Prepare for war with this Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising excerpt

The origins of Mitth’raw’nuruodo, AKA Grand Admiral Thrawn will soon be revealed in the upcoming Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy, from Del Rey Publishing.

Thrawn, an Imperial military commander who gained a cult following with Star Wars extended universe fans after being introduced in 1991’s Heir to the Empire novel, is one of the Star Wars universe’s most brilliant strategic and tactical minds, with such feats to his name as being able to deduce characteristics about a species’ militaristic tendencies solely through studying their art (and subsequently defeating them); the Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy will be written by Thrawn’s creator (and writer of the original Heir to the Empire trilogy), Hugo-Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Timothy Zahn. The first book in the series, Chaos Rising, will travel back to Thrawn’s early days within the Chiss Ascendancy (Thrawn’s race is called the Chiss).

Check out the following excerpt from the prologue of Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising, as a mysterious enemy unleashes an attack sneak attack on Csilla, the Chiss’ home planet.

The attack on the Chiss Ascendancy homeworld of Csilla was sudden, unexpected, and—despite its limited scope—impressively efficient.

The three large warships came out of hyperspace on widely spaced vectors, driving inward toward the planet with spectrum lasers blaz­ing at full power toward the defense platforms and the orbiting Chiss Defense Force warships. The platforms and ships, caught by surprise, nevertheless took less than a minute to begin returning fire. By then the attackers had altered their directions, angling in toward the clus­ter of lights spread across the icy planetary surface that marked the capital city of Csaplar. Their lasers continued to fire, and as they came within range they added salvos of missiles to their attack.

But ultimately it was all for nothing. The defense platforms easily picked off the incoming missiles while the warships targeted the attack­ing ships themselves, blasting them into rubble and making sure that any fragments entering the atmosphere were too small to survive the journey. Within fifteen minutes of the attack force’s arrival, it was over.

The threat had ended, Supreme General Ba’kif thought grimly as he strode down the central corridor toward the Cupola where the syndics and other Aristocra were assembling after making their way back from the shelters.

Now came the real sound and fury.

And there would be plenty of both. As the supreme ruling body of the Ascendancy, the Syndicure liked to project an image of thoughtfulness, nobility, and unflappable dignity. Most of the time, aside from the inevitable political wrangling, that was close enough to the truth.

But not today. The Syndicure had been in full session, and the Speakers had had their own private meeting scheduled for later in the afternoon, which meant nearly all of the Ascendancy’s top-level Aristocra had been in the offices, corridors, and meeting rooms when the alarm sounded. The shelters deep beneath the Cupola were reasonably roomy and marginally comfortable, but it had been de­cades since the last direct attack on Csilla and Ba’kif doubted any of the current government officials had ever even been down there.

Two hours of forced idleness while the Defense Force waited to see if there would be a follow-up attack hadn’t gone over well with them, and Ba’kif had no illusions that the coming storm would be thought­ful, noble, or unflappable.

He was right.

“What I want to know,” the Speaker for the Ufsa family spoke up after Ba’kif had finished his report, “is who the aliens are who dared think they could get away with an attack against us. A name, General—we want a name.”

“I’m afraid I can’t give you one, Speaker,” Ba’kif said.

“Why not?” the Speaker demanded. “You have debris, don’t you? You have data records and bodies and weapons profiles. Surely a name can be gleaned from all that.”

“The Ascendancy has been attacked,” the Speaker for the Mitth family cut in gravely, as if the others might somehow have missed that fact. “We need to know who to punish for such arrogance.”

“Yes,” the Usfa said, throwing a brief glare down the table.

Ba’kif suppressed a sigh. In times gone by, major threats to the Ascendancy had usually drawn the Ruling Families into a unity that superseded the usual political maneuvering. He’d held a small hope that today’s attack might spark such a response.

Clearly, that wasn’t going to happen. In the case of the Usfa and Mitth, in particular, those families were in the midst of a particularly tangled campaign with a newly opened mining field on Thearterra as the prize, and the Usfa was clearly annoyed at having had some of his spotlight stolen by his family’s current chief rival. “More than that,” he added, his glare daring the Mitth to interrupt again, “we need assurance that the Defense Force has the resources to defend the Chiss against further action by these unidentified enemies.”

The questis data-link reader lying on the table in front of Ba’kif lit up as a fresh report came in. He picked it up, propping it at an angle on his left palm while he slid his finger along the edge to scroll the screen. “The Syndicure need not be concerned about their safety,” he said. “I’ve just received word that four additional warships from the Expansionary Fleet have been rushed in from Naporar and are mov­ing to support the Defense Force ships already in place.”

He winced to himself. Young men and women, ready to give their lives to protect their homeworld. Noble and honorable . . . and a sac­rifice, if it was ever required, that he and everyone else currently in the Cupola knew would be a complete and utter waste.

Fortunately, it didn’t look like any such sacrifice would be needed today.

“And if they attack other worlds within the Ascendancy?” the Usfa pressed.

“Other ships have already been sent to bolster the patrol forces of the neighboring systems in case they’re the targets of subsequent at­tacks,” Ba’kif said.

“Has anyone else reported attacks or enemy sightings?” the Speaker for the Clarr asked.

“Not as yet, Speaker,” Ba’kif told him. “As far as we can tell, this was an isolated incident.”

The Speaker for the Obbic family gave a theatrical little snort. “I seriously doubt that, General,” she said. “No one sends warships against the Ascendancy on a lark and then goes home. Someone out there is plotting against us. That someone needs to be found and taught a serious lesson.”

Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising will be available in hardcover and audiobook formats on September 1st.

Check out the full excerpt on the official Star Wars website.

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