Thrawn trilogy

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The Thrawn trilogy, also known as the Heir to the Empire trilogy, is a series of best-selling science fiction novels written by Timothy Zahn. They are set in the Star Wars expanded universe approximately five years after the events depicted in the 1983 Star Wars film Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The series introduced several notable characters, including Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, and Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the more notable villains in the expanded universe. The Thrawn trilogy was followed by the The Hand of Thrawn, a two-book series (1997 and 1998) also authored by Zahn.

With the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company, most of the licensed Star Wars novels and comics produced since the originating 1977 film Star Wars were rebranded as Star Wars Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise in April 2014.[1][2][3]


As the first book opens, the Rebellion, now known as the New Republic, is still fighting to mop up final Imperial resistance and set up a functional government. Out in the fringes of the galaxy, the most brilliant of all the hand-picked Grand Admirals is gaining strength and preparing to attack the New Republic. After convincing a Dark Jedi to join his side, Grand Admiral Thrawn is confident in his victory.

Books in the series[edit]

  1. Heir to the Empire, 1991 (ISBN 0-553-40471-7)
  2. Dark Force Rising, 1992 (ISBN 0-553-08574-3)
  3. The Last Command, 1993 (ISBN 0-553-56492-7)

Reception, sales and influence[edit]

The trilogy sold a combined total of 15 million copies.

The Thrawn trilogy is widely credited with revitalizing the Star Wars franchise.[4][5] In The Secret History of Star Wars, Michael Kaminski suggests that this renewed interest was a factor in George Lucas' decision to create the prequel trilogy.[5]

The series also introduced the popular expanded universe characters Talon Karrde, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, and Gilad Pellaeon.[6][7]

In August 2011, the series was voted into NPR's top 100 science fiction and fantasy books (coming in at place 88), as voted on by over 60,000 participants.[8]

At the 2016 Star Wars Celebration in London, it was announced that Thrawn will appear in the season three premiere of Star Wars Rebels, featuring his trademark blue skin, red eyes, and white Imperial Navy uniform. In addition, Thrawn, a new book written by Zahn, will be published in April 2017.[9]


All three books were later adapted as comic books by Dark Horse Comics. The series was divided into six separate issues per book, and re-released in 2009 as a single hardcover graphic novel for the trilogy. A soundtrack of the trilogy had been in discussions by Robert Townson, the vice president of Varèse Sarabande Records, but did not go any further than that.[10]

Role-playing game adaptations[edit]

Each novel in the trilogy had its own Star Wars role-playing game sourcebook created for it by West End Games. When the rules for the Star Wars RPG changed the three volumes were collected into one book for the entire Thrawn trilogy which also served as a second edition to the original three source books. According to Zahn, the writing of the trilogy was coordinated with preexisting West End Games materials (at the behest of Lucasfilm), and that "They filled in a bunch of gaps I hadn't got around to filling in."[5]


  1. ^ McMilian, Graeme (April 25, 2014). "Lucasfilm Unveils New Plans for Star Wars Expanded Universe". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 26, 2016. 
  2. ^ "The Legendary Star Wars Expanded Universe Turns a New Page". April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Disney and Random House announce relaunch of Star Wars Adult Fiction line". April 25, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Timothy Zahn: Outbound Flight Arrival". January 31, 2006. Archived from the original on February 4, 2006. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Kaminski, Michael. The Secret History of Star Wars (3rd ed.). pp. 289–291. 
  6. ^ "Critical Opinion: Heir to the Empire Reviews". April 4, 2014. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved December 14, 2015. 
  7. ^ Breznican, Anthony (November 2, 2012). "Star Wars sequel author Timothy Zahn weighs in on new movie plans". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books". Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  9. ^ “Who is Thrawn?”
  10. ^ Cotta Vaz, Mark (2009-04-25). The Secrets of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. Star Wars. Del Rey. p. 256. ISBN 0-345-40236-7. ...had earlier discussed with Wilson the possibility of a sound track based on author Timothy Zahn's trilogy of Star Wars novels.