I think it’s important to talk about this timeline in its proper historical context at circa 4904 BBY (its in-universe date is listed at 1251 BTC), as this timeline truly re-colours Star Wars history as we know it. Situated 96 years after the Great Hyperspace War (otherwise known as the Fall of the Sith Empire – for both titles explain the same historical period in Star Wars history), and 5 years before Ulic Qel-Droma and the Beast Wars of Onderon, the Rise of the Sith Empire tells the story of what happened to the Sith species of Korriban after their defeat by the Republic and Naga Sadow’s failed invasion of the Galactic Republic.
In this timeline Master Gnost-Dural makes the distinction between the “Sith Lords” who were threating the Republic prior to the “True Sith Empire” revealing itself in 3681 BBY, and all other “Sith” civilizations. Gnost-Dural goes on to explain that these “Sith Lords” who existed outside of the prevue of the “True Sith Empire” were instead “fallen Jedi” falsely claiming to be “Sith Lords”. As these Fallen Jedi – Ajunta Pal, Exar Kun, and the like – were threatening the Republic, the “true” Sith – the biological descendants of the Sith species from Korriban long thought extinct – were exiled from Korriban and for many decades were wandering space as fallout from the Great Hyperspace War. Master Gnost-Dural tells us that these Sith eventually settled and were now thriving on Drummond Kas under the leadership of their enigmatic emperor.
It’s not really necessary that I rephrase the timeline, suffice to say that the distinction between the Sith which came before 3681 BBY, and the Sith now occupying the time period after the Treaty of Coruscant until about 2000 BBY are distinct entities – not necessarily different in philosophy or worldview or ultimate purposes – but distinct creatures none-the-less.
Gnost-Dural also makes it clear that the citizens which were part of this empire considered themselves Imperialists, and for the remainder of the timeline he goes into the history of Grand Moff Odile Vaiken – the architect of the Sith fleet. But it’s the idea of Sith citizenry I want to focus on, for it’s clear that the citizenry of the Sith Empire stood behind their emperor and His expansionist agenda: “But the dedication of the Imperial people must be acknowledged as well…He (the emperor) promised to build a new civilization of unrivaled efficiency. And he promised his people vengeance. His promised them an empire destined to dominate the galaxy. An empire destined to bring about the Republic’s destruction”. With this timeline I think important motivations are cleared up, as one could rightly ask ‘what does the ‘regular Joe’ in the Sith empire have to gain, if he is simply a subjugated individual’? It seems the “True Sith Empire” is made up of red-skinned Sith who also have a stake in the Republic’s destruction, and for the most-part are not treated as slaves, but as productive members of society. I’m not sure the same can be said of humans though.
Interestingly, Gnost-Dural also points out that the humans existing in the “True Sith Empire” (and presumably other alien species) were considered second class citizens: “Vaiken’s story represents the surprising loyalty the imperial citizens show to an empire which they will always be subservient to the Sith”. This is intriguing because all other “Sith” civilizations we know of: the Sith which are descendant of Yaru Korsin, and the Galactic Empire under Palpatine for example, were speciesist towards all non-humans, as anyone considered non-human was usually treated as a second class citizen. It seems in the “True Sith Empire”, this role has been reversed.
Besides the idea of Sith citizenship, two other aspects of this timeline caught my attention. Firstly, is that the emperor shown on the bridge of the ship while Vaiken was a boy? My instinct tells me it’s not, but rather one of his generals or other some-such high ranking Sith soldier. Still, I wonder who that particular character is. Secondly, we are told that Vaiken (shown as an older and graying man) died in an Imperial campaign to conquer an alien system. I found this wildly remarkable, as the natural question is who were these aliens, that they can stand up to the Sith armada? The Yuzzhan Vong perhaps?
For my next post I’m going to look at the comic short The Apprentice from Star Wars Tales volume 5 and finally work my way back to discovering Star Wars history in its proper chronological order. I’ve also decided to ignore chronological excerpts that are flashbacks. For example, Joe has listed as the next source after The Apprentice is a flashback in Yaddle’s Tale, but I’ve decided that I only want to deal with a source once (The Essential Guide to the Force being the exception to this rule), so all sources with flashbacks will be dealt with in the majority of when their timeframe occurs. So with that being said, the next source after The Apprentice I’ll deal with is the book Legacy of the Jedi, but not simply chapters 1-6 as Joe has properly delineated. Instead, I’ll engage with the book in its entirety. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.