Before Grand Admiral Thrawn started collecting art and bossing people around in the Empire, he had to do a little networking first, including name-dropping Anakin Skywalker. In a new excerpt from [the forthcoming Star Wars canon novel, Thrawn, the blue-skinned, ambitious alien Chiss casually mentions that a certain former Jedi-turned-Sith Lord can verify Thrawn’s credentials.

On Thursday, USA Today ran the excerpt of the Timothy Zahn-penned forthcoming novel. In it, Thrawn has his first interview with Emperor Palpatine and casually slips in his knowledge of Anakin to get the Emperor’s attention. Thrawn says, “Perhaps your servant can speak to the strength of that vow.” After the Emperor asks which servant Thrawn is talking about, Thrawn says, “Skywalker, Anakin Skywalker.” The excerpt ends there.

Because the character of Thrawn was created by Timothy Zahn way back in 1991, this new novel is something of a remake of the character’s origin stories.

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The dust jacket for the original edition of 'Heir to the Empire.' There's Thrawn, making his debut, in the lower left corner.
The dust jacket for the original edition of 'Heir to the Empire.' There's Thrawn, making his debut, in the lower left corner.

While the exploits of Thrawn in Heir to the Empire are no longer canon, everything on Star Wars Rebels and the new Zahn novel are canon. How Zahn will reconcile his older material that doesn’t count with the new material that does, remains to be seen. But the big question is whether or not all this attention to Thrawn will create an in-the-flesh version in a forthcoming film. And if Thrawn does show up in The Last Jedi or even Episode IX, then the clues of how he got there will definitely be found in this book.

Star Wars: Thrawn will be published by Del Rey on April 11, 2017.