Darth Maul Shadowhunter Review & Continuity

Darth Maul: Shadowhunter Book Cover Darth Maul: Shadowhunter
Star Wars
Michael Reaves
Ballentine Del Rey
Hardcover & Paperback

After years of waiting in the shadows, Darth Sidious is taking the first step in his master plan to bring the Republic to its knees. Key to his scheme are the Neimoidians of the Trade Federation. Then one of his Neimoidian contacts disappears, and Sidious does not need his Force-honed instincts to suspect betrayal. He orders his apprentice, Darth Maul, to hunt the traitor down.

But he is too late. The secret has already passed into the hands of information broker Lorn Pavan, which places him right at the top of Darth Maul’s hit list. Then, in the labyrinthine alleyways and sewers of Coruscant, capital city of the Republic, Lorn crosses paths with Darsha Assant, a Jedi Padawan on a mission to earn her Knighthood. Now the future of the Republic depends on Darsha and Lorn. But how can an untried Jedi and an ordinary man, stranger to the powerful ways of the Force, hope to triumph over one of the deadliest killers in the galaxy?

Darth Maul-ShadowHunter

The first adult novel with a Darth Maul adventure.

If one has seen Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and realizes where this book lies in the timeline, one might assume one knows how it ends. If Darth Maul gets halved by Obi-Wan there, he clearly doesn’t die here. But sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Sometimes, things don’t turn out as one would expect. Even the Sith are not infallible.

One of the Trade Federation neimodians has bolted, taking information that could reveal the Sith’s plans to have them blockade Naboo. Darth Maul is tasked with finding him and destroying all who have that information.\

This story is shockingly good.The characters pull one into their lives and make them root for their victories. With a Darth Maul breathing down their necks, its hard to put down. I cringed every time one made a wrong choice, knowing it could be there last.

Darsha Assant is a a Jedi padawan facing what she thinks are the trials to grant her Knighthood. But the trials laid out by the Jedi Council are not the worst of the trial she faces. What she ends up with is a journey through the worst of Coruscant, with a corellian who bears a grudge against a Jedi, his droid partner, and a Sith on there trail.

Lorn Pavan, Corellian information broker, lives on the shady side of the street. But this is only because of a very personal falling out with the Jedi Order. But now he has to deal with one or die and that means he gets to know the person, not just the Order. Lorn’s fate will impact future stories. His reasons for disliking the Order are revealed slowly through the book. But now that Darth Maul is on his trail, he’ll take what help he can get.

I5YQ-closeup

I5YQ-from the New Essential Guide to Droids

IFive, independent partner and droid, proves to be very far removed in abilities and attitude from C3PO, though they both started life as protocol droids. IFive has had a rough existence, bringing up the question of just what is ‘life’ and what rights do droids have, or should they have. Loyal partner that he is, he thinks for himself. He too has an important future.

Darth Maul remembers some of his training under the Sith and is forced to use stealth and cunning to deal with many of his targets. Kill them however he likes, but he cannot reveal the existence of the Sith. There must be no witnesses.

The destination is less important than the journey in this book making this an amazing story of forgiveness, redemption and growth for the hero characters.

Affect on Continuity:

Introduced Characters:
  • IFive will go on to star in the Medstar Duology followed by the Coruscant Nights series.
  • Tuden Sal, Pavan’s shady contact, will also appear in Coruscant Nights.
  • Anoon Bondara, Darsha’s Jedi Master, is mentioned again in Cloak of Deception, set right before this in the timeline.

Notable Continuity Mentions:

Black Sun, introduced in Shadows of the Empire (which is set during the Empire) is thriving. Their circumstances tie into the Darth Maul comic book storyline set before this.

Cthons, the mutants of the underworld of Coruscant are first named here, after being indirectly mentioned in Jedi Search.

Darsha thinks of other Jedi Padawans, notably those from the Jedi Apprentice series by Jude Watson.

The Teräs Käsi fighting style used by Darth Maul and Anoon Bondara first appeared in the Shadows of the Empire novel.

Complications:

Darth Maul is mentioned as being the other half of the Sith, though Darth Plagueis was alive at this time. However, future stories suggest Maul did not know there were any others besides he and his Master.

Darth Maul is mentioned as Iridonian Zabrak. The Clone Wars stories later change his history to a Dathomiri Zabrak. There was no time for this to be explained in continuity due to the Disney buyout and cancellation of both The Clone Wars and the Expanded Universe immediately after.

This book was a New York Times Best Seller

Prequels and Continuity

The prequels introduced to the movie screen things that were, until now, only in print. Things that some viewers complain about were actually explained in print, in some cases, long before the movies.

From Print to Movie

The world of Coruscant was glimpsed in Return of the Jedi’s Special Edition. But until The Phantom Menace, only expanded universe fans knew it was named Coruscant, capital of the Republic and Empire. The name came from Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy.

Aayla Secura, the blue skinned twilek in the background of Attack of the Clones, was originally created in Dark Horse Comic, Republic series. We’d seen hints of her life all the way back to childhood.

Obi-Wan and Anakin’s adventure at Cato Nemoidia was actually told in Labyrinth of Evil before the reference made by Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith.

Quinlan Vos, mentioned in Revenge of the Sith was also created in Dark Horse comics, Republic series. He was based on a background character seen in Mos Espa in The Phantom Menace. His career as a Jedi was a regular feature in the series. He was considered for a physical role and concept art bears that out.

Buzz Droids were first mentioned in the short story Murder in Slush Time by Barbara Hambly, in the Star Wars Adventure Journal of West End Games. They appear in Revenge of the Sith.

Wheelbikes, such as General Grievous used, first appeared in the animated Droids cartoons.

Solar Sailer Ships, Such as Count Dooku’s are first scene in the Tales of the Jedi Comics, as well as Firestorm and Junior Jedi Knights. In the latter stories a ship with solar sails was piloted by Jedi historian Tionne.

Double Bladed Lightsaber, such as used by Darth Maul, first appeared in Tales of the Jedi comics and was used by Exar Kun.

 

Leia and her Mother

Leia remembering her Mother in Return of the Jedi is a much complained about detail about the prequels. However, the Revenge of the Sith novelization says the infant was looking at Padme and Luke also seems to unknowingly remember her on the subject of Anakin with the line “There is still good in him.”
The version of Leia remembering her Mother, hiding and running was taken from an early version of the Return of the Jedi script, and removed from the movie as Lucas didn’t want to tie himself down in the future. At the time, there was no expanded universe, hence no conflict.

Rebel Je’daii observation:

It is also mentioned in various stories that Force sensitivity can be used (knowingly or not) to enhance memories. For instance:

In the Thrawn trilogy, Luke sees a vision of a possible past.

In Children of the Jedi, also published before the movies, he mentions ‘finding’ something with the Force as a child and upsetting his Uncle. It’s well established even before the prequels that a Force Sensitive may have unusual recall and use the Force, unknowingly, even as children.

In Jedi Apprentice, The Hidden Truth, Obi-Wan remembers his brother, Owen, who he would have last seen when he himself was only an infant.

Therefore it’s not a stretch to consider that the Force sensitive Leia remembered her mother through ‘visions’ of the Force. She also knew she was adopted, suggesting she discussed it with her adoptive family and had it confirmed that these were ‘memories’ of her mother.

Finally, Padme was bound body and blood to the offspring of the most powerful Jedi of his age. This may have enhanced her own Force sensitivity. This is conjecture based partly on how she knew to look at the Temple right when Anakin was looking from their to her. Also, it’s been proven possible in other ways. See Yoda, Dark Rendezvous and Jedi Knight, Jedi Outcast for cases where this was done.

 

Republic History

In Attack of the Clones, Palpatine claims the Republic had stood for 1000 years. This initially seems to clash with Obi-Wan’s statement in A New Hope: “For over a thousand generations, the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice of the Old Republic.”  According to the dictionary, a generation is about 30 years, making the Republic at the minimum 3000 years old.

In fact though, 1000 years ago was the time of a massive reorganization of the Republic. It was known as the Ruusan Reformations. Ruusan was the place of the last battle between Jedi and Sith, when the Sith (they thought) were defeated. The reorganization put the Jedi in the government structure as a loose branch of the Judicial department. Hence this was a ‘newer’ Republic Palpatine referred too.

The story is told in the Darth Bane stories, and Jedi VS Sith mini series by Dark Horse comics.

Uncle Owen

Owen’s confusion comes from the novelization of Return of the Jedi, a piece cut (fortunately) from the final movie script. In it, Kenobi’s spirit claims Owen was actually his brother. Cleverly, the writers hedged their bets on this. In Jedi Apprentice it reveals Obi-Wan really did have a brother named Owen, barely remembered. It does not name any details on him. The short story ‘Lone Wolf’ also has Obi-Wan noting the realization that he remembered a brother named Owen, and he was now searching for Owen Lars, step brother of a man he thought of like a brother.

 

Clever Repairs, Tweaks and Corrections After the Fact

The biggest glitch caused by the prequels was to the timeline. It had long been considered that the clone wars occurred around 30 or 40 years before A New Hope. While no one had written directly about that time, even a mention of events or of a parent or grandparent for a character could be thrown off.

This includes:

Leia and the Empire’s deception to the Noghri. discovering Honoghrs Clone Wars catastrophe…the sourcebook suggests she accidentally used the planets own rotational period for the count.

Halcyons and Horns. Corran Horn’s father’s age is thrown off, as he was considered about 10 in the clone wars. Also Nejaa Halcyon, his grandfather was said to be killed right after. Nejaa’s explanation was that for some worlds, the war already had moved on.

Spaarti cylinders and Unstable Clones.  Naturally, when the Thrawn trilogy was writing it was assumed the Clones were the ‘bad guys’ against the Jedi. However it was revealed in the Republic Commando stories that there really were clones grown by people other than the Kaminoans, and the results weren’t always emotionally stable. This was to hide the extra clones from the Jedi Generals. Also Dark Horse Comics revealed that certain Nikto were being cloned to fight for the Separatists.

Pellaeon and the long Naval Career.  This may seem off after one sees in the prequels that the Republic had no standing army or navy. However, they did have a judiciary fleet. Member worlds also had fleets. These actually tied into the ‘Katana’ storyline. Pellaeon is directly mentioned in The Clone Wars TV series tie in books.

The Jedi didn’t marry.  One has to consider that this began with Tales of the  Jedi, by Dark Horse comics, set long before the prequels. The transition to banning marriage seems to have started in between the Tales of the Jedi era and the Knights of the Old Republic era. That means a change within one generation. It’s not a stretch to believe Anakin Skywalker isn’t the only one who would disagree on the rule. In Jedi Trial, Nejaa Halcyon confesses to him that he has a secret family. In The Clone Wars: No Prisoners, book, Djinn Altis (master of the Jedi from Children of the Jedi) was revealed to be leader of a Splinter Faction. And in Knights of the Old Republic itself, Jolee Bindo has a great deal to say about why he left the Jedi that ties into the subject.

As for Master Ki-Adi-Mundi’s family, it’s apparently because Cereans have a very low birth rate, especially among males, that he was given special dispensation.

Only Masters sit on the Jedi Council.  Anakin said this long after Dark Horse Comics Ki-Adi-Mundi had been praised for gaining a seat while a mere Jedi Knight. This was explained as Master Mundi was only a temporary sit in for Master Giett, who was on an extended mission and out of touch.

Greedo.   Greedo had long had a backstory, written in the Tales of Mos Eisley Anthology. This got damaged by the Phantom Menace novelization, which had Anakin Skywalker (at age 9) getting into a fist fight with him. It was later explained that one was Greedo the Elder and the other was Greedo the Younger, relatives.

Boba Fett.  Boba Fett’s tale from the Bounty Hunter Wars claimed he started life as Jaster Mereel of Concord Dawn, exiled for murder. Naturally his new ‘cloned’ birth alters this. The expanded universe explained this by having Jaster Mereel of Concord Dawn being the man who adopted Jango Fett when his family was killed. Boba’s life did mimic his, in that he moved at one point to Concord Dawn, became a Journeyman Protector, only to be exiled for murder. Dark Horse Comics tells the story in the Jango Fett mini series and Republic Commando gives mention as well.

Tombstones. A minor, niggling background detail but still a puzzle. In Attack of the Clones there are clearly headstones on the Lars farm. The represented relatives of the Lars, not only Shmi. In A New Hope they are just gone. According to the Life of Luke Skywalker, he remembers overhearing a discussion about how his Uncle didn’t see any need for anyone to know where they were buried.

 

 

 

 

The Courtship Of Princess Leia: Witches and Hapans

The Courtship of Princess Leia is only one book, and a controversial one at that. Some loved it, others hated it. But it has to be given credit for two of the most popular cultures in the EU. It is set 4 years after the destruction of the 2nd Death Star.

It introduces the world of Dathomir, home of the witches of Dathomir. These Force Users are descended from a rogue Jedi.  Those among them who use the Force or magic for the Dark Side are called Nightsisters. There are also nightbrothers, mostly of zabrak descent. For the most part males of this world are considered inferior and slaves, as few can use the Force or the magic. The world is largely a primitive wilderness, and the witches often use rancors as transportation. In the time of the Empire, it was an interdicted planet.

It also introduces the Hapan Empire, another world ruled by woman. Unlike Dathomir, this is an entire group of planets. Led by a ruthless Queen mother, the people there are human and by most standards beautiful. They are descendents of pirates, the Lorell Raiders. The male pirates kidnapped beautiful woman and took them home. However eventually the pirates were destroyed by the Jedi and the woman and children were left to fend for themselves. They shunned the outside galaxy during both the Old Republic and the Empire.

Chief Characters:

Princess Leia Organa
Han Solo
Luke Skywalker
Chewbacca
R2-D2
C3PO

Augwynne Djo (Head of the Singing Mountain Clan)
Tenenial Djo (Member of the Singing Mountain Clan)
Ta’a Chume (Queen Mother of the Hapes Cluster)
Prince Isolder (Heir to the Hapes Cluster)
Gethzerion (Nightsister)
Warlord Zsinj (Imperial warlord)

Synopsis

Han Solo has been chasing Imperial warlord Zsinj for months. Now he’s finally coming home to his beloved Princess. But on arrival, he finds that Princess Leia’s mission to open diplomatic ties and borrow money from Hapes has had unexpected results. The Hapans have agreed…on the condition Leia marry Prince Isolder, heir to the throne.

To his horror, Leia, torn between how the Hapan worlds reminded her of Alderaan and her duty to the needs of the Republic, seems interested. When Leia refuses to give him equal time, he goes off and in desperation wins a serious sabaac game…the most serious in years. He wins the planet Dathomir.

But the planet is in the presumed dead warlord’s territory. Heartbroken and desperate, he kidnaps Leia and spirits her off to Dathomir. But Leia is furious at his apparent betrayal, Zsinj is not only not dead, but has a prison on the planet, and they get shot down, encountering both the suspicious Singing Mountain Clan (who still keep men as slaves) and the nightsisters who at all costs must not be allowed to leave the planet.

Luke Skywalker has been pursuing leads on long lost Jedi teachings. One leads him to a brief message involving Yoda, a ship called the Chu’unthor  and Dathomir. He abandons this pursuit on hearing of the crisis.

Luke and Prince Isolder team up and race against the Queen Mother, the Nightsisters, and Zsinj to find Han and Leia first.

The After Effects

SPOILER WARNING for the End of Courtship of Princess Leia.

Spoiler for Courtship of Princess Leia
Tenel Ka in Legacy of the Force, Tempest, by Troy Denning

Tenel Ka in Legacy of the Force, Tempest, by Troy Denning

Prince Isolder marries a woman of Dathomir, their daughter, Tenel Ka, joins the Jedi Academy and is a friend in many adventures with Jacen and Jaina Solo. In the future, these political ties prove to be a great help to the Jedi.

Star Wars Jedi Search (which was released the same year) introduces Kirana Ti, a witch of Dathomir who joins the Jedi Academy.

The nightsisters, decades later are recreated and join with forces with the Shadow Academy.

Allana, daughter of Tenel Ka, has an unknowing influence on the decisions of Jacen Solo in both the Swarm Wars and the Legacy of the Force series.

Spoiler for Swarm Wars and the series following it

 

In Fate of the Jedi, it is revealed that a Jedi Enclave had been formed on Dathomir since the end of the Yuuzhan Vong War. A sith apprentice fleeing Luke and Ben Skywalker hides there amongst the witches, and they find themselves battling nightsisters to survive as well as help the clans.

Affects on the Past
Nightsister of Black Sun

Mighella, a Nightsister working for Black Sun Crime Syndicate

Darth Maul (Dark Horse) reveals a nightsister working with the Black Sun Crime Syndicate

Nightsister

Nightsisters, Star Wars Republic #23 Infinities End by Dark Horse Comics

Star Wars Republic, Infinities End (Dark Horse Comics) introduces the nightsisters attempt to reactivate the Infinity Gate, an ancient device that can destroy worlds (as a side effect!). The first face painted or tattooed versions of the witches appeared here.

The Chu’unthor is also mentioned.

In Darth Maul, Son of Dathomir by Dark Horse Comics, Darth Sidious clashes with the witches and has a one on one battle with the leader of the nightsisters.

In the novel The Last Jedi, Jax Pavan travels to Dathomir to enlist the witches aid and meets with the Singing Mountain Clan and a (younger) Augwynne Djo. This book actually is the first to add The Clone Wars TV interpretation of the Witches of Dathomir, the Infinity Gates story line and the Courtship version of the witches all in one sitting.

Affects on Non Print Media
witch of Endor

The Witch of Endor

The Witch of Endor from the movie Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, was retconned into being a nightsister.

Felucian Rancor and Rider,

Felucian Rancor and Rider, The Force Unleashed by Dark Horse Comics

The Force Unleashed Game used the idea of rancor riding that was for the Felucians. It originally came from the idea of the witches riding rancors.

Nightsister Witches in  The Clone Wars TV show

The Nightsisters appear in The Clone Wars TV show, working both for and against the Sith

During the Clone Wars, a group of nightsisters make deals with the Sith.

Ventress - nightsister, witch and sith candidate

Ventress, from Star Wars Republic 52: The Face of War by Dark Horse comics

She was originally written as a slave from Rattattak, who had been freed and trained by a Jedi who was slain. The Clone Wars TV series added a twist: that she was born on Dathomir.

Darth Maul and Savage Oppress, in The Clone Wars

Darth Maul and Savage Oppress, in The Clone Wars

Darth Maul was retconned from being an Iridonian Zabrak, to being a Zabrak from the nightbrother tribe on Dathomir, descendents of slaves.

 

 

During the Clone Wars, a group of nightsisters make deals with the Sith.