The Galactic Empire had no shortage of brilliant commanders and leaders, but one name stands above the rest. He is Mitth’raw’nuruodo, better known . . . as Thrawn. This Chiss tactician nearly destroyed the New Republic years after Emperor Palpatine died, and was close to returning the Empire to its previous stature before his death. Thrawn first appeared in the Star Wars novel Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn, the first book of the Thrawn trilogy. In this Character Corner we’ll show you the history – and bloody end – of this Imperial warlord.
Born as a commoner, Thrawn was deemed a worthy adoptee of one of the Chiss ruling families, the Mitth, and gained ranks quickly in the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force. At twenty-seven years before the battle of Yavin, Thrawn became the youngest force commander of the Expansionary fleet ever. Soon he would come in contact with a starship sent by the galactic republic to explore unknown space, including the zone of the galaxy where the Chiss battled the aliens that would later be known as the Yuuzhan Vong. Thrawn was put into contact with Darth Sidious, and destroyed the Republic’s ship.
Some years later, after Sidious emerged as Palpatine and began his rule of the new Galactic Empire, Thrawn engineered his own downfall in order to leave the Chiss force and join Palpatine. Despite the Empire’s anti-alien agenda, Thrawn quickly gained a command rank thanks to an innate tactical genius, though he would not become a high-ranking office until after the Battle of Yavin. During much of his time, he would secretly explore the Unknown Region of space, establishing a military state called the Empire of the Hand and a secret base named the Hand of Thrawn.
Made Grand Admiral in 2 ABY, Thrawn spent most of that period on Coruscant, dealing with the politics of the position. He feigned defeat by Palpatine in political posturing to continue both of their goals of exploring the unknown parts of the galaxy. He would return there several times, but shortly after he left for his last trip, Palpatine was defeated at the Battle of Endor.
Four years later, Thrawn returned to the known galaxy with an intention to destroy the New Republic and waged a final campaign to that end. Utilizing brilliant fleet tactics, elite clone warriors, and victory after victory, pushed the New Republic back and seemed unstoppable. He was ultimately betrayed by his previously-loyal bodyguard Rukh, when Rukh found that Thrawn was the one who machinated the oppression of the Noghri planet and people, of which Rukh is one. Zahn had a clone created that would take his place, but it was destroyed while still incubating.
Behind the Scenes:
Timothy Zahn’s trilogy marked a new era in the expanded universe. Zahn has said that several real-life characters were combined, such as Erwin Rommel, Robert E. Lee, and even Sherlock Holmes. Zahn has said that he would be willing to create another clone if the desire was there. It was even suspected early in Episode VII’s development that Thrawn would be the new trilogy’s villain, but this has clearly been disproved.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the information about this Expanded Universe character. Come back next week for more cool information!