Legends of the Force: Episode XVI – Dark Apprentice

We return to the Jedi Academy trilogy to see how Luke starts to train his students. Spoilers: Not everything goes well.

Opening Credits: Star Wars Theme from Super Star Wars on the SNES.
Closing Credits: Chiptune Cantina Band from Chiptune Inc. – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvJtiGFudFlvYMfjiU1NKJg

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Comic Review: Tales of the Jedi (Part 2)

Having finished the second book in the Jedi Academy Trilogy, this seems like as good a time as any to take a look at the comic book storyline discussing the rise of Exar Kun – The Freedon Nadd Uprising and Dark Lords of the Sith.


Freedon Nadd Uprising

Writer: Tom Veitch
Pencils: Tony Atkins
Inks: Denis Rodier
Lettering: Willie Schubert
Colorist: Suzanne Bourdages
Covers: Dave Dorman
Publication Date: August – September 1994

This is available independently in a Kindle/Comixology edition from Amazon.com.

Dark Lords of the Sith

Writer: Tom Veitch & Kevin J. Anderson
Pencils: Chris Gossett (1-5), Art Wetherell.
Inks: Mike Barreiro (1, 3, 5-6), Jordi Ensign (2, 4),
Lettering: Willie Schubert
Colorist: Pamela Rambo
Cover artist: Hugh Fleming
Publication Date: October 1994 – March 1995

This is available independently from Amazon.com.

Both stories are available in a combined form in Tales of the Jedi Vol. 2 (along with the next two arcs of the comic).

Plot Notes

Following the defeat of Queen Amanoa in the events of the first Tales of the Jedi storyline, Jedi Master Arca Jeth has decided that it’s best to remove the remains of Sith Lord Freedon Nadd from Onderon to the nearby moon of Dxun. As Jeth, and his students Ulic and Cay Qel-Droma, Tott Doneeta, and Master Thon’s former pupil Oss Wilum, move Nadd’s sarcophagus and the remains of the former queen, Amanoa, to Dxun, they are attacks by followers of Nadd, stealing the sarcophagi.

The Jedi consult current Queen Gallia’s father, King Ommin, for assistance. To their surprise (but not exactly mine), Ommin turns out to also be a Nadd cultist, betraying the Jedi. Arca Jeth is captured, through the rest of the Jedi get away. Meanwhile, another group of Jedi, including Nomi Sunrider are sent to help defend the planet.

While all of this is going on, two other Sith Cultists – Satal and Aleema Keto – heirs to the throne of the Empress Teta system, steal a book on the Sith from the Galactic Museum, which leads them to Onderon. They manage to steal a few relics of Freedon Nadd and return to their world home system, and murder their parents to seize the throne.

Once again, the Jedi are drawn into action to take down the two. As Republic and Jedi forces work to retake the Empress Teta system, a Jedi Knight named Exar Kun raids the crypt of Freedon Nadd and takes several relics. Nadd’s spirit directs Exar Kun to Yavin IV, and the temple and Sith laboratories of an earlier Lord of the Sith known as Naga Sadow. Nadd manages to corrupt Kun to the Dark Side of the Force, making him accept the mantle of the Sith in order to heal an otherwise mortal wound.

Back in the Empress Teta system, the Keto siblings are able to fight the Republic forces to a standstill using their Sith powers, and in particular Aleema’s ability to conjure illusions. As Kun turns to the Dark Side, a wave of power runs through force, that allows the forces of the Keto Siblings to attack a gathering of Jedi, with their battle droids killing a bunch of Jedi, including Master Jeth.

In response to this, Ulic Qel-Droma proposes a hazardous plan – to infiltrate the forces of the Empress Teta system, and to attempt to overcome the Sith from within.  Several Jedi masters, along with Ulic’s brother Cay and Nomi Sunrider, attempt to talk him out of this, but he decides to go forward with this plan anyway. Ulic manages to gain the confidence of Aleema, but Satal does not trust him – drugging him with a Sith poison that will kill him if he tries to draw on the Light Side of the force. Kay and Nomi attempt to pull out Ulic, but he insists on staying to see this through.

This all comes to a head when Exar Kun travels to the Empress Teta system himself. Kun kills Satal, and ends up doing battle with Ulic. Ulic puts on an amulet from the cache of Sith artifacts in Aleema’s possession – which resonates with a similar amulet that Kun had on his person. They get a vision of a Sith Lord far older than Freedon Nadd. He informs them that this moment has been planned for long before they were born – Exar Kun is to be the new, true Dark Lord of the Sith, with Ulic Qel-Droma as his apprentice.


  • That there was an ancient race known as the Sith, and they were enslaved by a group of Dark Jedi, who called themselves the Lords of the Sith.
  • The Force has something in common with Qi in Wuxia novels or humors in medieval medicine. It’s not just a matter of mindset when powers are used, it’s mindset and body chemistry in unison. Thus, when Exar Kun’s body is rebuilt by Freedon Nadd, he can block Kun off from the Light Side, and the same applies for the Sith poison that is injected into Ulic Qel-Droma.
  • We have the first mention in print of Korriban – Sith Tomb world, the place where they buried their secrets on their death, but specifically with the intent that later Sith Lords would come their to try and retrieve those secrets, and thus placed challenges that would have to be overcome to obtain those secrets.
  • First appearance of the Empress Teta system, and first major mention of Naga Sadow.


Ulic Qel-Droma: Still somewhat naive and brash, but also somewhat driven and idealistic, as he’s willing to put everything on the line to infiltrate the Sith in order to end this war once and for all.

Cay Qel-Droma: Still the more mature brother, tries to talk Ulic out of his plan, and tries to pull him out with Nomi Sunrider.

Nomi Sunrider: At some point fell in love with Ulic. Is a little more willing to use her lightsaber, and she’s demonstrated the ability to use Battle Meditation to get her opponents to turn on each other.

Master Arca Jeth: Dies during the Battle Droid attack on the Jedi gathering.

Oss Wilum: Has a vision that he will be “learning a great deal” from Ulic Qel-Droma.

Other Notes

This installment does a great job of building up the backstory for the events that are going on in the Jedi Academy trilogy, while also forwarding the existing Tales of the Jedi storyline. That said, again – I feel this would work better as an ongoing comic than a bunch of short miniseries, but that’s how Dark Horse rolls in the ’90s.

Final Thoughts

This is a great continuation of the story from the last Tales of the Jedi series. This ups the scope to a more galactic threat, and gets across why this is a big deal.

The Keto siblings are generally introduced in an interesting manner. They are something of an archetype – rich, decadent spoiled brats who turn to occultism when bored – almost the Star Wars equivalent of Fenris from the Marvel universe (though with less implied incest).

That said, once Exar Kun is introduced in full in Dark Lords of the Sith, it’s made clear that the Keto Siblings are placeholder villains. They’re certainly dangerous, but the amount of attention that Exar Kun receives makes it clear that he’s the big bad – something that is made all the more clear if you read Dark Apprentice.

The action this volume is well done, and the environments panel layouts and art really works with the scope as well. We have some tremendous vistas in this story – which in the modern era of decompressed storytelling would probably be shown as massive two-page spreads, but here are kept a little more confined. Still, they’re given a lot of page real estate to play-up the impact of the art.

The end of this part is definitely a cliffhanger, and it feels almost like our Empire Strikes Back moment, but we’ll see when we get to Part 3 of Tales of the Jedi, with The Sith War.

However, on the novel side, we need to finish off the Jedi Academy trilogy with Champions of the Force, and after that we have, on the comics front, Dark Empire II.


Legends of the Force: Episode XIV – The Courtship of Princess Leia

This time we find out how Leia and Han got married.

Opening Credits: Star Wars Theme from Super Star Wars on the SNES.
Reference Footage: Pokemon.
Closing Credits: Chiptune Cantina Band from Chiptune Inc. – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvJtiGFudFlvYMfjiU1NKJg

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Book Review: The Truce at Bakura

We’re returning to the Star Wars novels with our first straight-up stand alone book (meaning one that isn’t part of a trilogy or other mini-series.

Writer: Kathy Tyers
Publication Date: January 1994

The Truce at Bakura is available from Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback editions.

Plot Notes

A few days after the victory at Endor, an emergency communication drone from the planet Bakura arrives at Endor, with an emergency message for the Emperor – the planet is under attack by an alien race known as the Ssi-Ruuk, an alien race from beyond the outer rim. They have the planet’s defenders out-matched, and they are in desperate need of assistance. Apparently the Emperor had a deal with these aliens, and now that he’s dead, they have determined the deal is off – they have set out to conquer the whole galaxy, leaving no race in their way.

Seeing an opportunity to win some hearts and minds, Luke & Leia persuade the Alliance council that they should send a relief force. At the very least, even if they can’t get the Bakurans to join the Alliance, they need to at least prevent a potentially hostile alien race from getting a foothold that could turn their efforts against the Empire into a two-front war.

Luke, Leia, and Han set out for Bakura, along with an Rebel task force that includes Wedge and Rogue Squadron. On arrival, they negotiate an uneasy truce with the local Imperial Governor and the commander, and learn the truth about the Ssi-Ruuk. The Ssi-Ruuk are reptilian aliens who seek to capture their opponents and “entech” them, by transferring their consciousness into droid fighters – finding that Humans make for better sources of souls for their droids than the other aliens they brought with them do.

Luke works with the commander of the Imperial forces to prepare a defence, while Leia tries to work with the locals. During a diplomatic fete, Luke meets a local politician named Gaeriel Captison, and falls for her. While meeting with her, Luke learns that her grandmother was part of a local Rebel cell, but was captured and suffered brain damage in Imperial captivity. Using the Force, Luke is able to heal her. Luke also learns that Gaerial is part of a local religious group that worships the “Balance”, and felt that the Jedi were responsible for upsetting the balance.

Luke also ends up sensing the presence of a mysterious human among the Ssi-Ruuk: Dev Sibwarra. Dev is force-sensitive, but has received no training, and has been kept alive by the Ssi-Ruuk because her force sensitivity makes him useful. They have been abusing him and subjecting him to frequent brainwashing sessions to keep him pliable. However, when Luke makes contact with Dev’s mind in the heat of battle, it inspires him to try to rebel against the Ssi-Ruuk in various small ways.

Further, the Imperial governor, Wilek Nereus, is in the throes of a conundrum. He absolutely doesn’t want the Ssi-Ruuk to win. However, if the Rebel forces also win, then he’ll lose power. So, he puts plans in motion to betray the Alliance at the moment of victory, including infecting Luke with a virulent parasite and then turning him over to the Ssi-Ruuk, in the hopes that the parasite will kill them all.

Ultimately, Luke is able to heal himself of the parasites while aboard the Ssi-Ruuk ship, and with the assistance of Dev, is able to do enough damage and soe enough confusion that the combined Rebel and Imperial forces can defeat the Ssi-Ruuk. Meanwhile, Han, Leia, Gaerial and her grandmother are able to overthrow Governor Nereus. The Alliance offers Imperial forces the choice to leave to return home (or, for that matter, join the Remnant), or join the Alliance. The commander of the Imperial forces chooses to defect to the Alliance in order to command Bakura’s defense. Gaerial decides to remain on Bakura to help form a new government, and the remainder of the Rebel forces return to the rest of the fleet.


  • First appearance in the novels of an “alien race from beyond the Outer Rim” – the Ssi-Ruuk.
  • The Alliance captures a Ssi-Ruuk warship, the Sibwarra.
  • The introduction of a religious belief outside of The Force – the Balance. Believers in the Balance (Balancers?) hold that the power of the light and dark side must be kept in check. Gaerial was a more… fundamentalist believer, and felt that the Jedi and the Republic threw the balance out of whack, and consequently she was concerned about the presence of even a single Jedi – Luke.
  • First introduction of the Imperial HoloNet – a galactic communications network controlled by the Empire, but one which does not have instantaneous communications (like a Subspace Ansible) – the Bakuran garrison couldn’t use the Holonet to call for help from other garrisons, and the Alliance couldn’t use captured Holonet transmitters to access the entirety of Imperial Communications. Presumably this is what the Emperor used to contact Vader.
  • On some planets, the Empire permitted local forms of government to exist as a means of controlling and pacifying the populace, provided they basically served to rubber-stamp the decrees of the Imperial Governors.
  • First appearance of battle droids in any form, but not in the manner we’d see in the prequel trilogy – not by a long shot.
  • Palpatine has had contact with alien races from outside of the galaxy, and has been cutting deals with them, for various reasons.


Luke Skywalker: His first outing commanding a larger Rebel force in battle, not just a smaller group like a fighter squadron. This is now his first canonical attempt to try to teach someone in the force – Dev. Canonically Obi-Wan appears to Luke as a Force Ghost for the last time. Has yet to tell the Alliance of the truth of his parentage.

Princess Leia Organa/Skywalker: Is still in denial over being the daughter of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker, but becomes more accepting of this over the course of the book. Anakin Skywalker’s Force Ghost appears to her and a speaks to her, in an attempt to reconcile. Leia rejects his overtures.

Han Solo: Is a little over-protective of Leia. Tends to put his plans together on the fly (much like Indiana Jones, which I think is a deliberate call-out on the writer’s part). Is not quite ready to propose yet.

Chewbacca: We get scenes from his actual point of view for the first time. As has been established in earlier works, he’s incredibly mechanically adept, and he really doesn’t like C-3P0, to the point of having to weigh having to repair 3P0 again, against the fact that he’d really like to smack him around.

C-3P0: Is actually somewhat mechanically dextrous, and can engage in semi-hacking if necessary, though he’s not as proficient as R2-D2. Can also wear Imperial Stormtrooper armor in a just convincing enough fashion to accidentally get shot by Chewbacca. Has a linguistics package strong enough to put together an impromptu Ssi-Ruuk-to-Basic translation package based on intercepted Ssi-Ruuk battle transmissions.

Other Notes

This book pretty much retcons the last portion of the Marvel Star Wars run out of existence – no Nagai, no Tofs, nothing, though part of the material from there will be back.

My Thoughts

This book was enjoyable to read, but not exactly great. Seeing Leia in her element as a diplomat was wonderful, though considering we get to see Leia as a general in The Force Awakens, I would mind seeing her in more books as a military commander going forward as well.

Tyers does a great job of capturing the transition in the status quo that we see after Return of the Jedi – the Emperor’s dead, now what? In the comics, the answer to that question is “form a more conventional government”. In here it’s “strike while the iron is hot to foment more open rebellion on fringe Imperial colony worlds, while the Empire is disorganized, power is being concentrated, and the new Imperial government tries to figure out what they’re actually going to try to hold.”

The concept of the Balance as a religion is a little roughly executed. Even Tyers admits that the concept is cosmic dualism taken to an absurd degree. That said, I do kinda feel that the concept is still executed here better than it is in the prequel trilogy.

Next time with these recaps we’re taking on the first book in the Jedi Academy Trilogy with Jedi Search