Wednesday, June 29, 2011
3960 BBY: Lost Tribe of the Sith: Sentinel
JJM’s sixth title in the series, Sentinel, comes closely on the heels of issue 5, Purgatory, and continues the story of Jelph Marrian and Ori Kitai. Surprisingly, the Lost Tribe of the Sith series has turned into a love story. Conforming to the classic love story plot device of two young lovers from either side of warring tribes, Jeplph Marrian and Ori Kitai are the Star Wars equivalent of Pyramus and Thisbe, Romeo and Juliet, and Tony and Maria. Sadly, this can only end in tragedy – and rightfully so.
There is a reason these ancient plot devices still work. They speak to us on a deeply human level, and evoke within us deep and passionate emotions. I hope JJM stays the course with this narrative and takes this relationship to its logical and disastrous conclusion. There is nothing wrong with re-telling a classic tale or following an ancient story’s formula that has worked for literally millennia. At its heart Star Wars is just that – the retelling of a deep and resonating story we’re all familiar with: the hero’s journey – Gilgamesh, Theseus, Odysseus, Frodo, and Luke: classic heroes.
With rapt attention we have watched Jelph and Ori fall in love, and soon, their families will step in and challenge their loyalty to each other (maybe, we’ll see where JJM takes this). Do they fall in line with their tribes’ philosophy they’ve believed in all their lives, letting their families’ past dictate their future? Or do they continue the path they’ve chosen, and keep the “cords they’ve cut” truly severed? I’m genuinely interested in seeing where this goes.
JJM has done well with his characters. I’m invested in them and care about what happens to them. That’s all an author needs to do to be successful with his audience – write characters people will care about. It’s not as easy as it sounds, and credit where credit is due: within a very short framework, JJM has made me care about the characters he’s created. This is the indication of a good author.
JJM also did well showing us Ori’s growth and change of character. After seeing first hand Sith how philosophy plays out, watching Lillia Venn the Lordess of Kesh being consumed in a fiery explosion, Ori mused: “Had Venn been happy, she wondered, being immolated in her moment of triumph? The Tribe members seemed as hopelessly bound to their paths as the Keshiri who remained slaves” (25). This subtle change of thought pattern, wondering about happiness, something Ori had never really considered before, this question of happiness, indicates how she now sees the world a little differently. Again, JJM did well here.
Ori’s growth and her love story with Jelph aside, what I also enjoyed about this tale were the lines of connection to the larger narrative going on at this time in the Star Wars universe: how Krynda Draay and Lucien Draay are part of Jelph’s back story, how the Jedi Covenant has fractured the Jedi Order and has led to the Jedi civil war, and how Revan has now emerged as an giant figure directing the galaxy’s future. It’s small stories like Sentinel which gives Star Wars mythology its depth, richness, and complexity.
There was also another great little line in the story which connects well with one of the other ideas I’ve been talking about in Star Wars history, namely how some don’t believe the Jedi are as benevolent as they seem. This was typified with the senate blaming the Jedi for all the current destruction (during the Jedi civil war) because Revan was one of theirs, and it was his Jedi training he was now using against the Republic. Also, Yoda made reference to this in the Jedi Apprentice series alluding to “whispers” against the Jedi. Ori’s perspective of the Jedi typifies this belief: “The Republic, she remembered from her studies, was the tool of the Jedi—the puppet body through which the Jedi Knights ruled the weaklings of the galaxy” (7). Granted she’s mired in a Sith worldview, but this perspective become easy to sell and propagate when the Republic becomes destabilized. In the time of the Clone Wars much further in the future, and as the Jedi start to militarize, this conspiracy theory becomes known and accepted wisdom.
I’m not sure how many more LTOTS stories are planned, but the more it goes along the better it becomes.
Before I sign off I have a favor to ask all of you who read this blog. I’ve been having trouble getting my hands on a copy of Star Wars Insider 124. No magazine stores in my area carry it, and neither does my local library. If someone has a pdf of Kemp’s story The Third Lesson, (or word file or whatever) or has this issue and can scan the story and e-mail it to me I would greatly appreciate it. You can reach me at the forms at www.swtor.com my handle there is Iscariot. From there I’ll give you my e-mail address. (you might have to make a swtor account)
For my next post I’ll be looking at Bioware’s cinematic Return. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.