Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn; narrated by Marc Thompson

Grand Admiral Thrawn faces the ultimate test of his loyalty to the Empire in this epic Star Wars novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

“If I were to serve the Empire, you would command my allegiance.”

Such was the promise Grand Admiral Thrawn made to Emperor Palpatine at their first meeting. Since then, Thrawn has been one of the Empire’s most effective instruments, pursuing its enemies to the very edges of the known galaxy. But as keen a weapon as Thrawn has become, the Emperor dreams of something far more destructive.

Now, as Thrawn’s TIE defender program is halted in favor of Director Krennic’s secret Death Star project, he realizes that the balance of power in the Empire is measured by more than just military acumen or tactical efficiency. Even the greatest intellect can hardly compete with the power to annihilate entire planets.

As Thrawn works to secure his place in the Imperial hierarchy, his former protégé Eli Vanto returns with a dire warning about Thrawn’s homeworld. Thrawn’s mastery of strategy must guide him through an impossible choice: duty to the Chiss Ascendancy, or fealty to the Empire he has sworn to serve. Even if the right choice means committing treason.

 

I think this will be the last of the Thrawn books for a while based on the timeline. It is set right before the finale of Rebels. The third book of this trilogy was not my favorite of the three. I was a little bit bored in the middle of the story, and I thought the plot was a bit..weak.

That being said I will focus on some of the positive things.

I really liked the humor Marc Thompson brought to some of the characters. Such as his Sean Connery voice for Admiral Savit. That cracked me up. As did his pompous, snobby voice for Assistant Director Ronan.
Whenever Director Krennic made an appearance he was always yelling, but Marc’s voice work for him was spot on. Oh, and I was so amused by the jokes at his expense about his white cape. So pretentious.

I loved the voices Marc did for the Death Troopers and how they were just grilling Assistant Director Ronan, because he was so annoying.

This time Thrawn did not say “Perhaps” as much! What a relief!

I did enjoy the subplot with Eli Vanto, the Chiss and their navigators. He didn’t annoy me this time and it was interesting to see his role with the Chiss were he is an outsider. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them and learning more about the Force Sensitive girls who navigate their ships.

SOME SPOILERS BELOW!

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Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray, narrated by January LaVoy

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Witness the birth of the Resistance

When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.

Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy—from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.

As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position—even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing.

This is one of the top notch Star Wars novels. It’s my first Claudia Gray novel and she is an excellent author. (I plan to read more of her work. My sister is a fan of her Firebird series.)

Leia is so in character and it’s fantastic. Gray wrote her perfectly. She really got her intelligence, her heart, her temper and her sass so well.

There is some action and adventure in the story, but it is more political – and not in a boring way. The story takes place six years prior to Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. Not an era I care for but after reading this I have more insight into how the First Order came to power.

January LaVoy’s narration was great. She sounded similar to older Leia’s voice. Her voice for Lady Carise Sindian was spot on because she sounded just like a prissy royal bitch. And I liked what she did for Ransolm Casterfo’s voice. It was great for his character development where he starts out as a stuffy ass and then by the end you are sympathizing with him.

I loved the development of the friendship between Leia and Ransolm. The turn around from enemies to friends to enemies to friends again was an emotional rollercoaster.

I can’t go further without going into some spoilers:

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Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 – Thursday, April 11

After missing Celebration in 2017 for the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars I said I wouldn’t miss the next one. And I meant it.

When they announced it was in Chicago I was a little disappointed. I never really had an interest in going to Chicago. Especially in April, when it is still cold and there is a possibly of snow. (And it did snow!) In the end I really liked Chicago and would like to visit again to see more of the sights and museums. Just not in April.

My sister, Victoria, and I flew in a day early to do some sightseeing. It was cold and it did rain quiet heavily so we didn’t get to see much. I’ll talk about that more in another post. Right now I just want to talk about Celebration!

Day 1 was a preview day, so no panels. The show floor opened at 1 pm so my sister and I spent the morning having breakfast at Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe. We had the Upside down pineapple pancakes. It was so delicious but so big we took the left overs to the hotel and it lasted us the whole week as our breakfast.

We then walked around Millennium Park to take better photos of The Bean and the sights in the sunlight. We also went to The Chicago Theatre.

After checking out the sights and buying some souvenirs we went back to the hotel so I could dress up as Barriss Offee. I made the costume myself. After getting to wear it I know some changes I would make. The cape needs a shrug underneath to keep it from shifting. I knew this would happen but I ran out of time. I would also like to add pockets to the skirt. As for the makeup, drawing on the diamonds was hard. I think I want to find/make little purple diamond studs to glue on with eyelash glue. I would also like to save up for a really nice lightsaber and not have the Toys R Us one (which I clipped to my belt and it mostly hid under my cape.)

I would also like to point out that I don’t like what was done to Barriss on The Clone Wars so I’m Legends Barriss- where she was Anakin’s peer and was not turned into a terrorist traitor. But that is a whole other discussion.

I did get many compliments and 2 guys took my photo when I was on E.K. Johnson’s book signing line. While I was taking a photo of an excellent Ahsoka cosplay (from the end of Rebels) she said to me, “Even after everything.” I chuckled but didn’t get into my Legends Barriss spiel.

My sister and I took the complementary shuttle from the hotel which was super convenient and not so crowded on a Thursday.

Something new this Celebration was that instead of overnight queuing for the main opening panels there was a lottery. I like the idea of that but I didn’t bother with the lotteries because the only one I really wanted was The Phantom Menace panel, but we were leaving Monday.

You could also reserve panels- if you got the crappie app to work. Which I never could for reserving panels, nor for the Lightspeed lane for the Celebration Store. The only thing I used the app for was reminders for the panels I wanted to see, my autograph and photo ops, and to map the room the panels were in.

There was an 8 hour wait on the queue for the Celebration Store. There were some t-shirts I did want. Mainly the badge art of Leia, Luke, Ahsoka, Anakin &Rex & Ahsoka, and  the Rebels mural.

But after that whole fiasco I gave up on it the first day. I don’t want to spend all day on a queue for just a bunch of t-shirts. And if the app had worked as it should have I wouldn’t have needed to wait and I would have had my shirts. They also didn’t tell anyone you needed to download the app update to get the Lightspeed Lane to even show up. I found that out from someone on a queue. But even so, when I did update it, the Lightspeed Lane still did not work for me. So: Celebration= FUN! Celebration App= Epic Fail!

Honestly, I don’t know why we can’t order this merchandise as part of the Road to Celebration and have it shipped to our home instead. Such B.S.

I ordered two things from the Road to Celebration: the Anakin and Padmé pins/t-shirt and the Hera and Kanan pins/shirt. I didn’t participate in any of the pin trading or buying. I kept my goodies at home.

Anyway, back to Thursday. As soon as we got to the exhibit hall I went straight to Del Rey to get the bracelet for the exclusive SWCC edition of Master and Apprentice by Claudia Grey. The bracelets were already gone for Thursday.

Next, and I knew it would be like this, the Her Universe queue was like a mile long. It snaked, with many line breaks to Artist Alley. At the very end of the day when my sister and I saw the line was short I did manage to buy from the Sisters of the Force collection Hera’s green sweatshirt and Padmé’s Lake Retreat dress. Everything else I wanted was sold out for the day.

So after checking out the line for HU we went to Anderson’s Books. The crowd was massive and getting into the store was a fight. I was looking for the SWCC exclusive edition of Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston. There were none to be seen so I was getting frustrated and was going to go ask the cashier. Victoria stayed on the check out line and thank goodness she did because they brought out a box with the edition I wanted. Vic grabbed one. I also bought a hardcover copy of Thrawn. I brought Thrawn Alliances from home for Timothy Zahn to sign but you had to have purchased something from Anderson’s to go to their signings.

Then we walked around to get the layout of the place. We went by Jason Palmer’s booth. He had been working on a giant mural that was unveiled at the convention that has the whole saga: The Prequels, The Clone Wars, Rebels, Rogue One, Solo, The Originals, and The Sequels. It is beautiful! If I had the money and a mansion, I’d get it.

Episode IX was covered the first day but I saw what it looked like on a iPad at the booth. You could buy the complete mural starting at $150 and it’s 10 inches by 7.5 FEET!

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New York Comic Con 2018 – Saturday, October 6

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First panel of the day was I’ll Take Dementors for $500, Obi-Wan: A Fan Game Show with Marc Thompson, Delilah S. Dawson, Sylvain Neuve, Ryan North, and Chuck Wendig.

Here is the gist: Do you know the whole DC universe by their legal names? ID a Star Wars villain from a single wicked line? Name every kind of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans? Test your knowledge, competing alongside bestselling authors in categories like The Dark Side, Bad@ss Chicks, Winter Is Coming and more, using clips from Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter audiobooks. Narrator Marc Thompson hosts in character as Obi-Wan Kenobi and will select a few lucky audience members to compete onstage.

While Marc was dressed as Obi-Wan, he didn’t do his voice the whole time. The game was played like Jeopardy! and the categories were The Dark Side; Expecto Patronum; Winter Is Coming; Fierce Females; I Can Be Your Hero, Baby; and Nerd-Tastic.

It was really fun to watch. My favorite categories were The Dark Side and Expecto Patronum. For some reason they weren’t picking Winter Is Coming until nearly the end. If none of the players knew the answer the audience would shout it out and the first one to buzz in got to answer it. In the end Delilah’s team won.

There was a short Q&A afterwards. The part that interested me most was when Marc Thompson was talking about the process of recording an audiobook. He’ll get the book and make notes, and also record some new voices on his phone to refer to. As he gets more into the recording process he will be so used to doing the new voices he won’t need to refer to his voice memo.

Marc doesn’t talk to the authors because he has a director and doesn’t want to go over the director’s head by saying, “Well, the author said this.”

He was complemented on how great he sounds but Marc gave the credit to the editors who piece it together when he makes mistakes, as well as the music and sound effects they add when it’s a Star Wars novel.

As for the voice of Thrawn, I guess he did a different voice for the anniversary edition of the Thrawn Trilogy, because that was before Rebels. I still have to listen to it. But for the two most recent books he really captured the his voice from the animated series.

I can’t remember this other question or full answer now, but Chuck said that Palpatine’s first name “Sheev” is like “Steve” in AGFFA. That made me laugh.

After the panel there was a signing with the authors right outside the room, which was super convenient. We didn’t have to run and push our way to another part of the Javits.

This time I brought From a Certain Point of View with me. I told each author how I plan to slowly collect every author’s signature until I am old.

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New York Comic Con 2018 – Thursday, Oct. 4 – Part 2

After the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child panel I went to the live stage to see Ashley Eckstein talk about Her Universe and The Clone Wars being saved.

I took video of the 10 minute interview, but I am having some trouble uploading right now and will edit this post with a link to the video sometime soon.

I liked the part when she said she had to keep the secret about the Clone Wars being saved since January when she got a call from her agent and she didn’t believe it so she had to call up Dave Filoni to confirm it.

After, I roamed the Exhibit Hall and picked up these giveaways.

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I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid from Simon & Schuster.
From the Penguin booths:
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Green Rider by Kristen Britain
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden -> I asked a few people at the booth if they had this ARC before someone found it in the back. I have all 3 now! More about this in Sunday’s post.

I also went to the Audible booth where they were having a special event all weekend for the 20th Anniversary of Harry Potter. The line was so long – about a 45 minute wait on Thursday and one hour on Saturday. You pick a character’s bottle for the “Pensive” (really just a headphone station) to hear a scene of theirs from the audiobook.

What is funny is that since July 31 I have been listening to the audiobooks and am now up to Deathly Hallows.

There are six characters to choose from Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, Snape, and Voldemort. I would have liked to collect all 6, because you got to keep the bottle with their name, but I only got to do it twice. I picked Hermione first then Ron on Saturday. Hermione’s scene was when she slapped Malfoy. Ron… I think the machine malfunctioned, even though a repair man had just been there doing something to it, because the scene was when Bellatrix is torturing Hermione. And my sister went before me and she picked Harry and heard the exact same scene. So, yea, the machine was still busted, we think.

My sister went again on Sunday and picked Dumbledore. She heard the part when he tells Harry of the Prophecy and Voldemort’s need of it.

Another part of the Pensive experience was that you wave a wand in front of a camera, they add some smoke to the video and you send it to yourself to share on social media.

But the best part was the code they gave to redeem at Audible. I got a free credit and downloaded The Shining. Only allowed one code though, even though I went twice. My sister tried to add the second code and was told she already did it.

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Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn, narrated by Marc Thompson.

Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn, narrated by Marc Thompson. 13 hours 21 minutes.

Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader ally against a threat to the Empire in this new novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

“I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.”

Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs—including the Death Star project—the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown…and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance—neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.

Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged—by a test of their allegiance to the Empire…and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.

 

My wish came true! I had mentioned in my review of the prequel that I wanted the story of when Thrawn met Anakin Skywalker and would he figure out that he became Darth Vader?

I don’t think one has to read Thrawn before reading this sequel, but it sure would help to know his background. That said I was reading some reviews on Goodreads and some people mentioned that they missed Eli Vanto. I honestly did not. Though knowing the outcome of Thrawn: Alliances I wouldn’t mind seeing what he is up to with the Chiss Ascendancy.

I listened to this story on audible and once again Marc Thompson is a fantastic narrator. I did laugh at his voice for Padmé, but what can you do? He’s not Natalie Portman, or Catherine Taber.

I also bought the Barnes and Noble exclusive edition, only because I wanted the poster of Padmé. (Side rant: why must they put that ugly sticker on the cover? It’s hiding Vader’s buttons. And it is already printed inside that it’s a B&N exclusive. I pealed it off but there will always be a sticky residue.)

Ok, so back to the review.

I like that we have a time frame. The past is set after Ahsoka has already left the Jedi Order. The present is set after the Battle of Atollon on Star Wars: Rebels. So between seasons 3 and 4.

I’ll start with some critiques and then end on the positive. This is going to get spoiler-y.

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Star Wars – From a Certain Point of View by 40 various authors

In celebration of Star Wars’ 40th anniversary, Del Rey is going to shine the spotlight on those unsung weirdos, heroes, and villains with a unique, new anthology. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, coming October 2017, will bring together more than 40 authors for 40 stories. Each will be told from the perspective of background characters of A New Hope — from X-wing pilots who helped Luke destroy the Death Star to the stormtroopers who never quite could find the droids they were looking for.

This was a New York Comic Con 2017 special edition cover

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Experience Star Wars: A New Hope from a whole new point of view.

On May 25, 1977, the world was introduced to Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and a galaxy full of possibilities. In honor of the 40th anniversary, more than 40 contributors lend their vision to this retelling of Star Wars. Each of the 40 short stories reimagines a moment from the original film, but through the eyes of a supporting character. From a Certain Point of View features contributions by best-selling authors, trendsetting artists, and treasured voices from the literary history of Star Wars:

Gary Whitta bridges the gap from Rogue One to A New Hope through the eyes of Captain Antilles.
Aunt Beru finds her voice in an intimate character study by Meg Cabot.
Nnedi Okorofor brings dignity and depth to a most unlikely character: the monster in the trash compactor.
Pablo Hidalgo provides a chilling glimpse inside the mind of Grand Moff Tarkin.
Pierce Brown chronicles Biggs Darklighter’s final flight during the Rebellion’s harrowing attack on the Death Star.
Wil Wheaton spins a poignant tale of the rebels left behind on Yavin.
Plus 34 more hilarious, heartbreaking, and astonishing tales from Ben Acker, Renée Ahdieh, Tom Angleberger, Ben Blacker, Jeffrey Brown, Rae Carson, Adam Christopher, Zoraida Córdova, Delilah S. Dawson, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Paul Dini, Ian Doescher, Ashley Eckstein, Matt Fraction, Alexander Freed, Jason Fry, Kieron Gillen, Christie Golden, Claudia Gray, E. K. Johnston, Paul S. Kemp, Mur Lafferty, Ken Liu, Griffin McElroy, John Jackson Miller, Daniel José Older, Mallory Ortberg, Beth Revis, Madeleine Roux, Greg Rucka, Gary D. Schmidt, Cavan Scott, Charles Soule, Sabaa Tahir, Elizabeth Wein, Glen Weldon, Chuck Wendig

Narrated by a full cast, including:

Jonathan Davis
Ashley Eckstein
Janina Gavankar
Jon Hamm
Neil Patrick Harris
January LaVoy
Saskia Maarleveld
Carol Monda
Daniel José Older
Marc Thompson
All participating authors have generously forgone any compensation for their stories. Instead, their proceeds will be donated to First Book – a leading nonprofit that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to educators and organizations serving children in need. To further celebrate the launch of this book and both companies’ longstanding relationships with First Book, Penguin Random House has donated $100,000 to First Book, and Disney/Lucasfilm has donated 100,000 children’s books – valued at $1 million – to support First Book and their mission of providing equal access to quality education. Over the past 16 years, Disney and Penguin Random House combined have donated more than 88 million books to First Book.

I bought the NYCC edition and read most of it, but mostly I listened to the audiobook. Sometimes I followed along as I listened.

I’m trying to decide how to write up this review. I loved the stories, so this is not a negative review. It’s just I feel like I have to talk about all 40 stories.

Overall, I enjoyed every one of the stories. Mostly the stories are told in chronological order of the movie, though some jump back and forth to set up a character or setting. You can feel the authors’ different personalities and styles. You can also tell the authors didn’t communicate because events in the stories of the same setting (e.g. the Cantina) contradict one another. However, this is just for fun. A chance to see A New Hope from other characters’ eyes and it’s a beautiful way for fans to relive that feeling of experiencing ANH for the very first time again.

5 out of 5 Galaxies.

Now for my thoughts for each story. All 40 of them.

“A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away.”

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