Thursday, August 20, 2009

5000 - 4999 BBY: The Golden Age of the Sith


In this particular time frame I'll be examining several sources, namely; The Golden Age of the Sith, The Lost Tribe of the Sith (in three parts), The Fall of the Sith Empire, and The Great Hyperspace War.

I've finally received Tales of the Jedi volume 1, and it is here that Star Wars chronology picks up again. It is a full 1900 years since the Dark Jedi were banned from the Republic and retreated to the furthest reaches of space. During this time the Dark Jedi conquered the Sith, and expanded their Empire into the outlaying regions of the system. After years of interbreeding, Jedi blood now runs through the veins of the Sith people. No longer simply Neanderthal type people, the Sith now have a thriving, if not still somewhat primitive, civilization.

For nearly 2000 years the Sith have been lost to memory and operate almost as myth in the minds of the occupants of the Republic, Jedi included.

In the Golden Age of the Sith we meet two intrepid hyperspace explorers, Gav and Jori Daragon. This brother and sister duo who are down on their luck and fleeing their debts manage, by accident, or by the will of the force, to find the long lost planet of Korriban, the burial place of the Sith.

They happen upon the burial ceremony of the latest Dark Lord of the Sith, Marka Ragnos, and the ensuing battle between Naga Sadow and Ludo Kreesh, the two challengers to his title. Sadow and Kreesh call an uneasy truce as they decide what to do with their new arrivals. Sadow thinks that the two travellers can be used as pawns in the expansion of the Sith Empire, whereas Kreesh thinks they should be executed immediately, for the sake of the Empire's safety. The two travellers are taken prisoner.

Through political wrangling, back-stabbing, and fancy subterfuge, Sadow manages to gain the upper hand in his feud with Kreesh, declares himself the new Dark Lord of the Sith, rescues the two travellers (which is part of his plan), and gains the support of the other Dark Lords, each with their own militia and resources.

Sadow's victory is cemented in a final space battle with Kreesh, where Jori Daragon escapes back to Republic space without her brother (who remains under the tutelage of Sadow). Little does she know though, that her spaceship has a tracking device attached to it. Here, the Sith now have the route back to the Republic, and under the new leadership of Naga Sadow, are bent on the expansion of the Sith Empire, and the destruction of the Republic.

A few reviews of this particular work underscores the fact that it wasn't received too well by fans. I liked it though. The most interesting character for me was Jedi Knight Odan-Urr. I had a problem with his characterization though. At the beginning of the story we see him as this wide-eyed Jedi historian who knew how to use a lightsaber, but really didn't take his training very far. As the story progressed though, we see him slaying would-be assassins in the street. When he is slightly reprimanded by his fellow Jedi Knight , who reminds him that Jedi must do their utmost to preserve life, he states meekly that he's "ashamed" by his actions. We really did not get a sense that he was capable of these actions, or was even leaning towards an aggressive nature. Maybe Anderson (the author) is setting up the fall of Odan-Urr to the darkside of the force. If he ends up turning to the darkside, then this particular incident makes more sense.

I've always enjoyed the technology presented in Star Wars, and the Golden Age of the Sith is no exception. The technological aspect I enjoyed the most in this text was how familiar technology was presented in an ancient looking format. Lightsabers that connected to a power pack on the Jedi's belt, the insectoid looking spacecraft, the Egyptian style dress of the two protagonists, and the way Coruscant seemed less built-up. That being said though, I've always found it interesting that the technology in Star Wars never seems to advance. They may make a spacecraft or a weapon a little better, but in thousands of years hyperspace is not really improved, and blasters still fire laser bolts.
I know much ink has been spilt on the technological dimension of Star Wars, and I think the universe of Star Wars has been referred to as a "depressed future", in that, because war is constantly raging over the galaxy, technology never really advances because of the endless destruction of worlds and civilizations. Be that as it may, I don't think the technology in Star Wars has to advance in order for me to enjoy it. I like blasters, lightsabers, and starships, no matter what millienia they appear.
I enjoyed the Golden Age of the Sith. Apart from some characterization issues centering on Odan-Urr, some shotty dialogue (Gav and Jori were sentenced to death and they make some really bad joke about filing a complaint with someone), and some happenstance artwork, I found the story solidly constructed and interesting. I like Kevin J Anderson 's work.
For my next post I'll be looking at the Lost Tribe of the Sith.


  1. I just read this arc a few days ago, and I have a theory (that is quite suprising :P), in the beginning we see Odan-Urr reading the tale of how the Jedi exile found the sith species to dominate, I wonder: How could Odan possibly know about that? I mean, that's part of the plot - the Dark Jedis took their ships into deep space was never seen again by the Republic.

    And it doesn't end there either, the Republic keeps calling it the "Sith Empire" during the Hyperspace War, but the Dark Jedi didn't adopt the Sith name until after they escaped the republic, my point is: Had the Sith Empire all ready returned to the republic once before the Great Hyperspace War?

  2. Interesting questions.

    I'm not really sure how one would explain Odan-Urr reading a tale of how the exiles found Sith space, and then knowing that the exiles dominated the Sith species, since we are told in stories prior that all contact with the exiles was lost after the Hundred-Year-Darkness. We know about the events leading up to their exile, since we have that information from Vodo Sosk-Baas, but presumably we know nothing (from a Jedi and Republic perspective) after the exile. A couple of explanations for Odan-Urr's knowledge come to mind though. Firstly, it could simply be spotty story-telling on the part of Anderson, and he, as the writer, not taking into account all angles of his own story. Or, it could be that stories of the Sith and the exiles did, in fact, exist in the Republic and were buried in Jedi libraries, but they were only considered by those who read such stories as myths and legends. Similarly to how we consider Noah's Ark and the fall of Troy a myth, or how alien conspiracy theorists believe extra-terrestrial life has been guiding humankind from off-world since the beginning, the stories of the exiles and the Sith may not have been taken with any grain truth, but they still could have existed in the oral traditions of people carried over two millennia. If this is the case, the question I think you’re wrestling with (as am I now) is how did these stories come to the Republic in the first place, and how did these myths and legends end up in Odan-Urr’s book initially?

    I don’t know. That’s an awesome reflection on the text.

    With regards to your observations that the Republic kept referring to the “Sith Empire” during the Great Hyperspace War, it could be possible that the Sith Empire had indeed come into Republic space over the last 2000 years, but this goes against the idea that all hyperspace lanes to the Republic were lost until Jori escaped Korriban and made her way back to the Republic. It’s possible that scouts could have carried such information, and over the 2000 year stretch of silence between the Sith and the Republic hyperspace lanes were discovered, lost, rediscovered, and lost again. But from a textual perspective there is nothing present to support this idea.

    Finally, with regards to your point that it’s possible that the Sith had returned to the Republic prior to the Great Hyperspace War – this could be where the developers at TOR may eventually be taking their Timeline updates. And if they do, the question of how Odan-Urr knew about what happened to the exiles after their departure will be answered.

    Remember though, this is Star Wars, and even if the storytellers at TOR don’t go this route, a simple explanation can be afforded by saying and ancient Jedi Master ‘had a vision of a faraway and malevolent Empire’ – or something to that effect.

    Sorry to be so long winded, it was a good thought that I wanted to explore a bit.

  3. Regarding the comments, one of the things I found most surprising about Dawn of the Jedi was the inclusion of Sith. As a result, Sith are just another species that the Republic is vaguely aware of during the millennia leading up to this. Hence, the Republic is aware of the Sith, and meeting an Empire of them, would not hesitate to call them the Sith Empire.

    It is a very interesting curiosity that even when the Sith are believed to be extinct, Yoda has heard plenty of legends consisting exactly of how their Order exists despite the fact that they've been believed to be disbanded since before that version of the Order existed. The Sith of the Golden Age are another example of that: over hundreds or thousands of years, bits of rumors are pieced together. The benefits of a society that is dozens of thousands of years old is that they have learned to piece together myth and reality in a manner that society on Earth is still struggling to. Even moreso the Jedi, who are as frequently a part of the myth as they are of the reality.

  4. I have yet to get to the Dawn of the Jedi series. I'm still quagmired in 32 BBY, but it's something I'm going to have to explore soon, as I've ventured into writing my own Star Wars fiction and I think an understanding of this material is crucial.

    But more to your point, Yoda hearing legends about the Sith makes a little more sense than Odan-Ur, as he comes into history post the Ruusan Reformation, where Hoth and Farfalla had defeated the Brotherhood of Darkness.

    But I do think that during the Golden Age of the Sith era there is an understanding, perhaps even among galactic historians, that there exists out there *somewhere* a species called "the sith" and their empire, like you said. Their inclusion in this "earlier" work makes this knowledge make more sense - perhaps even providing an explanation to Joel's observations.

    I like the way you said that Jedi are as frequently a part of myth as they are of reality. It's a great insight I'm going to think about for a while.