Here’s Part 13 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 17: AN EMPIRE IN FRAGMENTS
Imperial Fragmentation: The heavy lifting continuity-wise here was filling in details about how Pellaeon wound up in charge of the Imperial fleet at Endor — that’s well-established continuity, but hard to reconcile with Pellaeon’s likely rank and experience at the time. Plus it was intriguing figuring out what the Empire might have left in terms of capital ships and how the ranking officers might have quarreled over what to do. I think the reader ends the section understanding Pellaeon’s frustration.
Mon Mothma’s decision to devolve control of the Planetary Security Forces to their sectors came to me as a powerful way to explain how the fledgling New Republic could have survived against the fragments of the Empire, particularly since continuity dictates that it soon went to war with the Ssi-ruuk, Nagai, and Tofs. To my mind, Mothma’s decision would have bred further warlordism and effectively sidelined lots of sectors, significantly reducing the number of enemies arrayed against the former Rebellion’s battered forces. Though note that her decision also plants the seeds of the New Galactic Civil War a couple of decades later.
Against the Warlords: This section was a ton of fun to write, letting me trace various New Republic campaigns, incorporate years’ worth of asides about battles, and give New Republic officers well-known, obscure and heretofore unknown some time in the spotlight. In hindsight, we probably should have done a map….
There are a blizzard of minor characters in this section whose origins I’ll run down for the uninitiated. (I really wish I’d kept more orderly notes.) First off, our task was made easier by the fact that the Essential Atlas had already mapped out the territories and fates of seven major post-Imperial warlords: Kaine, Zsinj, Teradoc, Delvardus, Prentioch, Lankin and Harrsk.
Airen Cracken is a well-established West End Games character, since retconned as a gunner aboard the Millennium Falcon in Return of the Jedi. Betl Oxtroe is from the Dark Empire Sourcebook, identified as an advocate for peace with the New Republic. Kermen is from Adventure Journal #7. Grand Moff Selit is from the Imperial Sourcebook.
Nantz first appeared in Shield of Lies, the middle book of Michael F. Kube-McDowell’s Black Fleet Crisis trilogy. The trilogy doesn’t get the attention some other books from this period do, perhaps because the plotline about Luke’s supposed mother has been overwritten by the prequels (not the author’s fault), or because there’s admittedly a lot of Lando and Lobot at center stage. I love a bunch of its elements, though, from Luke’s isolation to Admiral Ackbar’s characterization to the awesome setpiece in which New Republic agents explore the wreck of the Gnisnal. I also like that the trilogy goes beyond the usual suspects when it needs alien species, planets or ships — the galaxy of the Black Fleet Crisis feels big where some Star Wars stories feel cramped because you get the usual parade of Rodians, Whiphids and Sullustans piloting X-wings, Star Destroyers and Carracks above Tatooine, Corellia and Bespin.
Anyway, perhaps my liking for Black Fleet Crisis led me to elevate Nantz into a major character in Warfare, giving him a prime role in a number of battles, good quotes and something of the caustic character of William Tecumseh Sherman. Hopefully Nantz will catch on with authors and fans until people start clamoring for a picture of him. (Update: That didn’t take as long as I would have suspected. See bottom of this post.)
Back to the rundown. Tyr Taskeen is a major character in the videogame Force Commander. Darcc is from another videogame, Galactic Battlegrounds, while Peccati Syn showed up in The Essential Chronology and got a full bio in Insider #66. Decipher made one of the background Mon Cals from Return of the Jedi into Verrack, while his ship (the mundanely monikered Maria) is from the old X-Wing videogame. Voon Massa is a new character. Hiram Drayson is from Dark Force Rising. Kalback is from Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. Nammo is from X-Wing Alliance. Ragab is from the X-Wing: Rogue Squadron novel, as is Horton Salm, who gets more ink in the X-Wing comics.
Banjeer is from Crimson Empire, with his family called out as a prominent Navy clan in Coruscant and the Core Worlds. Veertag is from Marvel #65 — I worked with Leland Chee and Pablo Hidalgo at Lucasfilm to get him a retconned place on the riser in A New Hope's medal ceremony, as noted in Insider #133. Sien Sovv is a major character from the New Jedi Order. Wilham Burke is from the MMORPG Galaxies. Okins is from Shadows of the Empire. Chel Dorat is from Adventure Journal #4. Brenn Tantor is the star of Force Commander. Rogriss is from the novel X-Wing: Solo Command, while starfighter ace Turr Phennir is from the X-Wing comics.
Some characters got callouts because their roles in key battles had already been defined by various novels, comics and other stories. So what was the process for picking characters to fill the remaining roles? It was similar to how Dan Wallace and I assigned geographic coordinates to some systems in the Atlas: I started with Wookieepedia lists of New Republic admirals, Rebel generals, Imperial moffs and so forth, which yielded a list of candidates, then eliminated candidates by checking their bios and the primary sources, then made notes about characters’ reputation, species, etc. That led to some matches; where I still had multiple candidates for a given role, I tried to spread the wealth among novels, comics, and videogames — one of the purposes of “non-fiction fiction” like Warfare is to knit Star Wars sources and stories together.
As for assigning characters first names, one thing I’ve tried to do is reuse established monikers: Just like you probably know lots of Johns and Davids, there would be common names in the galaxy. So you’ll see a number of Firmuses and Arhuls in my work. This idea could be taken further — there should be Lukes and Hans with other last names, along with Skywalkers and Solos with different first names. But there are limits to verisimilitude in fiction: It’s not a good idea to make your main characters less distinctive.
War Portrait: Ysanne Isard: Paul Urquhart writes: “The idea that there was a Lusankya facility before there was an Super Star Destroyer hidden there is new; the phrase ‘dagger and fist’ is designed to suggest a less subtle and more violent form of deadliness than the traditional ‘cloak and dagger,’ one in which an opponent is disoriented and defeated through a simultaneous attack by two separate, overt, and dangerous threats — Isard is the dagger, her brute squad are the fist. ‘Brute squad’ itself is a Princess Bride homage. Armand’s fall from power is covered in the novella ‘Interlude at Darkknell’ (collected in Tales From the New Republic), but its position in continuity is complicated because it’s one of several contradictory stories built around the Rebels learning about the Death Star, so the context is simply alluded to obliquely in the reference to the ‘new-generation Imperial projects.’ I also took a moment to clarify Isard’s relationship with the Ubiqtorate (though Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor also suggests that at least one of them was also overseeing her); her role in organizing the reconquest of Coruscant in 10 ABY hopefully fits well with her activities.
“The idea of Isard being imprisoned on Lusankya at the end is a homage to a very old fan theory, though one that resurfaces with some regularity. It’s not intended to be canonical reality, but it was hard to resist the image.”
War Portrait: Zsinj: Paul writes: “Most of this is established canon. The reference to Zsinj commanding the ‘largest fleet’ extrapolates from a statement in Cracken’s Threat Dossier that his oversector and command ship gave him the most ‘raw power’ of any claimant to Palpatine’s vacant throne; making Crimson Command the basis of his forces fills a gap in the history of that fleet, and ties in with his extensive use of Victory-class ships.
“The new details in this piece are Zsinj’s alliances with Tavira, Pasiq, and Teubbo. Tavira was a logical choice: she fits perfectly with his policy of giving Imperial legitimacy to pirate gangs, her base at Axxila fell into his territory, and after his reign, she ended up working for the warlord on the far side of his territory, taking over the bulk of his fleet. Pasiq is from the Evasive Action web comic, a Force-sensitive of unspecified origin who ends up as an Imperial Inquisitor; her Dathomiri backstory is new, and is designed to hint at how Zsinj knew to find her planet. Teubbo is a new character; on one level, the image of a Hutt intellectual matches the eccentric image of Zsinj’s regime — but underneath that, the ruthless logic of supply-side economics and the kajidic patronage network of the Hutts both connect with elements of Zsinj’s own approach to power.”
Felinx-and-Rodus at Brentaal: Paul writes: “In essence, this is a summary of the classic In the Empire’s Service story arc from the X-Wing comics. The only new continuity is the idea that Fel was being considered by the fleet as a possible leader. There’s a scene in the comic where Fel’s wingman raises the idea of turning against Isard and Pestage, and authorial intent here is that this should be read as a sounding-out on behalf of the admirals. On the other hand, as some early online reaction has noted, it’s debatable whether Isard’s plan was as sane as it appears here — and it’s also possible that she was simply paranoid about Fel as a possible rival. That makes this a good example of a piece that is designed to be read ‘straight’ by the average fan, but veteran fans will find May Contain Subtext™. Jason very sensibly cut an overcomplicated reference to Isard’s assassin Graina from the original draft.”
War Portrait: Wedge Antilles: Wedge is such a familiar Expanded Universe figure that I didn’t want to spend pages rehashing him, and none of my attempts to capture his character through another character’s words seemed to work. In the end, I went for something short and I think a little sad, an account that hopefully adds depth to a well-known character. By the way, I like Wedge’s pale-blue R5 unit in Jason Palmer’s painting. If memory serves I chose the color. Does that mean Hasbro will send me one gratis? Or at least make the parts for him available at Tatooine Traders?
The Taking of Kuat: Here’s a story I’d always wanted to tell, and figured I’d never get the chance – the downfall of one of the Empire’s major fortress worlds. I was amazed when Warfare rolled around, nobody had tackled it yet, and I realized I’d get my wish. And then I was stressed out, because I didn’t want a big fleet action or starfighter heroics — I wanted something nobody would see coming. If the New Republic’s stratagem sounds familiar, you might be a Jack Vance fan — Ral’Rai Muvunc’s plan is an homage to The Face, the fourth book in Vance’s superb Demon Princes series. [Update: That’s now TWO homages to the Vance novel in the GFFA. It’s also referenced by Paul Chadwick in the first issue of Darklighter.]
Vance will reappear next week. Stay tuned!
(On to Pt. 14)