Greater Good is the second book in the Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy by Timothy Zahn. It’s a fairly unique entry in the greater Star Wars canon in that it exclusively explores Grand Admiral Thrawn’s past in the Chiss Ascendancy. The Ascendancy exists completely outside the realm of the Republic or Empire.
In fact, apart from Thrawn himself, and very fleeting references to the Force, the trilogy is almost completely detached from the rest of the Star Wars canon. The planets, races, themes, and even technology are different. At times, it makes this trilogy feel very much unlike a Star Wars book. Of course, the exception is Thrawn himself. Most of the time, Thrawn is enough to remind you that you’re still in a universe far, far away.
Thrawn remains (especially in Zahn’s hands) one of the single most compelling characters that the Star Wars universe has given rise to. That’s including the movies, books, TV, games, legends or Disney canon, etc…Despite his status as a villain, it’s very easy to slip into the mindset of viewing Thrawn as a protagonist. When he is ruthless, it is logical and calculated. He is often more open-minded than his colleagues and his rebellious streak makes him suited for his role as an outsider in the Ascendancy. The balancing act between portraying Thrawn as hero and villain is one that is old hat to Zahn, and one that he has mastered.
Greater Good sometimes suffers from feeling very much like the second act in a trilogy. There is a satisfying conclusion to the narrative of this book, but it feels like bigger things are on the horizon. I think fans of Star Wars will find it worthwhile. Fans of Thrawn specifically should like what’s here. If any character is going to receive this kind of treatment, Thrawn is a good fit. I’m looking forward to the conclusion of the trilogy later this year.
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