In 1991, the Star Wars universe changed forever. After a few years of quiet, the Expanded Universe exploded in scope and reach, kicking off with a series of novels from Timothy Zahn that brought us the story of what happened after Return of the Jedi. With it came the rise of Grand Admiral Thrawn and 30 years later, it’s time to celebrate him in style.
Heir to the Empire—the start of what is now known in reverent tones as the Thrawn Trilogy—kicked off a journey for the masterful Chiss tactician that quickly embedded him as one of the most beloved and important icons of the Expanded Universe. His popularity was such that, even when Disney acquired Lucasfilm and rebooted Star Wars continuity wholesale, they could not leave Thrawn out in the dark.
Thrawn returned through Star Wars Rebels, allowing his creator to usher in a new wave of Thrawn novels, first exploring the commander’s early days in the Empire, and then in the recent Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising, his days before that as part of the mysterious Chiss society. Now, as the 30th anniversary of Heir’s release approaches, io9 has artfully acquired a few details about how 2021 will be anything but blue for our good Grand Admiral.
On Star Wars day next year, May 4, 2021—30 years to the month Heir to the Empire hit shelves—Del Rey will publish the second novel in Zahn’s Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy, which io9 can exclusively reveal the title and first look at the cover of—Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good.
Diving further into the ramifications of the events of the first book in the series, Chaos Rising, Greater Good finds Thrawn at the heart of big changes coming to the Chiss Ascendancy. With no time to bask in the laurels of his victory, Thrawn and his allies in the Chiss Expansionary Defence Force must race against the clock to uncover a plot to tear their society asunder. Here’s the full description of what you can expect:
Thrawn’s latest triumph still rests newly on his shoulders. Despite leading the Chiss to victory and bringing glory to the House of Mitth, the true threat to the Ascendancy has not yet been extinguished. Their foes do not send threats or ultimatums, or mass ships on the edge of the Chaos. Their weapons come cloaked in smiles and generosity—gifts offered freely, services granted unconditionally.
Across the Ascendancy, seemingly inconsequential events could herald the doom of the Chiss. As Thrawn and the Expansionary Defense Fleet rally to uncover the enemy plot, they discover a chilling truth. Rather than invade Chiss capitals or pillage resources, this mysterious enemy strikes at the very foundation of the Ascendancy by widening the rifts between the Nine Ruling Families and Forty Great Houses below. As rivalry and suspicion sow discord among allies, each warrior must decide what matters most: the security of their family, or the survival of the Ascendancy itself.
But that’s not all! If you need to catch up in the fanciest way possible before you dive into Greater Good, to celebrate Heir to the Empire and Thrawn’s 30th anniversary Del Rey has teamed up with Out of Print to release a very limited edition of Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising. The new book comes encased in a foil-stamped slipcase and printed with a piece of Chiss iconography.
The book itself also has a brand new matching cover, created by illustrator Magali Villeneuve—depicting the young Thrawn as he appears in the series, wearing the uniform of an Expansionary Defence Force officer—and includes special Chiss-blue stained pages and similar blue accents throughout the novel.
If that wasn’t enough? Each copy is signed by Zahn, cementing at a piece of art that Thrawn himself would admire (and ultimately discern 17 ways to outsmart you through). You’ll have to act fast though: just 750 copies will be available, and it’ll set you back a hefty $150 if you snag one when preorders launch in November.
If you feel bad about missing out on it, however (or just want a cheaper way to celebrate 30 years of Thrawn), at the same time Out of Print will also release a new t-shirt featuring a piece of Chisstory. Depicting Tom Jung’s iconic original cover art for Heir to the Empire—including Han, Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, Thrawn himself, and the infamous Dark Jedi, Joruus C’baoth—on the front, the t-shirt also prints Heir’s original title crawl and cover blurb from its original release on the back:
You’re basically wearing one of the most beloved Expanded Universe novels ever! There’s no limited run on them either, and at $30, it’ll be less damaging on your wallet to wear your Thrawn pride with, err, pride.
Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good releases on May 4, 2021, and is available to preorder now. The limited-edition run of Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising, as well as the Heir to the Empire anniversary t-shirt, will go up for order on Out of Print at 11:00 a.m. EST on November 17.