I will say up front that I really enjoyed Thrawn but I think that if I hadn’t been listening to the audiobook then I would have lost interest very quickly. This is because of one thing and one thing only: Arihnda Pryce. It is very much to Marc Thompson’s credit that his reading kept me paying attention even though Pryce was so dull.
This book is called Thrawn if I’m not mistaken, so anytime we went to Pryce’s POV sections I pretty much immediately checked out. I don’t think it would have been monotonous to just stick with Thrawn the whole time because he is a damn fun character to follow around. The sections with Eli weren’t so boredom-inducing so I don’t think it’s the fault of Timothy Zahn. I didn’t think it was his fault anyway since his old EU books are among the best. Pryce is just boring. Her story is one that everyone has seen before and she fits the black widow female archetype so well it’s just a little disappointing to see her develop that way. If you’ve watched Rebels then you already know how Pryce is going to turn out anyway, but that’s not really how she starts out in the book. Instead, like a light switch, she transforms into that version about halfway through. It’s not earned, it just happens.
Now, as for Thrawn himself, I just have to say holy crap, Timothy Zahn, I am so glad they decided to make Thrawn canon and give you some more time with him. He is a very rich, multi-dimensional character now whereas before he just seemed to be a very skilled tactical commander that the Emperor found somewhere in the outer rim. I’m not going to spoil how that view changes because of this novel but it does make me question what else was going on in the Heir to the Empire trilogy behind the scenes. Since in those books you’re with Thrawn even less than in his own titular novel, it sheds new light on those books as well. That is, assuming Disney will maintain the other Thrawn novels as canonical. This book takes place between Revenge of the Sith and Rebels season 2 so I don’t know what Disney includes or doesn’t include.
I really, really hope that Zahn gets to write more Thrawn, and I wouldn’t actually mind more Vanto either. On a sidenote, so far this is the only new-EU book that I have really enjoyed. Ahsoka was okay enough, the Rogue One prequel pretty much sucked, but as I said in my review of that book, until at least Episode IX is out there, this new EU can’t break any new ground. There’s just a lot of retconning to do. However, that doesn’t mean there are no good stories to tell. The comics going now are mostly very good and I really hope that a new animated series comes in to replace Rebels when it finishes season 4 since that will be their final season. Thrawn was a very big step in the right direction for these new canon novels, I just hope this isn’t the first in a one step forward, two steps back type of situation.