The Mandalorian and Andor aren’t the only Star Wars TV projects to be excited about. The new live-action Ahsoka, starring Rosario Dawson, is technically a spinoff of both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett (Dawson appeared as the character in both shows), while also continuing the story established in the much-loved animated series Star Wars Rebels. Viewers who stuck with the live-action Star Wars projects are just getting to know Ahsoka, as the character—prior to those Dawson guest appearances—was first created for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and only appeared in animation. But don’t let the idea of animation keep you away from learning more about the character; Ahsoka is one of the franchise’s most unique and compelling characters, and an exciting addition to the live-action arm of the franchise.
Ahsoka Tano isn’t the only character getting their first live-action treatment, however. Another character some viewers may not know (save for a couple mentions in The Mandalorian) is Grand Admiral Thrawn. Set to be played by Lars Mikkelsen (brother of Mads, who himself appeared in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), the character will make his live-action debut in Ahsoka.
The villainous character has a long history within Star Wars. Grand Admiral Thrawn was originally introduced in an eponymous book series by Timothy Zahn. Since the ’90s, Thrawn has existed in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. However, with Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, any non-film project created before April 2014 was deemed non-canon and placed under the umbrella term Star Wars Legends. So only some of the Thrawn books “count” as official Star Wars lore, and the character didn’t appear as part of the cinematic universe until 2016, when Thrawn appeared in Star Wars Rebels (that doesn’t mean the books aren’t great peripheral reads, though).
As Thrawn enters the live-action galaxy far, far away, fans are naturally looking back at his history and diving into his intriguing backstory. With multiple books over various decades written about Thrawn, there’s a lot to catch up on. Thankfully, we have a helpful guide on every Thrawn book, including which ones are canon, and the chronological order in which to read them (if that’s your strategy).
A Guide to Every General Admiral Thrawn Book Before Ahsoka
Heir to the Empire Trilogy (1991-1993)
First introduced in Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, General Admiral Thrawn has his first trilogy from 1991 to 1993. The story is set five years after Return of the Jedi, and follows Thrawn as he gathers the remnants of the Imperial Starfleet and prepares to attack the New Republic.
The Hand of Thrawn Duology (1997-1998)
The second set of Thrawn books picks up ten years after the events of the first trilogy. He once again leads Imperial forces against the New Republic, which is in a more unstable state than before.
Second Thrawn Trilogy (2017-2019)
The first Thrawn trilogy to now be officially part of the official canon, this 2017 set takes place before the events of A New Hope and follows Thrawn on his rise to power.
Thrawn: Ascendancy Trilogy (2020-2021)
The most recent trilogy (and, yes, also canon) about Grand Admiral Thrawn dives even further into his backstory, all the way to his adoption.
Chronological Order to Read the Thrawn Books
While only some of the character’s book are canon, you could, in theory, read the books in order to get a sense of what Timothy Zahn’s initial intentions for the character were from the beginning by reading every trilogy together. There’s no word on how the character’s future may change in live-action, but here’s how to read all the Thrawn sets in chronological order:
Thrawn: Ascendancy trilogy (2020-2021)
Book I: Chaos Rising
Book II: Greater Good
Book III: Lesser Evil
Second Thrawn trilogy (2017-2019)
Star Wars: Thrawn
Thrawn trilogy (1991-1993)
Heir to the Empire
Dark Force Rising
The Last Command
Hand of Thrawn duology (1997-1998)
Specter of the Past
Vision of the Future
Milan Polk is an Editorial Assistant for Men’s Health who specializes in entertainment and lifestyle reporting, and has worked for New York Magazine’s Vulture and Chicago Tribune.