Star Wars has begun to tease a terrifying new threat for after Star Wars 9 - an alien race known as the Grysks. Star Wars tie-ins have long been fascinated in the Unknown Regions, an area of space that's difficult to explore due to a labyrinth of solar storms, rogue magnetospheres, black holes, gravity wells, and things far stranger. Indeed, the First Order itself was founded in the Unknown Regions, when Imperials fled there after the Battle of Jakku.
But the First Order isn't the only threat to galactic peace in the Unknown Regions. Timothy Zahn's tie-in novel Thrawn: Alliances introduced an alien race known as the Grysk, a humanoid race with tapered foreheads who prefer to operate covertly. That book revealed that the Grysk had launched at least two invasion attempts on the galaxy as a whole; they had attempted to undermine the Jedi during the Clone Wars, and then established themselves on the backwater world of Batuu during Imperial times. The Grysk appear to be a canon replacement for the Yuuzhan Vong, who invaded the galaxy in the Legends' "Star Wars: New Jedi Order" novels.
Zahn's latest tie-in, Thrawn: Treason, confirms the scale of the Grysk threat. It reveals that they are a race of slavers, and that they excel at breaking others to their will. The Grysk have mastered the art of working their way into a person's mind, using their every fear and doubt against them. When the process is complete, the subject is a willing slave who would even die for the Grysks. Grand Admiral Thrawn speculated that just three Grysks would, over time, be able to enslave an entire world. What's more, Thrawn discovered a covert Grysk operation that was moving into Imperial space, and even unknowingly disrupting the supply lines for the Death Star project.
Thrawn: Treason is set during the Imperial era, shortly before the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. As such, that naturally raises the question of just what the Grysk have been doing all this time; Grand Admiral Thrawn's victory over them was by no means an end to their threat. It's not hard to imagine a race like this using the chaos of the Galactic Civil War as an opportunity to secretly expand their sphere of influence into the galaxy. What's more, when the New Republic was founded, the Grysk would simply hide themselves from the Republic's attention. Their subjects would be conditioned not to betray them, and could then have infiltrated the Republic's government and military. The war between the First Order and the New Republic, which culminated in the Republic's destruction in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would have given the Grysks even more opportunities.
Meanwhile, it's quite interesting to note that the Grysks were first encountered by the Empire on the planet Batuu. Although Batuu is a remote outpost on the galaxy's edge, it's increasingly important to the Star Wars franchise as a whole. The Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge theme park is based on Batuu, and the planet is set to be revisited in a range of tie-in books. Given this is the case, it does seem as though the Grysk could be the galaxy's next big threat once the First Order is presumably defeated in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Certainly, they'd be a very different kind of enemy, a covert and ruthless foe rather than an explicitly military force, and one not rooted in the dark side of the Force for once. This really could breathe new life into the Star Wars franchise.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019