Sunday Star Wars: Kreia, the One-Woman Critique of the Force

Concept art of Kreia.

At the heart of the best-written video game based on the Star Wars universe is Kreia, a complex character who serves to voice criticism against, and complicate, the way we perceive the Force.

Kreia, known also as Darth Traya, was a Jedi Master turned Sith after her exile at the hands of the Jedi Council. Her best-known apprentice is the Jedi Knight Revan who led many Knights to arms in opposition to the Mandalorians in the Mandalorian Wars, circa 5,000 years before the events of the Original Trilogy. Revan is one of dozens of characters who deserve their own posts but we’ll leave him alone for now. Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks!

It wasn’t just he amongst Kreia’s apprentices to have left behind the Jedi’s role as peace-keepers in the Galaxy at large. All of her pupils followed, which contributed to the weakening of the Order and its eventual near-destruction, one of the closest times the Jedi have come near extinction. But let’s not open that can of worms either.

Kreia from the KOTORCG (Wookipedia tells me that’s the source)

At the core of Kreia is this: She hates the Force. The notion of it disgusts her. A power that runs through all living things, dictating and influencing their every choice in the search for balance in all things. The Force is destiny, with a will all its own. And isn’t destiny anathema to freedom?

Kreia is a humanist. I just realised this now, and considering the lives lost over her actions, I can see how you would doubt this – but she seeks the death of the Force, the end of its power over all living beings. She seeks to unchain the galaxy from a cyclical struggle between destiny, a fight that’s gone for untold millenia and, as we well know, shall continue to go on and on for millenia yet.

But for all that, this Grey Jedi – for I can think of no one who’d fit the title better than she – still made use of the Force. Was it because she sought to destroy it from within, or did it become a crutch? She herself is uncertain – though I like to think it was the former rather than the latter.

Kreia is the most deliciously complex character in Star Wars, and her role is Socrates-like in KotoR 2. No matter the choices you make she will question you, forcing you – as a character in the game and as a player outside it – to question, in turn, the preconceptions you’ve constructed about the way this universe operates.

Kreia is the reason I fell in love with Star Wars all the more as a teenager, and I bet that if I went back and played it now, I’ll find her even more endearing than before. Props to the amazing Chris Avellone, former lead writer for Obsidian Entertainment, for giving voice to such brilliant, engaging criticism of Star Wars all those years ago. I leave you with this, Kreia’s reason for hating the Force in her own words:

If you enjoyed this, please don’t forget to hit that like button, share the post on your socials and leave a comment to tell me what you think about Kreia! Come to think of it, Kreia wanted to prevent the Sequel Trilogy. #showerthoughts

Sunday Star Wars: March Meme-A-Thon

It is a dark time in the galaxy. So what better way to alleviate the darkness than via a selection of memes based on everyone’s favourite space opera?!

DISCLAIMER: I’ve made none of these memes, I’ve merely saved them over the years.

We all know the bothans are incompetent, Admiral Ackbar Just Confirms it.
Here you see Darth Vader and his son refusing to practice social distancing. Though Vader is using a futuristic hazmat suit, his boy has no such luck and is directly under the threat of the coronavirus.
One could argue that the writing of the Clone Wars is of superior quality to the dialogue as crafted by one George Lucas
This one courtesy of Jedi: Fallen Order – the best Star Wars game since Knights of the Old Republic 2
You CANNOT have a meme-a-thon without baby Yoda…
…or this nightmare.

Lawlesness, cruelty, what else do you need as proof for the corruption of the Galactic Senate? Well, I’ve a message for you all.

Every time I see this, I snort-giggle.
And in the annals of personal ideology…

And, before we wrap it up for the day, the most upvoted post on r/PrequelMemes ever:

Most glorious thing I’ve ever seen, courtesy of 0_darth_plagueis_0

If you did not enjoy this rubric…

Sunday Star Wars: Enough With the Crappy Retconning!

Star Wars fans on Twitter, Reddit and all over the Internet have had a field day with all kinds of interesting tidbits, courtesy of Episode IX’s novelization. Virtually all of it has to do with Palpatine clones – which is one nightmare I’d hoped we had collectively turned away from after Disney’s wiping of ye olde Star Wars cannon.

Alas, no such luck. That nifty legacy idea of clone Palpy is back and ready to rumble, everyone!

The “controversial” news is that Palpatine’s Rey’s dad was a bad Palpatine clone, and that the Palpatine we saw in Episode IX was also a Palpatine clone, I ain’t impressed. I’m also a Palpatine clone, to tell you the truth. And so are you. It’s a palpandemic.*

Point on the first – ah, yes, gods forbid if any Disney property admits to its bad guys having sex. As for the second? Of course it was a Palpatine clone, this makes as much sense as everything else in the movie does! Which is to say, it’s not even in the same ball park.

To avoid more of this nonsense, I offered an elegant solution over on twitter:

This would work so much better for everyone involved, don’t you agree?

This is unfortunately the shortest entry in the venerable four-week history of my weekend Star Wars column as I’ve been busy with several other projects, including the conclusion of the penultimate chapter in my four-year long D&D game; I hope to talk about that too but for more Star Wars goodness, tune in next weekend! I suspect I’ll be talking about one or some of my most beloved or hated characters. Time will tell.

*No comedy writers were hurt in the writing of this joke.

SATURDAY STAR WARS – The High Republic Imprint Has Me Excited!

Here’s a little something you might’ve learned about me over the last few weeks, reader, if not the last few years. I am…quite fond of Star Wars. Yes, it’s true; I know, I know, you are shook to the core of your being, considering the title of this post. Bear with me as I gush about the newest Star Wars updates coming out of Lucasfilm!

Why am I this excited about a prequel series? “No matter what happens, we all know how it ends, right?” the more cynically inclined of you might think but to this I say: So what?! It’s the stories I care for; the notion of seeing Jedi philosophy at its absolute heyday, long before the Order grew complacent and eventuually . I love what the writing team is building; an age of heroism with the darkness of the sith far from sight. If done right, this event could revitalize the mythos of my favourite science-fantasy universe and really wash away some of the bad taste left from the unfortunate mess that was the sequel trilogy.

I have faith that this will go very well indeed, because I hold the work of Claudia Gray and Charles Soule in high regard. Both Gray’s “Master and Apprentice” and Soule’s “Darth Vader” run for Marvel Comics are some of my favourite Expanded Universe works in the post-Disney Star Wars canon, adding so much to beloved characters such as Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Vader himself.

Outside of these two novels and a third one aimed at middle-grade readers, The High Republic will also be explored over comic books, in an ongoing series by Marvel studio, which’ll bear (predictably) the High Republic title. Another Marvel ongoing, especially a flagship title for an event, likely means that the folks at Marvel editorial will get some heavy-hitters. I haven’t seen any artist names attached as of yet but the writer is Cavan Scott, of whom I know next to nothing – I think he did the Star Wars: Jedi Lost audiodrama, a Dooku-centric prequel. We only have a variant cover for the Marvel series:

The cover above features the new bad guys, the nihil, who have been described as “Space pirate vikings”. To this I can only say:

Yes, I went there.

There’s also going to be a comic series aimed at younger readers published by IDW, which I am somewhat confused by; for what it’s worth, it looks pretty sweet!

I suspect this Adventures series will revolve around Jedi of the Outer Rim which will be akin to sheriffs in the Wild West, but also explorers of new worlds in the Unknown Regions. This is where Star Wars excels – and I can’t wait to see what the writers have come up with!

Oh, and the cherry on top? Yoda’s going to have some part to play! He’s going to be a lean 700-year old Jedi machine! No one has come out and said so yet – but I will be damned if that little green friend of Palpatine’s isn’t going to be buzzing left and right with his tiny lightsaber, Jedi-ing like a crazy muppet.

Jokes out of the way, I am excited to see the Jedi draw from Arthurian legend; I want to see the Republic at its best; I believe this event has the potential to be fun and memorable and I hope it’ll bring plenty of new elements to the universe. And I love the aesthetics so frickin’ much, I cannot lie to you, there’s something about the brilliant light colours and the gammut of lightsaber colours that gets to me.

May the Force be with the architects of The High Republic! GIVE ME SOME BLOODY GOOD STAR WARS ALREADY.

SUNDAY STAR WARS: In Celebration of the Clone Wars!

I want you to seriously consider what you’re about to read. Even with the first season of The Mandalorian available for streaming, the Clone Wars is still the definitive Star Wars experience on the small screen.

“What? No!” I hear you say. “The Mandalorian was so good! How can a 3D animated series that ran from 2008 to 2014 beat a live-action show from 2019?”

The answer, reader, hides within the nature of The Clone Wars, a series which spans the adventures not only of the main characters of the Star Wars saga but of countless players, big and small, in the war itself. What The Clone Wars manages to do, especially once it moves past its weak opening season is the investigation of dozens of different theatres of operations in a galaxy at war. The show does so with admirable skill, empathy and intelligent storytelling.

This is Star Wars at its best, refusing to shy away from the complexities of adult life, offering children (it’s a kid’s show! It ran on Cartoon Network) a plentitude of moral questions and ethical dilemmas.

The Clone Wars looks at so many serious issues, not only specific to Star Wars but questions that offer serious food for thought on a moral level. Further, the show does a wonderful job at offering a multifaceted look at a conflict that, if you’ve only seen the prequel movies, comes across as very black-and-white. In the Season 03 episode, Heroes on Both Sides, the viewers are introduced to the separatist senator Mina Bonteri, a personal friend of Padme Amidala.

Mina Bonteri, Padme Amidala and Ahsoka Tano, S03E06

What better way to present entirely different stakes in a war that previously seemed clear-cut than to put a human face on it? Bonteri, whose attempt to pave a way to peace talks between the Republic and the Separatist Confederacy eventually costs her her life.

I would be remiss not to mention Ahsoka Tano once more in this column, as she is the character offering the viewers a way out; like us, she’s only ever experienced the Separatists as a hostile force, has never been in contact with members of the Coalition outside of Dooku’s agents, has never even considered whether the hundreds of worlds that broke off the Republic did so for good reason. And can we blame her? It’s the easiest thing in the world to see the enemy as less than you, some evil force possessed by malicious intent.

In Star Wars, of course, we know that malicious intent is real; and we know also that our heroes are, for all their nobility, tools in a war orchestrated by the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, in a chess game that is best encapsulated by the following image:

The story of is just one arc, a few short episodes. Other arcs examine questions of loyalty (to a commander whose orders are actively harmful to his platoon of Clones), guerrilla warfare as a force for good and ill, corruption and the role of banking in society (IN A KIDS’ SHOW!!!). And I’ve not touched on Jedi, the Force and lightsaber combat once!

I have yet to see the new season – I’ve been playing catch-up with the last two seasons, which I realised recently, I’d never finished watching. My excitement to see its seventh and final season, however, grows by the week – and I am overjoyed to know that The Clone Wars is back on the air.

Saturday Star Wars: Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston (Book Review) and Talking About Star Wars on Under A Pile of Books!

Hello everyone, and welcome to a new weekly column I’ll be writing for the foreseeable future, based on one of my favourite fictional universes of all time, STAR WARS! (In case the title was somehow misleading.)

As this is the first post in the series, I’ve a double treat for you all!

Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston – The Book Review

We readers and listeners sometimes enjoy books that are not necessarily great works of fiction. Ahsoka, for example, has no shortage of small issues, the greatest of all which is its rushed pacing – and yet, I cannot find it within myself to feel more than trifling annoyance at author E. K. Johnston. Not when I had such a wonderful eight hours listening to voice actress Ashley Eckstein bring the character to life once more.

Ahsoka is a brilliant character, one of the finest additions to the Star Wars universe. Her arc in the Clone Wars animated series never ceased to capture the imagination and her fate post-Order-66 was the subject of great interest before Anakin Skywalker’s former apprentice resurfaced in the Rebels series a few years ago.

With Ahsoka, E. K. Johnston fills in the blanks and shows everyone’s favourite togruta at one of her lowest moments. Ahsoka Tano has spent the first years of the Empire hidden away, uncertain about how to make a difference in a galaxy controlled by fear and plummeting ever further in the depths of oppression. Changing circumstances force her to relocate from her hiding place on planet Thabeska to a small Outer Rim moon by the name of Raada, a settlement of only a few hundred farmers. In this settlement, Ahsoka – or Ashla, as she goes by now – befriends some of the locals, embracing the uncomplicated life of a mechanic.

It doesn’t last long, as an Imperial contingent arrives with the sole purpose of exploiting the arid lands of Raada in order to grow a crop of nutritional supplement, which has the side effect of leeching the nutritional elements inherent in the Raadan soil. The Empire forces the farmers to grow this poisonous crop, to which Ahsoka does not take kindly to; the farmers are even less happy about working at the end of a blaster, and resistance is quickly in the works.

I’m continually impressed with how dark stories involving Ahsoka tend to get, and this is no different – there’s elements of torture here, of oppression, forced labour and mass murder. Just like the Clone Wars! Y’know…for kids!*

Ahsoka Tano, the confident wisp of a girl we know, is much changed at the beginning of this novel, the full extent of the Jedi Purge weighing down on her beyond anything she’s faced previously.  It’s no wonder that she’d be hesitant to find a cause to fight for, then; however, Ahsoka goes through a transformation as she witnesses the brutality of the Empire first-hand. Through luck, a few new friendships and even an old ally or two, however, we really see her find her footing in this cruel new galaxy; Ahsoka is above all, a story about hope regained.

Ahsoka side by side with her voice actress, Ashley Eckstein

Ashley Eckstein is a brilliant narrator; she’s truly made Ahsoka her own, to the point where thinking of anyone else taking over for her would force me and the rest of the Star Wars fanbase to rebel. She elevates an enjoyable novel to something I couldn’t stop listening to, an audiobook I want to return to despite having finished it a mere two days ago.

My other major complaint, besides the pacing which is really uneven throughout, has to do with the following: a few chapters felt out of place – especially one concerning everyone’s favourite Obi-Wan, which I can only imagine the editor forgot to delete, or perhaps the publisher inserted into the book by mistake. Bit of a weird flex, as the kids say.

My score for Ahsoka is 4/5 stars – with a recommendation to listen to the audiobook if you can, since it’s nothing short of brilliant. Please, Mister Mickey Mouse, gimme more Ahsoka stuff narrated by Ashley Ekcstein, sir!

*Though I make fun of this, I do actually believe that the adult way in which the Clone Wars, Rebels and, yes, this book too, deal with a variety of heavy topics is mature and something kids should bear witness to. The Clone Wars in particular has a depth of interesting topics, which are very relevant to the world we live in.

Talking about Star Wars on Under a Pile of Books

I’m on a podcast, y’all! *Squeals*

This is the first ever podcast I’ve done and though I was a little nervous and I did fumble words twice or thrice, I thought the end product turned out quite well! Chatting with fellow book blogger and Star Wars afficionado Calvin Park was tremendous fun – looking forward to next time! We spoke about so many different elements of the universe – the old Knights of the Old Republic Games, the original Thrawn trilogy, the Clone Wars and what we hope for in terms of what comes next for the movies!

You can listen to the podcast on Spotify:

That’s it for this edition of Saturday Star Wars! Thanks for joining me – come back next week!