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Lit Thrawn Trilogy: Overrated

Discussion in 'Literature' started by slimybug, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Wacky Wednesday Host star 10 VIP - Game Host

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    Sep 2, 2012
    I think the writers asked themselves: "Why is Palpatine encouraging Luke to kill him in RoTJ- when Vader's not entirely trustworthy"

    - and came up with an answer- he has taken precautions to ensure that even if he does get killed, it's not permanent.

    EDIT: That said- maybe we should take the discussion to the Dark Empire thread?
     
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  2. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Skywalker Saga/LFL/YJCC Manager star 10 Staff Member Manager

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    Mar 4, 2011
    Good idea, we're way off topic here.
     
  3. AdmiralWesJanson

    AdmiralWesJanson Force Ghost star 5

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    May 23, 2005
    Leia's plot was more focused on the Noghri, an element that directly resulted in Thrawn's death and defeat.

    Mara being the one to take out C'Baoth, with Leia's help and after Luke showed he was willing to make to trade his own life for the rest is fine with me. It was the end point of Mara's journey- Luuke was her choice on which ide to take, and C'Baoth was her standing up to her fears and stopping the enemy. Luke made an idealistic appeal to C'Baoth, but when that failed, Mara took the pragmatic approach. Some people complain that Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, and Thrawn are all Mary Sues, but I see them in the thrawn Trilogy as Zahn adding more characters that are the equals of the Movie characters. The Skysolos should not be so sacrosanct that they can have no equals.
     
  4. CT-867-5309

    CT-867-5309 Chosen One star 7

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    Jan 5, 2011
    Lack of hero deaths isn't something I've ever really thought about, so it's probably not a problem.

    Or is it?

    Maybe the threat of Thrawn, a threat I found lacking, would have hit home if Thrawn actually killed a few of the heroes. Maybe it would have made the heroes' struggle seem more desperate. Maybe my memory is faulty, but I don't remember Dark Force Rising bringing the heroes down the way ESB did.

    People are right to point out that maybe Zahn wasn't allowed to do much killing, that the EU cast hadn't been fleshed out yet, that the PT hadn't happened and all that.

    Who comes to mind when I think about Thrawn getting a kill? Ackbar. Ackbar wasn't really an untouchable at the time, maybe he was to hardcore fans, but I especially doubt he was to Lucas. Defeating and killing Ackbar in a fleet battle, a well written fleet battle, actually showing Thrawn's genius, perhaps by anticipating Ackbar in some convincing way, might have been Thrawn's huge moment that cements him as an awesome and terrible threat. I know that's sorta accomplished with Bilbringi, but it's rather late in the game (though I thought it still provided the necessary tension), it's a bit silly (not too silly) and not really what we're talking about (and of course, no heroes actually die).

    Just thinking, here. Agreeing with Slowpokeking in any way probably means I'm wrong, as I first suspected.

    As for C'baoth's death, I thought that whole sequence was thrilling, probably my favorite part of the entire trilogy. I don't care that Mara got the kills and I never did. I never even thought about it, I enjoyed it too much. Yeah, one could say that was Mary Sueish, but my complaints in that area never involved her combat capabilities, but her character and the way it was written.
     
  5. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Skywalker Saga/LFL/YJCC Manager star 10 Staff Member Manager

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    Mar 4, 2011
    I never thought about it either, but it might have made the whole "Look how scary Thrawn is!" line of thought more convincing if an OT character had died.

    Mara got on my nerves more in the NJO than she did in TTT, and that's saying something, but even when she killed the awesome villain that was Yomin Carr, it didn't bother me.
     
  6. Revanfan1

    Revanfan1 Force Ghost star 6

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    Jun 3, 2013
    I, personally, thought Bilbringi more than made up for any lack of showing Thrawn's abilities. But that's just me.
     
  7. JediMatteus

    JediMatteus Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Sep 16, 2008
    and really Leia would be the perfect one to to the dark side. That never happened either.
     
  8. AdmiralNick22

    AdmiralNick22 Retired Fleet Admiral star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    May 28, 2003
    [​IMG]

    Replace link with comments. :p

    All that aside, I doubt Thrawn would of chosen to kill Ackbar anyways. Killing Ackbar makes him a martyr and his death would become a rallying cry to the New Republic. Discrediting him in the eyes of the New Republic and framing him causes WAY more damage and shakes the Republic to it's core.

    [​IMG]

    IN ACKBAR WE TRUST.

    --Adm. Nick
     
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  9. Cynical_Ben

    Cynical_Ben Force Ghost star 4

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    Aug 12, 2013
    I agree. Death can be an effective means of adding drama to a series and gravitas to a villain, but it's far, far from necessary. It's not like Crix Madine's death made Durga the Hutt any more of a threat in Darksaber. And killing an OT character was hardly kosher at that point, it was a time about expanding the universe, not making it smaller.

    (This is a general reply to the gist of some comments in the thread, no directed toward anyone in particular)

    The thing I recall most about Thrawn in those original books is how much of his method was left ambiguous at first. We see the results he gets, but we don't see the actual deductive process to reach a given conclusion. Is that a weakness? Yes and no. Yes, because as others have brought up, it makes a character more plausible to have the steps of their deductive reasoning spelled out (like Sherlock Holmes) so their conclusion isn't reached out of thin air. No, because we see more and more of Thrawn's process as the series goes on. It's not all contained in the first book.

    By the time we reach The Last Command, we've seen that Thrawn's seeming omniscience is partly a result of having phenomenally good intelligence work on his side, and partly being an effective and wily battle commander willing to give and take with Garm, Ackbar and others while keeping the bulk of his forces preserved for the inevitable large-scale engagement. His much-touted "art deduction" never really amounts to much aside from giving him insight into how a particular species or being might be inclined to act or think. It doesn't get him to Bilbringi, good intel, superior tactics, technology, and solid deductive reasoning do that.

    Thrawn is always given a hard time for being a Mary Sue character, and, since his initial appearance, maybe he became one. But in his defense, he has that reputation IU as well. Aside from rooting out Delta Source and turning the Noghiri against him, the New Republic doesn't know how Thrawn reached his conclusions. The readers know, but we're the only ones, no one IU knows what Thrawn knew, not even Pellaeon. In his original incarnation, Thrawn was an intellectual and effective foe for the New Republic who failed because he, like so many others, underestimated the abilities of the Skywalkers. Thrawn's subsequent rise to Mary Suedom is because so many beings (both IU and OOU) bought into the mystery around his character perpetuated to obscure the fact that, no matter what else he was, Thrawn was just a single mortal leader. He's just more secretive than most about where he gets his insight.

    Thrawn is a threat enough in TTT because he's built to one over the three books, as he goes from being just another thorn in the NR's side to someone with aces up his sleeve enough to take a battle here and there, to a legitimate threat to a good chunk of the Republic. But it takes time to build to that point, both IU and OOU, and you can't take passages from Heir to the Empire and complain about how little they explain about Thrawn. He's supposed to be a mystery in the first book, it's called an introduction, not exposition. Having everything about the villain spelled out in the first book when they're supposed to keep us engrossed for three makes for a really stale and boring villain by the time you get there.

    I wonder, those who think Thrawn is overpowered, what other EU villains are you comparing him to? Obviously, Palpatine and Vadar are in another league, being movie characters and all, but I'd take Thrawn as a villain in that series over pretty much anyone else created by the EU. The only other original EU character I've read that makes a more compelling, articulate villain who poses a legitimate threat over multiple installments in the franchise are Warlord Zinj (in the X-wing books, anyhow) and Nom Anor. Sure, there are other good villains, but most of them are one-shot characters who can't bear the weight of a pair of books, let alone a series (KarpyBane, looking right at you). No one brought in by the Prequel era is even close.
     
  10. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

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    Feb 17, 2004
    I was fond of Xizor.
     
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  11. Cynical_Ben

    Cynical_Ben Force Ghost star 4

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    Aug 12, 2013
    Meh, a sexual predator who happens to have a crime organization at his beck and call. :p Besides, he really only gets one book to himself.
     
  12. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

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    Feb 17, 2004
    Goodbye Xizor.
     
  13. madmanslitany

    madmanslitany Jedi Master

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    Aug 17, 2006

    Very good counterpoints, I agree that taken as a whole, the Thrawn Trilogy's ratio of show versus tell is much better than critiques of the Elomin task force scene would imply. I still think Zahn erred too much on the side of telling rather than showing with Thrawn, but in the bigger scheme of things, Thrawn still deserves his status as the most popular EU-only novel character. Or at least I think he is, I lost track of these things when I stopped reading the novels at the start of the NJO.

    His battles with Garm and Ackbar actually do a lot to prevent him from feeling too much like a Mary Tzu. He's markedly impressed by the shift in tactics when Garm takes over from Drayson, and although he's portrayed as superior in battlefield command ability to Ackbar, his constant attempts to undermine Ackbar using his intelligence operations rather than take him on directly heavily imply that he thinks Ackbar could beat him under the right circumstances.

    Wedge's remark about making sure not to overestimate Thrawn when he figures out that he's just using interdiction fields rather than super-precise hyperspace micro-jumps pretty much sum up how you should treat Thrawn as a character in TTT. Everyone, in-universe and out, fails to heed Wedge's advice eventually, but that's not really a criticism of TTT itself. It's overrated not because it's not one of the best Star Wars EU works, it's overrated because it's hype has gotten so incredibly high over the past few decades..partly because of how bad much of the other novels are outside of the X-wing series, but that's another story.

    I again concur with you that Warlord Zsinj was one of the few other compelling EU villains, at least when written by Allston.
     
  14. Cynical_Ben

    Cynical_Ben Force Ghost star 4

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    Aug 12, 2013
    I agree 100% with you. TTT isn't overrated because they're bad books, they're overrated because they've been just that, overrated and over-hyped by years of nostalgia and dry spells between novels that were anywhere near as immersive or captivating, especially since Bantam gave up the license. We got a pretty decent run during the NJO, but because of the lack of quality trilogies in the Del Ray era (everything seems like its either a one-shot or a nine-book series, and the few trilogies we have gotten are somewhat... lacking), no other series has had the same balance of introducing new characters while reacquainting us with the old ones as the TTT did. Part of that is a product of its time, certainly, but part of it also is that now the books seem so much more heavy-handed and forced out for the sake of sales, slapping Han, Luke and Leia on the covers and not bothering to actually explore the universe they live in. Back in that era, it seemed more effortless and free, like it really was just a continuation of the story the OT started, not a piece struggling to fit into a 50,000 piece puzzle. I hope that the onset of the Disney era, whatever it holds for the EU, will allow a new generation of writers to recapture that sense of enjoyment Zahn brought back then.

    I love the term Mary Tzu, by the way. Terrific portmanteau.
     
  15. madmanslitany

    madmanslitany Jedi Master

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    Aug 17, 2006

    Haha, thanks, but I can't take credit for that one, it's a TV Tropes thing that came to mind partly because I waste too much time on TV Tropes and partly because thinking about Thrawn made me space out and start thinking about Zhuge Liang from Chinese literature.

    Speaking of exploring the universe, Thrawn also got some nice dividends as a character by managing to show up in other Star Wars media without being the beneficiary of a concerted multimedia campaign like Shadows of the Empire. His appearances in the old TIE Fighter computer game didn't feel forced at all, and were a cool continuity nod at the time for me that made the Star Wars universe feel real. His campaign with Grand Admiral Zaarin would have made a great tie-in novel series of its own, come to think of it. He also showed up more recently in Empire at War: Forces of Corruption, but there, I mainly thought it was goofy that he had a blue Star Destroyer.
     
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  16. Jedi Ben

    Jedi Ben Chosen One star 9

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    Jul 19, 1999
    Much as I like Thrawn as a character, wouldn't that actually be a Smurf Destroyer?
     
  17. GreatBeyonder

    GreatBeyonder Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Dec 6, 2013
    I could say a hundred things about this book, almost all complimentary, but I decided to discuss Leia's story arc with the Noghri. I used to think it was just an excuse to get her off Coruscant, but now I realize the entire arc is building up to Rukh's betrayal, whom you nearly forget about until the last moment when he reminds the reader who and what he is, before doing what none of the main characters could hope to accomplish.

    Also, I adore Marc Thompson's audiobook portrayal of the series. Really, all the characters are spot on and the details of Zahn's writing really comes to life. Also... Thrawn has the coolest bad guy voice ever!!
     
  18. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

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    Feb 17, 2004
    So, I going about my monthly pondering about my list of Star Wars narratives that should be experienced and in what order, and the following question occurred to me:

    For those who think that the Thrawn trilogy is overrated, would you say that they're still worth reading? If so, why? Historical notability? Continuity? Good despite being overrated?

    I'm in the camp that thinks that their greatness is overstated, but what do I know I'm a Dark Empire and Force Unleashed apologist.
    [​IMG]

    BUT THEY MAKE MY LIST
     
  19. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler JCC NASCAR Playoff Tournament Winner star 7 VIP - Game Winner

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    Sep 2, 2012
    You need to read them at least once.
     
  20. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

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    Feb 17, 2004
    [​IMG]
    You don't think they're overrated!

    I could say that about every EU book, but I'm not that cruel. I ask the question because I can't think of anything which I think is bad that I'd recommend any longer, besides maybe Force Heretic trilogy due to the serialized nature of the NJO. If there's people that legitimately think the Thrawn trilogy is bad, I wonder if they think it is worth reading because it was the harbinger of the Expanded Universe.

    I guess for those that don't think the trilogy is overrated, to put the shoe on the other foot, replace "Thrawn trilogy" with "Dark Empire trilogy," assuming you aren't an apologist such as myself.

    I suppose one might consider Empire's End to be bad, but I categorize things as two kinds of bad: malignant bad and benign bad. Stuff like Force Heretic and Empire's End are benign. They're not good, but you can enjoy them as part of a larger whole, I guess? At least I do.
     
  21. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler JCC NASCAR Playoff Tournament Winner star 7 VIP - Game Winner

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    I love the Thrawn trilogy. Best trilogy in the EU. Read it for yourself and make your own opinions of it and everything else.
    I don't hate that much in the EU. The end of TFU2, Crucible etc.
    Large galaxy, anything can happen. Give me the most outrageous thing you can. I can take it. Most likely.
    Force Heretic is alright in my book. Remnant is nostalgic for me.
     
  22. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

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    Feb 17, 2004
    I used to feel that way about Star Wars....

    Now I feel like there's so many great science fiction and fantasy novels that aren't Star Wars that I'm not going to invest time and money into a Star Wars novel because it has Star Wars on the cover; there has to be another draw, whether it be the author or the outline of the plot.
     
  23. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler JCC NASCAR Playoff Tournament Winner star 7 VIP - Game Winner

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    Outside of Denning I don't really have a crisis of faith in Star Wars. I still have a ton of comics to get still so I'm set.
    I am expanding out of Star Wars as well.
     
  24. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

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    Feb 17, 2004
    Well -- ignoring the potential for reboot -- there's not really an "outside of Denning" bulk experience for Star Wars. The Big 3 is the mothership, and I've noticed that folks here mostly have their interest either fixated in Dawn of the Jedi or SW Legacy, which are as far away as possible from the Big 3. They're the cursed earth!

    I wonder if that's why we've gotten the so-called Star Wood series and the Empire & Rebellion trilogy -- there's an attempt to refocus on the Big 3 in a sense that detaches itself from all the baggage that their Expanded Universe stories entail.
     
  25. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler JCC NASCAR Playoff Tournament Winner star 7 VIP - Game Winner

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    Basically the Post NJO book era. Can't stand Denning's books in the era. Big 3 books in the OT and NR eras are fine by me.
    Also am ready to move on from the Clone Wars. Bring on the Dark Times!
    Legacy comic era and the DOTJ and the Ancient Sith stuff are good.