide of the Caamasi, they are now looking to attack Han and Leia and blame the incident on the Bothans once more. A successful strike could very well destroy the fragile Republic and lead it to disaster. But the heroes are now looking to try to prove that the Bothans are innocent and that the Empire was the one responsible for the attacks.
The problem is that time is running out for the heroes because Major Tierce, one of the most trusted men working for Thrawn, has joined up with Moff Disra in an effort to enact the Empire’s plans to destroy the Republic. Of course, the rumors of the return of Thrawn are at the heart of the schemes of the Empire as this news has allowed the remnants of the Empire to rally together in an effort to defeat the Republic. Leia, on the other hand, travels to meet up with an Imperial commander that wanted peace, all while Han and Lando try to seek the truth behind the destruction of Caamas.
Luke and Mara Jade are now looking to infiltrate the fortress that houses Thrawn’s followers as they await his call to arms. Talon Karrde, meanwhile, returns to the underworld because he believes that a crime lord can help the Republic against the sudden rise of the Empire. But the truth about Thrawn is still dependent on the fate of the entire Republic as ‘Visions of the Future’ looks to wrap up a great two-part series that is full of drama, action, suspense, and mystery.
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