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.

11 comments:

  1. You're not going to discuss "Prototypes" from Star Wars: Visionaries? As for Knight Errant, maybe, depending on how the story progresses, maybe you could discuss each arc once it's completed? There are other stories that will be taking place prior to where you're at in the timeline that you might want to cover, too, like more online TOR comics, the Deceived novel, the Nomi and Vima Sunrider novel, the Knight Errant online short story, and probably others. Maybe periodically you might do a "Looking Back Round-Up" post(s) and discuss stuff that's come out. If so, then it might make sense to discuss whole Knight Errant arcs, rather than wait for the entire series to conclude (which could be several years from now).

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's not a bad suggestion at all. When is the Knight Errant online story due out? Also, when is the Nomi novel due out?

    I bought the "Prototypes" TBP a year ago and flipped through it. There was nothing in there that correlated to a 1500 BBY date, which makes me wonder why Joe placed it at that timeframe - it was all stories set either pre episodes 1, 2, and 3 and after the movies.

    There was a great little comic of Obi-wan fight Darth Maul again set in 10BBY. Darth Maul's got mechanical legs and is really bad-ass looking. It's an awesome little short but unfortunately it's not considered canon.

    Anyway, yeah, I guess I should have mentioned why I went past that date. Unless I missed something in that source though, I’ll probably examine it further down the line.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think the reasoning for dating "Prototypes" at that point is that it ends with a claim about a war between the Sith and the Mandalorians, so it must be set during a time when both the Sith and the Mandos could go to war. That's at least prior to 730 BBY, which is when the majority of Mandos became pacifists. It's probably also set before 1000 BBY, since after that Bane institutes the rule of two. However, according to the official Databank (http://www.starwars.com/databank/character/durge/index.html), Durge's bloodlust is almost 2000 years old, so he's probably no older than 2000. 1500 is a nice round number to pick out of the air. But you're right, we don't know exactly when it takes place.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oops, I just remembered I forgot to say anything about release dates. The Knight Errant short story is supposed to be released online sometime before the comic series begins, so that's probably sometime in October. As for the Nomi novel, I think it's due to be released sometime in 2012.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wonder if we're talking about the same text. The one I have, (had now...I can't seem to find it, which is particularly irritating because I ordered it roughly a year ago, and I remember it taking months to get to me. It's a fairly rare source) from what I remember makes no mention of the Sith and Mandalorian war, Bane and the rule of two, or Durge. I remember after going though it thinking that there was nothing within its pages that referred to anything prior to 1000BBY.

    But, I've also been known to miss things.

    It was a collection of small comic stories that were cut from the prequel trilogy. There was a comic on Palpatine, on Wat Tambor and some sort of Albino creature, on Obi Wan watching over Luke and fighting Maul, and some other stories I can't remember right now.

    Are we talking about the same text?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm looking forward to the Nomi novel. Any idea on who the author will be?

    ReplyDelete
  7. The Sunrider novel will be written by Alex Irvine. I think I recall him (or maybe it was Sue Rostoni) saying that Vima is the main character and Nomi will be part of the supporting cast.
    As for "Prototypes," yeah, we're talking about the same thing. It was a short comic in the Visionaries trade paperback. The stories were all done by people who did concept art for Ep. III. "Prototypes" is a story involving Durge that took place long ago (but it's never stated in the text when exactly). Bane isn't mentioned, but it ends with a mention that things have been set up for a war between the Sith and the Mandalorians. It's not a very good story, as I recall (I remember disliking the art), which might be why you don't remember many of the details.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The good news is I found my copy in the basement.

    I went back and found the story you were talking about and now I kind of regret skipping it. That particular story is covered extensively on Wookieepedia, and they have a picture of Durge labeled 1500 BBY. I guess I thought it was in the clone wars era, since a lot of the material in the book is from that era as well.

    I agree with you, the pencils of that particular story weren’t the greatest, but in the book I think there is some phenomenal art. Like I said, my favourite story is Old Wounds, but unfortunately it's not considered canon.

    ReplyDelete
  9. OK, NVM....I'm going to cover it. For some reason I thought I had gone passed that timeframe.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You suck. Leave the SW history to the ppl HIRED to create it..like LucasArts and Bio.

    ReplyDelete