I can’t tell if this is coming from someone who just wants to gush about Thrawn with me or someone who isn’t familiar with his character, but I will answer more generally about Thrawn’s character in case it is the latter. 😀
Thrawn is the epitome of everything I love and identify with in a villain character (well in my mind “villain” because Thrawn can be read as a protagonist, especially in the Zahn’s recent Thrawn book, at least I read him as a protagonist).
I identified with the villains in shows and books ever since I was a child, because I grew up with a sense of questioning the very narrow-minded American history curriculum and social environment that I grew up in. I grew up in a small town in the US with an immigrant mother with my father away in the service for the first few years of my life. I had a heavy accent when speaking English at least until middle school, and I still have a random accent now because I have traveled so much in the last few years. I have never shaken the feeling of always being the outsider in any place where I have lived. When you are the them in a society of us, you automatically think about things differently. Seeing how the foreign/unknown were vilified in the media and seeing how only one perspective was portrayed in American textbooks (at least until I got more open-minded professors in college) started the wheels turning very early on in my mind. (My fifth grade teacher screamed at me in front of the entire class because I said I felt sorry for the British soldiers during the American Revolution because their red coats stuck out in the green landscape.) Anyway, I digress, but let’s just say I overcompensated by looking at narratives from the villain’s perspective and questioning who the reader is being told are the “good guys.” Nuanced stuff is my jam. I rejected black and white morality very early on.
Anyway, Thrawn is such an amazing character. In Legends (and in the new canon from what I can tell) he is playing this long game with both the Empire and the Rebels. The Emperor is xenophobic as fuck (as well as most of the imperials) and Thrawn plays this to his advantage, he holds his cards close to his chest and waits until the right moment to act.
I am drawn in when a villain/anti-hero has a compelling motivation driving their actions. Thrawn went into exile (whether self-imposed or not is still up for debate) in order to make contact with the Empire. This is already a big risk. And the reason is to try to see if the Empire can be an ally in protecting Thrawn’s people (The Chiss, who live in the Outer Reaches) from a hostile race of aliens that is threatening them and other societies in deep space. Thrawn is trying to discern whether the Empire will be friend or foe in the long run. He has put his life at stake in the hope that he can find a way to help his people. This is especially significant, because at least in the Legends books, he does not always see eye-to-eye with how the Chiss elite run things. He was an outsider in his own society, but he goes to the Empire to be even more of an outsider. And is he daunted by this? No. Dude is chill as fuck. He is more intrigued than upset by the people who openly antagonize him. This guy is badass. I admire the hell out of this man.
Thrawn also very much reminds me of a Sherlock-like character. Analyzing the nuance of a situation and then unraveling his thought processing and making you go “wow, how did he figure that out from those minor details?” The following along with the detective’s (in this case, military mastermind’s) thought process is something I always liked about Sherlock, and that combined with a character I can identify with like Thrawn, that is kind of a deadly combination, deadly in a fangirl sense. 😀
Speaking of fangirl, of course there is the factor that I think Thrawn is sexy as hell. Chiss are very tall, and robustly built. Plus the red, glowing eyes? That’s awesome. And Thrawn is this refined, well-spoken, learned man. *swoon* Um, please marry me? 😀
If anyone wants some Thrawn book recs, definitely Zahn’s latest Thrawn novel, but please also check out the Legends books where Thrawn’s character originated! Zahn has written some amazing stuff! Heir to the Empire and the rest of the Thrawn trilogy are great, but I would almost recommend Outbound Flight first. It depends if you want villain Thrawn first or Thrawn from a more neutral perspective first. I am sure various fans have different opinions on this. But don’t write off the Legends stuff because it isn’t canon! LF is pulling so much stuff into new canon from those stories (the Solo movie is already slightly looking like that too). Read Legends to learn why everyone fell in love with Thrawn (the paperbacks are like 5-8 pounds a pop from what I have seen these days) and the new novel just came out in paperback- and read that because the sequel is coming out in July!! And the comic coming out this month is based on the plot of the first one!! 😀 Much excitement. Thrawn stuff is very on the up and up!! (I realized I haven’t mentioned Rebels Thrawn at all, but he is also very awesome! And I love Lars Mikkelsen as his voice actor. I can’t wait to see more of Thrawn in the rest of SW Rebels season 4!)
TLDR: I can identify with being an outsider trying to get ahead within a system that discourages alternate ways of thinking. And Thrawn is sexy as fuck and he is my blue husband.
Thanks anon! I hope I touched on what you were asking!! <3
You are a very special person. Feeling like an outsider can be tough, but you have overcome that, well. @huxfanblog