The most expected Star Wars release of the year, probably right after the “Solo” film, is Timothy Zahn’s novel “Thrawn: Alliances”. Timothy Zahn is a Star Wars writer legend and Thrawn is his most famous character, probably the most iconic extra-movie character ever. “Thrawn: Alliances” puts him together with the most iconic movie character: Darth Vader, and in flashbacks, Anakin Skywalker.

“Thrawn: Alliances” is getting published on 15th July 2018, but already now has published an exclusive excerpt from the novel. It is there that we can glimpse young Thrawn’s encounter with Anakin Skywalker. An audio-book sample can also be found on the page, narrated by Marc Thompson; and we were also offered a glimpse of the book’s alternate cover, available in a limited edition for San Diego Comic Con (see the image at the beginning of this article). The contrast with the basic version is striking: the normal cover shows Thrawn in his iconic white admiral uniform, while the other “flashback” version depicts him in the black suit of Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet. The normal cover has Vader standing beside Thrawn, on the SDCC cover there is Anakin. I must congratulate the designer for playing with the symbolic level of this portrayal.

The basic hardcover version cover of Thrawn: Alliances, featuring Vader and the protagonist in his iconic white Imperial admiral’s uniform.

What Did Thrawn Know About Vader?

Putting the Empire’s best strategist to the same space as the Empire’s most ruthless warrior is sure to be interesting. Add to it the fact that Thrawn had met Anakin before he became Vader and it becomes almost too interesting. Will Thrawn’s brilliant mind discover who is behind the mask? How is he going to use that information? Given that even the excerpt references Padmé, did Thrawn figure out Anakin’s connection to her and was he able to connect the dots and understand what role did she play in his change into Vader?

Timothy Zahn had to re-set some of the events surrounding his Thrawn when the official canon changed after Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, but his previous novel, “Thrawn”, showed that he can easily write about the fan-favourite character while maintaining indirect connections to the past. Like “Thrawn”, “Thrawn: Alliances” is set in times that have not been charted in previous books about him and can be easily harmonized even with his no-longer-canonical biography. At the same time, hardcore Thrawn fans get to see something they always secretly desired: how he encountered Anakin Skywalker and how did he, as an Imperial Admiral, cooperate with Darth Vader. Vader’s low patience with admirals is well-known, but Thrawn is anything but your average Imperial officer.

More questions hang in the air: how did Thrawn’s encounter with Anakin influence his perception of the Jedi? Will that in any way give us a hint on how he felt about Ezra Bridger and Kanan Jarrus, the other two Jedi he would encounter? Will it in some way hint on how he might have acted towards Ezra after the Star Wars Rebels finale?

We just have to wait what Star Wars’ legendary storyteller has prepared for us.