Random House
Print Design

Star Wars Thrawn Book Covers

Penguin Random House commissioned us to design a series of book covers for Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy.

The Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy

Random House reached out with the opportunity to design the covers of Timothy Zahn’s  upcoming Star Wars trilogy called Thrawn Ascendancy. We are huge fans of the franchise,  so we jumped at the opportunity. The readers were also clearly excited because they were New York Times Bestsellers.

One of the things that drew us to this project was that  we knew we would be creating the covers for the complete trilogy.  We loved the challenge of  both making stunning covers that worked for that book, but also that would relate to each other as a set. As main title designers we understand how to distill a narrative and this challenge is the extreme version of that distillation.

We started this process by exploring the cover for Book One – Chaos Rising. Once we landed on this minimalist style, we knew that this would carry over into the other two books.

Other than the style, colors and typography layout, the Chimera symbol and the depiction of Thrawn himself were the connecting elements across all three cover designs. Most of the brainstorming and design exploration consisted of ways we could have these elements interact in a way that was relevant to the narrative of each book. For example: If/When should we use the Ascendancy symbol?  Is Thrawn walking towards us? Is he falling? How do we show crumbling? These were all questions that informed our visual exploration and ultimately the final designs.

Each book, while part of the series had distinct themes and evolutions that we wanted to explore with the covers.

“I knew about Sarofsky and had been wanting to work with the studio for a while but wanted to find a big project to fully utilize the studio’s talents.

Thrawn is an important character that crosses over multiple platforms and is an essential part of Star Wars storytelling, so when it was discussed we’d be doing a Thrawn origin story of sorts I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for Sarofsky and a chance to try something different for a Star Wars cover. “

Book 1: Star Wars Thrawn Ascendancy “Chaos Rising”

Beyond the edge of the galaxy lies the Unknown Regions: chaotic, uncharted, and near impassable, with hidden secrets and dangers in equal measure. And nestled within its swirling chaos is the Ascendancy, home to the enigmatic Chiss and the Nine Ruling Families that lead them.

The peace of the Ascendancy, a beacon of calm and stability, is shattered after a daring attack on the Chiss capital that leaves no trace of the enemy. Baffled, the Ascendancy dispatches one of its brightest young military officers to root out the unseen assailants. A recruit born of no title, but adopted into the powerful family of the Mitth and given the name Thrawn.

With the might of the Expansionary Fleet at his back, and the aid of his comrade Admiral Ar’alani, answers begin to fall into place. But as Thrawn’s first command probes deeper into the vast stretch of space his people call the Chaos, he realizes that the mission he has been given is not what it seems.

Chaos Rising  on Amazon

Book 2: Star Wars Thrawn Ascendancy “Lesser Evil”

Thrawn’s latest triumph still rests newly on his shoulders. He has led the Chiss to victory and brought glory to the House of Mitth, but the true threat to the Ascendancy has not yet been extinguished. Their foes do not send threats or ultimatums, do not mass ships on the edge of the Chaos. Their weapons come cloaked in smiles and generosity: Gifts offered freely. Services granted unconditionally.

Across the Ascendancy, seemingly inconsequential events could herald the doom of the Chiss. As Thrawn and the Expansionary Defense Fleet rally to uncover the plot, they discover a chilling truth: Rather than invade Chiss capitals or pillage resources, their enemy strikes at the very foundation of the Ascendancy, seeking to widen the rifts between the Nine Ruling Families and the Forty Great Houses below. As rivalry and suspicion sow discord among allies, each warrior must decide what matters most to them: the security of their family or the survival of the Ascendancy itself.

Lesser Evil on Amazon

Book 3: Star Wars Thrawn Ascendancy “Greater Good”

For thousands of years the Chiss Ascendancy has been an island of calm, a center of power, and a beacon of integrity. It is led by the Nine Ruling Families, whose leadership stands as a bulwark of stability against the Chaos of the Unknown Regions.

But that stability has been eroded by a cunning foe who winnows away trust and loyalty in equal measure. Bonds of fidelity have given way to lines of division among the families. Despite the efforts of the Expansionary Defense Fleet, the Ascendancy slips closer and closer to civil war.

The Chiss are no strangers to war. Their mythic status in the Chaos was earned through conflict and terrible deeds, some long buried. Until now. To ensure the Ascendancy’s future, Thrawn will delve deep into its past, uncovering the dark secrets surrounding the ascension of the First Ruling Family. But the truth of a family’s legacy is only as strong as the legend that supports it. Even if that legend turns out to be a lie.

To secure the salvation of the Ascendancy, is Thrawn willing to sacrifice everything? Including the only home he has ever known?

Greater Good on Amazon

It all stacks up

In addition to the covers we also did the spines and some imagery inside the cover. We just love these spines and how beautifully they stack together.

People know us well for our motion design, but here is an example of how in a single image can tell a story.

Project Credits 
  • Executive Creative Director
    Erin Sarofsky
  • Executive Producer
    Steven Anderson
  • Creative Director
    Duarte Elvas
  • Producer
    Kelsey Hynes
  • Artists
    Josh Smiertka
  • Tanner Wickware
  • Cat McCarthy
  • Dan Moore
Client Credits 

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