The Star Wars Books You Should Read, To Understand Grand Admiral Thrawn

Dive deep into understanding the big bad of Ahsoka with these older Star Wars stories.

By Henry Hards | Published

Scene from Ahsoka
Grand Admiral Thrawn in Ahsoka
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn has a deep history beyond Star Wars Ahsoka having appeared in books and animated shows before.
  • The character was created in 1991 by author Timothy Zahn for Heir to the Empire
  • Thrawn has since appeared in numerous must-read books which will help readers understand the character.

Grand Admiral Thrawn has been a central figure in Ahsoka, the new Star Wars series set after Return of the Jedi. But this isn’t his first appearance in the Star Wars universe. He’s appeared in numerous Star Wars books and shown up in canon on past animated shows set in the Star Wars universe.

Originally introduced by author Timothy Zahn in 1991’s Heir to the Empire, he’s become a cornerstone in both Star Wars Legends and Canon material. Unlike many of his Imperial counterparts, Thrawn is not driven by cruelty or ambition; he’s a master tactician who uses intellect and a deep understanding of art and culture to outmaneuver his enemies.

To properly understand him, you’ll need to understand his origins. And the best way to do that is by grabbing a copy of these iconic Star Wars books.

We’ve listed them in order by which is most important to understanding Thrawn as a character. Start at the top and work your way down.

Heir to the Empire (1991) by Timothy Zahn

star wars thrawn books

This novel kicks off five years after Return of the Jedi. The Rebel Alliance has formed the New Republic, but Grand Admiral Thrawn is rallying the remaining Imperial forces. The book introduces Thrawn’s innovative tactics as he tries to crush the New Republic. Thrawn’s character is established as a brilliant strategist who employs unconventional methods, like using art to understand enemy cultures.

Dark Force Rising (1992) by Timothy Zahn

star wars thrawn books

The hunt is on for the Katana fleet, an array of forgotten warships. Thrawn wants them to tip the balance against the New Republic. The novel further explores Thrawn’s intelligence and resourcefulness, including his mastery of psychological and political warfare.

The Last Command (1993) by Timothy Zahn

star wars thrawn books

Thrawn’s campaign reaches its zenith as he closes in on the New Republic. Cloned warriors and devious schemes come into play. The novel is crucial for understanding Thrawn’s overarching objectives and his ability to orchestrate complex military campaigns.

Outbound Flight (2006) by Timothy Zahn

star wars thrawn books

Set before the Clone Wars, Jedi Master Jorus C’baoth leads an expedition to explore outside the galaxy. Thrawn, still part of the Chiss Ascendancy, crosses paths with them. The novel is pivotal for understanding Thrawn’s early tactical thinking and his first interactions with Jedi.

Choices of One (2011) by Timothy Zahn

star wars thrawn books

Set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the Rebels are seeking a new base. Thrawn is a commander tasked with stopping them. The novel offers insights into his tactical brilliance and his nuanced views on the Galactic Empire and its adversaries.

Thrawn (2017) by Timothy Zahn

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This new canon novel reintroduces Thrawn as he is found by Imperial forces and climbs the ranks. He seeks to warn the Empire of greater threats in the Unknown Regions. The book serves as a reintroduction to Thrawn’s tactical genius, adapting to the complex political environment of the Empire.

Thrawn: Alliances (2018) by Timothy Zahn

star wars thrawn books

Thrawn and Darth Vader are sent on a mission to investigate a disturbance in the Unknown Regions. Their uneasy alliance takes center stage. The story is significant for its insights into Thrawn’s relationship with the Sith and his capabilities as a tactical planner.

Thrawn: Treason (2019) by Timothy Zahn

star wars thrawn books

Thrawn is caught between the demands of Emperor Palpatine and the needs of the Chiss Ascendancy. He must navigate internal politics while facing a new threat. The story highlights Thrawn’s divided loyalties and provides a keen look into his ethical and tactical boundaries.

Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising (2020) by Timothy Zahn

star wars thrawn books

Set in Thrawn’s early years within the Chiss Ascendancy, the Chiss face mysterious attacks. Thrawn is tasked to investigate and counter these threats. The book delves into Thrawn’s origins and gives valuable background on his upbringing and early military career.

Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good (2021) by Timothy Zahn

star wars thrawn books

Thrawn continues to serve the Chiss Ascendancy, which faces internal and external conflicts. He is set on maintaining unity while uncovering hidden threats. This novel adds depth to Thrawn’s character by focusing on his loyalties and his unique approach to strategy within the Ascendancy.

Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil (2021) by Timothy Zahn

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The trilogy concludes as tensions within the Ascendancy reach a boiling point. Thrawn confronts a dark threat to the Chiss. The book is vital for understanding what lengths Thrawn is willing to go to for the sake of his people and the greater good.