Arinhda Pryce rises to power in Thrawn #3.
This review includes discussion of plot points of Thrawn #3.
Writer: Jody Houser | Artist: Luke Ross | Colorist: Nolan Woodard | Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles | Cover Artist: Paul Renaud | Production Design: Anthony Gambino | Editor: Heather Antos | Supervising Editor: Jordan D. White | Based on the novel by Timothy Zahn
Until now, Thrawn told the story of the infamous Grand Admiral of the Empire. Thrawn #1 adapted the first part of Timothy Zahn’s novel and explored Thrawn’s discovery by the Empire and his subsequent days at the Imperial Academy. Then Thrawn #2 followed that story with an early adventure aboard an Imperial cruiser. So far the adaptation focused on Thrawn and his aide, Eli Vanto. It avoided the story of the novel’s other major character, Arihnda Pryce, who fans may recognize from Rebels. Thrawn #3 changes the focus from Thrawn and Eli and tells the story of how the future Governor of Lothal came to power.
A Streamlined Narrative
Pryce’s background is largely spread out through Thrawn’s novel. However, this adaptation consolidates much of her story into this single issue. It was a wise decision. Whether a choice made by the writer or editorial staff, the consolidation of Pryce’s background made it coherent. That is to say, it made it easier to digest. Rather than interspersing her story with Thrawn’s, the consolidation focuses her story in this one issue. One of the advantages of this is that the writer spends less time reminding the reader who Pryce is on an issue-to-issue basis.
Also, Pryce’s rise to power is much more compelling. On Lothal, she was the daughter of the owners of a corporation that owned a lucrative mine. Political circumstance forced her to acquiesce to outside demands to transfer control of the family business to the Empire. This begins a series of similar events in which Pryce turns disaster and disadvantage into political advantage. When the Empire arrests her mother, she transfers ownership of the mine and gets a job working for a Senator on Coruscant. After being set up by a Moff on Coruscant to betray the Senator, she parlays that experience into a job elsewhere. Later, when the Moff applies more pressure on her, she brings his suspicious activity to the attention of Grand Moff Tarkin in return for the governorship of Lothal.
The consolidation of Pryce’s background into this issue lays bare the themes of her story. Luke Ross’s art highlights it as well. In Pryce’s earlier years, her face is drawn softer and smoother. She has an innocence about her. However, as she progresses through her time on Coruscant, and she learns the dark side of politics and the Empire, her portrayal becomes sterner. Her eyes aren’t quite as big or bright, literally. She learned the political game.
As hinted at earlier, betrayal is a central theme of this issue. It occurs on multiple levels. Various agents in the Empire betray Pryce and one another in the name of personal power. However, betrayal isn’t limited to the politically motivated. On Coruscant, Pryce made many friends over the years. They include Juahir, who would be Pryce’s roommate, and Ottlis, a bodyguard that provided Ahrinda with some martial arts lessons.
Ottlis lured Pryce to some offices under the pretenses of a private martial arts lesson with a subtext of romantic interest, but then sold her out to a Moff. Granted, this provided Pryce with the ammunition she needed to get ahead when she turned over the Moff to Tarkin. Juahir, however, was a more intimate friend. She also happened to be a Rebel spy. By the conclusion of Thrawn #3, Pryce is a much harder person made cynical by her experience. Although she confronts Juahir about her betrayal, she is largely unaffected by it.
Although Thrawn #3 does well in consolidating Pryce’s story, if there is a criticism, it is that Pryce’s relationships are all truncated in this telling. Pryce’s relationship with Juahir and others is very brief. Granted, Juahir provided Pryce with a place to stay, the depth of their relationship is missing compared to Thrawn’s novelization. Regardless, something had to be sacrificed for the sake of the adaptation, and Juahir’s relationship, which is a little more shallow here, isn’t as important for the overall story.
The Grand Admiral
Thrawn #3 also illustrates Thrawn’s relationship with Pryce. The two initially met at a cocktail party when Thrawn was still a Senior Lieutenant coming off his successful mission against the pirates in Thrawn #2. They meet again at the dojo Pryce trained at. At that point, Thrawn has been promoted to Captain. Later still, Pryce consults Thrawn with the information she dug up on Moff Ghadi, and he obtained the rank of Commander. Although subtle, Thrawn grew into his role in the Empire even though only a side character in this issue.
Thrawn counselled Pryce on what to do with the dirt she had on Ghadi. Eventually, he helped her realized that she needed to turn to either the person Ghadi hated or feared. In this case, that was Grand Moff Tarkin. It was a wise move. Tarkin gave Pryce the governorship she wanted and promoted Thrawn’s aide. The deal worked for both of them.
Final Thoughts on Thrawn #3
Thrawn #3 illustrates Jody Houser’s skills at adapting material. The novel had plenty of room to develop Pryce’s story. However, the adaptation did not. In fact, if not carefully written, the adaptation might have dragged under Pryce’s story. Many of the pages of the novel explored Pryce’s relationships. Her anguish at the betrayals might have worked better there, but they are portrayed adequately here in a manner that gets the point across in a single issue without weighing down the entire series. In addition, Pryce’s story is entertaining. Thrawn #3 paints a picture of Imperial politics and intrigue around Pryce while keeping Thrawn in the story. Furthermore, this issue also quietly introduced Colonel Yularen and the Imperial Security Bureau to the story, which will pay dividends later in the story arc. This was well executed and the rest of the series is freed up to tell more of Thrawn’s achievements.
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.