Tuesday, August 31, 2010

2000 BBY: Jedi vs. Sith: Darth Ruin

Since the War of the Gungan Tribes we have crossed a gaping chasm of Star Wars history to end up on the doorstep of Darth Ruin. Once known as Phanius, a Jedi Master and part of the “lost twenty”, this charismatic master of the Force abandoned the Jedi order to tread down the morally relativistic road of the darkside.
It is with this source that Gnosticism pokes its head into the Star Wars universe once again.

The first time, I think, we came across the idea of Gnosticism was through the character of Master Gnost-Dural, keeper of the Jedi archives. When discussing the timelines produced by Bioware I argued that his name was a play on the philosophy of Gnosticism, and was the origin of the first part of his name.

I studied Gnosticism in university, and wrote a thesis on the anthropology of Valentinus relying on the Nag Hammadi texts and the works of Irenaeus. That particular class was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed delving into the worldview of the Gnostics. For a while I found a great deal of their teachings very interesting and attractive.

Gnostisicm comes into Star Wars once again through the character of Darth Ruin. It was Abel Pena who created the backstory of this character (Darth Ruin was originally created by GL), and in the wookieepedia excerpt, it says of how Pena chose the original name of Ruin as Phanius: “The name "Phanius" is actually a truncated form of the name Ephiphanes suggesting Ruin's explosive insights. Ephiphanes is also the name of a Gnostic writer in Roman times, connecting Gnostic (recognized as heretical) philosophy with Ruin's heretical teachings in his time.” I love it when two things I really enjoy come together in unexpected ways.

From a chronological perspective, we’ve moved ahead an entire millennium. One Thousands years have passed, with no historical record to speak of. Indeed, it must have been the dark ages of Star Wars history.

What I love about my examination of this history that never was, is the potential in storytelling it carries. In time, I believe and hope that sources and dates will begin to fill this void of lost time. Indeed, maybe I myself will contribute to this empty period.

Since the destruction of Darth Malak and the Sith triumvirate that came after him, the Jedi did an excellent job of wiping the Sith from the face of the universe. However, evil never dies, and Phanius began collecting the Lost tribes of the Sith, and turning his energies to the mastery of the darkside of the Force. By all accounts he was successful.

In this source from JvS, we learn from Master’s Bodo Baas and Tionne Soulusar that Darth Ruin’s rise to power was meteoric in nature, as was his fall. He was eventually assassinated by his acolytes, lending truth to the words of Darth Revan: “Any Master who instructs more than one apprentice in the ways of the darkside is a fool. In time, the apprentices will unite their strength and overthrow the Master” (JvS 164).

For all his strength and heretical philosophies, Darth Ruin, in the eyes of Darth Revan, proved himself to be a fool.

In the end, not much more is written of Darth Ruin. In my opinion, he’s a highly intriguing character, and I would love to see how one would mesh gnostic ideals with Phanius “heretical” understanding of the nature of the Force.

For my next post I’ll be jumping ahead yet another millennium in Star Wars history to the novel Darth Bane: Path of Destruction. I know that in between the Darth Ruin source and the Darth Bane novel that Knight Errant, a comic set in the time before the Darth Bane trilogy written by JJM, will begin its run in Star Wars history. I think for the time being I’m going to ignore this source in the SWCP, but I will most defiantly begin reading it as soon as it becomes available – I’m probably not going to post on it though, as I don’t really want to do a monthly issue by issue, blow-by-blow account of this source. I might simply deal with it in its entirety once it has completed its story arc.

I don’t know. What do you guys think I should do? You’re the one’s reading this.

As for the sources found in the Jedi vs. Sith text – I’ll engage with them all after I have read all three novels, and comment on anything I found of interest there. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Monday, August 30, 2010

3032 BBY: Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds: The War of the Gungan Tribes

For a work to be defined as an epic, it has to have certain characteristics. There are anywhere from five to nine ‘hard characteristics’ for a work to be defined as an epic, with a plethora of sub-characteristics which literary theorists debate over.
Generally speaking, an epic has a hero of great national importance, with an imposing physical stature, and regarded by others as better than the common being. It has a setting which is vast in scope. The actions of the hero consist of superhuman deeds, valor, and courage. Supernatural beings invest themselves and intervene in the actions at certain times. And finally, the style in which the story is conveyed is elevated – usually poetry.

There are other smaller characteristics as well: the invoking of a muse, beginning the action of the story ‘media res’, catalogues and genealogies are listed, the hero gives extended speeches, and there is heavy reliance on the part of the writer of stock phrases and repetition.

So where am I going with this?

I’m going to argue that missions 3.1-3.3 in Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds are very nearly an epic. It’s just missing some of the "smaller" characteristics.

My interaction with this source had a slow start. I ordered, what I thought was Galactic Battlegrounds, months before I knew I would be engaging with this source, so when I finally did sit down to play the game I realized after about two hours of playtime that I had purchased the wrong game. I had in fact bought Star Wars BattleFRONT – a first person shooter and not a real-time strategy game.

Looking back I’m not sure how I made this mistake, but I did. And as an aside, Battlefront was super-fun to play as well. I even got my wife into it for about an hour.

Back to my main point – missions 3.1-3.3 from the real-time strategy computer game Star Wars Battlegrounds, otherwise known as “The War of the Gungan Tribes” was an epic – in every sense of the word.

Firstly, the main character of the story, Boss Gallo, an ancestor of Boss Nass, is a hero of great national importance. He was regarded by other Gungans as better than the rest, hence his title “boss”. The other Gungans of his time knew that if Boss Gallo were to change his neutral stance in the “War of the Gungan Tribes” that his influence and power would affect the outcome of Gungan civilization. Rogoe – Gallo’s arch nemesis – made-up Gallo’s mind for him, and attacked his village. Gallo could no longer fence sit, and took it upon himself to unite the Gungan tribes to defeat Rogoe – a Gungan warlord – and destroy his enemy’s fortress at Spearhead. Gallo was no ordinary Gungan, but a being whose actions were depended upon by an entire civilization.

Secondly, the story of “The War of the Gungan Tribes” was vast in scope. It did not simply focus on a small geographical part of Naboo, but consisted of entire continents. The start of the story began at Otoh Sancture, a small farm on the surface of Naboo, and ended up at Spearhead – a gigantic fortress found in the underwater seas of the planet. This setting converged over thousands upon thousands of square kilometers, making the setting of this epic vast in scope.

Thirdly, the actions of Boss Gallo consisted of super deeds of valor and courage. Not only was Boss Gallo brave for uniting the Gungan tribes, he rescued Boss Hoxie from Rogoe’s forces, recovered Boss Tenko’s staff, returned the treasure of Boss Hantic all-the-while destroying one of Rogoe’s spaceports, and destroyed a clan of vicious Bursas for Boss Copek. In the particular game I played, Boss Gallo singlehandedly knocked down the gates of Rogoe’s fortress.

Fourthly, (and follow my fuzzy-logic on this one) supernatural beings invested themselves and got involved in the actions of the story. In this particular case, I myself am the supernatural being in question. Boss Gallo, the hero of the story, is a being living in a pixilated world. He lacks a corporeal existence, but from his perspective, the “natural world” consists of 64-bit (or whatever ‘bit’ his world is) trees, lakes, oceans, rivers, and other beings. I am “supernatural” in this case because I am outside-of or beyond what Gallo considers “natural”. Not only that, but I myself controlled the fate of Gallo’s forces, and strove, along with Gallo, to defeat Rogoe and his armies. I was invested in the story, and got involved in the tale’s actions.

Finally, the story was conveyed in an elevated style – thought not an elevated style that we’re accustomed too. This particular point focuses on the writing of the text, and has a particular bias towards poetry, as usually poetry is considered a more superior form of writing to prose. In the “War of the Gungan Tribes” we are treated to the most elevated form of writing known to humans – mathematics. The story of the War of the Gungan Tribes was written in the most poetic form we as human have – the language of computer programming. This language’s basis is founded on irrefutable mathematical formulas and equations – in essence, truth. Math is never wrong. If we were to put the written form of the “War of the Gungan Tribes” on paper, it would take a highly advanced civilization to decode and decipher the story’s meaning. How’s that for ‘elevated’?

Ultimately, I really had a fun time with this game. It took me back to my old StarCraft days, and I always enjoyed massing an army to take out my opponent’s buildings. I look forward to engaging with this source again.

For my next post we’ll moved ahead a near millennium in Star Wars chronology, and cover the topic of Darth Ruin from the ever rich source of Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Miscellaneous Missings: 3951 BBY: Jedi vs Sith: The Essential guide to the Force

Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force is a Star Wars text that weaves itself through the entirety of Star Wars history. I have not read it cover-to-cover, which is why I have a tendency to miss important sections from this book. Plaristes was good enough to highlight such readings for me before I exited this era of Star Wars history and begin a new one. For my post today I’m going to back-track to 3651 BBY, and examine the fallout of Revan’s conversion to the darkside, and study his wisdom for future Dark Lords of the Sith.

Pages 131-133 in JvS are the words of Jedi Historian Deesra Luur Jada, the twi’lek Jedi Knight we met at the Jedi enclave on Dantooine, and provided for Revan the account of The Great Hunt. In his historical account Deesra goes into detail over Revan’s reformation into a warrior of the light, and recounts for the reader the destruction of the enclave at the hands of Darth Malak. In this short piece of history, Deesra says many things which caught my attention.

Firstly, I thought it interesting how the locals of Dantooine remember the enclave’s destruction: “I found myself correcting a young Padawan and some locals who were speaking of ‘the day the Sith Lords Malak and Revan assaulted Dantooine’. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter to the locals whether only Malak was responsible, but it should matter to the Jedi” (JvS 131). In this passage we see Deesra lamenting the inaccurate remember of the event, and how the idea that Revan’s fall may not be so forgivable by those who were at the receiving end of events he initiated. What is more, this passage could speak to the deeper prejudice of Revan by the Jedi themselves, seeing as how a Padawan carried this notion. A notion he may have picked up from his Master, which is perhaps a tacit feeling echoing through the Order.

Secondly, I thought the comparison Dessra made between Exar Kun, Revan, and Malak’s training grounds telling as well. All three were trained on Dantooine. Dessra doesn’t pay too much attention to this, but perhaps there is something darker occurring on Dantooine than what we know of. Dessra accounts for this similarity as serendipitous happenstance, but maybe there is something more here?

Dessra also reveals that Bastila Shan was the only Jedi to survive the assault on Darth Revan’s ship. I’m not sure if in the source text that this is explicitly mentioned or not, but I was surprised by this fact, which made me think that perhaps I was under the impression that some other Jedi did survive the assault.

Fourthly, Dessra talks about the death of Master Vandar Tokare (which is misspelled in this text as Dokar). He says that he was killed on Katar, at the Jedi conclave. This saddened me, as Master Tokare was a Jedi Master I really liked – probably because I like Yoda so much. I hope that nothing is revealed of his species, and that this is kept shrouded in mystery. Star Wars literature, in the past 5 years, has really taken a dislike to the idea of mystery. I remember a time when Boba Fett was an absolute enigma. His Mandalorian armor was something rare and feared in the galaxy. Now it seems every Tom, Dick, and Harry has a set of Mandalorian armor in their closet. Boba Fett’s backstory has been filled, and filled, and filled some more. The species of Vandar, Yoda, and Yaddle is one of the unexplored areas of Star Wars, and I hope it stays that way. Thankfully Lucas adheres to this sentiment, not wanting to delve into the backstory of Yoda’s species.

Lastly, I want to finish my examinations of this section with the words of hope from Deesra Luur Jada. He says at the end of his historical recording: “We will never be able to restore the Jedi enclave that was on Dantooine, but Revan’s example encourages me to rebuild” (JvS 133). This reminds me of one of my favorite prayers by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Deesra, like Mother Theresa, believes that ‘What you spend years creating, other could destroy overnight. Create anyway’. The Jedi do ‘create anyway’, knowing that it is better to build than to tear down.

Pages 163-164 delineate the contents of Darth Revan’s holocron, as remembered and transcribed by Darth Bane. This of course puts the authenticity of what is written into question. Since it is Darth Bane relating through one of his own holocrons what Revan said, and not Revan himself, from a strictly historic and academic perspective, what Darth Bane presents should be understood that this source should always be examined with an asterisk beside it – it may not, after all, be an authentic Darth Revan revelation.

Anyway, I’m being pedantic.

It’s Revan who really began the institutionalization of the doctrine of the ‘rule of two’, although it’s Darth Bane who is credited with this. Although Revan and Malak began the Sith academy on Korriban, at the heart of his teaching it seems that Revan was a believer in keeping the numbers of the Sith to a minimum: “Any Master who instructs more than one apprentice in the ways of the darkside is a fool. In time, the apprentices will unite their strength and overthrow the Master” (JvS 164). It seems here that Revan was contradicting his own philosophies. Darth Bane brought Revan’s teachings to its logical conclusion, and sought to do away with all Sith minus himself and his student.

Darth Revan also disparages the idea of Grey Jedi: “Those who try to walk the path of moderation – will fail, dragged down by their own weakness” (JvS 164). On this notion, I happen to agree with Revan.

It’s fitting that Darth Revan’s words lead us to Darth Bane, as after a short jaunt into 3032 BBY and 2000 BBY we’ll move ahead another thousand years and into the era of Darth Bane.

It may be a while before I post on the next source, Battlegrounds. I bought Battlefront weeks ago, and realized after playing for an hour that I had purchased the wrong game. I’m now just waiting for the game to come in the mail. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

3970 BBY: The Mandalorian War

Hell is full of good wishes and desires, so says Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Similarly, when speaking of the Revanchist’s and Alek Squinquargesimus’ decent to the darkside Master Gnost -Dural says: “Revan and Malak’s decent into to darkness actually began with compassion; the compassion that compelled them to enter the Mandalorian Wars”. Their intentions, from their ‘certain point of view’, were good and noble.

The ninth timeline released by Bioware outlines the events of the Mandalorian War, a period of Star Wars history which is extensively covered in the Knights of the Old Republic comic series. It is placed at 311 BTC, which translates as approximately 3670 BBY (I think) – but the later date does not entirely jive with the dates I’ve been following. No matter though, as long as the material is covered. I would probably place this piece at the end of 3963 BBY, when the events of the KOTOR comic series are complete.

Some interesting facts come to light in this time piece; namely, a missing piece of history centering on the fight between Mandalor the Ultimate and Revan, the creation of Malachor V, and finally where the path of good intentions eventually lead Revan and Malak.

In my discussion of Manaan in my post on KOTOR 1, I mentioned how Canderous, at that particular point in the game, mentioned how Revan had defeated Mandalor in a duel. This casual mention caught me a little off-guard because I thought that such an important event in Star Wars history would have been reference in some source material prior to KOTOR 1. My surprise was warranted because this particular scene had not yet been dramatized – until timeline # 9 of course. My favorite part of this timeline is the picture this post is accompanied by: Revan entering armed battle with Mandalor the Ultimate. A missing link has been filled – Star Wars history is now more properly flushed out.

The duel between Revan and Mandalor ended with Revan igniting a “super-weapon” which destroyed an entire planet, taking with it Mandalorian warrior, Republic soldiers, and Jedi Knights – the planet which later became a focal point of the darkside: Malachor V. Yet another piece of the puzzle filled in.

After the destruction of Malachor V, Revan and Malak’s ‘war of compassion’ lead them down the only road they could see, the one which is wide and easy to tread upon: the road to hell: “…but Revan and Malak pursued the remnant of the Mandalorian armies into deep space. It was there of course that Revan and Malak found the Sith Empire. And upon meeting the emperor their fall to the darkside was complete”.

For my next post I’ll be looking at pages 163-164 and 130-133 of Jedi vs. Sith, pages that I missed during my examinations of that time period, and pieces with have Revan as their focus. Until them my friends, May the Force be with you.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

3626 BBY: The Old Republic

I took a few days to think about what I wanted to write with regards to the Old Republic MMO which is scheduled for release next spring. After much thought, with nothing forthcoming to mind, I realized that I hadn’t much to say, except that I’m looking forward to its release. As I’ve indicated through other posts on my blog, I’m probably going to play a bounty hunter on a PvP server.
I hope it’s going to be a good game, and I hope Bioware has what it takes to attract players away from World of Warcraft, so that a vibrant community with take root and hold. If the forums at swtor are any indication, I think this game will have its fair share of the market.

Even if The Old Republic turns out to be WOW with a Star Wars skin I won’t be disappointed. I played WOW for nearly two years, and stopped playing only because my life got busy (career, marriage, mortgage, children) and I didn’t have time to play any longer. And the only reason I started to play WOW in the first place was because Star Wars Galaxies went to hell-in-a-hand-basket after the New Game Enhancements.

I had tremendous fun playing both games, and I look forward to becoming part of another gaming community. Some of the people I met while playing Galaxies I count as true friends. Though I’ve never met any of them in real life, we spent many hours together on TeamSpeak mostly talking about the game, but also our real lives as well. I miss the camaraderie I felt with my guild on Galaxies.

Coors, Iakote, Arek, Cahnuuk, Yatchu, Huntress, Sa’ik, Cadina, Lemi, Inalla, and Ebofo were a great bunch of people to game with. What also made the game great were the nemesis’ we picked up on the way as well – the Jedi who hated the sight of our NeXuS guild tag when we walked into the cantina to collect a bounty.

I hope The Old Republic has what it take to create lasting memories for people who love Star Wars, and simply want to live it on their off hours.

Like I said, I’m looking forward to playing TOR.

For my next post I’m going to examine the ninth timeline released by Bioware, and then look at some of the excerpts from Jedi vs. Sith that I missed in my accounting of the Jedi Civil War and the Great Galactic War. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

3650 BBY: Fatal Alliance

When the Star Wars Chronology Project is complete, which will hopefully be in the time I’ve given myself, I’m going to turn my energies to writing a Star Wars novel. I’ve already mapped out its basic premise, have drawn up most of the characters, and have developed its introduction, climax, and resolution. When it’s complete my expectation will not be to publish it, though that would be nice. Like the SWCP it’ll be enough for me to have finished it, and to have finished it well.

If, in the execution of this little endeavor, I can write as well as Sean Williams, I will be successful. Fatal Alliance was one of the most enjoyable Star Wars books I have ever read. Williams, the writer of a plethora of short stories and novels, and winner of respected sci-fi writing awards, is a professional writer in every sense of the word. His prose was excellent, his dialogue superb, and his style was easy to read. There was necessarily nothing poetic about Williams’ prose, but it didn’t need to be, and I don’t mean that as a slight. If Williams wanted to be poetic, I think he could. I sometimes think writers use poetic writing to cover their ineffectual abilities as a writer (which I think is a weakness, among others, of my own writing). Williams’ writing is efficient with nothing out of place. I never once stumbled on his description of people, places, or events; I never once thought that any of his characters did or said anything out of character; I never once thought ‘I can do a better job than this guy’. The entire story made sense, from beginning to end.

To summarize what I’m trying to say, Sean Williams is an excellent writer. I highly recommend reading Fatal Alliance, you’ll not be disappointed.

For such an enjoyable read I surprising have only a few things to comment on. The first aspect of Fatal Alliance I want to talk about is the character of Satele Shan, the Grand Master of the Jedi Order. I also want to comment on some bits of descriptive wording I greatly enjoyed, some of the observations made by Dao Stryver the Mandalorian bounty hunter, and Jet Nebula the smuggler, and finally Darth Chratis’ equipment.

We are first introduced to Satele Shan in the pages of the web-comic Threat of Peace. From a chronological perspective that bit of Star Wars history takes place three years prior to the events of this novel, and in that source, she is not even yet a Jedi Master, which makes me wonder how she went from Knight to Grand Master in three years. What I didn’t know was that the title of Grand Master has been in place in Star Wars history for a while, and that the title of Grand Master is different from the title of Master of the Order – yet another title I was unfamiliar with. Grand Master denotes the Jedi who is the head of all Jedi in the galaxy. Master of the Order denotes the Jedi who is the head of the Jedi high council. They may be the same person, or two different people.

Prior to Satele Shan, the Grand Master was Zym, the Kel Dor Jedi who was killed by the bounty hunter Braden – yet another reason why I thought Threat of Peace fell short. Since when can a bounty hunter simply ‘shoot’ a Jedi Grand Master and kill him? That bit of history only came about to keep the plot moving forward, and ignored even the logical sense or boundaries of realism in its own Star Wars universe. Chestney and the other writers at Bioware were playing a little fast-and-loose with what a Jedi Grand Master should be capable of.

Satele Shan seems rather young to be a Grand Master, but with that being said she seems to have aged rather quickly since last we encountered her. She is now streaked with grey in her hair, and from her characterization on The Old Republic webpage, seems a little older and wiser. There is nothing in Star Wars history as of yet to explain how she attained the rank, simply that she is a “veteran warrior” and has been “tested by the darkside” on many occasions. I’m sure, given time and knowing the nature of Star Wars literature that loves to backfill stories, we’ll know all about how Satele Shan became the Grand Master of the Jedi Order soon enough.

Moving on to some of the description and dialogue I found of interest in Fatal Alliance, I want to highlight parts of the book I enjoyed most. One of my favorite scenes in Fatal Alliance was of Shigar Konshi attempting to rescue his Master Satele Shan for certain death: “He was standing practically naked on the hull of a smuggler’s ship, surrounded by killer droids and wreaked ships, with the galaxy’s brilliant spiral to one side and the jets of a black hole to the other. He couldn’t tell if what he felt was joy or terror.” (259). It’s this type of descriptive writing which I enjoyed. While I was reading this, I think I pictured exactly what Williams wanted me to see, and I was awed by the scene itself. What is more, this scene revealed something of Shigar Konshi’s character – a Padawan who is brash yet terrified at the same time.

Two other characters I highly enjoyed were Dao Stryver and Jet Nebula – the bounty hunter and the smuggler – mortal enemies and two sides of the same coin. What I enjoyed about William’s writing here is that these characters have dialogue which mirrors each other. Not exactly, mind you, but both have a similar world view even though they themselves are on opposite side of the spectrum.

Leave it to a Mandalorian to hit the nail on the head with regards to the Sith and their recruitment practices. As the story goes on, Dao Stryver rightly points out how the conflict began. Speaking of Eldon Ax, Stryver says: “That, after all, was where all this started, with militarized religious cults turning children into monsters.” (275). It was this stripping down of everything and revealing the truth of the matter to Ax which I found brutal and honest – the words militarized religious cults – jumped out at me. This, indeed, is exactly what the Sith do: steal children, kill their parents, and then train them in the darkside of the force, only to then release pathologic monsters on the universe. Dao Stryver, and Sean Williams, couldn’t be more correct.

Even Jet Nebula, the smuggler with a heart of gold, holds cynical views of the Jedi and the Sith. As he says to Ula Vii, an Imperial spy, regarding the nature of both Force users: “No, but the principle still holds. (The Republic and the Empire both have) Similar hierarchies, with a dominant high priest caste; similar in beliefs but different practices; competing over the same territory -“ (355). Like the words militarized religious cults spoken by Dao Stryver, the words which jumped out at me here were dominant high priest caste. Again, Jet Nebula and Seam Williams hit the nail on the head here.

The similarity in dialogue and worldview between Dao Stryver and Jet Nebula remind me of two characters from my favorite movie of all time: William Munny (Clint Eastwood) and Bill Dagget (Gene Hackman) from Unforgiven. In Unforgiven, like in Fatal Alliance, these characters are Grey – neither whole evil, nor wholly good, but both capable of highly evil or good acts. The similarity in dialogue I’m referring to in Unforgiven is when both Eastwood and Hackman meet the writer for the first time. When Dagget meets English Bob’s biographer, and the biographer says to Dagget that he’s a writer, Dagget seeks clarification: “What, letters an’ such?”. In the final scene of the film, after William Munny has killed everyone in the bar, he comes across the writer, un-burring himself from dead bodies which have fallen on him. The writer begs Munny not to shoot, explaining that he’s : “Just a writer”. Munny asks him: “What, of letters an’ such?”. Both characters in this movie, both mortal enemies, each one side of the same coin, are each reacting in the same manner to the same thing. Dao Stryver and Jet Nebula, are two sides of the same coin. The epilogue of Fatal Alliance between these two characters was the best part of the entire novel.

My final point of note is only a small observation, but a little element of the story I enjoyed: Darth Chratis’ lightsaber. Extending from a long cane, Darth Chratis’ lightsaber blade is longer than usual. I imagine his lightsaber to be more like a long two-handed sword, or some like a Scottish claymore minus the cross hilt. It made dueling against on the part of Shigar Konshi very difficult.

For my next post I’ll be engaging with the new Star Wars MMO The Old Republic, and reflecting on my experiences with MMOs in general. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

3653 BBY: The Treaty of Coruscant

The Treaty of Coruscant was the first galactic timeline produced by Bioware, and was a piece of Star Wars history which broke the mold. I’ve spoken in length about my feelings on these pieces, but just to briefly review, they are, by far, one of the most original forms of storytelling to be found in the collective Star Wars mythos.

Since I’ve gone on about these timelines, my post today will simply be to focus on what I found interesting in this first piece, namely, Master Gonst-Dural, the treaty itself, the perception of Jedi after the attack on Coruscant, and the Jedi’s retreat to Tython.

Firstly, the character of Master Gnost-Dural is a highly fascinating one. Even beginning with the first part of his name ‘Gnost’ harkens to the idea of Gnosticism, the Greek word for knowledge, and an ancient Christian sect which was destroyed in the late second century. Gnostics believed they held the ‘secret wisdom’ of reality and the nature of the universe, and felt that real understanding of the nature of reality could only be achieved by those who could see past the lies of reality, and indeed, understand the meaninglessness of the material realm. Gnostics were a select bunch.

Master Gnost-Dural is very much like a Gnostic – attempting to look past the ‘conventional’ wisdom of events and history, and looking to uncover ‘the truth’ of events which have brought him to his current position.

I identify with Master Gnost-Dural, because I like to think of myself as that academic, sitting alone in the archives pouring over texts and attempting to reach the truth of their meaning. Cross referencing material and coming to conclusions not otherwise thought of.

Turning our attention back to the piece itself, Master Gnost-Dural identifies the rational of the peace treaty proposed by the emperor. As he says: “Though he now controlled half the galaxy, the Sith emperor grew impatient. He had expected his triumph to come quickly.” The Republic was not in a position to reject the treaty, even though the Sith had just attacked Coruscant and sacked the capital planet of the Republic. The feeling in the Republic was one of despair. Senators and even the Jedi council felt that the war was unwinnable; peace was the only hope, so this reprieve offered by the emperor was a welcome respite from war. By holding Coruscant hostage, and offering the treaty, the Sith could force the Republic to agree to their terms, and consolidate their gains in the outer rim. Each side could collect themselves for the inevitable re-engagement that will occur.

Even though it has been the Jedi, along with the Republic military, staving off the relentless attack of the Empire since the beginning of the Great Galactic War, the Jedi never seem to get the thanks they deserve, and a part of me understands why. As Master Gnost-Dural says: “The Jedi returned to Coruscant to find their temple in ruins and irate senators blaming the Jedi for all the Republic’s troubles”. This was a major theme in KOTOR II, as regular folk viewed the Jedi suspiciously. And I think I would too. You have these super-powerful beings running around in the galaxy, not really beholden to anyone – not even the senate. The majority of Jedi appreciates and comprehends their power and move to a stance of altruism, humility, and service for the common person. But all too often in the history of the galaxy, all it takes is a few of these being to realize they can take what they want, and begin to abuse their power for their own benefit. What is more, it is usually the Jedi who have trained these individuals, and now they are using their power against the authority which gave it to them. If cries from the streets came for the mass killing for force users – being who cannot be trusted with their power – I could see how people would become swept up in the mania, threated by force-sensitives, wanting them destroyed. Order 66 would have looked good hundreds of years ago, before the emperor came knocking on the Republic’s door.

Maybe this is all the Jedi’s fault. If they had just silenced their gifts and refused to achieve the excellence they were blessed with, the galaxy wouldn’t be in this mess! If each individual Jedi had simply accepted mediocrity, peace would reign and everyone would be equal – not one being better than another. Damn those Jedi!

With their temple destroyed the Jedi had to relocate. They moved back to their ancient home world of Tython, a world not referenced since Master Sar Agorn in 18,000 BBY. While on Tython the Jedi must once again reconnect with their roots, and become “Ashla worshippers”. Master Gnost-Dural says the Jedi needed to relocate to Tython: “To rest, meditate, and seek guidance from the Force”.

Thus, in 3653 BBY began the enormous stalemate of the Great Galactic War. The Republic confined to the core worlds nursing its wounds, the Sith, pacing like caged tigers, waiting like barbarians at the gate.

A Galaxy divided by darkness and light.

For my next post I’ll be examining the novel Fatal Alliance by Sean Williams, and will be the first time in the Star Wars Chronology Project where I’ll engage with a source other than a comic, e-novella, short story, magazine journal, video game, or other such medium I’ve covered but haven’t mentioned here. Indeed, this history of Star Wars is not confined to what has been written in novels alone. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

3653 BBY: The Threat of Peace

Galactic domination takes longer than one thinks. Even the Sith emperor, with his best laid plans, didn’t think taking control of the galaxy would take this long. Since the initial onslaught of the Sith Empire, 28 years have passed, essentially making the Great Galactic War a generational war. We’ve moved ahead 7 years in Star Wars history, since the destruction of the Mandalorian blockade. The opening lines of Threat of Peace testify to the stalling experienced by the Sith Empire: “The Sith have seized control of the outer rim but their efforts to penetrate the core worlds have been unsuccessful.” In order to consolidate their gains, the Sith empire has proposed a treaty with the Republic – but everyone, of course, is distrustful of the other.

Written by Rob Chestney and penciled by Alex Sanchez Threat of Peace is a slightly complicated story with many characters, plot lines, and nuanced details. I’m not sure this story’s telling was appropriate for the comic format, as I felt that there were many gaps in its telling. Even though the story jumped from scene to scene rather quickly, I managed to keep up with its events – but just barely. I think the real weakness of this story was its art and the way it was organized. After reading through Threat of Peace it seemed like it was written by a committee of writers, all wanting to make sure it revealed just enough about the game, but also trying to make sure some cohesive story was present. I don’t think the comic’s pages were enough to covey the size of the events. This tale was bigger than a comic, and was restricted by the genre it was presented in.

In my opinion Threat of Peace falls short. It was a good story with interesting characters that needed to be flushed out, perhaps in another medium.

But it wasn’t a poor piece of Star Wars history – not by a long shot. Threat of Peace contained some epic details around important events in Star Wars history; namely, the sacking of Coruscant.

I still can’t get past the boldness of the Sith Empire’s move. The manner in which they attacked Coruscant was ruthless, especially their invasion technique of the Jedi temple. While I watched Master Orgus battle Lord Angral outside the temple, a Sith transport crashed into the Jedi’s sanctuary, unleashing a buzzing furry of Sith acolytes, red sabers drawn. This dramatic moment in Star Wars history is dramatized so profoundly in the cinematic trailer Deceived. I think every Star Wars fan has watched this 4 minuet clip countless time. And still, each time I watch it I’m awed by it.

I even found this scene somewhat unsettling – it reminded me of the terrorist attacks in America on September 11th 2001. Not only was the episode of the Sith transport crashing into the temple disturbing, but the scene which bothered me the most was when Master Orgus was meditating beside the ruins of the Jedi temple, being told by Master Zym that the senate would not spend the money to rebuild the temple. Master Orgus then says to Zym “Perhaps that’s for the best. My padawan was in there.” That scene really saddened me, as it brought to mind bodies still buried in the rubble, and the thought of Master Orgus’ young apprentice’s body still buried by rock. It really did make me hate the Sith.

Distressing thoughts notwithstanding, I thought the character of Satele Shan highly enthralling. At the end of the story, Lord Baras says to Satele: “If Darth Revan’s blood flows through your veins you belong with us”. This line brings with it a litany of questions and speculation. Did Revan and Bastila parent a child? Disclaimers of the word “if” aside, it seems that from Lord Baras’ comments they did. If so, who was this child? What was the child’s name? Was this child a Jedi as well? There are so many intriguing questions here. Most likely these will be addressed in the MMO. But until then, they are fun to think about and speculate on.

What is more, Threat of Peace did offer some interesting plot twists: a bounty hunter working for the Republic named Braden, a Wookiee working for the Empire, and a Jedi Master bent on making war with the Sith at any cost. In a very fascinating plot twist, Master Dar’nala was the one who instigated the violence. This instigation made the words of Lord Baras ring with truth: “We knew you Jedi couldn’t really accept peace. We knew the treaty would reveal your hypocrisy…your hate”. At the conclusion of this story the Sith come off as actual protectors of the treaty, and in a weird reversal, as protectors of the peace.

At the end of the story Master Dar’nala was shown with one of her eyes as orange. I wonder if this was to indicate her falling to the darkside, or if it was simply injuries sustained while faking her death. I have a feeling it was the former.

Threat of Peace was an interesting story which further flushed out some of the important history of this era, but was not a comic I enjoyed. That being said though, I do look forward to coming across the characters from this bit of chronicle again.

For my next post I’ll be examining the first galactic timeline released by Bioware, The Treaty of Coruscant. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

3660 BBY: The Mandalorian Blockade is Broken

With the Mandalorian blockade in full force, and the Empire’s strangle-hold on the remaining parts of the galaxy tightening, countless worlds being affected by the blockade have begun to capitulate to the Empire. The Sith emperor’s plans of galactic domination have now continued unabated. That is, until, Hylo Visz showed up.

From a good vs. evil, good guys vs. bad guys thing, the smuggler’s aligning with the Republic makes perfect sense. Putting aside any notion of Han Solo and the template of the smuggler with a heart-of-gold, in the Star Wars universe smuggler’s must necessarily be harassed by bounty hunters. Naturally a smuggler somewhere down the line will botch a job – through no fault of their own – and naturally some crime boss will place a bounty on that smugglers head. In this era of Star Wars history, there is no shortage of Mandalorian bounty hunters – Pre Mandalore – looking for work. This of course sets up the dichotomy of the bounty hunters vs. the smugglers. Since the Mandalorians have sided with the Empire, it’s natural for smugglers to align themselves with the Republic.

The sacking of Coruscant proved to be a bold and vital move for the Empire. This is the first time in Star Wars chronology that the sacking of Coruscant is referenced, the epic attack by the Empire on the Republic’s capital planet. I don’t want to engage with this important event too much, as it is the focus of the next piece in Star Wars history. Needless to say, Master Gnost-Dural says something very interesting of it. The sacking of Coruscant, it seems, was a last ditch effort by the Sith Empire to gain further control of the galaxy before it knew it would have to pause and consolidate its gains. But the emperor did not count on the criminal underground of smuggler’s coming to the aid of the Republic.

Enter Hylo Visz.

This is her second appearance in Star Wars history, and both times her presence brought excitement and bravery. She is a captivating hero to say the least.

With the Jedi Order’s dismal defeat at the hands of the Mandalorians, Hylo Visz saw a business opportunity. She convinced most of the smugglers from the criminal world that breaking the blockade was in their best financial interests. Her arguments made sense, as thousands of smugglers banded together to attack the blockade. With enormous frigates of supplies awaiting their victory, the smugglers would then sell to the citizens of the Republic all the goods they needed – for a nice mark-up of course.

Thus, a band of smugglers, which were later assisted by Republic military, broke the Mandalorian blockade and gave the Republic its second greatest victory in the Great Galactic War. Little did they know, however, that this event would then force the emperor to push his plans, and set-up the greatest military victory in the universe’s history: The Sacking of Coruscant.

This piece of Star Wars history ends on a sad note however. It seems Hylo Visz, sometime after defeating the Mandalorians and most likely taking her fortune and running like the wind, was killed. She double crossed some Hutts and was dispatched in some alley, on some planet, somewhere in a galaxy far far away. But I do hold out hope that rumors of Hylo Visz’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

But until we hear otherwise, Rest in Peace Hylo Visz.

For my next post I’ll be looking at the web comic The Treaty of Coruscant. Until them my friends, may the Force be with you.

Monday, August 9, 2010

3661 BBY: The Return of the Mandalorians

Since the addition of the Mandalorians into the Great Galactic War, the Sith Empire has managed to press the action against the Republic since the Battle of Bothawui.

Moving ahead 6 years in Star Wars history, the Sith emperor is now using the Mandalorian War Machine as another arm of the Sith invasion force. The Mandalorians, setting up a blockade against the Republic over the Hydrian Way – the most vital trade route for central systems in the galaxy, is now starving out the Alliance using the ancient siege technique of cutting-off one’s opponents from vital supplies. The Mandalorians forced the Jedi Order to respond.

And respond the Jedi Order did – but their response was met with epic failure. As Master Gnost-Dural says of that moment in history: “We attacked the blockade. Our Order was defeated quite profoundly”.

What I enjoyed most about this timeline is the begrudging respect Master Gnost-Dural gives towards the Mandalorians and their culture, and the Mandalorians desire to test themselves in battle against the Jedi.

As I said in one of my earlier posts, Mandalorians are one of my favorite aspects of the Star Wars universe. Their rugged individualism, sense of honor, and desire for battle reminds me ancient Greek demi-gods and heroes. As Master Gnost-Dural says of them: “…we must acknowledge their commitment to self-improvement is not unlike our own. And there is even something respectable about their rugged sense of honor”.

What I most love about Mandalorians is their eagerness to engage with the Jedi when none other than the Sith would: “These independent warrior nomads have challenged the Jedi for centuries”, and their success when engaging the Jedi in combat, even though they do not have the Force at their disposal. The Mandalorians make the Jedi more human – more vulnerable. That’s what I like about them.

Now under the leadership of the ‘New Mandalore’, the Mandalorians were eager the meet the Jedi: “Mandalore’s call was simple: to confront the galaxies greatest challenge and fight the legendary knights of the Jedi Order.” The Mandalorians conquer only to fuel greater battles and seek out larger challenges, not simply for the sake of conquering.

The Mandalorians embody the ancient Greek notion of ArĂȘte – excellence of any kind. Their excellence is on the battle-field, where Sith and Jedi alike should know that their knowledge of the Force alone may not necessarily bring them through a conflict with a Mandalorian.

For my next post I’ll be engaging with the source The Mandalorian Blockade is Broken. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

3667 BBY: Smuggler's Vanguard

Smuggler’s Vanguard is an awesome short story written by Rob Chestney. A writer for the Old Republic game at Bio-ware, Chestney is also the writer of Threat of Peace, one of the other web-comics I’ll be engaging with shortly.

Smuggler’s Vanguard tells the story of a plucky and young freighter captain by the name of Hylo Visz. Visz, a former child refugee from the streets of Nar Shaddaa, she is now a smuggler working for Barrga the Hutt. Smuggling some prototype engines for Barrga, Visz, along with the muscle sent by Barrga to guard the engines, is double crossed by the Radili Corporation – the ones buying the engines. If you have time to read the story I highly recommend it. You can find it here. It’ll only take a few moments to read, and a story about a smuggler who manages to get themselves into and out-of trouble is always fun to read.

The purpose of this story is, I think, two-fold. One of its purposes is to provide some background information on the smuggler class of character one can play in the Old Republic MMO. Though really not much information is provided, I think this story indicates what smugglers might come up against in their game play while playing TOR.

That being said, the story’s primary goal was to introduce us to the character of Hylo Visz, a smuggler who plays a significant role in the second to last timeline. Hylo Visz is the Han Solo of her time: she’s smart, resourceful, and most importantly, lucky. My favorite part in the story is when she came across the Jedi. She reacted as I think a young Han Solo might react.

I love short stories about Star Wars. Smuggler’s Vanguard was a light piece of fluff that was tremendously fun to read. That is why I enjoyed the Star Wars Adventure Journal so much. I know I’ve gone on about it in the past, but I really do think there should be a more tangible medium for Star Wars short stories. By tangible I mean beyond Hyperspace, where currently the Star Wars short story medium lives, but not for long.

Starwars.com is ending Hyperspace, which makes me wonder where this particular form of Star Wars art will now reside. I’m really very concerned with where Star Wars short stories will go from here.

The reason I joined starwars.com was so that I could go back and read some old Star Wars short stories, but I also wish I owned them. What I mean to say is that I wish I had these stories collected in book or magazine form, in a tangible physical form I could place on my bookshelf and lift up and read whenever I wanted; not stored on my computer in a word file. I want to flip through a book or magazine, complete with pretty Star Wars pictures, and feel like they are a part of my collection: something like the Dark Forces books. If the Star wars short story medium goes anywhere, I hope it transforms into a monthly publication which readers of all things Star Wars can subscribe to.

Wishful musings on my part; I’m sad Hyperspace is going away.

Anyway, the point of my post today was this: Smuggler’s Vanguard was really fun to read, and I wish Star Wars short stories were put into a monthly magazine or book-type-thing publication. I apologize for the rambling nature of writing today.

For my next post I’ll be looking at the third timeline in the TOR series, The Return of the Mandalorians. Until then my friends, may the Forced be with you.

Friday, August 6, 2010

3667 BBY: The Empire Changes Strategy

In response to the Republic’s victory at Bothawhui four years prior, the Sith emperor unveiled his next strategy in the Great Galactic war: recruitment of the Mandalorians.

In a plot similar to The Great White Hype, Imperial Intelligence managed to rig the gladiatorial circuit, and orchestrated the rise of a new Mandalore for the purposes of uniting the Mandalorian diaspora, and brining the Mandalorians under the banner of the Sith Empire.

Singling out a young and proud warrior making a name for himself in the gladiator arena, Imperial agents selected this young warrior to be their new pawn. They drugged his opponents or otherwise rigged his fights in order for him to become the new gladiatorial champion. Then they planted the seed among fans and itinerant Mandalorian bounty hunters that this new champion was himself the new Mandalore. The scattered Mandalorian tribes united under this promising new leader’s flag, and followed the Sith Empire into war with the Republic.

Before long, the Mandalorians had set up a blockade of Coruscant, starving out the Republic. But a tragic fate also awaited the newly crowned warrior king of the Mandalorian tribes. Another Mandalorian quickly killed the new Mandalore set up by Imperial agents, and this new leader took his place. As Master Gnost-Dural says: “Whether or not he’s another Imperial puppet remains to be seen. We must watch him closely”.

This source of Star Wars history highlights a few things of curiosity for me. Firstly, I find admirable this new change of course by the Sith emperor, not in its nobility, but in its cunning. Realizing the push into the core would be a long one, he knew he would have to make some alliances along the way when he began to see the Sith were not going to run roughshod over the Republic. The way he does it is of course completely Sith in nature: not asking for help, but manipulating the Mandalorians into assisting his plans for galactic domination. That being said however, this indicates that the Sith emperor is not just ‘crazy evil’, or too hung-up on the idea that the Sith empire can ‘go it alone’, but it demonstrates that he’s in touch with reality, in a marginal way, knowing it’ll take more than an army of Sith to conquer the galaxy.

The second aspect of this source I found interesting was this character of the “New Mandalore”, the one not set up by Imperial agents. I quickly thought that this ‘real’ Mandalore might be none other than Canderous Oro – the Mandalore from 3951 BBY. But I also remember Canderous, at the end of KOTOR II, saying something like he could never see the Mandalorians working alongside the Sith again, knowing that the Sith would most likely turn on them as soon as the dust from whatever conflict the went into together settled. He thought Mandalorian culture had a better chance of surviving under the Republic rather than the Empire. So taking this into consideration, this “New Mandalore” might, in fact, be a original force to be reckoned with.

For my next post I’ll be looking at a short story titled Smuggler’s Vanguard from starwars.com. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

3671 BBY: The Battle of Bothawui

Since the initial invasion of the Sith armada, 10 years have passed in Star Wars history. What I find remarkable about this piece of lore, is that the Republic is still standing. The Sith emperor invaded the Republic with such tenacity, it seemed like the Alliance never stood a chance.

The Battle of Bothawui tells the story of the Republic’s first major victory in the war. It was nice to see the good guys win one.

The Republic’s victory came with many sacrifices, namely in the form of 4000 Republic troops, 84 Jedi Knights, and Master Belth Allusis. This was the turning point in the Great Galactic War, and a battle that put a crimp in the emperor’s plans of Galactic domination. With that being said however, I’m a little confused by the words of Master Gnost-Dural, because at the end of his report, he says: “The execution of the emperor’s strategy was flawless; survival was the best the Republic could hope for”. Well, apparently not. From the subject matter of his entire report, it seems that the Republic was not the ‘paper-tiger’ the emperor seemed it to be.

Ultimately, the most interesting aspect of this piece of lore was the character of Jedi Master Belth Allusis. He seems like epitome of what a warrior-knight would be: wise, intelligent, and created in his mother’s womb with an unbreakable will. To turn back the enemy forces when outnumbered 10 to 1 is the mark of a great leader. He reminds me a little of Qui-Gin Jiin; Belth Allusis did not wait for commands from the senate or the Jedi Order to know what he must do. Instead he acted of his own accord, something I think Qui-Gon would have done if placed in the exact same situation.

On Master Belth Allusis’ wookieepedia page, it says that he, the knights, and the troops, are remembered as “The Heroes of Bothawui”. I wonder if this is a remembrance that gives the Jedi Order a sense of pride or shame. I think those of us who shape the Star Wars universe, the writers of its lore, have values that conflict with its own creations. What I mean to say is this – those of us in late 20th, early 21st century look upon heroic acts of war with pride and admiration. We deplore war, but hail those individuals who make a difference on the battlefield with admiration. But do the Jedi view war in this manner? I think perhaps not, knowing what I know of the Jedi’s belief of the sanctity of all life, and using the Force as a defense weapon, not an offensive one. I wonder if there are statues of Master Belth Allusis somewhere on Jedi grounds, remembering his sacrifice in this battle, or if perhaps the last acts of his life are ignored, and he is remembered for his other heroic acts: his work in training younglings, the peace deals he helped brokered and as a result the lives he saved, or his time spent in the slums of Nar Shadda, helping feed and clothe the refugees. Will Master Belth Allusis ever be called the ‘Hero of the Downtrodden’? and have a statue erected to him for these acts instead? I think the Jedi might agree with this, but we, the controllers of the Jedi and shapers of their world, might craft them to exhibit our own contemporary values instead their ancient ones – my simple mindless musing on a Thursday morning.

For my next post I’ll be examining the fourth timeline in the series, The Empire Changes Strategy. Until them my friends, may the Force be with you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

3678 BBY: The Old Republic: Blood of the Empire

Blood of the Empire is an intriguing web-comic produced by Star Wars: The Old Republic. Written by Alexander Freed and penciled by Dave Ross, Blood of the Empire is intriguing because its function is more than that of a comic. Not only does Blood of the Empire reveal something of Star Wars history and lore, but its intended audience is (mostly) future players of the Star Wars MMO. With that in mind, the game also reveals something about how the MMO will function for players, and in its pictures and dialogue reveals aspects of game-play.

The story is about Teneb-Kel, a Sith acolyte looking to prove his worth in the Empire. He is asked by the Dark Council to hunt down and kill the emperor’s former apprentice, who has apparently gone rouge and is feeding vital strategic information to the Republic. As of today, the story is only half-way completed, so with regards to a brief plot-synopsis, I’m going to stop there.

The story, thus far, is interesting, and I’m really enjoying the art of Dave Ross. This is the second web-comic produced by SWTOR, the first being a source I will get to shortly, The Threat of Peace.

I don’t want to delve too deep into this source right now because it’s still incomplete. I will come back to this post and edit it after I have engaged with Blood of the Empire in its entirety. But there are a couple of things I want to talk about. I’d like to briefly go into detail about aspects of the game which I think are revealed in this comic, and comment on the characterization of the emperor, since that is something I’ve latched onto in my other posts regarding this time period.

Some aspects of game-play which I think the writers of Blood of the Empire are alluding to are combat and weapons. A hand-to-hand combat form mentioned in the early pages of the comic is Treas Kasai. This form of combat has precedent in the Star Wars universe, first coming to light, I think, in the Shadows of the Empire novel, and then later adapted as a combat form in the first Star Wars MMO, Star Wars Galaxies. This combat form is famous for non-force users to use against force users, as it has the ability to level the playing field – in that a non-force user can compete with a force user in a more equitable manner. When I played Star Wars Galaxies, my bounty hunter was also a Master or Teras Kasai, and hand-to-hand combat was how I took down my Jedi bounties.

Also at the beginning of the comic, weapons like “cacophanizer shells” are referenced, perhaps indicating a type of weapon that will be used in the game that is not a traditional energy weapon. The Jedi cannot block or otherwise deal with weapons which militarize the use of sound, as was demonstrated in the movie Attack of the Clones, and the Geonosian’s use of sonic blasters. Also, in Star Wars Galaxies, I myself was fond of using the Geonosian sonic blaster, and used the weapon as I was closing the distance to my target. A great quote with regards to sonic weapons can be found on wookieepedia and the entry ’Geonosian sonic blaster’. Poggle the Lesser says of them: “Let the Jedi come. Our weapons will melt their eardrums and make their hearts explode.” Awesome.

So after some speculation as to the character of the Sith emperor in my previous posts, we are privy to his actual appearance in this comic. And his appearance only raises more questions and speculations. He is shown in a young body, and his voice is not his own, as it says in Blood of the Empire’s pages: “The voice does not belong among mortals. To speak in its presence seems heresy”. This may lend credence to the idea that the Sith emperor is an ancient Sith spirit, who possess bodies to keep himself in the material world. If we know anything about the darkside of the Force, is that it consumes the flesh, and the closer one gets into its depth, the more frantic is its consumption of the body. I wouldn’t be surprised if we discover that the Sith emperor is none other than Ludo Kressh, considering the vehemence with which the Sith emperor destroyed the tomb of Naga Sadow, as was presented in the timeline Peace for the Republic. Kressh and Sadow were known enemies. Anyway, I’ve fallen into speculation at this point. Needles to say, the figure of the Sith emperor is highly absorbing.

I’m going to halt my examinations of this piece for the time being, and return to it when it is complete. For my next post I’ll be looking at the 5th timeline record by SWTOR, titled The Battle of Bothawui. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

October 5th 2010.

I’m not really sure how to conclude my post on Blood of the Empire. The first thing that comes to mind is Blood of the Empire was better than Threat of Peace. I thought it was a good little narrative of the evolution of a Sith. As readers we were privy to the promotion of Teneb-Kel to the dark council where he took on his new moniker Darth Thanton. He defeated the Sith emperor’s apprentice, and in the process gained some new insights into the nature of his dark master.

It’s these insights he offers to the dark council to secure his spot among them. The question remains though, what is it that he knows of the emperor’s plans for the future?

I think the focal point of this thought centers upon the idea of the emperor’s children – the roots of which I think inevitably lead us to Darth Andeddu and his knowledge of the essence transfer. I know I’m making a large assumption here (assuming Darth Andeddu and the essence transfer has anything to do with the emperor’s children), but I’m still sort of trying to get my bearings straight from the realization that I completely misread the end of the Darth Bane trilogy. I incorrectly thought that Bane was successful with the essence transfer. As one poster on the swtor forms pointed out to me, it was Karpyshyn’s intent to demonstrate the essence transfer failed. An authorial intent lost on me it seems.


The saving grace in this matter is that Karpyshyn admits that it could be interpreted as Bane being successful (and I think I made some strong arguments for this point of view), but it was not his authorial intent to present it as such. He eventually comes out and says “Zannah won. Bane tried to possess her but failed”. Ultimately it does not matter to me who won. I just like to know who did. But I am irritated that I interpreted events so poorly, and I’m irritated that Karpyshyn thinks he was being clear, when it is obvious that many of his readers read the ending as I did. I want to invoke at this point the literary theory of reader-response and Roland Barthes, and the idea that the authority or intent of the author is irrelevant to a work’s meaning. Basically in reader response theory Karpyshyn’s intent is irrelevant if the community reading his text all interpreted it in the same manner. It’s at this point his authorial authority is thrown out the window. But I think such an argument would only be interesting to those interested in hermeneutics.

As is it, I was attempting to connect some dots between the Sith emperor, and the wisdom gained by Bane through Andeddu’s holocron, but alas, there may not be any dots to connect. At the end of the day the questions to the Sith emperor’s longevity is hinted at (the use of his “children”) but a concrete answer still alludes us. As the emperor’s apprentice says” I was supposed to be his apprentice. Instead he poured his thoughts into my mind and made me the first of a thousand salves! To be the emperor’s heir is one thing. To be his pawn is another….” . It seems the emperor’s intent was to possess his apprentice, but interestingly she says she was “the first of a thousand slaves”. I wonder how true or accurate this is. If this is the case, the questions still remains, how has the emperor managed to live for so long?

I think I’m going to leave the source Blood of the Empire there, and move on to completing my studies of the Bane period with an examination of what is found in the source Jedi vs. Sith. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

3681 BBY: Onslaught of the Sith Empire

We’ve moved ahead an additional 75 years in Star Wars history, and all of the Empire’s preparation efforts have brought it to this point. Onslaught of the Sith Empire tells the story of the Empire’s initial push into Republic space. Since the ending of the second Sith War, the Sith Empire has had 270 years to prepare for this day. It seems the Sith emperor took every precaution to make sure his plan would run as smoothly as possible.

The Republic was most certainly caught unprepared for such a massive invasion fleet. Governments which the Republic thought were allies revealed themselves to be puppet administrations set up by the Sith emperor. Very quickly chaos gripped the Senate, and soon many worlds left the Republic, feeling that they would do a better job of defending themselves, or perhaps capitulating to the demands of the Sith Empire. Divide and conquer has never been a military strategy that has gone out of style. As Master Gnost-Dural said: “The emperor managed to turn the Republic against itself”.

The Empire quickly destroyed shipbuilding yards controlled by the Republic, and captured mining facilities to prop up it’s own war machine. At this point in Star Wars history, the Republic was on its heels.

Two points of discussion come up for me in this interesting bit of chronicle. The first is the figure of the Sith emperor, and second is the mention of the Sith home world of Korriban.

All together, since the ending of the second Sith War, 270 years have past. Taking into account what we do know of the Sith emperor, who originally sent Revan and Malak to prepare the groundwork for the invasion even 5 years prior to the ending of the War, this would put the Sith emperor at over 275 years old. Which begs a few questions: who is this guy? Is the Sith emperor one person, or is it a title? Have there been multiple individuals with the role of Sith emperor dating far back into known recorded history?

The obvious explanation for this is that the Sith emperor has not been the same being over this period of time. What is most likely is that someone has challenged his/her supremacy, and then assumed the role of emperor. What I find most intriguing in this scenario is that, firstly, Master Gnost-Dural, in his historical examination of the Empire/Republic, Sith/Jedi conflict has not mentioned this as a possibility – not yet anyway. And secondly, that the being who usurps the role of emperor manages to maintain the same vision of Imperial growth and invasion of the Republic as their predecessor. From this, another possible explanation is that separate beings have taken on the mantle of emperor, and in doing so became possessed by an ancient Sith sprit: possibly Marka Ragnos, Ludo Kressh, or some such other ancient Sith Lord historical records have yet to discover. With a different body, yet possessed by a single Sith-spiritual-entity, the vision of a galaxy under the control of the Sith Empire would be able to be maintained

A more intriguing possibility is that the Sith emperor has been the same being for these last centuries. Species who live a long time are not unheard of in Star Wars, obvious examples being Master Yoda and Chewbacca. So it’s possible that the Sith emperor is simply a long-lived species who yields tremendous power.

Questions of the Sith emperor aside, I also found interesting the context in which Korriban, the Sith home world, was mentioned. In this piece, Master Gnost-Dural says: “The Republic rallied every available ship to support the fleet, leaving only a handful of Jedi security ships to patrol Korriban. Regrettably Korriban fell back into the enemy’s hands without the Jedi council even knowing about it”. What I found interesting about this, is that sometime after the Sith War, the Jedi finally realized how important it was to keep Korriban under control, and they, along with the Republic, set up an occupation force to keep it from falling into Sith hands again. A smart move on behalf of the Jedi and Republic.

The invasion of the Sith left the Republic and the Jedi flatfooted, but on a positive note, Master Gnost-dural hints at victories achieved by the Republic and Jedi: “All might have been lost in those early years had individual Jedi Masters and Republic military leaders waited for the Senate’s orders. By taking matters into their own hands, they managed to slow the Empire advances.” This slowing of the Empire advancements is the subject of the next timeline.

For my next post I’ll be briefly examining the web-comic Blood of the Empire. As of today it is still an incomplete comic, so I’ll only make a partial post on it, and backlog at some later date. Until next time my friends, may the Force be with you.

Monday, August 2, 2010

3756 BBY: Peace for the Republic

Back in March I covered the Xim material that was released through Hyperspace on the starwars.com website. When I examined the Xim material, I was blown away by its originality, uniqueness of genre, writing style, and its overall level of meticulous detail. It was obviously written by someone who loves the Star Wars universe.

Today, I am willing to say the exact same thing about the Galactic timelines provided by swtor.com. They are produced by persons with an obvious love of this universe. These short 4-6 minute vignettes of Star Wars history are by far some of the most entertaining pieces of Star Wars story I have come across. They encompass a plethora of genres in their telling: part academic history, part short story, part comic book, part movie. All these elements of Star Wars story-telling are rolled into these timeline updates.

As I already recounted in my reaction to timeline #8, The Jedi Civil War, these academic histories are working their way backwards into Star Wars lore. The Jedi Civil War timeline was the most jaw dropping one I’ve seen, and I can’t wait to learn about how far back the Sith emperor’s plans reached into Republic history, or what other events he or she was responsible for. In Timeline #7, Peace for the Republic, we learn how the Sith emperor infiltrated the Republic and the Jedi order, and destroyed any possible threats to his or her reign.

It is important to note that from a chronological perspective, we’ve moved ahead 195 years in Star Wars history. This is a significant shift in time. Much has happened, and much could have happened to the Republic and the Jedi order in this time.

Peace for the Republic focus’ on two Jedi: a padawan by the name of Eison Gynt, and his Master Barel Ovair, a venerated Jedi scholar. Briefly summarizing the plot, Eison Gynt was a 4th generation padawan of promising quality, and he was paired with a Jedi master of equal pedigree; himself a multi-generational Jedi. It’s important to see in this chronicle how the significant passage of time has deeply affected the Jedi Order; I’ll comment more on this a little later.

The Master and Padawan made a daring trek to Yavin four to explore the burial grounds of Naga Sadow. Their venture did not go well, as only Master Ovair made it off the planet alive, and returned to the Jedi temple on Coruscant half dead and half crazy. After some passage of time, his Padawan, Gynt, once thought dead but very much alive, made his way back to Coruscant and challenged his Master to a duel in broad daylight. Ovair was successful in slaying Gynt, and Ovair was hailed a hero by the Jedi Order.

What Jedi Master Gnost-Dural uncovered in this bit of history, was that Ovair was a Sith infiltrator, as were his father, grandfather, and other progenitors. Ovair’s mission to Yavin four was to destroy the Sith spirit of Naga Sadow on behalf of the Sith emperor. In slaying Gynt, Ovair completed his mission, and took out for the emperor a possible rival for his power.

Two important elements jump out at me in this story: the first being the long amount of peace that followed the events of the second Sith war, and the mention of generational Jedi.

In this long time period, the Republic was able to recover from the events of the Second Sith war. More interesting, however, was Master Gnost-Dural’s comments regarding the Sith empire: “For the Sith empire however, these centuries were marked by a rapid acceleration in the preparations for war. An effort in which the Sith showed surprising co-operation and sacrifice”. Lines like this kind of blow me away, because, again, Like Yaru Korsin in the fourth Lost Tribe of the Sith series, the Sith must work against the fundamental philosophies propping up their empire in order for it succeed. Mustn’t there be, at some point amongst the co-operation, Sith who realize how much better co-operation is? I think I understand the workings of the Sith empire now better than before, but there are times where I wonder how an organization like this can operate.

The second point of interest I want to comment on is a topic that has intrigued me since the beginning of my investigation into Star Wars history: married Jedi. It seems that after the second Sith war, the prohibition on Jedi marriage was put aside by the Jedi High Council. This makes sense as only a handful Jedi survived the council of Katarr and the battle of Malachor V. In order for the Jedi Order to move successfully into the next generation, the remaining Jedi must have necessarily married and produced offspring. This is of course verified by the mention of 4th generation Jedi such as Gynt and Ovair. I wonder, if in 3756 BBY, marriage is still an option for Jedi, or if its prohibited once again, or if there is simply a tacit understanding of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’. Interesting questions I think indeed.

For my next post I’ll be examining the sixth timeline in the series, Onslaught of the Sith Empire. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

3951 BBY: Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force: The Second Sith War

Our next source in the Star Wars Chronology Project come from my favorite text to examine: Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential guide to the Force.

In the Star Wars universe, the events of 3951 BBY are summed up with the words of Master Bodo Baas. He recounts in one of the holocrons the events of the second Sith war, beginning with the turn of Revan and Malak, and ending with the destruction of the Sith triumvirate and the disappearance of Revan into the unknown regions of space.

What is interesting of note in this source, is that it is knowingly unsure as to what the “correct” account of events concluding the Sith war were. For example, Bodo Baas says it is unclear who really defeated Darth Nilihus: “According to one record, Brianna, an attendant to Jedi Master Atris, defeated the Sith Lord Darth Nilihus. Another record indicates that the Miraluka Jedi Visas Marr was involved in killing Nilihus, while still other records suggest that Nilihus slew Marr” (JvS 23).

As was said earlier, what is unanimously agreed upon, is that after destroying his apprentice Malak, Revan disappears from recorded history, as he searches for the source of evil in the galaxy.

Master Bodo Baas ends his record with the knowledge that the Sith threat after this point in time has subsided, and the Sith disappear for centuries. His final words are ominous: “…and it was believed the galaxy was at last safe from their dark order.” Emphasis, of course, on the word ‘believed’. Master Baas’ record sets up nicely just exactly what the Sith were up to in this supposed time of peace.

For my next post I’ll be examining the Galactic Timeline record from www.swtor.com ‘Peace for the Republic’. Until next time my friends, may the Force be with you.