Top critical review
Hamstrung by the Lucasfilm Story Group Again
Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2019
While I did enjoy this novel, and I would recommend it to anyone as a good Zahn tale, I don't think it was the best of the three. Again as with the last two novels, the story is very self-contained with a minimal impact on the larger Star Wars galaxy. This is what happens when you are making films and novels at the same time, everything has to fit perfectly together, and you give more creative freedom to filmmakers than authors.
I also think the marketing for the book set me up for disappointment in two key ways:
1. The cover features Palpatine. He is barely in the book at all. Had he been more of a presence it would have made Thrawn's loyalty balancing act that much more tense and potentially dangerous.
2. The description above states: "his former protégé Eli Vanto returns with a dire warning about Thrawn’s homeworld." In fact, the threat in this novel is completely to the Empire. Eli doesn't seek Thrawn out, they just happen to run into each other. I was expecting we would finally venture into Chiss space, but sadly that didn't happen.
Sure it is fun to read any story with Thrawn in it, and I really like the new Chiss characters and Eli Vanto, but I cannot stress how much more interesting and better developed the characters and stories were in Zahn's original Thrawn trilogy. The stakes were so much higher when Luke, Han, and Leia were involved.
Finally, I had really hoped for some clues of what may have happened to Thrawn after Rebels Season 4. Sadly this didn't happen which was a huge missed opportunity to keep the fans excited and looking forward to more.