Thrawn, Grand Admiral
From the Expanded UniverseA consummate strategist, Grand Admiral Thrawn likened combat to art, and was an aficionado of both. He could cite inspirations, analyze motives and determine outcomes before his opponents had even consciously began formulating a move.
Thrawn's greatest weapon was his mind. This was long ago recognized by his people, the Chiss, who banished Mitth'raw'nuruodo for his dangerous ideas. The Chiss of Csilla are a disciplined species, advanced enough to build a sizable fleet and an empire over two dozen worlds. Thrawn's tactics were controversial in their boldness, and his activities within the Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet drew many a concerned, glowing red eye.
The rest of the galaxy made first contact with the Chiss when a taskforce dispatched by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine stumbled upon Thrawn's fleet. The young blue-skinned commander was able to decimate the intruders despite inferior weapons and numbers.
The taskforce's commander, Kinman Doriana, asked Thrawn for a parley. The two conversed, and Doriana was able to appeal to Thrawn's cool sense of logic and order. He outlined his mission -- to destroy the incoming Outbound Flight vessel -- to Thrawn, spelling out the threat that this vessel filled with Jedi Masters posed to the Chiss people. Thrawn completed the mission that Doriana failed and destroyed the Outbound Flight project.
Returning to Csilla, Thrawn was reprimanded for his hostilities. Though he explained that his actions were part of a pre-emptive strike to protect Csilla and the Chiss, the ruling houses could not wrap their minds around such radical concepts. Thrawn was placed under close observation. In time, his activities caused him to be altogether banished from the Chiss.
The Chiss's loss became Palpatine's gain. Agents of the new Emperor discovered Thrawn on a barren jungle world and took him into their ranks. Despite a strong policy against non-human officers in the Imperial Navy, Thrawn ascended the Imperial ranks.
Before long, Thrawn attained command of an Imperial Star Destroyer, the Vengeance. When he transferred to the Admonitor, he was given the thankless task of mapping huge areas of the Unknown Regions. When in the depths of the galaxy's backwater, Thrawn re-established contact with the Chiss, who in the interim had been besieged by all manner of encroaching threats. Thrawn, who had once been banished for his bold leadership, was now being lauded for it. Many Chiss longed for his return, and Thrawn secretly established a base of operations on the distant world of Nirauan.
Returning to the Empire proper, Thrawn's star continued to rise unabated. He achieved the rank of Vice Admiral, and earned Vader's respect and access to his secret Noghri army. After helping dispose of the traitorous Grand Admiral Zaarin, Thrawn ascended to that rank himself.
After the Battle of Hoth, Thrawn returned to Outer Rim mapping duty. His ascent to Grand Admiral went without notice by Alliance Intelligence, thus his existence remained a secret. After the fall of Palpatine at Endor, Thrawn returned to Nirauan. He did not return to the Empire until four years after Palpatine's defeat.
Thrawn contacted Captain Gilad Pellaeon, and returned to the Imperial fleet. He then began a systematic campaign of retaking worlds in a bid to recapture Coruscant. His genius manifested itself best in constructing strategies from mere fragments of information. Thrawn was able to locate one of Palpatine's fabled storehouses, and there, found the technology necessary to begin growing a clone army. He found vessels for this army by discovering the long lost Katana Fleet. He recruited the maddened dark Jedi Joruus C'baoth and used his Force talents to better coordinate his scattered strikes. Thrawn also began to secure secret caches of cloned agents throughout the galaxy, ready to answer his call.
Thrawn's greatest oversight was the compelling leadership of Leia Organa Solo. Leia identified and befriended Thrawn's secret Noghri attackers. On their polluted homeworld, Leia was able to prove that the Empire had long exploited the Noghri's sense of honor. She showed how it was the Empire who was poisoning their world, not saving it. Incensed, the Noghri turned against their Imperial benefactors. At the height of the Battle of Bilbringi, Thrawn's faithful Noghri bodyguard Rukh killed the Grand Admiral with an assassin's blade.
The Imperial forces scattered, reformed, and scattered again in the ensuing power vacuum. Ten years later, word of Thrawn's miraculous return began to spread. In truth, it was not Thrawn at all, but Imperial conspirators using Thrawn's name and identity. Thrawn did, though, have some sort of plan to return. During this time, Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade made a chilling discovery on Nirauan: an incubating clone of Thrawn himself. The clone was killed before it ever drew breath, and the attempt to resurrect Thrawn's legacy was quashed.
Behind the ScenesGrand Admiral Thrawn was the central villain in Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy of novels that began in 1991. Zahn likened developing strategies for Thrawn to playing a game of chess against himself -- he'd play both the New Republic and the Imperial sides of the match. Though Thrawn's fate was sealed at the end of the novel series, he continued to make other appearances as his popularity gained momentum. He was a supporting character in LucasArts' TIE Fighter space combat simulator, had a minor cameo in the Dark Forces series of novellas, and even turned up in a the Galaxy of Fear young reader series. Thrawn was immortalized in plastic as an Expanded Universe action figure in 1998.
Keywords: Databank - Expanded Universe
Filed under: Vault, Character
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