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.


  1. There were definately some great stories in the Adventure Journals. It's a real shame it was canceled. Anyway, since you're moving on to the Sith War stories, I thought I'd point out that, as far as I can tell, "Le Facteur X," in the French rpg mag Casus Belli, takes place then. Here's the wookieepedia page on it, which is all I know about the article: I really wish I knew French, as it sounds cool (and the art looks cool as well:

  2. Thanks for the heads up Plaristes, but I'm probably going to pass it up, as the wookieepedia page does not have much in the way of substance that I can 'hang my hat on' so to speak. Moreover, I'm not going to be able to get my hands on a hard copy anytime soon. I think this particular piece brings up an interesting question though: if a Star Wars source is in another language, and an English equivalent cannot be found, can it be considered canon? I know I'm bordering on xenophobia here, but I thought it interesting none-the-less.

    On a side note, thank you for your participation thus far in the project. I find your insights and recommendations much needed and interesting. I read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji, and I'm going to examine that one at 104 ABY, as I found entry for comment into that particular piece to difficult.

    Feel free to pass this blog on to anyone else you might know who may be interested in getting in on the conversation. I know I'm having fun writing it, and I hope you're having fun reading it.


  3. I'm definitely having fun reading. As for canonicity, this is tricky. Anything that goes through licensing is canonical, whether in English or not (like the recent clone wars photocomics that are only available in Japanese). What's weird about these rpg mags like Polyhedron, Challenge, Casus Belli, and so forth (not the Adventure Journal) is that we don't know if they passed through licensing or not. Leland Chee, keeper of the Holocron, has said that he has no records that they passed through licensing, but he hasn't said that they didn't pass through. So, they're canonicity is sort of "up in the air." However, it's worth noting that many (not all) of the writers and artists who wrote and drew for these mags also wrote and did the art for officially licensed material from West End Games and Wizards of the Coast (e.g., Peter Schweighofer, Bill Slavicsek, James King, David Ackerman). Furthermore, the various mags published Star Wars material for years, and if they weren't officially licensed, then that would be copyright infringement. Lucas Licensing never issued cease and desist papers against any of these mags, so that seems to be some sort of tacit acceptance or approval of them. Finally, several of the characters, places, droids, etc., from these mags have been referenced in officially licensed material. All of these considerations have led some fans to at least tentatively consider the material from these mags to be canonical, even if in some sort of lower level of canonicity (wookieepedia calls these mags "ambiguously canon").

  4. I think I’m leaning towards the notion that since they haven’t passed through licensing, and their canonicity is questionable, then they should not be fully accepted as canon until some definitive answer is given otherwise. I think for the purposes of this project I may have to go beyond tacit approval.

    This of course is part rationalization on my part, since I don’t have a copy of Le Facture X in my hands to examine and place in Star Wars chronology myself. If I did I probably would make a post about it to keep in the spirit of this project.

    Also, Bill Slavicsek could write a story about Luke and Han, but if it “may or may not have” passed through licensing, then I’m not sure it would, or should, be accepted into the canon. There may be various reasons why Lucasfilm has not pursued these writers or publishers for copyright infringement. But again, I’m not sure a ‘non-reaction’ is enough to consider something like Le Facture X hard canon.

    At the end of the day, it’s discussions like this I enjoy having, and discussions like this that I think are in keeping with the spirit of this project.