One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn's classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. Read more...
- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: Apr 2017
From the cover
Eli had almost managed to convince himself that the group would merely be meeting with some Palace official when they were ushered past a pair of red-robed and red-helmeted Imperial Guards into the Emperor's throne room.
Even more than Coruscant itself, the holos and vids Eli had seen of Emperor Palpatine paled in comparison with the real thing.
At first glance, the Emperor didn't seem like much. He was dressed in a plain brown hooded robe, with no ornamentation or glitz of any sort. His throne, while massive, was solid black and very simple, again with no ostentation about it, raised a mere four steps above the floor. In fact, the darkness of his robe made him almost disappear from sight into the black of the throne.
It was as the group drew closer that the eeriness began.
First was the Emperor's face. The holos and vids always showed him as a dignified, older man, aged somewhat with the experience of life and the cares of leadership. But the holos were wrong. The face beneath the hood was old; old, and creased with a hundred deep wrinkles.
Not ordinary wrinkles, either, the kind Eli's grandparents had earned from years under the open sky. These creases were less like age, and more like scars or burn tissue.
The histories stated that the Jedi traitors' last attempt to seize power had been an attack on then-Chancellor Palpatine. The histories hadn't mentioned that his victory over the assassins had come at such a terrible cost.
Perhaps that was also what had happened to his eyes.
A shiver ran up Eli's back. The eyes were bright and intelligent, all-knowing and utterly powerful. But they were . . . strange. Unique. Disturbing. Damaged, perhaps, by the same treachery that had ravaged his face?
Intelligence, knowledge, power. And even more than with Thrawn, a sense of complete mastery over everything around him.
The Emperor watched in silence as the party walked toward him. Parck led the way, Barris and Eli behind him, followed by Thrawn and the navy trooper and stormtrooper witnesses. The guard contingent Parck had brought remained outside the door, six of the Imperial Guards having taken over their escort duty.
It seemed to take forever to reach the throne. Eli wondered how close they would be permitted to approach, and how Captain Parck would know when he had reached that point. The question was answered as Parck came to within five meters and the two Imperial Guards at the foot of the steps glided to positions directly in front of him. Parck stopped, the rest of them following suit, and waited.
It was probably only five seconds. But to Eli it felt like a medium-sized eternity. The entire throne room was utterly still, utterly silent. The only sound was the thudding of his pulse in his ears, the only movement the shaking of his arms in his sleeves.
"Captain Parck," the Emperor said at last, his gravelly voice neutral. "I'm told you bring me a gift."
Eli winced. A gift? For the Chiss of the stories, that would have been a deadly insult. Thrawn was behind him, and Eli didn't dare turn around, but he could imagine the expression on that proud face.
"I do, Your Majesty," Parck said, bowing low. "A warrior reportedly of a species known as the Chiss."
"Indeed," the Emperor said, his voice going even drier. "And what, pray tell, would you have me do with him?"
"If I may, Your Majesty," Thrawn put in before Parck could answer. "I am not merely a gift. I am also a resource. One you have never seen the like of before, and may never see again. You would do well to...