Tag Archives: The Thrawn Trilogy

Spotlight: Star Wars – Wedge Antilles

Haiku 04.17.14 – Star Wars Anonymous

Forgive the numerous Star Wars posts, readers, but the franchise has been on my mind quite a bit lately. My posts about the forgotten heroines from a galaxy far, far away and subsequent interactions with the young ladies who run The Elven Padawan have re-ignited my hibernating interest in these stories. And once my interest in a story has been reawakened, it is hard for me to get it under control.

This is why I began thinking quite a bit about Wedge Antilles, the focus of today’s Spotlight! article. In my early days as a Star Wars fan I was always impressed when, after Wedge’s X-Wing is damaged during the trench run on the first Death Star, Luke told him to break off before he got killed. In marked contrast to his relationship with Biggs Darklighter, Luke barely knew Wedge before going out to attack the giant battle station. They hardly met before being thrust into combat together.

Still, despite their short acquaintance, a viewer can hear the genuine concern in Luke’s voice when he tells Red Two to bail out of the trench run. That scene always stuck with me; in spite of the fact that they didn’t really know one another, Luke Skywalker truly cared about protecting Wedge Antilles. Considering he lost his childhood friend not long afterward, that says a lot about the budding Jedi Knight’s character.

My regard for Wedge in the films at the time was, clearly, less about him and more about Luke. Thinking back, this blogger really only “met” and came to like Wedge Antilles during her first read through of Timothy Zahn’s novel Vision of the Future, from the Hand of Thrawn duology. During Vision, Antilles’ character was on full display. His dry humor, his dislike of politics mixing with military matters, and his leadership and tactical abilities caught my attention at once. Through Zahn’s writing this blogger also came to admire Wedge for his loyalty, his strong sense of right and wrong, and his genuine concern for those under his command.

I also appreciated the fact that Wedge hadn’t lost his optimism. Despite everything he had been through, in the old EU Antilles still believed in and hoped for happy endings. He had far more depth and personality in the books than the films had suggested. Subsequently, he stopped being just a face in a cockpit when I watched the movies. In that strange way all good fictional characters have of endearing themselves to audiences, he became something close to a real person for me.

Wedge Returns in New Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Clip

Obviously, this blogger has not lost any respect for his character over the years. Hearing that he would appear in Star Wars Rebels, I was glad to know that at least this old favorite, unlike several others, wasn’t going to be completely forgotten in the new timeline. However, my enthusiasm for his presence in the new stories was tempered by the fact that so much from the first EU had been discarded. I sensed that the people running Disney/Lucasfilm weren’t going to let Filoni and crew bring the Wedge I knew into the new Star Wars timeline.

That isn’t to say that Wedge’s appearances in Rebels weren’t enjoyableHe sometimes came across as a bit foolish in certain scenes, but there were other times when some of the Antilles I knew shone through the changes. It was still Wedge being Wedge (for the most part), and this blogger could like his animated representation for that. The only thing I would have tweaked in Rebels was his brief career as an Imperial pilot. If the Rebels writers could have written Wedge as an undercover agent and recruiter who needed extraction, the episode would have made more sense to me.

The reason I say this is that, in the original stories, Wedge casually hated the Empire and wanted to keep off its radar. Due to the insurance payout he received after his parents’ deaths aboard the family refueling station, he was able to do this by buying his own ship. For a couple of years following the loss of his parents, Wedge ran legal freight around the galaxy. But because of the Empire’s economic stranglehold, finding legitimate, good paying jobs was hard work for independent freighters – especially young ones like him.

Wedge Antilles - Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki

In the old timeline, Wedge would cite this economic hardship as his reason for joining the Rebel Alliance. The truth, however, was far different. While working as a cargo pilot Wedge fell in love with a girl named Mala Tinero. She supported the Alliance along with her father and, though Wedge agreed with their ideals, he wasn’t inclined to join the fight against the Empire just yet. That only happened after Mala, her father, and the village where they lived were bombed to atoms when their link to the Rebellion was discovered.

Due to the fact that he was making his first delivery in months that week, Wedge wasn’t with Mala and the others when this occurred. He got back in time to find the Imperials still swarming over what remained of the village. Infuriated and heartbroken, he shot down several TIEs before spending the next few days dodging patrols while trying to find Mala. But it soon became clear that his sweetheart was dead. Devastated, Wedge finally joined the Rebels on Yavin IV, becoming roommates and good friends with Jek Porkins and (drumroll, please) Biggs Darklighter.

From there, Wedge proved his capabilities as a pilot. Han Solo, Tycho Celchu, and Baron Soontir Fel, all legendary pilots in their own rights, recognized Wedge as a skilled flyer. One of his commanders even went so far as to say that Wedge flew “as crazy as Solo,” a high compliment indeed. These combined skills earned him more and more responsibility, meaning that Wedge unintentionally climbed through the Rebellion’s ranks faster than a man his age would have. This put him in position to found Rogue Squadron – a starfighter group that became the troubleshooters for the Rebellion and New Republic – later on with his new friend, Luke Skywalker. It also sharpened his skills as a leader and tactician.

After Luke left the military to restart the Jedi Order, Wedge remained a fighter pilot, refusing promotions in order to stay on the front lines so he could command the Rogues. This meant that most of his subordinates also refused to move up the ranks, since they wanted to stay with their commander. On one occasion, in order to avoid being promoted, Wedge actually engineered his own demotion so he could keep leading his squadron. That can’t have been easy – or particularly safe. But he did it and got away with it. 😉

Star Wars 101: Rogue Squadron & Rogue One - Everygeek

L to R: Wedge Antilles, two unidentified (to this blogger) Rogues, Corran Horn, and Tycho Celchu.

While the original Wedge Antilles was generally willing to obey orders, he wasn’t afraid to break with the New Republic when he thought the leadership was being stupid. After Ysanne “Iceheart” Isard took over the bacta-producing world Thyferra, the New Republic hierarchy refused to move against her. Corran Horn, who flew under Wedge’s command as Rogue Nine and had been a captive of Isard’s, quit the military to go after her. This wasn’t because he wanted revenge on her but because he had promised the other captives she was holding – one of whom was General Jan Dodonna – that he would come back to rescue them.

Seconds after Corran quit, Wedge resigned his commission as well. It’s a mark of his character that all but one of the Rogues immediately followed him out of the military and into the fight for Thyferra. (The lone hold out wanted to join them but couldn’t due to politics and family ties.) Appointing Wedge as their leader, the Rogues hooked up with the anti-Isard resistance on the planet and recruited other rebels to help them oust her from power. The campaign took some time – I’m not really sure whether it was an intense few months or a couple of years. In the end, though, the Rogues successfully freed Thyferra. Upon winning the “Bacta War,” as Wedge had dubbed it, Antilles and the rest of the Squadron were allowed back into the New Republic military.

Image - Wedge Antilles by Brian Rood.jpg | Wookieepedia ...

A couple of original Expanded Universe writers mentioned that Wedge’s morality was something they liked about him, and I have to say that it impressed me, too. Though prone to explosive bursts of anger and inclined to take revenge on those who harmed him or his friends/family, Wedge didn’t let pain, grief, and anger rule him completely. Yes, he chased down and killed the pirates who murdered his parents by disengaging prematurely from their fueling station. And, yes, he did kill the TIE pilots who murdered Mala in anger. There were other instances where he took similar actions against different villains, too. But in each case, Wedge didn’t let his desire for vengeance completely control him, showing honor and mercy in his dealings with the enemy even when he didn’t necessarily feel like offering either to them.

In many ways, Wedge had a sense of honor and morality that was in line with the Jedi code. As Wedge once explained it, he killed not because he enjoyed it, but because by “burn[ing] down” the Empire and other enemies, he ensured that innocent people got to “stay happy.” This attitude made it very hard for him to accept unavoidable collateral damage caused during big battles. It also left him feeling guilty when he had to watch members of both Rogue and Wraith Squadrons fly to their deaths.

Looking at him now, I think that one of the reasons why I like the original Wedge Antilles so much is that he was a Jedi Knight at heart. The fact that he stood out to Force-sensitives like a torch only cements this idea for me; Wedge is said to have “projected a strong presence in the Force” which was indicative of “vitality and a focused mind.” For a non-Force user to “glow” so brightly that even a Jedi has to reach for a set of sunglasses to look at him shows that Wedge was no pansy or push over.

This is why I have trouble reconciling “original Wedge” with the new timeline’s treatment of the character. According to this video here, the broad strokes of Wedge’s new history match up with the original – but that’s in the broad strokes. In the new books, Antilles apparently tells someone that he joined the Rebellion because the Empire hurt his family and the girl he loved. This has led some to think that the crew of the Ghost is the family Wedge is talking about, and that the girl he loved is Sabine Wren.

How Disney Changed Wedge Antilles: Canon vs Legends - Star ...

There are several reasons why I am not comfortable with this idea. Although Wedge worked with the Ghost crew a fair bit in Rebels, there was no obvious indication during his appearances there that signaled he was specifically a member of “their” family. If there was, I either missed it or forgot it. And while one could argue that he and Sabine had chemistry, I can’t see them actually clicking. They have incompatible personalities; she’s too fierce and he’s too steady. It’s like expecting a firecracker and a hearth fire to get along well together. If this is what the new timeline actually did to these two characters…. I have to say that it is not going to work for me.

In the new timeline Wedge is also supposed to have founded Phantom Squadron, which is probably a callback to the original EU’s Wraith Squadron and the new timeline’s Ghost crew. Other than that, I think Wedge just sort of disappears in the new stories. Whether he vanishes quietly or in a blaze of glory (my money is on the latter), really doesn’t matter; what matters is that this isn’t the Wedge I know and like. This means that I have zero interest in “new Wedge” going forward.

Image result for wedge antilles legends

While some might say that it is unfair for me to do this based on comparisons between the new and old Star Wars histories, the fact is that in my case, it was inevitable. Besides, when a franchise as popular and universal as Star Wars disowns forty odd years of canon stories to rebuild the franchise from scratch, they can’t expect people not to weigh the two timelines against each other. Having done this, I must agree with the assessments made by many other fans; from my perspective, Disney/Lucasfilm is turning the vibrant, colorful worlds of Star Wars into a relatively bland and shallow universe. With the exception of Rebels and Rogue One, none of the new Star Wars material I’ve read or seen comes close to matching the original EU’s depth and energy.

This isn’t a spur of the moment decision. I have read some new timeline books, and I can point to certain problems I had with them. As detailed here, I ran into things in a couple of these novels which irked and disgusted me. While others might consider these to be minor problems or to be small, isolated changes in a bigger picture, they are nothing of the sort to me.

The reason these alterations are not insignificant to this blogger is that they illustrate a wider, bigger, and very disconcerting (to me and others) disparity between the two timelines. Up until the Yuuzhan Vong War, there was an animating spirit which enlivened the old EU – one that is missing from the New Timeline. The fact that it’s missing isn’t obvious at first; I got hooked by the writing in Lost Stars until the second sex scene occurred. Having found Star Wars books to be free of such things in the past, Claudia Gray’s second “romantic interlude” in Lost Stars threw me out of the story fast and hard. I only finished the story because I was half-hoping it would get better.

All it did was get worse.

Related image

Now I will not say that the old EU was perfect. My dislike of and outright hatred for the original EU’s Yuuzhan Vong War and following stories is well-documented. The only thing I find acceptable about the original timeline’s Yuuzhan Vong War books and following media was the addition of Ben Skywalker, Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker’s son, to the storyline. The rest of stories which followed the Yuuzhan Vong War are detestable trash. It is true, too, that I still like Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels (up to season four, anyway). The New Timeline didn’t completely disappoint me in these areas; these stories were what gave me hope Disney/Lucasfilm could do honor to the franchise.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Disney/Lucasfilm’s New Timeline has dashed that hope, and not simply through its lamentable handling of the Skywalker saga. I not only agree with others who believe that Luke, Leia, and Han have all been terribly abused by the new writers, I believe this disrespect has trickled down to their treatment of great secondary characters like Admiral Ackbar and Wedge Antilles. The excuse some Disney/Lucasfilm execs have probably used on fans like me who complain about these disheartening changes to the Star Wars brand is that the franchise is called “Star Wars.” It’s about a galaxy where war is a constant. “Of course people are going to die in Star Wars!” these execs shout at me and other fans, “You’re all idiots for expecting your heroes to live forever. Everyone dies, especially in wars. That’s real life!”

My answer to that multi-layered insult is yes and no. Yes, people die in wars. Yes, heroes cannot live forever – not here, anyway. They have to pass beyond the curtain of death to reach eternal peace, life, and happiness, the rewards for their long years of service to the Greater Good in the physical world. I recognize and understand this. In point of fact, I embrace it.

But since Disney/Lucasfilm wants to play the “perpetual war” card, allow me to lay out an Idiot’s Array in answer: all of human life is a war. Every human being born into this world is engaged in a private war with himself or herself, with the world, and with the devil. To live is to go to war. And in order to get through these personal wars, which end only at our deaths, we need heroes to inspire us to keep fighting when everything seems hopeless and pointless. Fictional “people” who succeed despite the challenges facing them, who “could have turned back lots of times, only they didn’t,”  to paraphrase Master Samwise Gamgee. Without the help of such fictional reminders, most of us would have cracked under the pressure to “take the quick and easy” path a long time ago.

The original EU writers recognized and understood this, at least prior to the Yuuzhan Vong War storyline (though some knew it even then, but were prevented by Lucasfilm’s editors from doing what they knew was right). Human life, human history, is a battle – a continuous war – against the physical and interior manifestations of evil. While I am inclined to believe that Filoni and Zahn still understand this truth, I am convinced that the majority of the new writers have forsaken the truth and The Truth for another agenda entirely.

Wedge and Iella, Starfighters of Adumar, by Chris Trevas ...

Wedge and Iella Antilles

I’m sorry if my opinion hurts your feelings, readers. But this is what my various encounters with both SW timelines has led me to believe. Reminiscing about and studying Wedge’s original depiction in comparison to that of his new timeline counterpart is what put this difference between both universes into perspective for me. I know that plenty of people aren’t going to agree with the opinion I have voiced here, but this is what I think. With a few notable exceptions the new Star Wars timeline is, to me, a weak imitation of the original.

That’s not a fun thing for this writer to admit. However, as Kyle Katarn said, “The truth hurts, but lies are worse.” It’s time I stopped dancing around the point and stated my position clearly: I am officially done with the New Timeline. Disney/Lucasfilm is not supporting the truth; therefore, I cannot and will not support them.

This means that the new timeline’s Wedge Antillies is not the one I am – or will ever be – looking for. The Wedge I am looking for is ensconced in an X-Wing cockpit, frying TIEs and leading the Rogues. He’s happily married to Iella Wessiri, whom he finds more attractive as time passes. He is planning to tell his daughters to wear blasters when they reach dating age, just in case they run into a problem. He is also waiting to hear his friends Luke, Han, and/or Leia say, “Hey, I need a favor…” because whenever they call on him, things get interesting real fast.

If you want to “meet” the Wedge I like so much “in person,” readers, you can start with his “Legends” Wookieepedia article here. If you would prefer to skip that, try Timothy Zahn’sThrawn trilogy and Hand of Thrawn duology. (Neither set of books requires any kind of Warning for Younger Readers. Although he has his faults, Zahn writes squeaky clean stories.) Wedge’s parts in the trilogy are brief but well rendered, and he shines very brightly in the Hand books. Jedi Search is another good place to “meet” Wedge, too.

Until I can read and review more books starring my favorite EU Rebel/New Republic pilot, these are my only reccommedations for you, readers. So, ‘til next time –

May the Force be with you!

Image result for star wars legends wedge antilles

Best Friends Forever.

Advertisements

Star Wars: Dark Forces – Soldier for the Empire by William C. Dietz

Star Wars Dark Forces Soldier for the Empire HC (1997 Dark ...

Whoo, all right! We are bookin’ it, readers!  (Haha – pun. 😉 ) Here’s the next Star Wars book on my promised review list: Star Wars: Dark Forces – Soldier for the Empire. This is the first of three short novelizations based on video games where the fan-favorite original EU character Kyle Katarn made his debut. Originally, the hero of the Dark Forces video games was supposed to be Luke Skywalker. However, the game makers realized that putting Luke in the games would mess up the franchise’s continuity. So they decided to come up with a completely new character for the game instead.

This proved to be a really good idea. Due in large part to Kyle’s character, Dark Forces skyrocketed to fame with fans, so much so that several subsequent games were designed for the new Jedi. To make one of these sequel games – Dark Forces II – more interesting, the designers hired actors and actresses to play the characters in “live action” cut scenes during the game. If you want to see what those look like, readers, then check out this post of mine here.

Based on the videos alone, I can see why Kyle became such a hit with fans. Dark Forces II was state of the art when it was created and, while it may not have held up perfectly in everyone’s opinion, the craftsmanship that went into it still shows. Looking at those videos, I wish more modern games had scenes where real actors portrayed characters in the game(s) story/stories. Dark Forces II is a real gem!

All right, drooling done. Time to describe the book. Soldier for the Empire starts out long before Dark Forces II, taking place a few months before the Battle of Yavin. The book begins on the moon world of Sulon, a farming colony with a population mostly made up of humans and droids. Morgan Katarn, father of the hero of the story, sets out from his farm to replace a water pump some distance from his house. While he walks off, thinking about the state of the galaxy, he begins to get a funny feeling that something’s coming…

doloresserier.se - Star Wars Dark Forces Soldier of the Empire

Something dangerous.

His instincts are correct. Above Sulon, a Star Destroyer under the command of the Dark Jedi Jerec looks down on the moon. Despite what the crew thinks, Jerec hasn’t come here just to destroy the Rebel cell on Sulon. He wants Morgan Katarn – alive. Morgan was friends with a Jedi Knight named Qu Rahn, a straggler from the Jedi Purge. Rahn entrusted a valuable secret to the farmer before going into hiding, and Jerec wants the power of this secret.

Since Qu Rahn’s whereabouts are currently unknown, the Dark Jedi’s come to Sulon to take what he wants from Morgan. To that end he deploys Imperial troops disguised as Rebels to lay waste to the farming community. He has them hit one farm and kill the family living there to make the assault look “realistic.” Then he sends them on to Morgan’s place.

But Morgan is Force-sensitve, just like his son. His going out to repair the pump isn’t entirely his own idea, as he discovers when his position allows him to watch the Imperials attack and wreck his farmhouse. Recording the attack, Morgan goes to join the other Rebels, who decide to make a stand against the Empire. They believe the Empire has come to destroy the thermal generator they have been working on for some time now. Once completed and fully operational, the “G-tap,” as the colonists call the generator, will provide the Sulon colony with energy independence.

While Morgan knows the G-tap is in danger of being destroyed, he counsels that Rebel lives are worth more than the generator. He reminds his fellow Rebs that they can always build another generator. They can’t serve their cause or replace their people if they are all dead.

No one listens to Morgan’s sound advice, though, and a few hours later the battle begins. As Katarn predicted, the Rebels on Sulon are completely wiped out. Among the few survivors left for interrogation, Morgan alone is hauled aboard the Star Destroyer to face Jerec. Rather than give the Dark Jedi what he wants, Morgan spits at him and makes a snappy, somewhat rude evasion.

Jerec’s response is to behead him with a vibro-blade. The Dark Jedi then has Morgan’s head put on a pike outside the space port for visitors to see. He has the rest of the Rebels’ corpses beheaded and their heads lined up along the spaceport walls as well, to further emphasize the lengths the Imperials are willing to go to maintain control of the galaxy. (*Author whistles lightly.* They really didn’t play around in the original Star Wars Expanded Universe, readers.)

Star Wars Dark Forces Soldier for The Empire HC HB New | eBay

Completely unaware of what is going on back home Morgan’s son, Kyle Katarn, is undergoing his Omega Exercise. The last test Stormtroopers have to face before they enter service, the Omega Exercise consists of attacking Rebel bases. Those cadets who survive the battle to capture the base and kill the enemy become full-fledged Stormtroopers. The Rebel base Kyle and his men have been assigned to take is in an asteroid belt, but the base itself is called Asteroid-456.

Kyle’s Exercise proves to be a brutal one, with most of his men killed during their forward march through the base. Halfway into the compound, Kyle and his unit reach the communications center of Asteroid-456. This base, as he learns later, is a communications’ hub. Rebel journalists risk their lives to film Imperial attacks and atrocities before taking those films to bases such as Asteroid-456. From there, the Rebels broadcast the footage around the galaxy, allowing thousands of beings to see it. When they do, many flock to the nascent Rebellion to join up and put an end to the Empire’s evil.

Having lost so many men in the fighting, Kyle’s sergeant wants to kill the unarmed Rebels in the comm center immediately. But Kyle, who took his Stormtrooper helmet off sometime earlier, meets the eyes of one of the Rebels; a woman his own age he will later learn is named Jan Ors. He feels an instant connection with Jan, whose startled gaze shows she has felt the “spark” between them, too. Because of that – and the fact that she and the others are unarmed – Kyle orders his unit to spare them.

The Rebels don’t wait around when he makes it clear they should go. They split, and Katarn takes his men back to the mess hall to wait for the Rebels’ reinforcements to attack. Only six men, including Kyle, survive the resultant onslaught. With the sergeant among the dead, no one’s available – or willing – to tell the Empire about the commanding cadet’s merciful actions. Kyle is commended for his bravery in the battle at his graduation, being awarded one of the Empire’s most prestigious medals. His friend Meck Odom invites him to dinner with his family after the ceremony, and Kyle has a grand time with them…

…Only to receive a devastating shock later that night, when he learns that his father is dead. And apparently, the Rebels murdered him.

Soldier for the Empire is a really, REALLY good book. Dietz handles the descriptions of Kyle’s Force-sensitivity impressions well for the most part, and he absolutely nails the atmosphere for Star Wars. The book is a little short on detail in some places for my tastes, but it is based on a video game. Having read novels based on film scripts, I kind of expected that going in. There is always some missed detail in a novel based on a visual medium. I don’t know why that is; I just know it’s there.

Among the many things to praise this book for is the artwork. Lucas Arts/Film hired Dean Williams to paint the pictures, and he did a phenominal job. To quote Sabine Wren, “Now that is art.” A couple of the paintings in the book are so well done that, at first glance, they look like photographs. When I saw the painting of Jan first meeting with Kyle, I half expected her to blink, move, or breathe. Williams is that good of an artist he made his subjects appear to be realI hope he’s still painting!

Image result for Star Wars: Dark Forces - Soldier for the Empire

All right, now it’s time for a Warning for Younger Readers. There are no sex warnings for Soldier for the Empire. Kyle doesn’t have any sexual fantasies, no women are attacked or abused, and his relationship with Jan is completely above board. But there is a gore warning, which we have already sort of covered. About midway through the book, there’s a lifelike painting of Kyle turning away from an image of his father’s head on a spear. It’s not a particularly gross painting, in my opinion, but it is unnerving.

Because the head is in the top left corner of the picture and Kyle takes up the majority of the bottom right half of the print, a reader’s eye is naturally drawn to him when the page is opened. You notice the heads on the wall behind Kyle’s back, but they’re not rendered in a truly disgusting way. And, since he’s surrounded by light, Kyle tends to make those images look kind of curious rather than scary or disgusting. The only way to notice Morgan’s head is to study the picture or start reading the page opposite the painting. And due to this warning, avoiding looking hard in that direction shouldn’t be too much trouble.

The only other warning I have is for another picture earlier in the book that shows a pair of hands raised above fallen girders in the Rebel base. The hands are not armored, nor are they gloved; they are twisted with the final spasms of agony the dead person experienced. Again, though, the picture draws a reader’s attention more to Kyle and his fellow Stormtroopers than to the hands. You have to look hard to notice the hands and, even then, they are not painted in such a way as to truly frighten or disgust a reader. Dietz and Williams knew the requirements for the story, but they also knew that their target audience included children in the 10-17 age group. Thus I think they did a good job of making sure the story kept its impact without being too bloody and gorey.

These are really the biggest things a smart 10-15 reader should watch out for whenever they pick up Soldier for the Empire.I know someone in this age group who loves this book despite these pictures, so that gives me confidence to recommend it to others who are the same age. Though now that I think about it, my young friend can put up with an awful lot of gorey stuff…. (Author makes a slightly worried face.)

The decision to read or not read this book is entirely up to the young reade, of course. If you don’t think you can handle Soldier for the Empire, wait a little while before you read it. It is a good book, one I wholeheartedly recommend, in part because it carries strong echoes from the original films. Kyle is a great character, as is Jan, and Jerec is a close runner up. The guy is scary, no two ways about it. Bonus points, Mon Mothma, Lando Calrissian, and Thrawn each get guest appearances in this story. We never really see them (except for Lando) in a painting, but they do “appear” in the book. 😀

And if that wasn’t enough, I could literally vouch for this being a good book based on the artwork alone. It is absolutely fantastic! Before you head out to get the novel, readers, here are some prints of Dean Williams’ paintings. Man, I hope this guy is still creating. His work is AMAZING…!

Image result for Star Wars: Dark Forces - Soldier for the Empire

Related image

Image result for Star Wars: Dark Forces - Soldier for the Empire

Jan Ors - Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki

“Remember, the Force will be with you. Always.”

Extra Star Wars Legends Trivia!

Hello, Readers! During conversations with the girls at The Elven Padawan, it occurred to this blogger that there  might be some youtube videos about the original Star Wars‘ timeline that could be used to fill in gaps in this writer’s knowledge of the old EU. Having found several videos that helped me to get a better handle on the original SW Expanded Universe, I began posting them here at Thoughts, along with links to information about the original Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Unfortunately, however, it seems that youtube has run out of videos about individual characters in the original Star Wars universe. Thus, until I can hunt up a few more, these will likely be the last videos you will see here on this site for a while. Hopefully I will be able to find a few extra videos for you to view soon, though, and we will all be able to enjoy geeking out over these great characters.

In the interim, please remember:

“The Force will be with you, always.”

R2-series Astromech Droids (Legends) – Star Wars Minute (with R2-D2)

 

IG-88 B (Legends) – Star Wars Minute

 

The Legend of HK-47 – Star Wars Explained

 

How the Galactic Civil War came to an End – Star Wars Explained

 

The Legend of Gilad Pellaeon – Star Wars Explained

 

The Legend of Natasi Daala – Star Wars Explained

 

The Tragic Life of Admiral Ackbar | Star Wars Legends Lore

 

The Legend of Borsk Fey’lya – Star Wars Explained

 

The Legend of Satele Shan – Star Wars Explained

 

The Legend of Jolee Bindo

 

The Legend of Meetra Surik: The Jedi Exile of The Old Republic

 

Every Member of Rogue Squadron – Star Wars Explained

 

Mandalorians (Legends) – Star Wars Minute

 

All Clones that Disobeyed Order 66 [UPDATED]

 

Mon Calamari Origins (Legends) – Star Wars Explained

 

The Most Unique and Unorthodox Lightsaber Duelists [Legends] – Star Wars Explained

 

How Luke’s Jedi Order Differed from the Old Jedi Order [Legends] – Star Wars Explained

 

How The Empire Legalized Slavery: Star Wars lore

 

Spice Mines of Kessel (Legends) – Star Wars Minute

Spotlight: Star Wars’ Forgotten Heroines, Part 1

Image result for Star Wars

One of my first thoughts when I heard the announcement for the new Star Wars timeline was, “What about all the characters in the old EU? Are they going to bring them back? It should be easy to do – and really cool. Then we could ditch the stupid Yuuzhan Vong War and a lot of the ludicrous events which followed it while keeping all the good stuff.”

Even as I thought that, however, I knew the new owners of Star Wars were not going to do this. It makes a certain amount of sense for them to wipe the slate clean, of course; Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill are not young enough to translate the Thrawn Trilogy to the silver screen, and we have already lost Carrie Fisher. It would be foolish to try and film movies where Han and Luke would have to run around like they did in the original trilogy. This I can readily understand and accept.

What I cannot comprehend is the owners’ decision to scrap all the valuable Expanded Universe characters developed through hundreds of Star Wars novels and memorabilia over the last forty years. Marvel has been around almost twice as long as Star Wars and we are still running off to theaters to watch several of their original heroes in action. If Marvel can do this, why couldn’t Star Wars?

None of this is not to say that I wish Rey and Finn were not present in the new Star Wars films, or that we had not had Star Wars Rebels. My only point is that the original timeline, up to the Yuuzhan Vong War, could have been maintained. This would have allowed a new sequel trilogy to be filmed using characters from the Expanded Universe while permitting the additions of Rey, Finn, and the Rebels crew to the canon.

This is most true with regards to the heroines in Star Wars. Many critics are thrilled with all the women being shown in the new films; everyone who is anyone in the big media/academic circles is yowling, “YAY, a galaxy far, far away is now finally run by women!” What they miss (or ignore) is the fact that a galaxy far, far away never actually lacked for strong female characters in the first place.

And yes, I do have proof to back up this assertion. Below is the first half of a list of the heroines who could have been part of the new timeline, if the people in charge of Disney/Lucasfilm had wanted them to remain therein. Along with the biographic information on these heroines, I have included a few words about how the women could have been used in The Force Awakens, Episode VIII, Star Wars Rebels, and Rogue One. First up on this list is none other than…

Image result for Jaina Solo

Jaina Solo Fel: Han and Leia’s only daughter and oldest child, Jaina was a fun, magnetic, amazing character. Named for her paternal grandmother, Jaina was five minutes older than her twin, Jacen. Described as having her mother’s looks, her father’s confidence, and the family’s innate piloting skills, Jaina was said to have taken after her Uncle Luke the most.

Having read The Crystal Star and two sets of collected Young Jedi Knights stories, I can say that I see the resemblance. Jaina was as beautiful as Leia and had her father’s tendency to overconfidently say things she later regretted, but the member of her family whom she really took after was Luke. Stubborn and strong-willed, she displayed early on a sense of responsibility and idealism that matched her uncle’s. Good with machines and possibly the best of the three Solo children at flying, Jaina eventually achieved the rank of Jedi Knight in the old EU. She also became a member of the prestigious X-wing fighter contingent that her uncle and Wedge Antilles founded: Rogue Squadron.

Image result for Jaina Solo

Jaina possessed a lightsaber with a purple blade like her aunt, Mara Jade Skywalker. This color of lightsaber, according to the video here, means that the Jedi holding it can use both Light Side and Dark Side techniques without going over fully to the Dark Side. I do not see why the writers behind the new Star Wars trilogy couldn’t have had Jaina shooting down TIEs over Takodana while flirting with Oscar Isaac, who should have been cast as her love interest Jagged Fel, not Poe Dameron.

Now, this does not mean that Rey would have had to be replaced with Jaina; she could have remained the lead character while Jaina could have been a secondary character in the story. Jaina could have been fighting the First Order with the rest of the Jedi and New Republic forces as a Knight and an X-wing pilot while Rey was revealed to be Luke’s long lost daughter or something. Along with Isaac’s character, Fel, Jaina could have been a member of the new Rogue Squadron, with her nickname of “Sticks” being used several times during the dogfights.

Doing this would have allowed other writers to create spin-off films and books focusing on Jaina Solo, broadening the Star Wars franchise and winning new fans for it. I cannot understand why no one in Hollywood thought to keep Jaina and her two younger brothers for the new timeline, since it would have given them so many golden opportunities to (a) tell good stories and, (b) make boatloads of money off of old and new fans. *Sigh.* Oh, well…

Image result for Winter Celchu

Winter Celchu: Winter was introduced to Star Wars fans in the Thrawn Trilogy. A childhood friend of Leia Organa while the princess was being raised on Alderaan, Winter had long white hair and enough regal bearing that she could easily pass as the X-Man Ororo Munroe/Storm’s sister from another mother.

Growing up with Leia in the palace meant that Winter was often mistaken by visitors for the real Princess of Alderaan. This was because she lacked Leia’s fiery, rambunctious nature. Where Leia would flare up and fight, Winter would stand by and stay quiet, acting more like a model princess than her best friend did. She was a calm woman who never let on what she was thinking to most people. Only Leia could read her accurately ninety percent of the time – and that was without relying on her Force sensitivity!

The one character I know of in Star Wars with a perfect – a.k.a. photographic – memory, Winter went to work for the Rebellion along with Leia. But because of her memory, she rarely engaged the Empire in combat; most of her service was done in acquiring supplies or information for the Rebels. She only had to enter a warehouse or see a file once to remember it clearly for the rest of her life, allowing her to tell the Rebels which crates to grab or to accurately recite the information they needed. Winter had several codenames during this time, but her most famous moniker while she worked in Rebel Supply was Targeter.

Image result for Winter Celchu

Because of her job in the Rebellion, Winter was not on Alderaan when it was obliterated by the first Death Star. More than any other survivor of that doomed world, however, its destruction pained her constantly. With her infallible memory Winter could recall every detail of her homeworld’s annihilation, along with all her feelings about it and the approximate number of people who were on the planet when it blew. No one ever meant to twist the knife further into her heart by bringing the planet up, but even casual mention of Alderaan would cause a flicker of pain to cross Winter’s face, which was otherwise a mask of tranquility.

When the Rebellion became the New Republic, Winter returned to become Leia’s aide/lady-in-waiting. While fulfilling her duties as an assistant (and secretly recording every conversation or meeting Leia had to sit in on for her), the two maintained their old friendship. When the Solo twins and Anakin were born, Winter fostered them at hidden locations until they were about two years old, so that the children could not be taken and corrupted by Dark Siders or the Empire. For this reason Winter was loved as much by the Solo heirs as by Leia and Han.

Related image

At some point, Winter married fellow Alderaanian survivor and Rebel fighter pilot Tycho Celchu. Tycho flew with Rogue Squadron as late as the Hand of Thrawn Duology, and he may have married Winter because she soothed his heart. Tycho’s fianceé died along with his family on Alderaan, leading him to join the Rebellion. Sometime after Return of the Jedi, he was caught by the Empire, which tortured him in an attempt to break and brainwash him.

Though Tycho never cracked under the pressure and eventually escaped to rejoin the New Republic, no one trusted him for a while. In fact, he was put on trial when his friend and squadron mate, Corran Horn, was shot down by the Empire in such a way that it appeared Tycho had murdered him. Only Corran’s reappearance a little later, alive and unharmed, saved Celchu’s career. The man had a lot of anger issues, which may be why he was paired off with Winter.

While she probably would not have fit into Rogue One, I think Winter could have appeared many times in Star Wars Rebels. Her perfect memory would have provided the Ghost crew with ample help stealing supplies. It would also have been fun to see someone calmer and harder to rattle than Hera sitting beside her in the cockpit during a chase scene. 🙂

Sadly, as far as I know, Winter was thrown out of Star Wars canon when the new timeline was created. Apart from the Thrawn Trilogy, you can find more of her in Timothy Zahn’s novel Scoundrels. There she has a big part and a point of view you can follow along with. She really is a worthwhile character, readers, and I wish they had not removed her when creating the new timeline.

Image result for mirax terrik horn

Mirax Terrik Horn: Mirax was the wife of a former Corellian Security agent and Rogue Squadron pilot Corran Horn. Corran was a Jedi Knight descended from a long line of Corellian Jedi who consistently and repeatedly broke the Order’s ban on marriage without trouble. Mirax Terrik Horn may have been slightly less well-known than her husband in the old EU, but she was no less of a fighter.

It is probable that Mirax never dreamed she would marry Corran, since he was the son of the man who sent her father – smuggler and known Rebel sympathizer Booster Terrik – to the spice mines of Kessel for five years. Booster never thought his daughter would marry Corran, that’s for sure. But when the Force-sensitive Horn began flying with Wedge Antilles and the Rogues, he met and became close to Mirax Terrik.

Outside of the Hand of Thrawn Duology, I have never really “met” Mirax. But from what I have read about her, she struck me as a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails woman who was even more sympathetic to the Rebellion/New Republic than her father. She and Corran married before the Thrawn Trilogy, when he was just beginning to learn about his Jedi heritage. More battles elapsed before he could go back to home to her, so Corran was sincerely looking forward to the peace of being with his wife. This made it a nasty shock when he discovered that, during his absence, Mirax had mysteriously disappeared.

Image result for mirax terrik horn and family

In order to find her, Corran threw himself into Force training at Luke’s new Jedi Academy on Yavin IV so he could acquire the skills he would need to locate Mirax. Needless to say he was successful in recovering Mirax, and the two went on to live quite happily together, running around the New Republic on separate missions between their times at home. They had two children – a son named Valin, a family name for Corran, and a daughter named Jysella – who followed in their father’s footsteps and became Jedi Knights.

Disney’s erasure of the old EU sadly prevented Dave Filoni from bringing Mirax, Booster, and the rest of their crew into Rebels. I think there would have been plenty of story material for the writers here, as the Ghost crew worked with pirates and smugglers who were actually in the fight more for the cause than for the money. I would have loved to have seen Mirax, Booster, and crew rushing around to help the fledgling Rebellion get up and running in Rebels, dang it, and so would a lot of other people!!! Rrrgh….

Image result for Iella Wessiri Antilles

Iella Wessiri Antilles: Iella Wessiri’s career started in Corellian Security. Married to a man named Diric Wessiri, the two were partners with Corran Horn in “CorSec,” and all three were fine agents. They were so fine, in fact, that when Imperial pressure on CorSec became too much for them, they escaped Corellia together and joined the Rebellion.

But unlike Corran, Iella and Diric did not become part of a fighter squadron. I don’t think they even joined the ground troops. No, they put their CorSec training to more immediate use as Rebel/New Republic agents (spies). Wedge Antilles first ran into Iella while undercover in Imperial City, where she was also spying for the nascent New Republic.

If you are wondering how Iella could have married Wedge when she was already married to Diric, it is a heartrending story. Diric and Iella’s jobs for the Rebellion/New Republic often separated them. More to the point, while they were loyal to each other, the fact is that their marriage was not very strong. Their love was not particularly deep, but that did not mean they fooled around with other people (though Iella came close once).

On one of his missions, Diric was captured and brainwashed by Ysanne Isard, the former head of Imperial Intelligence. After this, she had him work against the New Republic he had sacrificed so much to enter. Worst of all, Diric was completely aware of what he was doing while being absolutely unable to stop himself.

Image result for ysanne isard

Ysanne “Iceheart” Isard

This situation could not go on, and it didn’t. Diric was eventually ordered to kill an Imperial officer captured by the New Republic – one whom his wife had been assigned to guard. He pulled the mission off, hiding his identity under a hood that prevented Iella from recognizing him. She shot her husband through the heart after he killed the Imperial, discovering her fatal error moments later, when she pulled his hood off.

Iella was naturally distraught and tried to apologize, but Diric used his last breath to thank her for freeing him from Isard’s brainwashing. This meant, naturally, that Iella had quite the bone to pick with “Iceheart,” as Isard was known. When the wannabe Empress tried to retake her captured Star Destroyer/prison-and-brainwashing center, the Lusankya, Iella was waiting for her. She shot Isard dead, bringing the former director of Imperial Intelligence down for good.

After this, Iella kept working for New Republic Intelligence, until she met up with Wedge Antilles again at Adumar. It was during this mission that they decided they were a good match, leading them to tie the knot a little while later. From what I can tell, Iella really loved Wedge. Their marriage was much stronger and better than her marriage to Diric had been. They had two children together, both girls: Syal and Myri, named for Wedge’s older sister and his friend Mirax Terrik Horn.

Image result for Iella Wessiri Antilles

Myri was groomed by Iella to follow in her footsteps as an Intelligence officer. She went on to become a freelance investigator who made a fortune gambling daily on the casino deck of Booster Terrik’s ship, the Errant Venture. Meanwhile, Syal followed her father and became a top X-wing pilot. Despite the fact that he could not be around a lot while they were growing up, it appears both girls knew and dearly loved their father. Even after becoming a pilot and serving under Wedge for some time, Syal continued to call him “Daddy” – no matter who was around to hear her do it.

I have not managed to “meet” Iella yet, which really bugs me. If they had been able to include her in Star Wars Rebels I would have been ecstatic; she is an amazing character who could have done a lot with the Ghost crew. I have hoped to run across a story in which she has a part for years, but so far I still have not had that luck. Can anybody point me to a novel or comic book wherein she has a part, please?

Image result for Syal Antilles Fel

Syal Antilles Fel: Syal was older than Wedge Antilles by ten years. Their parents ran a refueling platform above Corellia, but it was a job that Syal considered boring. So when Wedge was seven years old, she left home – without saying a word to her parents or her brother – to become a holofeature actress. She used the stage name Wynssa Starflare and created quite a career for herself in the holofilm industry, prior to and during the Rebellion era.

This meant, naturally, that she wasn’t home when a CorSec patrol spooked a smuggler who had just pulled up to the family refueling station. Wedge was with family friends Booster and Mirax Terrik that day, so he wasn’t home, either. But he got to watch the smuggler disengage from the station prematurely in order to escape the CorSec patrol, which resulted in the entire complex exploding. Both of Wedge’s parents, Jagged and Zena Antilles, died in the blaze while evacuating people from the platform.

After this, Wedge became a member of the Rebellion while Syal remained an actress. She had intended to return home at some point to visit her family, feeling bad for running out on them with no explanation. But she never got back to apologize to her parents; though the tragedy had little effect on her career, it naturally upset her a great deal. This is probably one of the reasons why she became so devoted to her own husband and children after her marriage.

Image result for Syal Antilles Fel

Some time before Endor, Syal met Imperial Major and Baron Soontir Fel. The “Red Baron” for the Galactic Empire, Fel’s flying and fighting skills were already legendary when he met his future wife. A year after they first began dating, Fel proposed to Syal, and they got married a little while later. But before they wed she told Fel her true name, adding the fact that she was the sister of a Rebel currently serving in the fight against the Empire’s tyranny.

Instead of telling the Empire about her, Fel helped Syal set up a contingency plan which would allow her to safely disappear if her connection to Wedge should ever be discovered by Imperial authorities. After the Battle of Endor, when Ysanne Isard took over the Empire and allowed corruption to run rampant in the government, “Iceheart” sent Fel and his squadron to defend the Imperial world of Brentaal. It was a hopeless battle for the Imperials and Fel knew it. His paramount sense of duty, however, led him to fly the mission anyway.

Fel’s squadron was decimated in the fighting, and he himself was finally shot down by his brother-in-law’s fighter squadron. The Rogues took him into custody only for him to say something along the lines of, “You can’t capture me – I’m joining you!”

Related image

The minute Fel switched sides, Syal went into hiding with their two sons, Davin and Chak. They fled moments before Ysanne Isard’s agents could grab them in order to use them against the Baron. Fel and the Rogues spent ages working to find her and the boys, which they eventually managed to do. This allowed Wedge a chance to get to know the sister he barely remembered, since his parents did not want to discuss Syal after she left.

Unfortunately, their brother/sister reunion was short-lived. Syal’s husband proved to be such an annoyance to Isard that she went to Thrawn and asked him to get the Baron out of her hair. Thrawn wanted Fel’s tactical genius and flying skills for his own reasons, so he formed the plan Isard used to eventually capture the legendary pilot.

With Thrawn’s help, Fel then arranged to have Syal join him in the Unknown Regions. The two went on to have six – yes, six – children together. The oldest were Davin and Chak; then came Jagged, who was named for his maternal grandfather. Jagged eventually married Jaina Solo in the old EU and became the head of what remained of the original Empire. His descendants maintained control of the Empire for three generations after his and Jaina’s reign.

It makes no sense to me why Jagged, Jaina, and their marriage were not kept for the new Star Wars films. Keeping this relationship in the universe would have allowed for an abundance of stories for the Antilles, Solos, and Fels, along with a lot of material for Rebels. It would also have been interesting – and fun – to watch Hera matching her skill with Soontir Fel’s. That guy could fly!

Image result for StarWars Shada D’ukal

Shada D’ukal undercover in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

Shada D’ukal: Alongside the Noghri and the Mandalorians, in the old EU there is a lesser known – but no less impressive – warrior group that is made up entirely of women, as far as I know. Hailing from the burned out world of Emberlene, the Mistryl Shadow Guards work as bodyguards and assassins in order to feed and clothe the millions of refugees who scrape by amidst the ruins of their destroyed homeworld.

Shada appears briefly toward the end of The Last Command, but she has a much bigger role in the Hand of Thrawn Duology, and gets a few mentions in Survivor’s Quest as well. Her first appearance, however, is in one of the short story collections under the lable Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina. I have never read those – but that doesn’t mean I do not know how Shada’s history with the Rebellion predates our glimpse of her in The Last Command. 😉

In the Thrawn trilogy, Shada had just begun her bodyguard assignment to a smuggler chief named Mazzic. Apparently the Eleven (the rulers of Emberlene and the commanders of the Mistryl), thought Mazzic’s organization would bring them more opportunites in the future. Shada did her duty and stuck by the man for twelve years, despite the fact that she hated the fringe in general and, by the Hand Duology, believed that she had wasted the past dozen years of her life in service to a crook.

None of this meant, however, that she wanted him to be murdered. So when her old friend and fellow Guard, Karoly D’ulin, caught her taking up a position to protect her employer while he cut a deal with another smuggler, Shada was surprised and suspiscious. She went from suspicion to disappointment when Karoly explained that Mazzic was no longer her concern, then added that he wouldn’t be anyone’s problem in a little bit. Turns out, Shada’s old partner and a number of other Mistryl had been hired to help kill Mazzic.

Unlike the rest of her fellow Guards, though, Shada still believed in right and wrong. She defeated Karoly and killed the assassin, saving Mazzic’s life. But this act of justice and honor put her in the Eleven’s crosshairs, since doing the right thing meant she had defied their direct orders. Disobedience only had one punishment in the new Mistryl order: death.

Shada is a very interesting character. Though cynical and jaded, she did not lose her firm appreciation for principle and her determination to be virtuous. Even after twelve years “wasted” serving a no-good smuggler, Shada continued to believe in the values which first attracted her to the Mistryl’s service twenty years prior. She does not abide by wrongdoing or vengeance, even when it could save her life.

And boy, can she kick butt, readers!

If you want to know more about Shada D’ukal, pick up Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina or the Hand of Thrawn Duology today. I wish the writers for Rebels or Clone Wars had included the Mistryl in some of their stories. This is an organization I want to know much, much more about!

Image result for Tenel Ka Djo

Tenel Ka Djo: Tenel Ka hails from two original EU cultures which are matriarchal, but that’s about the only similarity between them. The daughter of Prince Isolder from the Hapes Consortium and the Dathomirian Force-witch Teneniel Djo, Tenel Ka was technically a princess of higher galactic standing than Leia Organa Solo. The Hapes Consortium, a matriarchy run by their Queen Mother, consisted of sixty-three planets. That’s right; I said planets – sixty-three (63) of ‘em. Everything important on these worlds was run by women. Men were second class citizens/slaves in the Consortium.

That was roughly the same case on the primitive world of Dathomir, which in the old EU books is entirely different from the one seen in The Clone Wars TV show. In the original Star Wars EU, Dathomirians were close enough to human that you could not tell the difference between them on sight. In fact, the original Dathomirians were probably fully human. They were also able to use the Force to tame the Rancors that lived on their world so they could use them as war mounts. Yeah, they were a very tough bunch. 😉

Dathomir in the old EU was run by matriarchy, as it was in The Clone Wars. But in the old EU, not all the Force-sensitive Witches on Dathomir were Dark Siders. Only the Nightsisters specifically used the Dark Side. The rest of the witches were either Light Side users or they did not tap into either side of the Force enough to qualify as servants of the Light or the Dark side.

Tenel Ka would never have been born if, five years after Endor, Leia Organa had not traveled to Hapes to negotiate their entrance into the New Republic. Having grown apart from Han Solo at that time, she opened the negotiations with the Queen Mother’s younger and only surviving son, Prince Isolder. Isolder grew fond enough of Leia that he was about to propose marriage to her when a jealous Han Solo intervened. He kidnapped Leia and ran off, Prince Isolder hot on his heels. The three ended up lost on Dathomir not long after this, where Han’s harebrained scheme to rewin Leia’s affections actually worked. The two were married not long after this.

Before that happened, though, Luke followed the three of them to Dathomir and was “captured” by Teneniel Djo. On Dathomir, when a woman “captured” a man, she did not just physically detain him. That was usually a precursor to marrying said man! Luke managed to wriggle out of this trap when Isolder somehow arrived. It was love at first sight (or something like that) for Isolder and Teneniel, and he took her back to Hapes. He then had to put his foot down when his mother, the Queen, tried to talk him out of the match. (Not an easy thing for a man to do in a matriarchy, that’s for sure.)

Image result for Tenel Ka Djo

You now have some idea of Tenel Ka’s origins. The product of two matriarchies with radically different technological levels, Tenel had the deadpan attitude of Hapan royalty mixed with the fierce strength and warrior spirit of her mother’s homeworld. She split her childhood between Hapes and Dathomir, adopting the customs of her mother’s people rather than her father’s. She liked to wear a lizard scale shirt and pants and she wore her red hair in elaborate Dathomirian braids. When she went to Luke’s Jedi Academy on Yavin IV, Tenel would do calisthenics in the morning before going indoors to listen to the latest lesson.

Jaina and Jacen fell in with Tenel when they arrived on Yavin, and it was soon apparent to anyone with eyes that the older Solo boy was head over heels in love with the princess. He would tell bad pun jokes in her presence to try to make Tenel loosen up and smile, since she kept herself outwardly impassive. For her part, Tenel kept her royal heritage a secret from the twins and their other friend, Chewbacca’s nephew Lowbacca, up until the four built their first lightsabers. Tenel took some shortcuts in the manufacturing process, which allowed her saber’s blade to die in the middle of her practice fight with Jacen. As a result, he accidentally cut off her left arm above the elbow.

Image result for Tenel Ka Djo

Tenel was immediately rushed home to Hapes to be outfitted with a cyborg prosthetic, which she Force-fully refused once the shock finally wore off. She got by, as far as I know, with her left arm ending in a stump for the rest of her life. Tenel Ka eventually made a new lightsaber with a turquoise blade and learned to use that effectively with only one hand.

Years later, after the Yuuzhan Vong War, Jacen and Tenel Ka finally became an item. This resulted in Tenel giving birth to a daughter, Allana, about the time Jacen went over to the Dark Side. He redeemed himself somewhat after his death by appearing to Tenel as a Force ghost, screaming a warning about a poison someone had set off to kill both her and Allana. Tenel and their daughter escaped the poison, but she decided that the life of a Hapan heir was no life for Allana. Before the old timeline was cut off, their daughter was living happily aboard the Millennium Falcon with her grandparents, Leia and Han Solo. To date, she is the only grandchild I know they had by either of their sons in the old EU.

I don’t see why the writers didn’t keep Jacen’s descent into the Dark Side a part of the new timeline. That way, instead of having Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, we could have had Jacen Solo/Kylo Ren. Tenel could have appeared in Episode VIII with the Hapan navy to help the Resistance/New Republic forces escape the First Order. Like in the books, the writers could have had her give Allana to her grandparents for safekeeping, as they all did their best to keep the New Republic from burning down around everyone’s ears. But unfortunately that is a story for an alternate universe, not for this one.

Whew! Well, readers, I am wiped. Tomorrow I will come back to finish telling you about the some other heroines from the original Star Wars timeline. I really, truly do not understand why Disney’s leaders condemned them to “Legendary” status for the rest of time; they could have gotten so much mileage out of these heroines, inside and outside of the new film trilogy…..

Oh, well, what’s done is done. Until tomorrow, readers, may the Force be with you all!

Book Review: The Hand of Thrawn Duology by Timothy Zahn

Image result for Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters

Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters (the edition published in 2002), was my first introduction to the franchise’s original Expanded Universe. While my parents had copies of several Star Wars EU novels and encouraged me to read them, I was young enough at the time that the volumes appeared too large and adult for a child of my age to understand. So I left the books sitting on the shelf, planning to dive into them when I was older and had a better chance of appreciating them.

Then, on a trip to the library, my father found The New Essential Guide to Characters. It was in the “for sale” shelves, so he picked it up and bought it for me – even though I was not truly interested in it at the time. Not long after he purchased it, however, I cracked the tome open to at least look at the pictures.

Over the years, “looking at the pictures” became “reading the profiles.” Gradually, I began to understand the Star Wars timeline outside of the films, which were my only source of Star Wars material up to that point. (Hey, I was a child! How many rambunctious tweens and teens do you know who prefer a good, big book to watching a movie?) But even as I began to put the Expanded Universe and film timelines together, I did not necessarily realize which characters were where and did what.

That all changed when I finally read Mara Jade Skywalker’s file. A New Hope, as I have said elsewhere, was the Star Wars film I loved best when I was young. Han getting frozen in carbonite kind of turned me off of the sequels until I was in my early teens, so the rest of the trilogy was something of a mystery to me for a while.

So when I learned that Luke had actually gotten married after Return of the Jedi, and to a woman who hated him and had vowed to kill him, I was thrown for a bit of a loop. I struggled with the idea for a bit, but eventually came to accept it, reading and rereading her profile along with all the others.

After a couple of years doing this, I decided enough was enough. Mara sounded pretty cool, from what I had read. So if she was this interesting in a character summary, she had to be twice as amazing “in person” – that is, in the novels. Not long after this I picked up one of the books I had been offered as a child and started reading, learning quickly that the Guide had undersold Mara Jade completely. She didn’t live up to her reputation; she exceeded it.

What does all this have to do with the Hand of Thrawn Duology by Timothy Zahn? Well, if you remember your own days as teenager, you remember that we sometimes start at the end or the middle instead of the beginning. I did not meet Mara in the Thrawn trilogy or even in Specter of the Past. I just jumped right into Vision of the Future and started reading.

The book knocked my socks off, readers. To this day, I would say it is my favorite Expanded Universe novel, and none of the new timeline books have beaten it. I rather doubt they ever will.

Image result for star wars specter of the past

Specter of the Past is the first book in the Duology. It starts, naturally enough, with a Star Destroyer. (Zahn always follows the original films’ format by showing us the Empire ahead of the Rebellion/New Republic.) Admiral Gilad Pellaeon watches the Chimera try out a new computer said to be able to predict an enemy’s attack pattern and then destroy their opponent while the ship is cloaked. Using Preybirds instead of TIE fighters, a number of Imperial pilots “assault” the Chimera before the ship cloaks. Then it engages its fancy targeting computer and counterattacks, firing off five hundred shots.

Five hundred shots plus a handful of fighters – how do you think the test went?

Badly, that’s how. Out of a pitiful number of targets, the Chimera’s blind shooting only “destroyed” one Preybird. Yeah, that is pretty pathetic, even by our standards.

Though the captain of his ship, a man named Ardiff, thinks the display is fine, Pellaeon is not pleased. The ship fired five hundred near random shots and only one fighter was “destroyed.” Besides which, Preybirds are not military fighters – even the New Republic did not use them during the Rebellion era. The fact that the Empire, which has been reduced to eight sectors at this point, is relying on Preybirds as fighters means only one thing…

The war is over. And they’ve lost.

Meanwhile, Han and Chewie have gone on a diplomatic mission to Iphigin to try and straighten out a trade dispute between two alien species, the Ishori and the Diamala. Leia, who has stepped down as President of the New Republic, is currently on Wayland getting some well-deserved R&R with their three children. A Calibop named Ponc Gavrisom is now President of the New Republic. Nevertheless, he immediately went to whistle up Leia’s help in solving this minor problem, despite the fact that her vacation has only just begun.

Well, Han Solo is not going to stand for this. He intercepts the message before it can reach his wife and goes in Leia’s place – without telling her what he is doing, of course. Before you accuse him of being a misogynist, readers, or say he thought she couldn’t handle the job, consider this: Leia is on vacation. She is, for the time being, not active in the day-to-day politics of the New Republic. She has also been handling one crisis after another for ten years and, now that she is no longer running the New Republic, should she have her rest and relaxation disturbed over one little trade disagreement?

I do not think Leia deserves that, and neither does Han. Rather than run and tell her about the fuss, he decided to handle it quietly on her behalf. If that isn’t gentlemanly – not to mention romantic – behavior on his part, then you can paint me as red as the Errant Venture and call me a sap.

Besides, Han has thought things through this time and come prepared. Not long after he and Chewie arrive at Iphigin to handle the trade dispute, Luke and R2 appear in the former’s New Republic X-wing. They trade some small talk before Solo explains that Chewie will handle the Ishori part of the disagreement while Luke takes care of the Diamala. He developed this plan because the Ishori think well when they are screaming in fury, while the Diamala would give Jedi and Vulcans a run for their money when it comes maintaining their calm.

Image result for star wars specter of the past

The plan is a sound one – but it hits an unexpected snag. The Diamala do not want anything to do with Luke, stating that Jedi who use as much power as he does inevitably fall to the Dark Side. Surprised – and somewhat miffed – Luke becomes Han’s advisor instead as the negotiations start…

…But at the end of the day, they have accomplished exactly nothing. The two species do not appear interested in getting along, leaving both our heroes with nothing except headaches for all their trouble.

However, it soon turns out not to be a total waste of a day. While they are trying to figure out a way to solve the mess, the men receive a message about an incoming freighter Iphigini Customs has been told is carrying contraband. Something about this gets Han excited, and after the call is terminated, he tells Luke the smuggler is just a distraction. Pirates blow the whistle to the authorities on a “smuggler” carrying contraband into the day side of a planet while they hit a night side target. Because Customs is running to take in the “smuggler,” they cannot get back to the night side of the planet to stop the pirates before they have grabbed whatever they want and run off.

But he and Luke can get there in time. They head for the Falcon and the X-wing to deal with the pirates, allowing them to burn off their frustration about the trade negotiation. But before the battle begins, Luke experiences a disturbing vision of the Emperor and another, more ancient Sith Lord he faced as a spirit, staring at him through the X-wing’s canopy. And they are laughing at him.

Meanwhile, on Wayland, Threepio tells Leia that Han ran off to handle a diplomatic matter. At first put out, Leia lets it go and decides it is better to just enjoy her time on Wayland with the Noghri and her children. Unfortunately, her vacation is interrupted by a Devaronian poking around where he should not be. The Noghri call her in to handle the matter, which she seemingly does….

…Until the guy drops a smoke bomb near Jaina and Anakin to cover his escape.

(L to R) Anakin, Jacen, and Jaina Solo

Anyone with sense knows that threatening the Solo children is a big mistake, so this Devaronian obviously lacks sense. Leia takes off with a Noghri escort to bring him in, only to get some unexpected help from Talon Karrde and Mara Jade. The two are on Wayland to hire Noghri bodyguards for some of Karrde’s informants – the ones who typically work in dangerous areas. The three learn when they capture the guy that the thief intended to sell a data card with a damaged document on it.

This soon proves to be a recipe for disaster. The document in question not only threatens the peace of the New Republic, it could start another galactic civil war. Only this time, the Republic will not be fighting the Empire for their freedom. This time, they will be fighting each other in a pointless attempt to get even with the past.

Our heroes scramble to prevent this, but things go from bad to worse when Luke has another Force vision. This one includes a picture of Mara, apparently dead in a cave somewhere. Not long after he has said vision, Mara disappears on a planet in Wild Space. Instead of sending someone else to get her, however, Luke leaves his friends and family to handle the New Republic’s problems while he goes in alone to rescue her.

Image result for star wars vision of the future

This is where Vision of the Future takes up the tale, and where I leave you, readers. I will not spoil anything else about these wonderful books, which are now old friends to me. If you do not enjoy the Hand of Thrawn Duology, I am sincerely sorry to hear that. They are truly great tales, though, and they deserve to be read at least once.

Before I go, I would like to add that at first Mara and Zahn’s constant remarks about Luke using too much power made no sense to me. As I said, my first experience of the Expanded Universe came through The New Essential Guide to Characters. There was not much there about Luke overusing the Force.

It was only when I read some novels in the Star Wars mythos besides Zahn’s that I found out what he was chastising Luke for doing – and thereby the other writers for the EU. Seriously, I enjoy the old EU more than the new timeline, but some of the writers for those books seemed to think being Force-sensitive means Jedi can get away with anything. Reading Jedi Search and the Young Jedi Knights series by Kevin J. Anderson was fun – except for the way he had Luke use the Force. Good grief, the difference between Light Siders and Dark Siders is that Dark Siders use the Force to gain power. Jedi rely on the Force as an ally, as a guide to get through life. They don’t master the Force – they serve it.

Zahn’s message must have hit home, because the novels following Vision of the Future took his stance toward the Force rather than Anderson’s haphazard treatment. Jude Watson may have been one of the authors who followed his example almost to the letter. Her The Last Jedi series for young Star Wars fans felt very similar, to me, to Zahn’s work. This was especially true in regards to the hows, wheres, and whyfores of the Force and Star Wars tech.

Well, that is it for now, readers. All I have to say before I go is that I hope you enjoy the Hand of Thrawn Duology. Remember, the Force will be with you, always.

Star Wars Rebels’ Trailer 2 for Season Four Is OUT!!

I missed this trailer when it came out, so this post is probably coming out a day late and a dollar short. But better late than never, right?

Okay, first things first. Turns out, that wolf we saw in the first trailer is a Loth-wolf. And it is part of a pack – a big one!

Ruhk, the Noghri bodyguard for Grand Admiral Thrawn, is now a canon character, readers. Thrawn wants him to take out Hera, and despite the Noghri race’s fantastic fighting skills, it looks like Ruhk gets his fanny handed to him in this fight. Don’t mess with Hera!!!

Kanan’s fate is not looking like it will be a good one. I’m still hoping he’ll make it to the end of Star Wars Rebels, and I would be SO HAPPY if he survived to be at the party on Endor. But I am not going to hold my breath that the writers will let him survive.

Ezra I think will live to the time of The Last Jedi, at least. If Disney/Lucasfilm really is planning a sequel/new series, keeping Ezra alive for it would make a lot of sense. Just because Ezra would live to the time of Rey, Finn, and Poe does not mean he would be a Jedi. As it is, we still do not know whether or not Luke and Rey are the only Force sensitives/Jedi in The Last Jedi. They are just the two we know about.

Finally, Mandalore is in serious trouble. The Empire seems to have developed some kind of lightning-type ray gun that can fry a person to ash without destroying the armor they are wearing. I think Sabine will live through the fight, but the odds for her family, Fenn Rau, and Bo-Katan living through it have shrunk dramatically.

But what am I babbling about? You came to see the video, not to read my ramblings about it! Here’s the second trailer for Star Wars Rebels‘ fourth and final season, readers. And, as always…

“May the Force be with you.”

The Mithril Guardian