Star Wars’ Thrawn Used A Secret Weapon Better Than The Death Star

By Zack Zagranis | Published

star wars thrawn

Long-time fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe have been singing Grand Admiral Thrawn’s praises for years. A leader like no other, Thrawn routinely uses tactics that other high-ranking Imperials like Darth Vader would never dream of. The best example of this is the time Thrawn devised a secret weapon that was so effective it put the Death Star to shame.

Too Many Death Stars

star wars the acolyte

Star Wars has a Death Star problem. When Lucas first conceived of a moon-sized super laser capable of destroying a whole planet with one blast, it was a novel and terrifying concept. But then the Empire made another, bigger Death Star. Then, an even bigger one that could blow up five planets at once.

And that’s just in the movies. In Legends, formerly the EU, a prototype of the original Death Star was discovered. Then Jabba the Hutt’s dad made another one, but just the laser this time. Then there was the sun crusher capable of destroying an entire solar system, and, well, it gets really boring after a while.

Enter Star Wars’ savior, Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Thrawn Was More Subtle Than His Colleagues

An embarrassing number of EU stories revolved around someone recreating the Death Star or something similar to showcase their unstoppable might. Thrawn didn’t do that. One of the few Star Wars villains more concerned with winning than proving he has the biggest you-know-what, Thrawn employed more subtle tactics than brute force.

The basic idea with the Death Star is supposed to be that the Empire blows up a planet, and the rest of the planets fall in line, not wanting to face the same violent end. The problem is that such a vicious act is more apt to inspire rebellion rather than compliance. Thrawn came up with a way to take over a planet rather than blow it up and still spread fear throughout the rest of the galaxy in the process.

Taking Back Ukio

The crowning jewel of the Star Wars Expanded Universe was and still is Timothy Zahn’s original Thrawn trilogy. Throughout that trilogy, Thrawn employs many clever tactics, culminating with the one used at the Battle at Ukio in the novel The Last Command.

The planet Ukio was an important source of agriculture for the Empire before defecting to the New Republic following the death of the Emperor. Thrawn chose Ukio as the first planet he intended to bring back under the Empire’s control and also the one he would use to test out the new “superweapon” he had devised. Should his plan succeed, it would send a powerful message to all the other former Imperial worlds that had joined the New Republic: the Empire was back and better than ever!

Bringing Cloaks To Star Wars

Star Wars is no stranger to fantastic technology but the one thing that’s always been conspicuously missing was cloaking devices, something Thrawn rectified. The handwaving explanation as to why cloaking devices were never used heavily in Star Wars was because the tech didn’t just make a ship invisible–it also made it blind. Pilots couldn’t use their sensors or nav computers while cloaked, rendering a cloaked ship nothing more than an invisible rock essentially.

A Sneaky Plan

Thrawn had the bright idea to use a dark Jedi to coordinate the cloaked pilot’s actions through the force. He brought an invasion fleet to Ukio and calmly asked them to surrender and prepare for an Imperial takeover, knowing the planet would raise its shields in response. Thrawn was delighted when they did because, prior to his request, he had secretly moved two cloaked ships into Ukio’s atmosphere just below where the shield would be.

When Ukio resisted as Thrawn commanded his Star Destroyer, The Chimaera, to open fire on the planet. The ship’s turbo lasers hit the shield and dissipated like Thrawn knew they would. He then had his Jedi make the cloaked pilots fire their lasers the second the Star Destroyer’s shots hit the shield.

Victory Without The Death Star

As a result the citizens of Ukio saw a Star Destroyer fire through their shield and directly blow up a pair of military bases. The planet surrendered immediately without further violence, proving once and for all that Star Wars’ greatest military strategist was Grand Admiral Thrawn. Word of Ukio’s surrender and Thrawn’s new “superweapon” capable of firing through shields spread throughout the galaxy, allowing Thrawn to retake several other planets with even less destruction.

In the end, the Death Star is admittedly the much more cinematic and exciting weapon to see in action, but when it comes to actual military strategy, Thrawn’s tactic can’t be beaten.

Subscribe For

Star Wars News

Expect a confirmation email if you subscribe!