The Thrawn trilogy was a big bang in the creation of the Expanded Universe. For years there had been no new Star Wars. Even the ewoks and droids cartoons had faded away.
Then came the Thrawn trilogy, set 5 years after Return of the Jedi. The Alliance to Restore the Republic has succeeded in creating a new one. But remnants of the old Empire still exist, and they seem to have a new leader, a tactical genius with mysterious gray assassins, and the aid of a crazed old Jedi Master.
The Thrawn trilogy kicks in after Han and Leia are married and Luke is seeking information on the old Order to restore it.
Introduced are new characters that will be in multiple story arcs for years to come, including Borsk Fey’lya, the bothan politician, Winter, an old friend of Leia’s, Thrawn, a rare alien risen to the rank of Imperial Grand Admiral and Pellaeon, an Imperial Officer, who started his rise in the Clone Wars.
More importantly the recurring characters Mara Jade, former Imperial known as the Emperor’s Hand, a secret Force sensitive operative would become very important in Luke Skywalkers life and Han and Leia have twins, Jacen and Jaina, bound to follow in the family tradition of always being in the center of things.
Thrawn’s influence affected the condition of the New Republic and how it responded to threats in future stories, due to the damage inflicted by his campaigns. His species, Chiss, was relatively unknown before hand.
He also left behind a reputation that others sought to exploit, including a con artist who was encouraged by an Imperial governor to impersonate him and a clone, who died still in the cloning facility.
In addition to the original trilogy, Thrawn’s backstory is told in ‘Outbound Flight’, another short story tells how he was found, a duology called the Hand of Thrawn reveals the clone and the secret Empire he left. Lastly, Survivor’s Quest tells of how the remnants of Outbound Flight are discovered by the Chiss and his people are finally formally introduced.
The former secret agent and Force sensitive, Emperor’s Hand, goes on to be a reluctant, on again off again ally to the New Republic even as she remains a smuggler. Her backstory is told in Allegiance and Choices of One. The comic book story arc ‘By the Emperor’s Hand’ tells of what happened during and directly after Return of the Jedi and short stories explain how she met her smuggler chief, Talon Karrde.
Her future includes appearing in Jedi Academy and I, Jedi, with a bigger role in the Corellian Trilogy. By the Hand of Thrawn series, her last encounter with Luke has him asking her to marry him. The comic book story arc Union shows us this, with many a cameo of old friends. She is a full fledged Jedi Knight in the New Jedi Order series, acting as Jaina Solo’s Master. She fights alongside Luke in Swarm Wars and finally, in Legacy of the Force defends her teenage son, Ben, against the Sith.
the smuggling chief Talon Karrde is one of the ‘go to’ smuggler’s who gets sucked into our heroes wake. Like Han Solo before him but with an organization, Karrde becomes a recurring information broker in later stories.
A bothan politician, this character is a thorn in the side of our heroes as he refuses to concede that not everyone has his type of determination to put his own advancement over the greater good. He continues in this role through many stories, causing much chaos through his political style in Black Fleet Crisis, disaster in New Jedi Order and others.
Garm Bel Iblis:
This cornelian politician is retroactive introduced as one of the founders of the Corellian treaty which initially created the Alliance. Due to differences in opinion on tactics, he’d left. He continues as an Alliance leader in future stories and has a short story that explains his involvement, though it does contradict the later ‘Force Unleashed’ story which also involves him.
An Imperial Officer who began in the Republic Judiciary Force, his backstory comes up in The Clone Wars: No Prisoners, and after the Thrawn trilogy he becomes increasingly influential, but still seeking a leader for the Empire to whom he can place his trust. It’s Pellaeon who is first broached by a third party about a peace treaty with the New Republic in Crimson Empire 3 story arc by Dark Horse comics, seeks to implement it in The Hand of Thrawn trilogy and who even steps up and aids the Republic during the New Jedi Order’s Yuuzhan Vong war.
This childhood friend of Leia’s from Alderaan turns up in Jedi Academy as the nanny of her children, but also sees action in the X-Wing comic book series as the Intelligence agent known as Targeter, later X-Wing books, and eventually marries Captain Celchu of Rogue Squadron.
Wedge Antillies (Expanded): A mere background player in the movies, this trilogy moves him to a bigger role and he quickly becomes the action star of the X-Wing comic books and novels. He features prominently in any story told in this later era where military action by the Alliance is in play. Oddly, he was absent in the Corellian Trilogy, but reappeared in The Hand of Thrawn Duology, New Jedi Order, and Legacy of the Force when Corellia sought independence from the Republic.
Jacen and Jaina Solo
The twins are born in these stories and start life with an instant kidnapping attempt. They appear again in Dark Empire comics, Jedi Academy, Crystal Star, The Hand of Thrawn duology, Union, Young Jedi Knights series (all about their adventures) New Jedi Order sees them take on adult Jedi responsibilities during war, with appearances in the Invasion comic, Swarm Wars see them caught in a border war and Legacy of the Force has them at odds.
Vornskrs and Ysalimiri, native animals to Myrkr will come up again in new stories but their appearance will return with a vengeance in the New Jedi Order books.
The gray assassins used by Thrawn worship Vader as a hero and only Leia, his daughter, can convince them they were deceived by a man who deceived Vader as well: the Emperor. They are so grateful they reappear in future novels such as Planet of Twilight and The New Jedi Order as her body guards. The backstory of how their world was poisoned into needing the Empire’s aid is told in Republic, Clone Wars comic books. Noghri appeared in Dawn of the Jedi, Into the Void and indications from the comic books show they worshipped the Rakata, giving them KOTOR connections.
This mission of Jedi to explore outside the Republic was led by the original C’baoth. It’s story was afterward told in full in ‘Outbound Flight’. It’s crashed remains were explored in Survivor’s Quest.
An Imperial Star Destroyer, this ship saw service at the Battle of Endor, became Thrawn’s flagship and was captained by Pellaeon. It continued to see use through numerous campaigns in the novels right up into the Swarm Wars.
Set before the prequels, these explained how early clones when mad, to fast growth with too similar minds in proximity. This initially seems contradicted in Attack of the Clones, until Republic Commando series leads to the discovery that Palpatine secretly was using them to grow a secret army even the Jedi knew nothing about. It also explains the difference in quality and results.
The Katana Fleet:
This lost fleet of dreadnaughts will have mention in Dark Horse Comics, Clone Wars era comics.
The Chiss home world isn’t actually encountered until Dark Nest Crisis, after the Yuuzhan Vong War but the people are seen in other stories.
Sluis Van shipyards appears again repeatedly as a point of contention in the various galactic conflicts, from Imperial to Yuuzhan Vong.
Praesitlyn Communications Center becomes the focus of a major battle starring Anakin Skywalker in Jedi Trial during the Clone Wars.
Coruscant: This center of galactic government continues to be so through all eras of books, comics and even movies that follow.
Rishi: The planet Rishi’s first appearance is in Dark Force Rising. The Essential Atlas confirms Rishi is the gateway world to the Rishi Maze, that Obi-Wan sought out in Attack of the Clones.
Wayland, the planet of the Emperor’s storehouse also appears in later stories, including Dark Horse comics ‘Legacy’.
Influence on other Media:
The Thrawn Trilogy was also adapted to comic book/graphic novel format.
Mara Jade and Thrawn both had action figures made of them and appeared in video games including Star Wars Galaxies and Dark Forces Mysteries of the Sith.
Jacen and Jaina Solo also get action figures, based on their New Jedi Order appearances.
Coruscant itself, made it into the prequel movies as the Capital of the Republic and then the Empire.
The Marg Sable Maneuver used by Thrawn appears in The Clone Wars episode ‘Storms Over Ryloth’.
The Chiss as a species have appeared in games including Jedi Knight 2, Jedi Outcast, Star Wars Galaxies, and The Old Republic. A boy of a lost group of Chiss is a Jedi padawan in the clone wars era in children’s books.
Coincidence or not:
Han & Leia’s quoted their own lines from The Empire Strikes Back as a shortcut to remind them of a past argument and acknowledge each other’s opinion. (Han: There wasn’t time to discuss it in commitee. Leia: I am NOT a commitee.) In Attack of the Clones Anakin and Padme do something similar, using the term ‘aggressive negotiations’ to bring back a pleasant reminder of their feelings for each other in the midst of the Geonosis arena.
The first time Artoo Detoo is mentioned as piloting a ship by himself is in these stories. In The Clone Wars TV Show episode: “Artoo Come Home” Artoo goes for help in Anakin Skywalker’s fighter when Anakin is trapped.