Thrawn: Alliances | by Timothy Zahn
I ALMOST REALLY LOVED THIS.
This book takes place a few months or so (possibly weeks!) before Revenge of the Sith, so this is something that would be on Padme’s mind, this is something that she’s coming to the awful conclusion of–that the Republic has become just as awful as the Separatists say it is, that it’s just as corrupt and may be just as much of an autocracy as they’ve said. She asks Anakin, who is closer than anyone to Palpatine now, please talk to him and ask him to let diplomacy return instead of just fighting.
I love that the timing is right on this, I love that the actions they take in the book are ones meant to drive home exactly that, that the Republic indeed has become corrupt and uncaring of those that it hurts. One of the things canon has made a point about is exactly this–and it’s especially explicit in the Star Wars: Propaganda book, but also George Lucas has directly talked about how the Republic turns into the Empire: “A democratic body, a senate, not being able to function properly because everybody’s squabbling, there’s corruption.“
Padme’s reacting to something that really and truly is happening. And we see that with LebJau’s objections to how this is their world, their jobs, the Republic doesn’t have any right to just come in and destroy it all. With how he becomes bitterly resigned, like, sure, it’s not like he ever had a choice anyway.
Of course, ultimately, blowing that mine leads to a horrific reaction that explodes outwards instead of in, so there are rivers of lava running across the planet. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t head straight for the town, because: “No, it’s just pouring lava onto our best cropland,” LebJau said bitterly. “And that ash and smoke…it’s going to be in the air and cropland and water for years. Maybe forever.”
They ruined that planet as surely as the Separatists would have. And that’s the point, it’s an illustration of exactly what The Clone Wars was showing us, what George Lucas and the story have told us–the Republic and the Senate really were very nearly the same evil they were fighting, in the end.
Padme tries to make a half-hearted attempt that she would talk to the Senate to see if she can send some aid, but she knows that they’re already stretched too thin, that the Senate had far too many demands on its limited resources to even notice Mokivj, let alone help its people. She knows nothing can be made right here.
Where the book loses me, however, is that YOU CANNOT TELL ME THAT PADME HAD NOT THOUGHT ABOUT IT UNTIL NOW, MUCH LESS THAT MR. MOST SPECIAL EVER HAD TO BE THE ONE TO OPEN HER EYES. YOU CANNOT TELL ME THAT THRAWN WAS THE ONE WHO POINTED THIS OUT TO HER, WHEN SHE HAS BEEN LIVING THIS AND FIGHTING THIS CORRUPTION FOR YEARS NOW.
I completely and thoroughly reject the idea that SOMEONE ELSE had to tell PADME AMIDALA that their Republic was kinda fucked up and that was the point when she really started thinking about it.
I would be willing to go with that this is the point where she started really thinking about it, despite how long she’d been fighting in the Senate, but to have Thrawn be the one to point out to her, that the Republic and the Separatists played by the same rules? This guy who already is the most special and gets everything in the narratively already? Taking this away from Padme’s own character arc, too? NO.
Remember how, in the first book, politics were Thrawn’s biggest weakness, but now in the second one he is who re-contextualizes the entire Clone War for Padmé Amidala?
Especially since TCW had a pretty clear arc of her slowly realizing her world was crumbling across six season. gtfo, Zahn.
I’m willing to work with a lot when it comes to this book and Zahn and Thrawn, I’ll do some work to bend over backwards to get stuff to connect, but when you take what’s at the heart of a character–like Padme’s role in politics–and GIVE IT TO YOUR OC? NO, GET OUT OF HERE WITH THAT BULLSHIT, ZAHN.
I get that it’s supposed to be, oh, Thrawn was adjusting to an entirely new political landscape, but he should have EVEN LESS IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON here because this is even earlier than the Empire he joined, but he asks just a handful of vague questions, doesn’t even get full context, and just lays it out and recontextualizes the entire war for PADME AMIDALA? When TCW does so much of this in a way that’s REALLY CLEAR Zahn only watched bits and pieces of it?
It’s in addition to how characters like Obi-Wan and Ahsoka BARELY EXIST in this book, how Padme’s other handmaidens might as well not even have ever been given any names (except Corde, who was referenced as having died), it’s the way, okay, I can make Vader’s authority kink and the way the Chiss work with the Force sort of work for me, but I had to work at it, it’s the way none of the new characters have anywhere near as much charm or meaning to Thrawn’s character that Eli did, it’s even the way the cortosis is the most special thing just about ever!
It’s disheartening because, I loved that first book, I read the comic version of it recently and it was actually really still good! But then the second one is just… this, and all the fun moments in it can’t make me not mad about trying to take Padme’s arc away from her, to the point where, I really wanted a Thrawn book about post-Rebels stuff with Ezra, but, god, could you IMAGINE what that would be, after this mess?
-chuckles- the good old days