While attending San Diego Comic Con, I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of the upcoming Star Wars: Myths and Fables book, in addition to meeting the book’s lovely author, George Mann. It will be officially release for sale on August 6, 2019.
This hard cover edition includes nine tales from the galaxy far, far away. Like all legends, myths and fables, it’s hard for us (or any citizens of the galaxy) to know whether any of it is true, but there’s always a lesson to be learned. Each story also features it’s own gorgeous illustration by Grant Griffin.
Before the book is officially released, I will be reading and sharing my thoughts on this addition to the Star Wars mythology. This post will be updated as I read each story. If you wish to remain unspoiled for these fables, now is the time to utilize that ‘back’ button.
Working my way through these fables, in no particular order:
This story we learn about two civilizations, the Anselmi and the Nautolans. These neighbors lived peacefully, side by side for many years on the planet Glee Anselm. Their empress and queen got along well for generations, developing into more and more sophisticated societies beneath the waves of the planets ocean. That location is not an easy one to thrive in and a specific natural balance with the ocean must be maintained to survive.
As the Anselmi grow however, they became arrogant and start treating their neighbors badly, taking more and more resources. While the Nautolans still respect their ocean home, the Anselmi move to land. They over build their island to the point that they run out of space, and decide to use their technology to conquer the ocean and gain more space.
But, as we’ve established, on Glee Anselm balance is a BIG deal, and eventually the ocean spirit gets fed up and slaps back against it’s arrogant residents. Dams break, walls fall down, and a whole lot of water basically decimates the entire society of the Anselmi. The Nautolans remain under the water, respecting the natural balance of their sea. Vengeful waves indeed.
This is a fun little story, with two matriarchal non-human species on a largely aquatic world. It also really emphasizes a lot of the core concepts we see in Star Wars often, especially when it relates to the light and dark sides of the force. Balance is fundamentally important, but also I think this story highlights the importance of communication and cooperation. This could easily be an allegory about the force and the galaxy.
What happens when things get too out of balance?
The Dark Wraith
The city of Solace on planet Cerosha, lies in ruins. No one can quite remember why or how the town was destroyed, but a legend exists of a mysterious avenging Dark Wraith, that punishes the misdeeds of children and adults alike, who destroyed Solace due to the actions of it’s citizens. Generations later, the inhabitants of planet Cerosha, believe that the Dark Wraith could return at any moment, lurking in the corner of eyes or down dark roads.
In discussing the downfall of Solace, nearby cities recount a tale of a boy who becomes sullen and entitled, ignoring his parents attempts to teach him, and decides to rob a local store. They also tell a tale of a girl who was sent to a school for the gifted, but saw herself as more gifted and “set apart” from her peers, such that following the rules seemed like a weakness. The final example given of misbehavior comes from a more adult source, a cheating Togruta gambler who’s strong arm tactics result in a death. All three of these figures are cut down by the mysterious Dark Wraith.
Those in Solace ignored the warnings posed by the fates of these figures (and presumably many others) and continued to misbehave as a city and are thus destroyed by the raging Dark Wraith. He possess immense power and can destroy buildings and send people flying with the flick of a wrist. His arrival is announced by a horrible sound, he can see through to the truth of deeds and has a deadly red ‘arm’. Those left alive as well as the surrounding cities all shared the story of what happened in Solace and use it as motivation to behave better and to avoid “the risk of rebellion” aka the return of the Wraith.
A sort of legend within a legend, this story shares some themes with the Vengeful Waves. There are consequences to arrogance, but this story has an added layer about defiance. I am not sure the conceit always works, moving from the notion of a civilization in ruin to a sort of krampus that punishes misbehavior and then back for the destruction of the city, but there are aspects of the depiction that might hint at a potentially realistic origin. The angry wraith certainly is described with attributes that could be quite familiar.
What kind of figures in the galaxy far, far away can use a fiery red ‘arm’ to destroy the condemned, move objects with a gesture, and ‘force’ their way into other people’s minds?
During the destruction, the frightened citizens of Solace and nearby cities hope for the return of the mysterious Wanderer, a figure that apparently visited a few times in the past. It seems that in the minds of the Ceroshians, these two figures, Wraith and Wanderer are comparable and perhaps counters to each other. Having chosen to read these stories out of order, based on which titles strike my fancy, I realize that an earlier story featured in this book is called The Wanderer.
I wonder what kind of powers the titular character may have and how they compare to those of the Dark Wraith? Does the Wanderer have a mysteriously powerful ‘arm’ as well?
This tale also takes place on the planet Cerosha and features the city of Solace pre-destruction. The Wanderer is described as a powerful, but mysterious figure who appears in the city in times of great need. No one knows where he’s from, what he is called or even if he is actually real. The citizens of Solace only know that he has the ability to understand “the natural order of things” including power over plants and animals. He’s also known to carry a sword that seems to “glow with its own inner light”, and wears robes that are flowing and brown.
The story describes the three times that this mysterious figure appeared in Solace to help save the city. In the first example, some pirates have set up shop near the city, impacting trade and safety. While the city tried to fight the pirates off with a militia, things didn’t go well. When it seemed as though the city would just have to suck it up and deal with these seedy types, the Wanderer appeared, seemingly from nowhere. He toured the city and learned about their petite pirate problem and decided to go to the pirates to confront the pirates.
The population of Solace didn’t hold out much hope for the kind man, as to their eyes he’s basically just a nice, but weird stranger who is walking out alone to face pirates that a whole militia couldn’t defeat. Not so great odds?
Their perception of the Wanderer changes when he emerges from a cloud of dust, sword and all, and the pirates never return to bother them. Subsequently, he returns when a mining operation inadvertently releases some ferocious creatures that are eating people in the city. Via intense meditation, the Wanderer summons the creatures and leads them back to the mine and their home. Impressive.
For his last appearance, the citizens are facing devastating storms with massive waves. This time, the notice that the Wanderer seems tired, but he still comes to their aid. He ‘forcefully’ halts a wave, standing on a beach and saving what is left of the city, from destruction until the storm passes. The legend isn’t clear on what happened to him after that, only mentioning that he did not return a fourth time when Solace is obliterated by the Dark Wraith.
This story was really fun and actually interesting to read in the order I did, rather than in the order in the book. Starting with the Wraith, it is nice to learn a bit about Solace as a thriving city again. The Wanderer is a clearly a force sensitive character just like the Dark Wraith, and this time is at least described as having a sort of glowing sword which is fun. He is also described in clearly Jedi like behaviors as well, using meditation, force control, and his saber to save the city at various times. As a pair, The Wanderer and the Dark Wraith clearly provide broad-strokes depictions of Jedi and Sith, light side and dark side force users.
The Witch and the Wookiee
During the Imperial era, a gang of three thieves are looking for a place to hide their loot. They have not only stolen from a government official, but they also have double crossed some fellow criminals who helped them. So they have a lot of people out to get them, but they also have a really nice haul of treasure. Deciding it would be a good idea to stash the treasure and lay low for a while so their enemies stop chasing them, our group of criminals decide to stash their riches on an unappealing and uninhabited moon. They plan to hide out in the Outer Rim for a few years, while things die down, and then to return to the moon to split the riches. (Sketchy as they are, however, they also might be planning to betray their companions to be the last one standing at the end of hiding out and the sole thief to return to the cache.)
They settle on the moon Jhas Krill, with it’s swamps, thick jungle and lack of settlement. When they arrive on the planet with their ship the group sets out into the jungle to find the perfect spot, but then the environment starts to feel really creepy. Almost like the jungle wants them to get lost.
Unexpectedly, our not really heroic protagonists discover a little home in the middle of the inhospitable planet. Even more surprising, an old woman lives there. She is kind and hospitable and lets them into her home, sharing food and drink. But our criminal characters, as we’ve established, are pretty untrustworthy and silently plan among themselves to betray and kill the woman and leave no one but themselves with the memory of their visit to the planet.
The old lady is sharper than they give her credit for, and she knew all along that this crew was up to no good. Just as they are about to take her out, seemingly out of the shadows of nowhere appears…A WOOKIEE. He is big and bad-ass, and the three thieves know they have no chance against him as he starts tossing them around. Just when they think it’s all over, the old woman tells her companion to back off as their “guests” are leaving.
Confused, but not about to press their strange luck, the three thieves head back to their ship, intent to continue their plans. (At least they still have their treasure right, if no dignity left after a Wookiee-whoopin’.) But when they touch the treasure in their ship, every object turns to dust. Scared they GTFO this planet.
Meanwhile, in her small home with her Wookiee pal, surrounded by newly acquired treasures a witch sips some tea (metaphorically).
The first of the stories I have read in this books so far that does not seem to take place in a very distant past, I really enjoyed this imperial era outing. Keeping with many of the themes present in other stories in this book, those who are arrogant always seem to get their comeuppance. Given that this story does occur during the Imperial era, it is interesting to consider what truths or elements of truth influenced this story.
The Black Spire
The trees near the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu, have been around a long time, and over those many years have seen some thangs. Some locals believe they got so black and petrified because they saw so many bad things that they decided to peace out leaving behind only shadows. But for as many bad things they’ve seen, there’s also been good and heroic incidents too.
One such tale is that of Anya and her siblings. They disobeyed their mother to go play in a beautiful river valley, and have such a good time that they decide to return the next day. (Children not listening to their parents? What could possibly go wrong?) When they return for a second day of playing, their fortunes change. When playing hide and seek, Anya can only locate her two sisters, but not her brother. Initially, the three girls just think he’s messing with them (which is not apparently out of character for this brother) and assume he went home early to trick them.
Unfortunately, when they get home, their mother explains to them that the reason she forbade them from going to play in the river valley is because it’s a known kidnapping point for SLAVERS!!!!
(Though, apparently the local slaver has a really large barge, and it’s quite the suspension of disbelief to accept that big bro got snatched by such a vessel without any of his sisters noticing it driving away, but okay…)
Mom is naturally devastated because the Outpost isn’t exactly the most lawful place and there’s no police or trustworthy people she can turn to to help find her son, nor does she have the money to hire someone less trustworthy. He is simply lost for ever.
The girls feel really badly, and one by one set off to find their brother. First the oldest girl heads out and doesn’t return, then the next eldest, leaving behind only Anya and her depressed mother. She feels really guilty and runs to the woods near her home to think and avoid her mom crying. In the woods a ‘kindly’ man comes up and encourages her to go to the outpost herself to find the slaver and rescue her siblings. Since she’s small, he figures she’ll be overlooked. He even carves her a wooden toy dagger.
Initially suspicious of the man, Anya eventually takes his advice and goes into the outpost with her weapon and a scrap she finds along the way. Long story short, she is able to locate her siblings and the infamous slaver who kidnapped them. She comes up with a plan to trick the slaver into believing she is an assassin sent to murder him. Fearing for his life, he frees the siblings and gets off of Batuu, never to be seen again.
This story was fun, but felt the longest of the book so far, and as an adult reader, this one also made me a little frustrated at times. Only because it seems like these kids do a lot of on the surface really dumb things. Granted okay, lots of kids disobey their parents so the first kid going missing is fair game, and the second one going off to try to rescue him seems simple enough. That the second girl went after them seems like less a good idea, disappearing too and then Anya setting off herself, knowing all this has happened-on the advice of some random man who crawls up next to her in the woods- seems a less than reasonable. But hey, it worked out, and I like that Anya mostly uses her brains to trick the slaver and that her family is reunited. And I think younger readers would enjoy the story and be less likely to side-eye some of the more questionable decisions made here.
No idea what relevance this has to Galaxy’s Edge, other than the location, and possibly some of sights that can be matched to things described in the book.
Gaze of Stone
I ended up reading this instead and we learn about an ancient statue of a Twi’lek that stands alone on top of a mountain top where is has rested for centuries. No one on the planet knows who the statue is and imagine many stories about who he was and why he is being remembered via statue. Some say that in the mornings you can see a black tear falling from his stone eyes.
The real story of course, is quite different than people imagine. A Twi’lek named Ry Nymbis, from his very birth seemed set apart from his family and those around him avoided him for reasons no one could ever quite explain. A hooded figure, an alien from somewhere other than Ryloth, approached his mother in the market when he was small, and instead of being repelled by the child’s strange energy. Darth Caldoth explained to the mother that young Ry was force sensitive and could be trained as his apprentice. Thinking this is the best thing for her strange child, she allows the sith to take her son.
Darth Caldoth is naturally a pretty evil master, initially leaving the boy with cruel slavers as a test, then returning when Ry became older. He teaches him to kill without remorse and to lean into anger and use pain to access the dark side. For a time the pair does alright traveling around doing sithy things as a duo. Together they end up visiting wild space, where a cult of sorts around the Force exists. They obtain and start reviewing ancient texts on the force. As the cliche goes, there are only two Sith and most of the time the apprentice promotes to master by offing his ‘teacher’. Sure enough, Ry has seething anger towards the arrogant Darth Caldoth and gets the idea to use the ancient texts to best his master.
The plan is to encase Darth Caldoth in a statue of stone, which he would as a pretext present as a gift to the man who taught him to use the force, before using the dark side to forever bind the body within the stone. Seems like a cool plan, only it’s far from Darth Caldoth’s first rodeo and he totally suspects treachery from his angry apprentice. He knows that Ry is using the texts to devise a plan, and so he too modifies what is being studied. When the time comes and Ry says the words that will make Caldoth become stone, it turns out that the words he learned are not quite right.
He’s the one that’s turned to stone.
This was actually a really interesting story. It to me felt like a bit of a mirror of the glimpses we saw of how the Jedi operated in the film prequels and in material from that era. Kindly, powerful figures showing up to find children with force sensitive traits, and taking them to learn how to use those skills. But it’s also something the sith likely did too, so that’s something to consider. This story also keeps with some themes that reoccur in all the myths of the book. Ry’s downfall comes from arrogance and in being too confident in his own abilities to fool his sith master.
The Droid With A Heart
A very familiar soldier decides that the organic body is weak and really dug the strength and power of droids. Over time he added more and more mechanical and droid components to his own body. Bye-bye nerve endings, hello extra arms! His goal was to become the best of both the droid and organic worlds, combining the strengths and eliminating the weaknesses of both of them.
As time passed however, despite being promoted to general in the Separatist army, the soldier became ever more bitter and hollow. He viewed himself as superior and didn’t quite fit in with droids or organics. He also had a nasty habit of destroying the droids he worked with.
Sadly this tendency came back to haunt him, because when planning a battle against a Republic Outpost, this general makes a decision that will allow his own hollow nature to be contrasted with a droid who had heart. The general devised a plan to win against his enemies, but it required the sacrifice of a massive amount of his droid army. A tactical droid who worked with the general on the bridge and had long observed his many tantrums and cruel destruction of droids, finally has enough. In an act of defiance the droid deliberately programs the wrong coordinates into the droid instructions. The tactic costs the angry general his victory, and the tactical droid his life, but it saves many droids. The tactical droid was recycled and lived on in other droids, and is remembered as a hero as the story is shared from droid to droid.
The general’s fate is one we can probably all guess, though it isn’t one that is covered in this book. (Goodness Grievous!) This story was really enjoyable and the first where we can clearly identify a familiar character and a time period that is firmly footed in the prequel era. The contrast between an organic being that seems to have no heart and a mechanical one that cares for the existences of it’s comrades is apt and thought provoking and that art work for this piece really supports the storytelling.
The Knight and the Dragon
The first tale in this book takes us to the familiar sands of Tatooine, where we follow the originally nomadic Sand people as they transition into their first stationary settlement. Every thing seems pretty good at first, but little do they know that someone else lives in the neighborhood and is watching them.
None other than the dragon Krayt, sly and hungry, watches the villagers as they settle into their new town. From the dragon’s perspective this is legit a long term buffet. Starting small the creature begins eating all the livestock. When the villagers attempts to fight back fail, and the livestock runs out, this dragon starts eating kids!
Naturally, the Sand people, who have come to love their new town, are horrified by these developments and keep sending their best warriors to fight the dragon. When failures mount, they decided to take a different approach, and raid nearby settlements and cities for people to give the dragon in place of their own.
This works, but isn’t super ethical and catches the eye of a mysterious knight who also lives on Tatooine. He lives alone on the desert planet, quietly observing a precious treasure, but news of the kidnappings reach his ears. Determined to get to the bottom of it, the knight allows himself to be captured by the Sand people and learns of their motivations. He understands why they are doing it, but can’t allow things to continue. He ensures that he is the next captive offered to the dragon, and to everyone’s surprise, whips out a blue light sword and starts fighting Krayt. The dragon is no slouch however and the pair are evenly matched, since the knight has been semi retired from adventuring for a while
The villagers are surprised when suddenly the knight lift a hand and suddenly seems to be able to command and control the dragon as though it’s a tame pet. He tells the villagers that he will lead the creature away and save their settlement, but if hears they start kidnapping neighbors again, he will bring Krayt back and allow it to destroy their community. The Sand people don’t need to be told twice.
Though I am reading this story late, this is the first in the book, and so it’s fun to open with an appearance of someone I consider to be another familiar face. How true or on what timeline it occurs is obviously unclear, but not many people on Tatooine at any point in time live alone, carry a light sword, and can trick large dragons into following them into the desert. I like that this gives us some insight into the Sand people, who we have met in the movies. They are pretty misguided (why not move if there’s a dragon eating your kid every night?), but if we’re to believe some of the story, they aren’t in the habit of kidnapping folks for no reason. Obi Wan doesn’t have a dragon at the time we meet him, so who knows exactly what happened, but it certainly could have come in handy.
The last story in the book and the last of my reviews, tells the story of a wily criminal named Misook. He has a bounty on his head and a dedicated bounty hunter who he has come face to face with multiple times on multiple planets. He’d managed to best her each time, but she’s always on his tale, only a step behind. Misook finally heads to Batuu, hoping he can disappear from there into the unknowns of Wild Space, where he can continue his business without being pursued.
First, he has to find out a way to rid himself of his bounty hunter. He’s been in the business long enough to know that larger bounties can distract hunters from their assignments, so he makes sure to leave a trackable trail to a cantina on Batuu. Once he is sure his bounty hunter is there, he sits in the middle of the bar and begins to tell the story of one of the most clever and fearsome criminals ever to have criminaled.
Misook certainly has the gift of gab, and soon many others, including the woman hunting him are listening hung on his every word as he described the tragic childhood on the lower levels of Coruscant that formed this most skilled of criminals and how she left the planet to carry on her own deals and business. So skilled is this criminal that the bounty on her head is massive. She’s made enemies of many. Misook ends his story by explaining that this criminal was last scene on Batuu in fact, only two days prior before heading for Wild Space.
The cantina and outpost flurry to put together plans and searches, nearly everyone who heard Misook’s story, deciding to play their hand at trying to find the criminal with the mythical bounty. He is able to obtain a ship and slip off the planet into Wild Space, no longer with his bounty hunter in pursuit.
Many now believe that there are two major criminals with bounties on their heads out in Wild Space. Lots of them still search, but no one has found Misook or the master criminal. But to be fair, Misook is the only one who knows that she doesn’t exist! He’d made her up!
This final story is quite fun, and takes the ‘story within a story’ technique farthest than we’ve seen in this book so far. It’s very fun to read, and you actually get a good sense I think of Misook in the limited time we get to see him. For kids I can see the twist at the end being really fun. It’s interesting too tot see more of Batuu and have some hints of how off the grid Wild Space really is.
All in all, this collection is a really fun and interesting look into the kind of fairy tales that exist in the Galaxy Far, Far Away and it is a great addition to any fans bookshelf. The illustrations alone are awesome, but the stories are fun to try to place in the wider canon.
Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!