Star Wars: Stories of Jedi and Sith Takeaways and Throwaways | Part Two

Continuing with the last half of the collection of canon stories has fewer lemons and we find the diamond in the rough. (Part One: Stories 1 – 5).

**Mild Spoilers for Star Wars: Stories of Jedi and Sith**

Illustrated by Jake Bartok

6. The Ghost of Maul by Michael Moreci

Canon Era: Fall of the Jedi 

Familiar Characters: Maul, Savage Oppress, General Grievous, Qui-Gon Jinn

New Characters: N/A

“You didn’t ask for this, that much is true,” Grievous says, “but you never leave it behind.”

The Ghost of Maul

Summary: 

Darth Maul, reeling from the loss of his brother, mother and rightful place in the Sith hierarchy is in search of…something. He is not sure what exactly, but something is calling him, something from the dark side. He arrives at a Sith Castle on an unknown planet, hidden from the galaxy and, more importantly, the Jedi.

But he is so drenched in anger and enters the Sith Castle with the sole purpose of finding this unknown thing that calls to him. Along the way he faces three specters from his past: Savage Opress, General Grievous, and Qui-Gon Jinn, who have some hard truths for Maul.

The Promise of the Premise: 

This is it. This is the main reason to read this novella. In all honesty, I never understood the appeal of Darth Maul. The character design was great and sold a lot of toys, but the character himself was severely lacking in The Phantom Menace. Then, for reasons best known to himself, Dave Filoni brought him back in a ridiculous manner in The Clone Wars. It still did nothing for the character, other than provide a convenient Force-user for Ahsoka to fight who wasn’t Anakin in The Clone Wars and who wasn’t Vader for Obi-Wan in Rebels

But this story of a lost soul searching for direction in a place that strangely tries to help him but also taunts him does more for Maul than any previous canon. Maul has put himself willingly in a cycle of pain.

Michael Moreci has written for Lucasfilm, specifically for IDW Star Wars Adventures comics, but this is his first entry for a novel. I am curious to see what he could do with a whole novel (perhaps about Maul) but maybe even those Sith that are referenced through the castle. 

Canon Contributions: 

And those Sith, the Sith Castle, and the planet (which remains a mystery) are all waiting for more context. There have been many references throughout canon (more recently in The High Republic) of the age of many Siths. So it is time to get some more background to that time and some Sith Lords.


Illustrated by Jake Bartok

7. Blood Moon Rising by Vera Strange

Canon Era: Age of Rebellion

Familiar Characters: Darth Vader

New Characters: Das Erdol, Kataarynnna

Despite the relatively short span in the long life of her kind, pain and torment filled it almost from the moment of her birth. Her hatred for the Empire burned with searing fire. Orphan.

Blood Moon Rising

Summary: 

On the jungle moon of Tsukimitsurin in the mid-rim is an Imperial refinery quietly being sabotaged by Rebel forces. Commander Das Erdol is relieved of her duties by Darth Vader who heads into the perilous jungle of the planet to hunt the Rebels. However, the predatory Vader soon meets his match in a Rebel wookiee leader, Kataarynnna, who has just as much determination to do good as Vader’s thirst for vengeance.

The Promise of the Premise: 

The whole story is just a series of people who think they are on top of the food chain getting a rude awakening. From Erdol to a chimeraleon (native to the planet) to Vader, there is a level of arrogance that ultimately defeats each. The last third is more of a traditional battle of light and dark, though the ending does not quite live up to the rest of the story. Still, seeing Vader go through some adversity is so rare that it is always welcomed.

Canon Contributions: 

We have a new planet, a new animal species, and a suggested Force-sensitive Rebel leader. The description of the chimeraleon is a half-dragon, half-jungle cat. I cannot imagine what that would look like off of the page. Maybe one day we will see both the dragon/cat hybrid and their native planet, but more likely we could see Kataarynna. She is an orphan like Vader, and he is impressed with her during their initial encounter as he tries to probe her mind for information. A wookiee, who is probably Force-sensitive, getting the better of Vader and living to tell the tale makes me think we might see her again. Especially since Vader is now obsessed with destroying her.


Illustrated by Jake Bartok

8. Luke on the Bright Side by Sam Maggs

Canon Era: Age of Rebellion

Familiar Characters: Luke Skywalker

New Characters: Reyé Hollis

Summary: 

In this first-person short story, Luke Skywalker insists that he is not afraid of the dark. He is unfamiliar with the dark, thinking of his homeworld of Tatooine, where the darkness is a relief, and you have more to fear from the hot sand dunes during the day. Which is the opposite of his current situation: Stuck in the dark, trapped in an ice cave-in under Echo Base with a Rebel sergeant who does not like him. The sergeant, Reyé Hollis, blames the Jedi for their current situation and thinks that Jedi overall are pointless and useless at best, harmful and dangerous at worst. In the end, things work out because Luke Skywalker is involved, and both men have a good laugh at what most would consider a traumatizing, near-death experience.

The Promise of the Premise: 

I supposed there had to be a light side story after three straight dark-side stories, but this story is also light-hearted. Too light-hearted that it veers towards silly. It is probably the worst story in the entire novella, but only because the situation is presented as low-stakes and the character not named Luke Skywalker is not memorable.

The closest this story comes to the theme is the different perspective of what exactly is terrifying about the darkness. And that Luke ultimately gets out of the situation by thinking about the place he spent much of his life wanting to leave.

Other than that, there is the least subtle thought from Luke that tries too hard to insert the theme of the novella:

Isn’t that something all people need, across space and time- Jedi or Sith, good or bad? Aren’t we all just looking for our purpose in this big, empty, dark galaxy?

Luke on the Bright Side

Overall I think Maggs captures the spirit of Luke Skywalker, but this revelation might have meant more coming from someone who had a little more experience in that galaxy. Perhaps an older Luke Skywalker from the Sequel Trilogy?

Canon Contributions: 

Nothing to see here. Carry on.


Illustrated by Jake Bartok

9. Masters by Tessa Gratton

Canon Era: Age of Rebellion

Familiar Characters: Palpatine, Yoda, Luke Skywalker

New Characters: N/A

The weak call him Emperor. It is only those nearly as strong as him in the dark side who know his best name.

Masters

Summary: 

The Death Star Mark 2 is finishing being built around the forest moon of Endor. And Palpatine sits in his tower and thinks about his triumph over the Jedi while anticipating a new apprentice. Noting that he has not felt this level of anticipation since the birth of his Empire and his apprentice Darth Vader. But he can also sense Vader’s conflict is waning and will not let his apprentice get to the moment of realizing he is more powerful than Palpatine. Then his mind wanders to the only other Master he knows is still alive in the galaxy, and recalls his last encounter with the Jedi Master Yoda. Meanwhile, Yoda is occupied having an important conversation with Luke Skywalker before he joins the Cosmic Force.

The Promise of the Premise: 

Two Masters who are nearing the end of their life: One knows it and accepts it, ready to join the Cosmic Force. The other has foreseen nothing but victory. Like Maul, I have trouble finding anything compelling about Emperor Palpatine, so the decision to contrast his POV with Yoda, leaning on the fact that Yoda is the last prominent Jedi Master alive is clever. Palpatine says he fears no one, but he does have a fear: He fears death as all Sith do (do the Sith even believe in the Cosmic Force?).
And when he senses Yoda’s death, Palpatine feels victorious because he views death as the ultimate failure. It is the best-written distinction in this novella between light and dark conveyed through these two Masters.

Canon Contributions: 

There are some potentially significant revelations in Palpatine’s Inquisitorius program as it is hinted that he started it, not just to find all Jedi, but one particular Jedi in Yoda. It is also hinted that Palpatine knows Yoda’s species, which is still unknown to everyone outside of the Star Wars universe. If Palpatine knew about Yoda’s species and informed certain people in the Empire to try and find them, then does that mean Lucasfilm could eventually reveal his species?


Illustrated by Jake Bartok

10. Through the Turbulence by Roseanne A. Brown

Canon Era: Rise of the First Order

Familiar Characters: Rey, Poe, Finn, Rose, BB-8

New Characters: N/A

“…when you hit those rough patches, you can’t just shut down you engine and hope for the best. The only way out is through.”

Through the Turbulence

Summary: 

Rey and Poe are stuck together on a planet, Thorat IX in the Outer Rim trying to buy supplies for the Millennium Falcon sometime after the Battle of Crait. Everyone has grown tired of the two bickering, so General Organa has sent them on a supply run for cables. Rey is also secretly struggling with her connection to the Force after the loss of Master Skywalker. They are trying to get the cables and get off-world before a poisonous fog sets in the atmosphere that can corrode a ship’s metal.

The two have to come together when BB-8 is abducted by a group of creatures known as Qoogai who live below the surface of Thorat IX. The rest of the story is a ticking clock as Rey and Poe have to work together, resolve their issues, defeat the Qoogai, and try and make it back before the fog sets in.

The Promise of the Premise: 

Rey’s imbalance with the Force is the main conflict in the story. Rey fears that, without the Force, she will be deemed useless by the Resistance (and fear is also of the dark side). Her conflict with Poe comes to a head when they are briefly captured by the Qoogai, and she confides this to him. Poe then compares her problem as a Jedi to one that both of them understand: The problem of a pilot when they hit turbulence. It is a simple metaphor, but one that works, both in their situation and every hero’s journey in Star Wars.

Canon Contributions: 

There is a duo ship that has been discontinued in the galaxy save for this one obscure planet in the Outer Rim. Could we see this ship in other Outer Rim planets before the Sequel Trilogy? The Mandalorian does take place mostly in the Outer Rim between the Original and Sequel Trilogy films.

The Qoogai are also new and, since they like orb-shaped items, they should find a place in a future Life Day story for the holidays.

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