Wednesday, December 30, 2009

3963 BBY: Vector Volume 1

KOTOR volume five (which is also Vectors volume one) was much more entertaining than KOTOR volume four. The story was action driven and moved at a good pace. Also, Marn Heiroglyph was more of a presence in this volume, and his comic relief, and comedic interaction with Zayne, is always welcomed.

KOTOR volume 5 featured many points of conversation, and some ‘firsts’ with regards to Star Wars chronology. My points of discussion for today’s post will centre upon the lineage of Zayne Carrick, the introduction of Jedi shadows, the character of Celeste Morne, the ancient Sith Lord Karness Murr, Neo-Crusader armor, the naivety of Zayne Carrick, and Darktimes volume three.

With regards to my first point, the cover of Vectors volume one features Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker), Luke Skywalker, what appears to be Cade Skywalker, and Zayne Carrick (there is also a scene in the comic with the four of them appearing together in a vision held by Q’anilia, one of the Jedi consulars) Three of the four characters mentioned here are of the same bloodline, the one that is the obvious question mark is Zayne Carrick. Now, if it was mentioned somewhere in all the sources I’ve read thus far for the SWCP that Zayne is somehow a progenitor of the Skywalker family tree, then that point of vital importance managed to slip by me. I’m not sure that he is. If Zayne is in any way linked to the Skywalkers as a great-grandfather, then he would have to be the great-grandfather (to the power of who knows) of Shmi Skywalker, Anakin’s mother, for reasons obvious to any fan of the movies. Shmi’s lineage, (as far as I know, yet I haven’t looked at Wookieepedia) is not elucidated, so the chance of Zayne being her ancestor is a possibility. If this is the case, I find that very interesting. I think Zayne being a predecessor of Luke is pretty cool.

Secondly, this is the first time in Star Wars chronology the idea of Jedi shadows is given a spotlight. Jedi shadows were mentioned in some of the earlier sources, in and around 5000 BBY, before the breakout of the Sith war, but there was never really any ink spilled about them. They were mentioned with regards to the Star Wars RPG. Jedi shadow was a playable class for a campaign set in 5000 BBY, and any back story about Jedi shadows were contained in the character write-up. Anyway, I always wanted to play a Jedi shadow if I were to even participate in a campaign set in that era. The idea of the lone soldier of light, seeking out and destroying the dark always appealed to me. Oddly enough, it was this kind of idea that attracted me to the notion of becoming a priest when I was in high school. The movie The Exorcist both frightened and spoke to me, because I liked the heroic depiction of the priest in that movie – the lone soldier of light facing off against the terrible forces of darkness. This, to me, was the Jedi shadow.
In KOTOR volume 5, Lucien Draay turns to his network of Jedi shadows to continue his hunt for Zayne Carrick. Shadows, he says, were once Jedi who have had their identities erased. They now work for the Covenant, seeking out and destroying any sign or memory of the Sith. As Lucien is deciding which shadow he needs to call upon he pulls up a screen of the possible shadow candidates at his disposal. What struck me in this particular scene was the plethora of shadows he had to choose from. There were no less than 30 possible operatives he could call. One of them was even of the Kamino species, which struck me as slightly anti-canonical (however, I’m sure there is a reason why such a possibility is not anti-canonical). He eventually settles upon shadow by the name of Celeste Morne, due to her proximity to Zayne.

When speaking of Celeste, Feln, the Feeorin Sage Master and one of the five Masters responsible for assassinating the padawans, says of the shadow that she: “Destroyed the last copy of the epistle of Marka Ragnos, retrieved Jori Daragon’s amulet and the eye of Horak-Mul”. When speaking of Celeste’s exploits Feln talks in awe of her accomplishments. This description of her endeavors only furthers the notion for me that Jedi Shadow are tremendously cool.

Even though Celeste is responsible for destroying or making safe Sith artifacts, there are still many Sith trinkets in existence to disturb the balance of the Force. One such trinket is the Murr talisman, which belonged to Karness Murr, an ancient Sith Lord who enters Star Wars chronology for the first time. At this point in Star Wars chronology his origins are not made precisely clear. What I did find intriguing though, was at the beginning of the story; Karness Murr was seen standing in front of another Sith with a red lightsaber, implying the Rule of Two, one master and one apprentice.

As the story progresses, the Murr talisman releases the Rakghoul plague on the Mandalorian forces, transforming the Mandalorian warriors into rakghouls – spiked creatures with large teeth. Not only are these creatures powerful, but now that they have transformed the Mandalorian warriors, they are now more intelligent, and armored. As Celeste is attempting to dispatch these creatures, her saber bounces off the neo-crusader armor of the transformed Mandalorian warriors. I was impressed with the strength of this armor, as I was under the impression that a saber could cut through Mandalorian armor as other armors. But I remember reading somewhere that Mandalorian armor contained a special metal in it that was impervious to lightsaber strikes, which explains why the Mandalorain forces could give the Jedi they encountered a run for their money in combat. A Jedi’s saber strikes would have to be well placed indeed to stop a fully trained and armored Mandalorian warrior.

As I’m reading the KOTOR series, I like more and more the character of Zayne Carrick. What I like about him the most is his consistent ethic of life, and his absolute trust in the Force. He was truly grieved when the Mandalorian forces nuked the planet of Serroco, nearly wiping out its indigenous inhabitants. He also attempted the warn Cassius Fett of the Rakghoul plague. When Fett questioned him on his motives, wondering why Zayne would attempt to help the Mandalorian forces, Zayne replied with: “You’re people”.

Celeste, under the orders of Lucien Draay, is commanded to kill Zayne at her first opportunity. As Zayne is kneeling over a transmissions device, attempting to contact Cassius Fett, Celeste is given her opportunity for assassination. With his back turned to her, completely pre-occupied with his task, Zayne fails to notice Celeste raise her saber, only to drop it again as her conscious gets the better of her. Zayne’s naivety in this circumstance saves him, as Celeste understands that naivety is a trait that is lost to one who has lost themselves to the darkside of the Force.

My final point of discussion and observation with KOTOR volume 5 is that it is actually a cross-over comic titled Darktimes volume three. The fate of Celeste Morn and the Murr talisman is continued four thousand years in the future, where she crosses paths with Darth Vader. I look forward to examining the continuation of this story, but as it is, I won’t be getting to that segment for quite some time.

For my next post I’ll be discussing KOTOR volume six. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

3963 BBY: Interference

Interference is a short story by Jackson-Miller that takes place between volumes four and five of the KOTOR series. It is about a Republic captain littering the communication frequencies of the Mandalorian foot soldiers with stories of the greatness of the Republic. His messages are meant as taunts to the Mandalorian forces. The transmissions are directed at the regular rank-and-file of the Mandalorian army, and Captain Goodvalor, the author of the helmet-comm hijackings, tells the Mando’ade foot soldiers of Mandalorian converts to the Republic, and questions the motivations of their leader “Mandalore the Great”. Captain Goodvalor argues that Mandalore fights only for ego, and is essentially throwing away the lives of the regular warriors of the Mando’ade.

As the story progresses, the Mandalorian foot-soldiers are told to ignore the “interference” on their helmet channels, while Sornell (presumably a Mandalorian leader, and counter to the transmissions of Captain Goodvalor), tracks the location of the hijacked transmissions. He eventually finds it, only to discover that "Captain Goodvalor of the Republic” has fled his uni-bomber style shack.

The story ends with “Captain Goodvalor of the Republic” offering the Mandalorians a peace settlement, and the Mandalorians rejecting it.

The story is rather short and only really establishes one thing: that the Mandalorians really don’t understand the motivation and combat tactics of the Republic (and consequently, don’t respect the Republic as an adversary), and the Republic is under-estimating the Mandalorians as an enemy.

I really didn’t enjoy this story much. Even though I think I’m fairly knowledgeable about the events of the KOTOR series, this story left me feeling like I was somehow out of the loop.

I actually found this story rather baffling. I’m trying to figure out its purpose. I’m hoping that the function of this story plays an important role in the larger narrative of the KOTOR series down the line, otherwise it’ll seem just like much ado about nothing.

On a side note, I’ve decided to deal with the Xim material in its own post, when I’m finished with the KOTOR comic series, and before I start the KOTOR video game.

So, for my next post I’ll be examining Vectors, book one, which is actually book five of the KOTOR series (confused yet?). Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

3963 BBY: Knights of the Old Republic Volume 4: Daze of Hate, Knights of Suffering

With this being the last day of classes before Christmas, and things slowing down at school, I wanted to get a post in before the madness of the holiday season, and my two week “vacation” (where it seems I actually become even busier, and grow even more tired)

I wanted to make a post about Xim week, and the recent stories released on hyperspace which, by virtue of their in-universe dates, makes them the earliest pieces of Star Wars history, but I’m still struggling with how I’m going to fit them into this project. I commented to Plaristes that I would post a write-up about them in a comment field from one of my earliest posts, but I just might give them a post on their own – but I don’t know. I haven’t quite figured out why to do with them. So, until I do, I’m going to continue down the road of Star Wars chronology.

There are five areas I want to comment on with regards to KOTOR volume 4, the first being the change in artistic style.

Firstly, I enjoyed the earlier artwork of the KOTOR series, and I missed it in the first half of this trade paperback. I did not really enjoy the art of Bong Dazo in the first half of this book, but he did the pencils in the second half and the change in style was dramatic – which basically confused me. I’m not sure what was trying to be achieved here, but the “cartoony” artwork at the beginning took away from my enjoyment of the story. The art in the second-half of the book seemed more crisp, and by extension, so did the story. Crazy observation, I know. What I’m trying to say is this: I did not like the artwork at the beginning of this story, and I’m glad it stopped.

Secondly, Mandalore the Great seemed a little less like a warrior in this volume, and a little more like a conniving politician. I’m sure that this was Miller’s intent here, as he’s probably setting up Mandalore for a fall and an accusation from one of his underlings as “going soft”. His line on Politics being another form of warfare seemed very un-Mandalorian to me. Admiral Krath of the Republic calls him out on this, to which Mandalore replies: “Politics is simply the continuation of war by other means”. Very Machiavelli of him, I thought. I also think that Machiavelli, though the quintessential Renaissance man, was a bit of a wuss.

Lucien Draay continues to be a villain I miss when he is not in the story, and I always welcome his return. Through the events of the story, Lucien Draay finds himself tied, literally, to his former padawan Zayne Carrick. I enjoyed the dialogue between the two in this scene. What I most liked was Lucien’s ability to quickly spot the darkness in others, yet fails to see his own. As the two Jedi are tied together, Lucien says to Zayne: “Look at yourself, just now. Your fear led to anger. Anger to hate. You know what’s next”. Zayne replies with: “No thanks. You can keep the darkside yourself”. Lucien’s response is telling of his blindness: “Why would I be exposed to the darkside?...”. He does not even question his actions. What is more, later in the tale, as Zayne and Onasi realize they must save Jarael from Adsca, Lucien replies with: “Ah. We wouldn’t have to save her, then. We’ll just kill her.” This takes Zayne and Onasi aback. Jarael’s murder, for Lucien, would solve a lot of complications. He offers her death very matter-of-factly. Lucien continues to be such a compelling character because he does not realize the depth of his own darkness, and actually confuses it for light.

My one critique of this volume, and indeed with much of Star Wars dialogue, is the inclusion of modern colloquialisms. Camper, when speaking of Zayne, says to Jarael, “He’s good people”. This, or course, is what someone would say of a friend in modern day North America circa 2008. I’m waiting for some Star Wars writer to include in his or her dialogue ‘fo’ shizzle my nizzle’, or ‘that’s what she said!’. I truly hate it when a writer can’t place themselves outside of their own language context. It shows a lack of creativity, and a lack of nuanced understanding of the universe they are dealing with.

Lastly, I enjoyed the death of Jedi Master Ranna at the hands of Shel, and then subsequently, Marn. I always enjoy it when the villain gets his (or her) comeuppance.

For my next post I’ll most likely engage with the hyperspace exclusive Interference, or, I might circle back to a new, and earlier Star Wars source, and engage with the Despotica. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

3963 BBY: Kights of the Old Republic Volume 3: Nights of Fear, Days of Anger

I was lying in bed in late July when the full idea of the Star Wars Chronology Project came to me.
I had always wanted to read everything Star Wars, but the idea of making it a “PhD”, and blogging about my journey was the novel element to this scheme. As I was lying in bed I thought, ‘I’m sure there are people out there who have already done want I want to do. I’m also sure there are people out there who have already read everything with a Star Wars title on it. But how can their claims be verified?’ (And by ‘people’ I meant people like me, regular fans, and not folk like Leland Chee or Sue Rostoni or other epic Star Wars writers like Timothy Zahn) That’s when I decided to document my journey by bringing it into the public realm and going online with my quest.

Blogging about my little Star Wars project became a necessary component for me in order to show to my fellow fans that I have, in fact, completed what I set out to do, and I can verify through the written word that I have engaged with every text, game, or other such Star Wars media. I also felt this was necessary to do because other fans could guide, correct, agree, or otherwise discuss in a living document my reactions and findings.

Lately I’ve been lax about my updates. There are a lot of reasons for this, reasons I alluded to in my last post. Work is rather hectic right now, and my family is very important to me, and therefore both require a great deal of my attention. But I’ve neglected to take advantage of the small moments that did crop up in my life where I could further my project. I realized why this was:

Summarization is boring.

I read volume three of the KOTOR series, and I was hesitating on writing my post because I simply did not feel like summarizing the story. To be frank, summarizing narrative is boring to write, and even more boring to read. Yet I feel that some summarization is necessary for this project to demonstrate to my fellow Star Wars fans that I’m not just making stuff up, or reading synopsis on wookieepedia. At some point in my posts I’m going to have to demonstrate some familiarity with the text to prove I actually have read the book, or comic, or whatever the media is I’m looking at.

I’m not sure how I got caught up in the summarization wheel, but for the remainder of this series I’m going to do less summarization, and more commenting on particular scenes I found of interest. What is more, I realized that the KOTOR series is basically one long narrative that is broken up into volumed chunks, and I’m going to have to approach this series the same way I’ll have to approach a long narrative like a book. I really don’t expect that anyone is going to want to read my summarizations of an entire book, and summarizing a book without losing clarity of focus is difficult. Consequently, I’ll simply choose three or four, or for longer stories, five scenes that jump out at me, and comment on them alone.

KOTOR volume three, ‘Nights of Fear, Days of Anger’ was a good read with three scenes I want to comment on. The first being the new Trandoshan character, the second being Zayne’s vision, and the third being Jarael and Camper’s storyline.

Jackson-Miller infuses the KOTOR series with just the right amount of humor. At the beginning of volume three Marn and Zayne find a third member to add to their twosome and in doing so add some comic relief.

The Trandoshan character of Slyssk, a clumsy and naïve ship thief, finds himself life-debted to Marn after a ruse concocted by Zayne went awry. The two were hoping that because Marn “saved” Slyssk’s life, the Trandoshan would owe Marn a life debt, and that would excuse the cost of the stolen ship. It did, but in return Marn and Zayne were now saddled with an approval starved, friend hungry, self-esteem lacking Trandoshan. After a while his company is, of course, welcomed.

I found Zayne’s vision of the destruction of the settlements on Serroco interesting and telling, as more insight was provided into the mind of the Mandalorian collective. I was a little surprised with the ruthlessness of the Mandalorian military in its devastating use of nuclear attacks to prove its point, and force the Republic to engage with it on its terms. I also enjoyed the part when Zayne, like a true Old Testament prophet, was attempting to warn Admiral Krath of the impending doom, and Krath, like a true Pharisee, not heading the warnings.

I love it when the prophet of doom is vindicated.

Lastly, I found the story line of Jarael and Camper a little dull. I only read through those parts hoping to get back to the conflict of Zayne and the five Jedi Masters. The inclusion of the giant space worms at the end of the story was pretty cool though. I look forward to seeing that little bit of the story re-tied into the larger narrative.

I have picked up the project once more. I just need to dedicate some time to myself more often, and do what I love to do.

For my next post I’ll be moving on to KOTOR volume four, “Daze of Hate, Knights of Suffering”, and until then my friends, may the force be with you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

3963 BBY: Labor Pains

With regards to writing style, I find Jackson-Miller’s prose misses, or nearly hits with me. Although I really enjoy his writing in the comic book format I find that reading him in straight-forward prose is sometimes hard to deal with.

In the first part of the Lost Tribe of the Sith series I found his writing style unreadable. In the second part I guess I got used to it because I found I could follow along with the story a little better. Labor Pains, written by Jackson-Miller, was a piece I was able to get through relatively easily, though there were some times when I was re-reading sentences to make sure I understood what was going on.

Labor Pains is an in-between piece of writing, set in the middle of KOTOR volume two and three. The main protagonist in this short story is Marn Heiroglyph, and the story is written from his point of view, rather than an omniscient third party narrator.

In this story Marn Heiroglyoh is attempting another con in an attempt to pad the coffers of himself, and keep he and his fellow outlaws on the run.

In his newest grift, Marn is attempting to pass off some of Campers patched together mechanical junk as art to a couple of gallery curators from Raltiir.

His marks are a Munn and a Fat Rodian, and these two characters are looking to purchase high quality art on the cheap. Marn knows that these guys know that since the Mandalorians are pressing into Raltiir, its citizens are eager to leave and jettison their possessions for a deal. It’s here that Marn sees opportunity.

It’s at this point that Zayne Carrick enters the story. Wheeling in the “art” for inspection, the two curators pour over the “sculptures” attempting to determine if they are authentic.
Marn begins his con, and tries to convince the two art experts that he is currently holding sculptures by one of Taris’ greatest artists. At first the Mun and the Rodian are skeptical, but through some quick talking and a little bit of fuzzy logic Marn manages to convince them that the pieces are real.

As always, things have a way of going awry for Zayne and the gang, and it is at this point that Camper bursts onto the scene to trample Marn’s carefully laid plans. Camper accuses Marn of stealing his stuff, which begins to rattle the two curators.

Sensing he is losing control of the situation, Marn asks Zayne to use his Jedi mind-trick on the two marks to fully convince them the art is authentic. Zayne, or course, balks at this. His conscience steps in to tell him what he’s doing is wrong.

Quick talking once more, Marn argues to Zayne that the ends justify the means, and that these two guys are scumbags themselves because they are trying to take advantage of them, knowing they are in a tight bind and have to unload their art (or so Marn’s lie went). Marn argues that these two deserve to be conned, and Zayne has to use his Jedi mind trick if justice in this situation is going to be served.

Zayne hesitantly complies and convinces the fat Rodian (who is the boss in this circumstance) that the pieces are indeed authentic art from Taris.

After this, Marn gets twice his asking price, and Zayne and the gang make off with a little more money in their pockets.

The story ends with Marn telling the reader that having a Jedi as a sidekick has its benefits and its draw-backs. The drawn backs being the he has to contend with a Jedi’s sense of morality.

Morality is where I want to enter into discussion with regards to this piece of Star Wars chronicle. It seems to me in this story we have another act of questionable moral judgment on the part of Zayne Carrick. He knows that using the Jedi mind trick for the purposes of conning someone out of their money is not good, yet he allows Marn to rationalize his choice, basically saying that the two curators deserve to be conned, that they’re crooks anyways. One cannot deny that what Zayne did was not anywhere near the realm of a ‘good and noble action’.

Zayne’s first act of questionable morality, I would argue, would be his death threat to his former Masters. One could argue that as soon as Zayne threatened to kill his Masters if they did not confess to the killings, that this could be considered an act of the darkside. The light is used only in defense, never for attack. This is a simple concept, yet one many Jedi find difficult to adhere to. I would argue that as soon as Zayne threatened to kill his former Master’s, he lost the moral high ground.

Arguably his death threats could be empty, but as of now that remains to be seen. Perhaps Jackson-Miller is indeed setting Zayne up for a fall to the darkside, and validating the vision of the five Jedi Masters. I look forward to finding out what happens.
For my next post I’ll be moving on to volume three of the KOTOR series. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Friday, October 30, 2009

3963 BBY: Knights of the Old Republic Volume 2: Flashpoint

Two weeks is a long time to go without doing what it is you enjoy. But alas, duty comes first, and my familial and professional duties required my full attention these last many days. That being said, assignments have been evaluated and handed back, mid-term marks have been entered, and colds and flus which have plagued the home-front seem to have subsided.

Our journey along Star Wars chronology can start once more. We will pick up from where we left off last: Knights of the Old Republic volume 2: Flashpoint.

I enjoyed this text, though not as much as the first one. Even though Flashpoint contained my favorite aspect of Star Wars (that being Mandalorians) it still seemed pale in comparison to volume one. I’m not quite sure why I feel this way. I guess the climactic ending of volume one, coupled with its commentary on fate and destiny, raised my hopes that such a thing might occur in the second volume. Such a thing never did occur, but volume two was still an enjoyable romp none-the-less.

Our story picks up with Zayne Carrick and gang still on the run from the Jedi order. In an attempt to flee to the one place they think the Jedi would look last, they head to the front lines of the Republic/Mandalorian war. Their idea is not completely insane, as they pick a small outpost on the Republic side of the conflict; an outpost they believe the Mandalorians would have no reason to attack.

They chose unwisely of course.

Just as they began to settle themselves, the entire Mandalorian force appeared on their doorstep. Jarael, one of Zayne’s companions was amusing herself with his lightsaber as the Mandalorians descended. Mistaking her for a Jedi, the warriors quickly swarmed and kidnapped her. Zayne and his companions attempt a rescue, but to no avail. Jarael is captured, and brought to Demagol, a Mandalorian scientist who is dissecting Jedi in an attempt to learn how they harness their power from Force.

As they scramble together a rescue party, the group meets Rohlan, a veteran Mandalorian who is willing to help them rescue their friend. He brings them to the planet Jarael is being held on, and using his status as a Mandalorian helps the group infiltrate the base.

It is explained that Rohlan, who we would presume has no reason to help the group, is doing so because he’s questioning the motives of Mandalore: the head Mandalorian warrior. He wants to know why the Mandalorian army is pushing so aggressively into Republic space. He feels something is not being told to the rank and file of the Mandalorian army, and he himself wants some answers.

The group heads to Flashpoint, where Jarael is being held, and through ingenuity and subterfuge, manage to rescue her, along with other Jedi being held prisoner there. The group escapes with their friend safely on board their ship.

A secondary storyline weaving its way through the plot is the story of Lucien Dray, and how he and the other four Jedi Masters came together. It seems that Dray’s mother put together this coven of Master’s long ago when they were just Jedi learners. She felt it was her mission to stop the next Sith threat coming, and did so by compiling a group of students who were the most talented in their precognitive abilities. They were specifically trained to look into the future, and discover where the next Sith threat would originate.

Lucien Dray never had the same abilities as these other four Jedi, but was included in the group by the fact that his mother was training them. Also, he was the fiercest warrior among them, being able to best all four of them in lightsaber combat. This story line ends with Lucien Dray asking the council if he and the other four Master’s may pursue Zayne Carrick. The council, however, denies his request, and instead separates the five sending them all too different parts of the galaxy to undertake different missions.

The Master’s hands are not all played out though, as they conspire amongst themselves on how to capture Zayne Carrick. Leaving no avenue unexplored, they decide to put pressure on the Carrick family, a move Zayne Carrick feels is "beyond the pale". A "low-blow" as it were.

It’s at this point the lines of Zayne and his group again intersects with the schemes of the Jedi Masters.

Heading to a banking world in an attempt to free some funds that have been frozen, Marn Heiroglyph concocts a plan to free up some money for the group so that they can stay on the run. The banker they are scheduled to meet is none other than Zayne Carrick’s father. It seems that the Dray foundation wanted to keep an eye on members of the Carrick family, knowing that at some point, Zayne might want to go to them for help. The Force is again at work in the life of Zayne Carrick, as he had no idea his father had been transferred to this world to work in a cushy banking job. Unfortunately for Arvan Carrick, he was kidnapped by some bumbling bounty hunters who were sent to observe his movements.

Volume two ends with Zayne and his group once again performing a rescue mission and safely escaping with Arvan Carrick. Zayne finds another job for his father and a safe place for his family, this time at the Jedi training facility on Dantooine. Knowing it would be hard for Lucien and the other masters to move against his family right under Master Vandar’s nose, he asked the old Master if his father could look after the finances of the Jedi council. Master Vandar agreed, perhaps realizing that Lucien Dray and the other Master’s are not what they seem.

My comments with regards to this text are fairly minimal. I really enjoyed seeing the Mandalorians in action. The allure of the Mandalorian armor, in all its original concoctions and individualistic ways of representation; how it can be colored, worn, and decorated, I find is very cool. I like how the Mandalorians are all unique, yet all the same. It was nice to see a Twilek Mandalorian on page 8.

There was one disturbing scene in this particular volume though. On page 24, box 2, there is a picture between Mandalore and his first officer. Mandalore is standing in the deck of his ship, with his very large gun hanging from his belt. Now, I’m not sure if this particular image was drawn like this on purpose, or by accident, but it defiantly looks like Mandalore the Great’s gun is depicted as a large phallus. What is more, his very large “gun” is defiantly in the shape of a penis. It’s so large, it could be called a third leg. I had to do a double take as I came across this image. I even handed the comic to my wife, and asked her to point out anything on that page that she might deem unusual. She said “Yeah, that guy’s gun looks like his penis”. She didn't say penis though. I slowly nodded my agreement.

For my next post I’ll be moving on to Labor Pains, a Hyperspace exclusive.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

3964 BBY: Knights of the Old Republic Volume 1: Commencement

The Knights of the Old Republic comic book series is a series I’ve been looking forward to reading for quite some time. I remember coming across this title a few years ago during one of my random stops at a comic book shop.

I used to collect comics when I was a kid and into my early teens, but I stopped collecting because it became too expensive, and I felt like no matter how much money I spent I couldn’t keep up with what was going on in the comic universe. When I saw the KOTOR title for the first time, I wanted to buy it, but I had that little voice in the back of my head telling me I’d be throwing my money away. I didn’t see the sense in collecting comics anymore. Still, every time I eyed this comic, I wanted to buy it. I guess one of the motivations I had for this project was that I could justify to myself the purchase of the KOTOR series, because I’d be doing more than just reading them.

I was impressed with this story, and I was impressed with Jackson-Miller, the writer of Commencement. My first encounter with this author occurred during the Lost Tribe of the Sith series, and in that series I wasn’t awed with Jackson-Miller’s writing prowess. KOTOR, however, left me with a great impression of what Jackson-Miller could do.

The story takes place in 3964 BBY, 22 years after the tale Shadows and Light, and a full 32 years after the events of the Sith War. At this time in Star Wars chronology, the Mandalorians are pressing into Republic space again, and once more are threatening the stability and peace of the galaxy. There are two camps in the Jedi order as to how the Jedi should respond to this. One camp is of the opinion ‘this is a matter for the Republic to deal with’. The other camp believes ‘the Jedi must necessarily be involved’.

The story centers upon a young Jedi padawan named Zayne Carrick. He’s a bit of a bumbling padawan learner, as he considers himself very unlucky. What he considers ‘bad luck’ though, almost always ends up being ‘good luck’.

Zayne, along with three other padawan learners, are each apprenticed to a Jedi Master on the planet Taris. Zayne’s Master is Lucien Draay, a well respected Jedi Master, and a pillar of the galactic community.

On the eve of Zayne’s coronation from padawn learner into knighthood, he arrived late at the knighting ceremony, only to find his three padawan companions killed at the hands of their own Masters. Zayne quickly fled the scene, himself barley escaping execution at the hands of Lucien Draay.

For much of the story, Zayne, with the help of his Snivvian sidekick Marn Hierogryph, manage to barley stay one step ahead of the Jedi Masters in their pursuit of Zayne’s capture. Zayne and his sidekick are then blamed for the murder of the padawan learners, as people begin to riot in the streets no longer trusting the authority of the Jedi order, and asking how could a padawan escape the grasp of five Jedi Masters. For much of the story Zayne is 'on the lamb' running not only from the Jedi Masters, but also all of Taris.

After much ‘almost’ catching and ‘barely’ escaping, Zayne decides to turn himself in to his Masters, but not before he discovered the motive for their actions. It seems that three of the four Jedi Masters involved in the executions of their apprentices were Jedi consulars: Jedi who are specially trained in the ability to see into the future. What these Master’s foresaw was the return of the Sith in the form of one of their apprentices. They then took it upon themselves to kill their padawans, acting in a way they believed Master Vodo-Siosk Bas should have behaved when he sensed that his own apprentice, Exar Kun, was falling to the darkside. If Master Bas had just killed Exar Kun, the events of the Sith war could have been avoided.

As Lucien Draay encroaches upon Zayne for what we think is the final death blow of the padawan, Zayne’s friends show up to rescue the embattled Jedi learner once more. Again, Zayne and his companions make an impossible escape from five Jedi Masters.

The story ends brilliantly. Weeks after Zayne escaped the clutches of his former Master, Lucien and the other Jedi Masters receive a holograph from the Padawan. He says to them:

“One day one of you is going to confess and clear my name. And to make sure I’m going to hunt down each and every one of you. The one that confesses lives. I don’t care which one of you does it. It doesn’t matter where they send you. You have a death mark, the same as me. Don’t look for me Lucien, because I’ll find you. And if I do end up collapsing the Jedi Order, just remember one thing. You started it.”

I loved this ending. I can’t wait to get to volume 2.

Plot summary aside, I want to make a note about a few things that stood out at me in this story.
It’s the first time in Star Wars chronology that the term ‘padawan’ actually comes into common parlance. I understand that the term was coined in the film The Phantom Menace, but it finally worked its way into Star Wars, in chronological order, now.

I loved the clothing in this piece. Especially the way the Jedi Masters are clothed. Lucien Draay was the most well dressed of all the Masters, but I liked how each Master looked unique. Brian Ching did an awesome job with the art in this piece; I really enjoy his work.

With regards to the Mandalorians, my favorite aspect of Star Wars; it seems that they are still pressing the action, even after the defeat of Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma. I look forward to having this particular story line flushed out in more detail in the upcoming issues. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; the Mandalorians are my favorite aspect of the Star Wars universe.

My final point deals with a flashback in the story. After Zayne saw the bodies of his fallen comrades, he flashes back to a childhood memory of them all playing together. In the flashback Zayne’s mother is speaking with Master Vandar after dropping her son off at the Jedi training centre on Dantooine. Master Vandar is a Jedi Master who is the same species as Master Yoda. Zayne’s mother asks Master Vandar about the Sith, to which he replies: “The Sith, we’ve been mercifully free from since the war ended – and we maintain a constant vigil against their return”. I think a continuity issue crops here, because how does the Sith academy on Korriban, from the story Shadows and Light fit into Master Vandar’s worldview here? Ultimately, I think the inclusion and mention of the Sith academy in that story was poor oversight by those attempting to reign in Star Wars continuity, unless of course, they had a specific reason for including its mention. It seems to me that the Jedi Order would not allow such an institution to exist. But, we all know that later on in the Star Wars timeline it does.

I tend not to get too upset over continuity issues, but I feel that I need to address them when they do come up.

For my next post I’ll be examining volume 2 in the KOTOR series. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

3986 BBY: Tales of the Jedi: Redemption

I’ve come to the conclusion that Kevin J. Anderson’s greatest artistic weakness is his inability to write dialogue. It seems that every time I come across a KJA piece in the Star Wars Chronology Project I’m consistently complaining about the same thing. It has come to the point that I’m beginning to dread his novels I’ll inevitably have to engage with down the line.

Redemption, by Kevin J. Anderson, was an interesting piece of Star Wars saga, but the story would have been better served in the hands of another writer.

Redemption chronicles the finals weeks of Ulic Qel-Droma’s life, and takes place in 3986 BBY, 10 years after the events of the Sith War. The story begins with Ulic being chauffeured around the galaxy by a pilot named Hoggon. We learn through the events of the story that Ulic is looking for a quite, uninhabited planet to die on. Hoggon first brings him to Yavin 4, but the memories are too painful for Ulic. The pilot then brings him to Rhen Var, an abandoned ice world the suits the fallen Jedi’s personality.

Making appearances once more in annuls of Star Wars are the famous Jedi, Master Thon, Nomi Sunrider, Sylvar, Tott Donetta, and Nomi’s now adolescent daughter, Vima.

A great Jedi council has been called by Nomi to remember the ten-year anniversary of the Sith War, to not forget the painful memories of the past, and to restore the Republic to its former glory. Vima is not impressed with her mother’s stature in the Jedi community, and has been feeling much maligned by her mother since Nomi is too busy with the responsibilities of leadership to begin her daughter’s training as a Jedi knight.

Vima takes it upon herself to find her own Jedi Master, and has her heart set on Ulic Qel-Droma, for she believes he’s not as bad as everyone thinks.

Using the Force to guide her, Vima hides on Hoggon’s ship, but the stowaway is quickly found by the pilot. Vima tells Hoggon she’s looking for Ulic Qel-Droma, and then shows him a holographic image of the former Jedi (an image she stole from her mother’s room). Hoggon confirms that he knows where Ulic is, and proceeds to take the girl to the fallen Jedi.

Once on Rhen Var, Vima finds Ulic, and convinces him to take her as his apprentice. Ulic protests, but if it was not for a recent visit from his former Master, Arca Jeth, Ulic may not have taken the girl has his learner. Before the girl arrived on the planet, Ulic came close to death. He was visited in spirit form by his old Master, telling him not to give up on life, and that there were still things he could do that were worthwhile. Vima was the answer to Ulic’s call for purpose.

Ulic and the girl form a quick bond, and although he is blind to the Force, he manages to teach the girl many things about the nature of the Force.

As Vima is being tutored by Ulic, Nomi is frantically searching the galaxy for her daughter. She is wrought with guilt at having neglected her daughter for so long, and promises that once she finds her, will devote more of her time to training her as a Jedi knight.

Nomi manages to track her daughter down to the planet Rhen Var, and once there comes face-to-face with Ulic again. Ulic tells Nomi that he has taught her daughter everything he can, and if Vima wishes, she may return home with her. Vima agrees, and leaves Rhen Var with her mother. The meeting between the almost lovers was uncomfortable at first, but ended amicably between them.

Unfortunately, Sylvar, the Cathar apprentice to Master Vodo Siosk Bas, with the help of the pilot Hoggon, also managed to track Ulic to Rhen Var, and once Nomi left, engaged the fallen Jedi in a lightsaber duel. Sylvar, still harboring anger toward Ulic for his involvement in the Sith War, but more importantly, still blaming Ulic for the death of her mate Crado, wants Ulic dead. It seems that the Cathar can only chose one mate for life, and once that mate is dead, they can marry no more. Throughout most of the issue, Sylvar is battling her own slip into the darkside because she carries so much anger and hate for Ulic. She feels he got off too easy, and should be rotting in prison for his role in the Sith War, or barring that, he should be dead.

Sylvar quickly bests Ulic in the duel, and knowing he cannot keep up his defenses for long, Ulic acquiesces to Sylvar’s onslaught, saying “I will not fight you”. Ulic de-ignites his lightsaber and stands’ waiting for Sylvar’s final cut. Sylvar comes close to killing the fallen Jedi, but stops her saber just short of his throat, knowing that a deathblow on her part would only signal her complete slide into the darkside. She realizes the irony of the situation, in that it took Ulic Qel-Droma, a former Dark Lord of the Sith, to teach her about not giving in to her anger, and indeed, letting go of her hatred.

The story ends with a surprising twist. Watching the drama unfold in the shadows, Hoggon, the pilot who brought Sylvar to Ulic, shoots and kills Ulic with his blaster, thinking he has taken out a wanted criminal for the Republic. He rejoices in his actions, only to have Sylvar nearly kill him. He thinks he is a hero, and can’t understand why the Jedi are so upset with him. Nomi and her daughter arrive on the scene too late, and Ulic dies in Nomi’s arms. He does not leave a body behind however; he simply becomes one with the Force, leaving behind his clothing and nothing more.

Although he fell to the darkside in dramatic fashion, Ulic Qel-Droma was indeed a Jedi Master.

This was a great story with excellent potential, but was held up by KJA’s inability to write effective dialogue.

There were three scenes in particular that really ground my gears.

The first scene in question was when Nomi Sunrider was listening to a speech given by Sylvar at the Jedi council. As Sylvar had the floor and was speaking against letting Ulic Qel-Droma run free in the galaxy, Nomi mused, out loud and in public: “Ulic, why did you leave me?” The fact that this was a question asked out loud in public made the scene, for me at least, seem very awkward. There were all kinds of ways to indicate Nomi’s pinning for Ulic, but a question such as this, asked openly, out loud, at a Jedi convention for all to hear does not seem like the way to do it. Nomi’s pinning heart could have been shown as a thought bubble, or even her simply regarding one of Ulic’s holographic images. This would have been enough to express to the reader that Nomi still has feelings for him. This piece of dialogue seemed un-necessary.

The next scene which contained shotty dialogue was when Vima hid herself on Hoggon’s ship. When the pilot discovered the stow-away, Vima revealed her plans to him, and asked him to help her find Ulic Qel-Droma. She then showed a holographic picture of the fallen Jedi to the pilot, to which he responded with “That’s Ulic?!” Vima responses with: “I sense you know something…” Well no shit he knows something, the idea that he knew something was clearly indicated in the way in which he asked the rhetorical question. There was no need to “sense” anything here. The picture of the pilot was even drawn with a look of shocked knowing. KJA is a crappy dialogue writer. He’s good at writing stories with the bigger picture in mind, but the details should be left to someone else.

My last bit of complaint with regards to this tale is the way in which Ulic’s face was drawn at the conclusion of his duel with Sylvar. As Sylvar’s saber halted at his throat, Ulic’s face was depicted way too smugly. There was a bit of a half-grin on his face, as if to say to Sylvar ‘I’d knew you’d stop”. What a jerkish way to react to a foe that had him clearly beat. What is more, the jerk half-grin on his face undercut the whole point of his refusing to fight. Ulic refused to fight not because he understood his opponent so well that he knew she’d stop, but because he had come to terms with his actions, as was giving his will entirely to the Force. His face should had been depicted has serene, with no emotion, not with a smug half grin. I feel like someone really dropped the ball on this.

All complaints aside, I enjoyed this story, as I felt it gave some closure to the Ulic/Nomi saga. Ultimately, I’m an unabashed Star Wars fan, and I’m going to like almost everything with regards to Star Wars history.

For my next post I’ll be moving on to the Knights of the Old Republic comic book series, which I’m very excited about. I have all of them up to issue 40, so I’ll be dealing with them in six Trade Paper Back series chunks, with some miscellaneous issues at the end. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Friday, October 9, 2009

3993 BBY: Shadows and Light

There is no death; there is only the Force.

These are the opening words to the story Shadows and Light found within the pages of Star Wars Tales volume 6. Written by Joshua Ortega, and drawn by Dustin Weaver, this narrative takes place three years after the war of Exar Kun, and concerns three Jedi knights: Duron Qel-Droma, Shaela Nuur, and the twi’lek Guun Han Saresh.

For such a short narrative (only 20 comic book pages in length) there is much I want to comment on with regards to this particular Star Wars fable. But before I do, I want to quickly summarize the goings-on in this story.
As I said earlier, this tale takes place three years after the war of Exar Kun, otherwise known as the Sith war. The story begins in a cave on an unknown planet with four Jedi knights: Duron Qel-Droma, Shaela Nuur, Guun Han Saresh, and a forth Jedi known as Cale. These Jedi are hunting Terentatek, which are feral beats that eat “Force blood”.

The opening boxes of the comic depict Cale about to be devoured by one of the beasts, where he utters the words: “there is no death; there is only the Force”, as his shattered lightsaber lay by his side. Truly Jedi of him, I thought. The beast is quickly distracted by Duron, and killed by Shaela. The Jedi make their way back to their ship with what appears to be a fallen comrade.

A week later Duron, Shaela, and Gunn find themselves on Dantooine accepting another mission from the Jedi council. There are asked to go to Korriban, the seat of Sith power, to continue “The Great Hunt” there. “The Great Hunt” we learn, is an annual event spearheaded by the Jedi council to hunt down and kill the Terentatek, animals which ‘eat force blood’ and therefore presumably affect the ranks of the Jedi knights.

There is some disquieting concern about sending Jedi to Korriban to continue the hunt, due to the fact that the planet itself is very corrupting to Jedi. What is more, there is even more concern about sending a ‘Qel-Droma’ to Koribaan, knowing the fate of Ulic and his fall to the darkside.
The relationship between Duron Qel-Droma and Ulic Qel-Droma is never explored in the text, but for some reason I get the impression that they're cousins.

The three Jedi accept the mission, and spend their first week on Korriban collecting data on the Terentatek. The concerns of the other Jedi were not unfounded however, as the three companions find that they are being negatively affected by the environment. Guun Han is sleeping around with students of the Sith to gain information, while Duron and Shaela are having trouble containing their passion for one another.

Things come to a head for the three when Guun Han finds Duron and Shaela in an amorous act. Guun then tells the two that he can no longer work with them if they cannot control their feelings for each other. His own behavior is questioned by Shaela, as Guun replies with “you think I enjoy this?!?” As it is, Guun left the two lovers and made his way to Kashyyyk, where he intended to hunt some larger prey. Unfortunately, Guun Han was killed by a large beast.

Meanwhile, back on Korriban, Duron and Shaela found a Terentatek and engaged the beast in combat. Unfortunately, the beast got the better of the two, and killed Duron. Shaela, stricken by grief, and falling prey to her anger and rage, and in her desire for revenge, began to fall to the darkside of the Force.

The story ends with the words of Master Ood Bnar, Shaela’s Jedi teacher, telling Shaela to cling to the light – always.

Dustin Weaver does an excellent job with the art in this story. Of all the Star Wars comics I’ve encountered thus far, I enjoyed Weaver’s work the most. I thought the golden lightsaber held by Shaela was a nice touch. Though I know Weaver didn’t have much to do with that, it was refreshing to see a saber that wasn’t green, blue, or red. The golden saber also played a significant role to the character of Shaela, as the crystal which made the blade was a rare one given to her from her Master.

I found a particular scene at the beginning of this story telling to the character of Han Guun. As the four Jedi are leaving the planet the tale starts on, Guun is floating what appears to be a dead body back to the ship (perhaps it is a 5th Jedi companion?). This reminded me of the story Light and Shadow from the Star Wars Adventure Journal. In that narrative, the Jedi protagonist made a comment that the Sith constantly rely on the Force to do everything for them, even manual labour. The Jedi then describes a Sith Lord, weak and atrophied from doing no moving himself, sitting upon a throne moving things with his mind. I’m not sure if the scene of Gunn floating the body was drawn like that on purpose, but it seemed to me that such behavior, floating the body instead of carrying it using the sweat of one’s brow, was unbecoming of a Jedi. I also got the impression that Guun had dark tendencies. There was one scene in particular where is eyes were drawn red. Again, I’m not sure if this was done on purpose or by accident.

As the three Jedi are collecting data on Korriban, there is talk between Duron and Shaela of infiltrating the Sith academy. I found this fascinating because I had to ask myself ‘when did this happen?!?’ Apparently the foundation of a Sith academy happened in the three years after the Sith War, and part of the trials of being a student at the academy is to kill an innocent person. Many questions come to mind regarding the academy’s establishment. Who established it? When was it established? How long has Dreshdae been a settlement on Korriban? It seems to me that the Jedi council is aware of this academy, so this must be the result of the fallout after the war of Exar Kun.

Though I enjoyed this story, I do have some problems with its basic premise. Jedi are collected and sent out by the council to kill. Granted, the creatures they are killing are ones which are aggressive and ‘eat Force blood’, but I wonder if this is enough justification to take aggressive action against what Duron Qel-Droma considers a semi-sentient creature. Even he has problems with what the Jedi council have asked of him: “I don’t want to kill anymore, Shaela. I’m sick of killing. I’m sick of hunting. I’m sick of the blood”. Master Yoda himself says (to paraphrase him) ‘the force is meant for defense, never attack’. ‘The Great Hunt’, to me, seems a like a great hypocrisy found within the Jedi council. No one on the council bats an eye as to whether or not what they are doing is wrong. It seems genocide of these animals is socially acceptable. I could go on and argue that animals, if this is what these creatures are, are incapable of evil. Or if they are not animals but semi-intelligent creatures, should a group of people so matter-of-factly engage in their genocide?

Questions of genocide aside, the big topic of discussion with regards to this tale is the prohibition of Jedi relationships. It is the first time in Star Wars chronology that prohibition of Jedi relationship, and with that, marriage, is mentioned. As Guun Han walked in on Duron and Shaela kissing he grew very agitated with their actions: “Jedi do not behave like this. We do not form attachments. We protect a way of life that we can never have – that is our sacrifice. ‘There is no passion, there is serenity’ – sound familiar?”

So, in the three years following the Sith War, the Jedi council prohibited Jedi engaging in relationships of a “passionate” nature. What is more, it seems that this prohibition on attachments has worked itself into the Jedi code, because prior to this, even as far as a few years before, Jedi marriage and relationships was not something to be shocked about. This proscription was also alluded to in the hyperspace story Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji, when, speaking of members of the Praji family it was noted: “By marrying a few sons to daughters of the Draay family, the Prajii even produced Jedi Knights with their surname, the first since the Rianitus Period, although this branch went extinct after the modern marriage proscriptions were enacted following the Exar Kun War” (pg 4).

This is also the first time in Star Wars chronology that the Jedi code itself was quoted. As of yet, the code has not been etched in source text (non RPG sourcebook material).

Though I support the idea that Jedi should remain unmarried, I myself find a certain weakness in this part of the code. Are all male/female relationships “passionate”? Are there not some relationships that involve love between a man and a woman less about passion and more about serenity? Are there not relationships where the friendship comes first, and the passionate side of love works in the background of the relationship, flaring when needed, and cooling when needed? Can not a Jedi love, and keep the passion to a minimum? Should it not be that Jedi love more with Agape love, and less with Eros love?

I think Jedi are commanded to love, and I also think passion is not love. The Romans used to describe passionate love as a wild fire consuming wheat. This was not meant to be a positive description, as wheat was a staple for food, and ultimately for life. If the fire is destroying life, and consuming everything before it, how can it be a good thing? Passionate love can become distracting, it could make one not eat, not sleep, and feel ‘love-sick’. This is not the result of love; this is the result of passion.

For my next post I’ll be examining the five comic series Redemption by Dark Horse. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

3998 BBY - 3996 BBY: Jedi Protector

A while back I made a post about a short story from chapter 13 of the Jedi Companion source book, which was a Star Wars Role-Playing Game adventure. You can read my post here. Jedi Protector, from Star Wars Galaxy magazine, is the same kind of story, and comes at the tail end of the years 3998 BBY – 3996 BBY.

Before I get into the details of the narrative, I want to first comment on the Star Wars Galaxy magazine. Here’s what Wookieepedia has to say about it: “Star Wars Galaxy Magazine was a quarterly publication published by Topps, concerning everything related to Star Wars, including books, comics, video games, etc. It ran from fall 1994 to fall 1997, at which point it was cancelled and followed by Star Wars Galaxy Collector.”

For some reason I religiously collected this magazine, which puzzles me to some extent. I’m puzzled because The Star Wars Adventure Journal, in my opinion, was a way better publication than this, but for some reason I only have a few copies of it. But I have every issue of Star Wars Galaxy. The reason I liked Star Wars Galaxy was purely for the role-playing game content that could be found in every issue, which of course was what the whole Adventure Journal thing was all about! I’m still shaking my head wondering why I don’t have every issue of the Star Wars Adventure Journal, yet I have every issue of Galaxy.

Every issue of Star Wars Galaxy has a super short role-playing game narrative, with stats on new heroes or villains you could add to your own RPG campaigns.. In issue #1 there was a bounty hunter from Tatooine named Taggor Bren, which my GM used in one of our adventures to capture my gambler character (my character had forgot to pay some money owed to a Hutt). I guess it was this inclusion of Taggor Bren into my friends and I RPG adventures that got me hooked. From then on I ordered every issue.

It’s a shame it was cancelled and turned into a collector’s magazine. I’ve got nothing against Star Wars collector magazines, but I’d love to see the resurgence of a Star Wars Adventure Journal or Galaxy magazine type publication once more.

In Jedi Protector, we are introduced to Shalavaa, a Jedi novitiate sent by his Master to a far off world to police and negotiate nerf herder disputes.

For the first few weeks of his mission things are rather boring. Then, mysteriously, nerfs and their herders begin to disappear. Shalavaa is asked to investigate, and it is here that the solo adventures begins.

In a ‘chose-your-own-adventure’ type set up, you, the player, make decisions for Shalavaa based upon dice rolls. I played the adventure myself, and here is what happened:

Shalavaa made his way to a ravine the villagers considered haunted. After some successful attempts at reading the situation using the Force, he noticed a lost leather boot. Upon further investigation, Shalavaa noticed some rather unusual vines, and was then suddenly attacked by a carnivorous plant.

Successfully using his lightsaber, he dispatched of the plant. His Master then revealed himself from some shadows along the cliff-face wall, and told Shalavaa that his skills were complete, and he was able to face more challenging difficulties in the galaxy.

The opposite side of this adventure would have been if Shalavaa was unsuccessful with his sabre skill (which the player rolled with dice), his Master would have told him he needed more training.

As it is, it was a short adventure, meant to introduce the game to new players.

The time line for this story is mentioned at the beginning of the adventure, which states simply: “Four thousand years before Luke Skywalker…” I’m not quite sure how it ended up at the end of this time line, but I take Joe Bongiomo’s research into Star Wars chronology at face value.

For my next chronological investigation, I’m moving 3 years ahead to the year 3993 BBY, and the story Shadows and Light, from Star Wars Tales volume 6. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

3998 BBY - 3996 BBY: The Sith War.

The next source for my Star Wars Chronology Project brings me back to a familiar text: Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force. In this mine of Jedi information we once again engage with the Tedryn holocron, but this time with the words of Jedi Master Vodo-Siosk Bass, and addendum’s by Tionne Solusar.

Master Bass succinctly summates the events of the Sith War, and recounts his own interaction and involvement in it. He comments that his former student, Exar Kun, formed his own version of the Jedi Code, and distorted what the Jedi knew to be true and right.

As I was reading this, it made me think of the Council of Trent after the Protestant reformation, and it made of think of Master Bass in the same way as one of the Cardinal defenders of the Catholic Church. In the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church clarified their doctrinal teachings after Martin Luther called into question some of their practices (and rightfully so). Here, Master Bass says (speaking of Exar Kun): “He imitated the ways of the long-fallen Sith and used then to form his own philosophy of the Jedi Code, a distortion of all we know to be true and right”. It’s his use of the words “true and right” which rang out to me here, and I almost got the sense that Master Bass felt the need to reiterate some of the Jedi teachings in light of Exar Kun’s doctrinal damage, and promises of “ancient secrets revealed”.

From a purely textual point of view, Exar Kun’s new philosophy or interpretation of the Jedi Code is never laid out. As a matter of fact, in the SWCP I have yet to come across a textual etching of the Jedi Code at all. I’m sure it has been reference in the source material I’ve looked at thus far, but an actual textual codification is still absent. It’s my hope that I come across such a thing in my travels along the road of Star Wars history.

Bass asserts that Kun claimed for himself the title of the first Dark Lords of the Sith, but we now know that the first Dark Lord of the Sith on record was Marka Ragnos, (the Master of Naga Sadow) or arguably even before that Ajunta Pall – the first “Dark Jedi” to lead and take command of the Sith people. Exar Kun was obviously not the first ‘Dark Lords of the Sith’, but he was the first to appropriate the title after the Great Hyperspace War.

Though Vodo Siosk Bass was slain by his former apprentice, (and Bass makes reference to his “failure” here in the holocron’s recordings) it seems his consciousness was contained within the Tedryn holocron, similar in fashion to the way that Exar Kun infused his spirit within the frame of the temples he erected on Yavin 4.

In the holocron, Bass makes note of two significant events to occur during the Sith War, and events I myself glossed over in my last post. I’ll address these events now.
The first was Kun’s ability to use his Sith powers to recruit Jedi apprentices to the darkside (which I made reference to), and then dispatch them to assassinate their former Masters (which I did not). Kun was mostly successful in this plot, but failed in killing Master Thon using the hands of Oss Wilum.

The second significant event was using Naga Sadow's former Sith flagship, and using the darkside witch Aleema to initiate its powers, to destroy the ten suns of the Cron cluster, thus creating a massive shockwave to ripple through the universe, destroying many worlds, including Ossus, and leaving in ruin the home of the Jedi and the seat of Jedi knowledge.

At the end of this source we are left with Tionne Solusar’s addenda to Master Bass’. She commented on the Jedi chasing Kun to Yavin 4, and Kun placing his disembodied consciousness within his temple. She also commented on Nomi Sunrider’s “most unusual” Force ability to strip a Jedi of his powers. This makes me think that I may not come across another such incident of this again if in 40 ABY a Jedi historian is referring to this as “most unusual” ability. It also makes me appreciate even more how powerful a Jedi Nomi Sunrider was, as well as the Master she learned the ability from, Odan-Urr.

I am nearly at the end of this particular time frame in Star Wars chronology, as I have only one more source to examine. Joe Bongiomo, in his chronology, makes reference again to Knights of the Old Republic #33, but it’s a flash-back, and I’m going to deal with that text when I get to it.

For my next post I’ll be going to Star Wars Galaxy Magazine, issue #13, and a story called Jedi Protector. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

3998 BBY - 3996 BBY: The Sith War.

This six issue comic series published by Darkhorse was action packed from beginning to end. In this series we reach the conclusion of the Ulic Qel-Droma / Exar Kun chronicle, and discover the fate of these two fallen Jedi.

The series opens with an introduction of the Mandalorian warriors. Realizing that the Tetan system has been weakened in its conflict with the Republic, the Mandalorian tribe strikes the system with the purposes of conquering.

The Mandalorians, in my opinion, are the coolest things about Star Wars, even cooler than the Jedi. There has been nearly endless ink spilled on the progenitor of the Mandalorian image, the character of Boba Fett, and all for good reason. The Mandalorians embody everything we love about the warrior spirit, and symbolize, in their entire essence, the ancient Greek notion of ‘arête’ - personal glory and excellence. Every Mandalorian is an Achilles: aggressive, intelligent, arrogant, and deadly in combat.

My character was a Mandalorian bounty hunter when I played Star Wars Galaxies. I remember spending endless evenings in the Death Watch bunker trying to get the parts for my character’s jet pack. I eventually put together a set of Mandalorian armor, along with a jetpack. I also had over 100 Jedi kills with my character, with over 40% of them being solo kills, which in my opinion was pretty impressive considering how powerfully unbalanced the Jedi character was to the other player characters. Unfortunately, Sony Online Entertainment ruined the game with its New Game Enhancements. I had so much fun hunting Jedi with my small guild of Jedi killers. I’m looking forward to the Old Republic MMO being produced by Bioware. Anyway, back to my reactions to The Sith War.

Upon entering the Tetan system, Mandalore the Great challenges Ulic to a duel. Ulic wins the fight, and in doing so unites the Mandalorians under his banner of leadership. Mandalore the Great becomes Ulic’s right hand man.

Meanwhile, Exar Kun made his way to Ossus in order to recruit Jedi to his cause, and surreptitiously convert them to the darkside. He lures recruits with the promise of ancient secrets reveled, but he makes sure never to couch his secrets in terms of Sith knowledge, or darkside workings. He was very careful to use the word ‘Jedi’ whenever he references the new knowledge he gained.

I found it strange that Exar Kun, being a Dark Lords of the Sith, was able to walk around the planet Ossus unimpeded, not arouse suspicion, and begin trying to actively recruit Jedi to his cause. But then again, Palpatine did the same for a very long time. The Jedi were not aware that Kun was the Dark Lord of the Sith the same way that the Jedi council was unaware of Palpatine’s connection to the darkside. It must be a darkside ability to be able to cloak your darkness from other force sensitive beings.

Kun’s path eventually leads him to Master Odan-Urr, and the real reason he traveled to Ossus – to collect for himself the old Jedi Master’s Sith holocron; the same holocron Odan-Urr retrieved from Naga Sadow’s ship. When the two meet, Kun reveals his true Sith identity, and takes the holocron by force from the old Master. Odan-Urr is killed in the exchange. But the manner in which his is killed is not depicted well. One panel shows Odan-Urr throwing Exar Kun back using the force, the next panel has Kun merely extending his hand to the old Master, and Urr simply withering away. I wish this particular scene had been dramatized a bit better. Be that as it may, the old Master was killed amongst his books and scrolls, as his own Master predicted millennia ago.

Kun manages to gain some darkside recruits, and grabs for the reader familiar Jedi to his cause, like Oss Wilum and Crado the Cathar. He takes them to Yavin 4, and there destroys the Sith holocron he stole. In the ensuing chaos of the holocron’s destruction, Wilum and the other Jedi become infected by the holocron’s broken shards, and are subsequently infected by the darkside. They then become the pupils of Kun.

Meanwhile, Ulic, Aleema, and Mandalore stage an attack on Coruscant in order to bring down the Republic’s government. They were almost successful, if not for treachery on the part of Aleema. Aleema fed Mandalore inaccurate information, which lead to the capture of Ulic at the hands of his former Jedi friends. It seems Aleema feared Ulic enough to want to put him out of the picture and give to herself full control of the Tetan system. Mandalore realizes Aleema’s treachery, and enlists the help of Exar Kun to rescue his captured sovereign.

Mandalore and Kun made their way back to Coruscant to free Ulic, where a showdown between Kun and his former Master Vodo-Siosok Bass ensued. Kun brandishes a double bladed lightsaber, reminiscent of the one featured by Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, and kills his old Master.

What I find interesting about this scene is the lack of red lightsabers brandished by the Sith. Kun sports a blue lightsaber, while Ulic carries a green one. Precedence for the red lightsaber has already been established by Jackson-Miller’s short stories, so I wonder at their absence here. I guess the simple answer is that Viech and Anderson did not feel that red sabers were necessary components to their villains. I think this idea also goes along with that fact that neither of these characters underwent a name change when they took on their Sith monikers. I suppose if a name change occurred the characters may have had a lightsaber change as well. Anyway, moving on with the story and my reactions…

After freeing Ulic, a brother vs. brother showdown occurs. Cay tells his brother he loves him, while Ulic answers Cay’s love with a slash from his saber, killing him. Ulic immediately regrets what he’s done, but Nomi Sunrider, in her inconsolable grief at the situation, curses Ulic with the most aggressive and powerful attack the lightside of the force has to offer. She strips from Ulic his force abilities, neutering his power. Odan-Urr taught Nomi this technique, warning her that it is a grave thing to take away a Jedi’s connection to the force, even a Jedi who had embraced the darkness. Left completely powerless, Ulic agrees to lead the Jedi to Exar Kun.

I found this scene extremely fascinating, and consider it the climax of the story. Prior to reading this I didn’t even know that a Jedi could strip another Jedi of his abilities, but what I find even more intriguing is that this is a lightside ability. Indeed, the light is powerful, powerful enough to envelope one in itself, completely cutting one off from the darkness, and even the Force. I agree with Odan-Urr, this is a freighting ability. I wonder if this ability is used again in Star Wars history.

Thousands of Jedi converge on Yavin 4 to defeat Exar Kun. Kun, realizing his defeat is at hand, retreats to his knowledge of the darkside. Kun then chains himself to one of the pillars at the bottom of his own temple, and here, leaves the material world and retreats to the spirit world. It seems Kun effused the temple with his being, leaving no corporeal remains behind, in an almost inverted type rapture.

While Kun prepared his spirit to leave the material world, the Jedi initiate a powerful lightside attack from orbit. Unfortunately, the attack was too powerful, and ended up setting fire to the planet. They knew they defeated Kun, but had to ask themselves, ‘at what cost?’

Two years later, Ulic, still without his Force abilities, visits the temple of Yavin 4 in search of a part of himself that has been lost. He enters the temple, but leaves it still feeling empty. The final frames of the story I found quite profound and sad. In the final pictorials of the Sith War, we see Exar Kun, surrounded by darkness, pleading Ulic to come back into the temple. He pleads with Ulic “It’s dark. I’m trapped. Don’t leave me!”, and ends with a pathetic ‘Ulic?”.

The Sith War was an awesome series, action packed from beginning to end. For my next post I’ll be going back to the source Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

3998 BBY - 3996 BBY: The Most Dangerous Foe

The simple stories are usually the most entertaining. The Most Dangerous Foe, by Angela Phillips, is a framed narrative – a story within a story. The framed narrative is one of my favorite literary devices, ancient in its origins, and effective in its purpose. One of my favorite movies of all time, The Princess Bride, is an example of a framed narrative.

The title of this tale reminds me of a short story I teach in grade 9 English, The Most Dangerous Game. In that story we have a big game hunter who has found himself on a deserted island being chased by another hunter – one who hunts humans. From early on in the tale we understand that ‘the most dangerous game’ is ‘man’. This story is similar in its point. ‘The most dangerous foe’ is our self. We are our own worst enemy, as the old saying goes.

The Most Dangerous Foe, taken from Star Wars Adventure Journal # 11, starts off on Yavin base shortly after the destruction of the first Death Star. The rebels are attempting to dismantle the base, and presumably move operations to Hoth. Deen Voorson, our in-story narrator, is taking care of some of the officer’s children, when one of the children asks him to tell them a story. Deen complies, and tells the children the story of Vici Ramunee, a Jedi padawan on the eve of her trial into knighthood during the Sith War.

Vici is lead by Mistress Tannis, who guides her with some final wisdom before sending Vici out on her test. Mistress Tannis tells Vici to trust in the Force, and not to trust her physical senses, as they will deceive her. Vici has one full day to complete her test. She must make her way to the cave of truth, and once there, enter it, and face ‘the most dangerous foe’. Vici’s Mistress tells her not to take anything, not even her lightsaber. Vici agrees, and sets out on her quest.

Unbeknownst to Vici, her little brother tags along. He too is at the Jedi praxium studying to become a Jedi. He tried to give Vici her lightsaber, but Vici admonishes the boy, and does not take her Jedi weapon.

On the way to the cave, Vici and her brother encounter a giant dragon. When the dragon rounded the bend and encountered the two, Vici ignited her lightsaber and began to swing. The dragon was shocked by this greeting, and said: “The Sith Wars must be going badly, if Tannis is forced to graduate Jedi who can’t tell friend from foe”.

It is here we have an indication of the chronological setting of our story. In the last tale I examined, Light and Shadow, there was no indication of chronology found within the story (maybe there was and I missed it, though I don’t think so). I was only working from Joe Bongiomo’s list, and I assume that he’s privy to some information that definitively sets the story Light and Shadow before this one. I like that this story gave its reader some kind of chronological queue (especially for the purposes of this project).

The dragon’s name is Willm Lywin, and he is to escort Vici to the cave of truth. We learn during their travels that Willm is very old, and has been assisting in training Jedi for many hundreds and possibly even thousands of years.

Vici’s encounter with Willim is similar to that of Nomi Sunrider’s encounter with Master Thon, and Luke Skywalker’s encounter with Master Yoda. The moral of these meetings is always “never judge a book by its cover”.

Once they reach the entrance of the cave, Willim tells Vici to enter, and she does. She believes she has entered the cave to face an enemy, and indeed she has. As she goes through the cave she encounters several trials, but never a one-on-one encounter with another entity. At the final stage, she is trapped in a flooding room of mirrors. She believes that her “foe” has trapped her, and she draws her lightsaber in anger. Her reflection in one of the mirrors frightens her, as her face is skewed in rage. She de-ignites her saber, and reaches out with the force, and in doing so, walks through one of the mirrors to her safety.

On the other side she is met by her Mistress who congratulates her on the successful completion of her trial, and is now a fully fledged Jedi Knight. Tannis tells Vici that she did indeed fight in the cave, she fought impatience, physical limits, fear, and greed: she essentially fought herself.

There were two particular trials that Vici encountered in the cave of truth I want to comment on, as I found them endlessly fascinating.

At one particular point in her journey through the cave, Vici encountered a door that lead out of a room she was trapped in, but behind the door was total chaos: “It opened to chaos: a black yawning void filled with rushing winds”. Behind this door there was no up, no down, just black nothingness. This reminds me of one of my favorite existential philosophers, Soren Kierkegaard. One of Kierkegaard’s most famous works is Fear and Trembling, and in this text Kierkegaard explains the idea of the ‘Knight of Faith’. In short, the ‘Knight of Faith’ believes that with God, all things are possible, and the Knight of Faith completely trusts in God, and has no hesitation in stepping out into the void of unknowing, improvable faith – essentially complete belief in God.

Here Vici puts aside what it is she sees, and completely trusts in the Force, and steps through the door. In Kierkegaard’s esteem, she acted as Abraham did with God’s command to sacrifice his only son, and as the Virgin Mary did, by saying yes to God, and becoming the mother of Jesus.

After Vici walks through the door she finds herself on a narrow path. I couldn’t help but smile a little bit, as Matthew’s gospel jumped right out at me: “The passage began growing smaller. Soon Vici found herself stooping, then crawling on hands and knees as the tunnel shrank around her. Part of her mind began wondering if she’d taken the right tunnel. No, she thought, it still feels like the right way, even though it’s certainly not easy”. Matthew’s gospel says something very similar: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt 7:13-14).

Our story ends on the first frame of Deen and the children. One of the officers comes in, and tells Deen he liked the story. I’m not certain, but I think the officer who enters is Luke Skywalker, but the text is cryptic enough for that conclusion to be left to the reader.

The Most Dangerous Foe was a most enjoyable tale. For my next post I’ll be moving on to the Sith War, as presented in Darkhorse comics. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

3998 BBY - 3996 BBY: Light and Shadow

Light and Shadow is a short story taken from Star Wars Adventure Journal #18, written by Paul Danner. The story remains unpublished because the Adventure Journal series never made it past issue #15 due to financial woes by West End Games who produced the chain. The Adventure Journals were used in conjunction with the Star Wars Role Playing game, and compiled a litany of short stories players could use to enhance their role-playing adventures. I myself own a few copies. I bought them in the late nineties because I thought that the idea of multiple short stories from various Star Wars timelines was neat. I especially liked how after each story, there were role-playing stats on the main characters: things like their blaster skill, their starship piloting skills, or even their gambling skill. I wish there was a company that still did this – compile a bi-monthly or even semi-annually publication of Star Wars short stories. It need not be connect to the role-playing aspect of Star Wars (but that would be cool). I have a few stories I’d like to submit myself.

Paul Danner does well in telling his tale. His language is descriptive and concise enough to move the action of the narrative.

Light and Shadow is a story about a wayward Jedi, who has fallen into the precipice of the darkside, yet at the end of the tale manages to redeem himself enough to bring him back to the ways of the light (we hope).

Lian Dray is our protagonist, and at the beginning of our tale we learn he has exiled himself to an uncharted planet in order to come to terms with the murder of his Master by his own hands. For some reason which we, the reader, are not privy too, Dray became seduced by the darkside, murdered his Master, and is now fleeing the retribution of his fellow Jedi.

His escape from justice leads him to a verdant forest world. We first encounter Dray trying to use lightside meditative techniques taught to him by his Master to calm his soul. Unfortunately, the storm that is the darkside looms menacingly on his emotional horizon, simultaneously seducing and threatening the lost Jedi.

His meditation is broken when a starship streaks through the sky crash-landing on the planet. Dray finds the ship engulfed in flame, and trapped inside the flames is a little girl. Dray saves the girl, who we learn latter is extremely strong in the Force.

Before long, two darkside adepts come looking for the little one, and a lightsaber duel ensues as Dray attempts to save her from them. Dray kills one adept, and by calling upon the darkside, kills the other. The little girl is horrified by his actions, and runs away into the wilderness. After momentarily contemplating as to whether or not he should give pursuit, Dray decides that the girl has now become his responsibility and he must go after her.

Unluckily, a darkside sorcerer named Thannor Keth catches the girl, and she is quickly locked in a Force suppressing cage. Thannor Keth was the Master of the two darkside adepts that Dray dispatched. Dray quickly trackers her down, and after distracting Keth, rescues the girl from the cage. As they are fleeing, the young girl, named Nova, pleads with Dray to not use the darkside of the Force anymore. Dray hesitantly agrees.

Keth quickly pursues the two, when the darkside sorcerer knocks Dray down with Force lightning. Another duel ensues, where Dray seems outmatched and outgunned. Keth manages to gain the upper hand on Dray. During this agonizing assault, Dray began to reach for the darkside. He felt this was his only option. As he began to let the anger and hate flow through him, he saw the look of dismay on Nova’s face. He ceased his darkside activities, and began to understand the Jedi saying ‘there is no death, only the Force’. Before Keth managed to cast the deathblow on Dray, Nova interceded, and placed around the fallen Jedi a shield of light. Keth’s darkside power backfired on him, and he was left a heaping mass of smoking flesh.

Dray and Nova made it back to his ship, where they plotted a course for Ossus to begin the girl’s training in the Jedi way, and for Dray to begin the atonement necessary for his transgressions.

I’ve always found the stories contained within the Adventure Journals entertaining. There are a few things I want to comment on with regards to this tale.

Firstly, There was a bit in this story about how the Dark Lords of the Sith overuse their abilities:

“As Dray quickly wiped the sweat from his forehead, he considered his actions. The first method would have been easier, but an unnecessary reliance on the Force to do something just as easily accomplished with a little sweat. He had a sudden fleeting image of depraved Sith overlords sitting on their thrones, using the Force to attend to their every insignificant need. Some were so bloated from years of inactivity their limbs had all but atrophied.”

There is something visceral about this description. I never even thought that overuse of the Force could lead a Jedi astray, but after reading this, I find that it makes perfect sense, and reconciles well with Jedi philosophy. Dray’s response to this thought was also very Jedi:

“He prepared to manipulate the Force again, this time to lift the heavy cylinder off the girl’s leg. Dray wasn’t sure why, but instead found himself reaching down to grasp the heavy machinery. He bent his legs and lifted for all he was worth. The cylinder screeched in annoyance at being disturbed, reluctant to release its grip, but with a final grunt of exertion Dray managed to free the girl from her make-shift prison.”

I’m reminded of the scene in Attack of the Clones when Anakin used the Force to float a fruit to Padme. He emphasizes the scene with a comment like “Master Obi Wan would be quite mad if he saw me doing this”. I think I instinctively understood why Obi Wan would find this use of the Force extravagant and therefore worthy of chastisement, but now I understand that too much reliance on the Force can lead one to the vice of sloth.

Secondly, I find it interesting that another darkside sorcerer has crept up in Star Wars history. In the Tales of the Jedi series, Ulic Qel-Droma’s impetus for not dispatching Satal and Aleema at his first opportunity was that if he did so the darkside would manifest itself somewhere else in the universe, and he would then be unable to track it. He kept them alive, not for some altruistic Jedi philosophy, but because he wanted to destroy the darkside from within. Unfortunately for Ulic, it seems that the darkside had indeed already manifested itself somewhere else, which begs the question – where did Thannor Keth come from, and what’s his background story?

I left the story of Light and Shadow hoping for Lian Dray’s redemption. I find that there are too many Star Wars stories which account for a character’s fall from grace, and not enough which demonstrate the transformative power and strength of the light.

Lets see if we can convince the powers that be that the Star Wars Adventure Journal is a viable format, worthy of a second chance. If you are interested in reading the story for yourself you can find it here. For my next post I’ll be examining another Adventure Journal story, this one titled The Most Dangerous Foe. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

3998 BBY - 3996 BBY: Dark Lords of the Sith Audio Drama

I’m finding that audio dramas are highly entertaining. I really enjoyed the first one I listened to, which was the Tales of the Jedi series. Likewise, I enjoyed the Dark Lords of the Sith audio drama. They’re only 2 hours in length, and I listen to them whenever I’m able to catch a little downtime.

What I found most remarkable about the Dark Lords of the Sith audio drama was how little it deviated from the original story. In the Tales of the Jedi audio drama, there were many deviations from the original comic, all of them welcome because they added depth and detail to the story. Here, very little was added, except some minor pieces of dialogue. Like the last Star Wars audio drama I listened too, this one had strong voice actors, and typical Star Wars sound effects which were lifted straight from the movie soundtrack which made the listening experience very entertaining.

Since very little was added in the way of detail in this particular source, I’ll comment on aspects of the story I overlooked for brevity’s sake in my last post.

There are only two things I really want to address in this post. The first is the nature of the darkside of the force. I know I’ve talked a lot about this before, but I have some additional thoughts about this that I’ve gleaned from this story. The second is that lack of name changes for darkside characters. I’ll explain what I mean by this a little later on.

Many times throughout the story the “Force” becomes blocked off to the characters of Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma. I find this intriguing for several reasons. Firstly, I’ve come to understand that when these characters refer to the “Force” what they mean is the “lightside” of the Force. When the “darkside” of the Force is referenced, it’s never called “the darkside of the Force”, rather, simply “the darkside”. But by calling it “the darkside”, ‘of the force’ is implied in its meaning. Which makes me ask, if it’s not “the Force” giving a dark Jedi his or her ability, should it not then be called something else?

If the darkside is not being referenced in this manner, Jedi always seem to refer to it as “magic”, and the practitioners of the darkside as “magicians” and “sorcerers”. I commented on this a few posts back, and I found this puzzling since it was my impression that light and dark Jedi alike pulled their power from the same well of energy. By the end of that post, I came to the conclusion that indeed, the light and darkside of the force did originate from the same well of power; it was simply that each was so irreconcilable to the other that either side found the other untranslatable. Yet here, in this story, when Ulic and Exar strayed too far from the light, all of their Jedi abilities were cut off. They were unable to use “The Force”, but instead had to rely on “The Darkside”. This makes me question whether “The Force” is responsible for darkside abilities. What I’m trying to get at here is this: is there a dualism here that is not accounted for? Should the darkside be called something else, rather than “the darkside”, since “the Force” is cut off to those who no longer hold to the tenants of the Force proffered by the Jedi Knights?

What I’m struggling to understand is why these characters couldn’t call upon “The Force” in general, whether is be for good intentions or bad ones. Intentionality seems to play a large role in one’s ability to use the power of the Force. If my intentions are good, I can call upon “The Force” to help me. But if my intentions are bad, “The Force” no longer recognizes me, and I must call upon “the Darkside” to help me out. This is what seems to have occurred in these stories, which makes me wonder if this means that there are two powers in this galaxy, each offering a small percentage of sentient beings the ability to use their abilities. For lack of a better comparison, do we have a Zoroastrian good deity / evil deity set up here, or are we still using the Taoist ying-yang in our understanding of the nature of the force?

I don’t know. I was under the impression that the Force operated like a Taoist ying-yang. Light cannot exist without the dark, and the dark cannot exist without the light. But now I’m not so sure.

I think in the Star Wars Universe, the nearly unanimous understanding is that “The Force” is responsible for both the lightside and the darkside. So then why couldn’t Ulic and Exar use “The Force” to help them? I guess the most obvious answer is that they had turned their back on the “ying” and had to rely on the “yang”, and since they had turned their backs to the “light” the only option open to them was the “dark”.

Ultimately, the nature of the Force seems hard to grasp. I guess understanding the force relies on how one chooses to interface with it. Am I doing something for the good of others (agape love) or am I doing something for the sole benefit of myself (erotic love).

Moving on to my second point, I find it interesting that in the Star Wars stories I’ve examined so far, a name changed has not accompanied the characters who went from the light to the dark. Anakin Skywalker ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and was instead Darth Vader when he moved from the light to the dark. We’ve yet to encounter this particular literary trope. Exar Kun was still Exar Kun after his transformation, and Ulic was still Ulic after his. I’m looking forward to when the name change occurs in one who has made a dramatic shift in personal philosophy, and when the “Darth” moniker is used for the first time.

For my next post I’ll be examining a short story titled Light and Shadow from Star Wars Adventure Journal # 18. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.