Here’s Part 15 of endnotes for The Essential Guide to Warfare.
CHAPTER 19: THE NEW JEDI ORDER
This chapter was my ace co-writer Paul Urquhart’s show, with me playing the role of first-string editor. So I’ll add my occasional thoughts in italic; everything else is Paul talking.
Yavin, 28 ABY: The purpose of this piece is to set the scene for the events of the New Jedi Order novels - by introducing the alien culture of the Yuuzhan Vong, with its mix of mysticism, sadism and treachery, and by “interrupting” the narrative with something in a very different style, reflecting the violent shock of the alien invasion of the New Republic. Cutting the scene into static-washed fragments was Jason’s idea, and I really like the result.
Vergere’s agenda is a mystery that fans still debate, and I deliberately DON’T want to speculate on the answer, or on how much she’s deceiving her apparent allies here. (After all, Vergere’s most famous line is “everything I tell you is a lie.”) I don’t want to spoil all the surprises of the novels for fans who’ve not read them all, either. But I do want to suggest that Vergere was involved in schemes and plots we never really saw on the page - so her linkage to Mezhan Kwaad and her presence on Yavin 4 are new continuity. There are other questions raised by this piece, as well, which might sneak up on readers who give it several re-reads - for example, just who is monitoring the conversation?!
Organic Weapons: This builds on the scene before it, showing some of the effects of Tahiri’s torture (yes, you’re meant to feel uneasy) and describing the disturbing weirdness of the invaders’ weapons, while starting to make them disturbingly “comprehensible” by framing their technology in the clear, recognizable context of military tactics and technology. Rostek Horn is a very old, very cunning Corellian spymaster - a good guy, but also unquestionably a dangerous man with a lot of secrets, a characterization that gives a nod to the moral complexity introduced in the New Jedi Order. His behind-the-scenes inclusion here builds on a mention of him in Dark Tide II: Ruin, where he was applying his knowledge of genetics to the problem of Yuuzhan Vong biotech.
Yuuhan Vong Warrior Castes: A third “setup” section, this brief summary of the invaders’ military organization is also designed to function as a portrait of Yuuzhan Vong society in general, and as a depiction of how their leadership takes control of living resources and twists them into tools to serve its own ends. It was fun to be able to finesse details like the nature of the Praetorite Vong, who have been portrayed in slightly differing ways in different sources.
The main new continuity in this section (indeed, arguably, in this whole chapter) is in the handling of the Slayers. The description of their officers as Intendants as well as Shapers is new, designed to round out the roles of the four castes within their organization (just as the officer/warrior distinction also embodies the gender difference). The idea that the Slayers are Jedi clones is ultimately based on an oddity in their introduction in The Unifying Force - they’re compact packages of “Darth Vader,” “Luke Skywalker” and “Jedi Knight” tropes, both overtly and in subtext, and while all this could just be designed to set them up as alien Jedi-equivalents, they’re definitely a little short for Yuuzhan Vong warriors. When the scientists who created them are confronted with this, they answer that the faster metabolism of stocky warriors was useful for their grafted armor and weapons, but this is completely the opposite of what should be the case - stocky guys as a rule have slower metabolisms - and that provided an opening to develop the idea that something else was going on here. It also helps, from a narrative perspective, to “characterize” the Slayers more, to clearly differentiate them from the other Yuuzhan Vong elite cadres, and to continue the theme of the bad guys warping Jedi heroism for their own purposes.
The Yuuzhan Vong Invasion: Paul did an awesome job on this section; my only contribution was to cloud the authorship, a touch I think made it even more intriguing.
For the general reader, the requirement here was to produce a summary of the New Jedi Order saga that retained a clear “military” focus without losing a coherent narrative structure. For the fans who’ve read the books and know the story well, the challenge is to keep that summary interesting. To achieve both ends, I decided to tell the story from a new perspective, carefully framed as a document of unreliable origin, and designed to provoke several different reactions. Different fans have different views of the New Jedi Order, and I wanted to play to that with this.
There’s only one statement in this narrative that I think could be called strictly inaccurate, which is that the Battle of Ithor was fought by “the Imperial Navy… with Bothan and Jedi support.” Sien Sovv legitimized the New Republic deployment there, and was present in person at some point; but even that statement is true from a “certain point of view,” since the defense of Ithor was the result of front-line cooperation between the Imperials, the Jedi, and the Bothan commander Traest Kre’fey. The portrait of Sovv and Brand’s war plan (and A’baht’s opposition) is based on the high-level military meetings we see in James Luceno’s Agents of Chaos novels, as well as the scramble by his trusted aides to fit out new fleets in Star by Star, and the methodical training and “tempering” of new troops in Destiny’s Way. Even if you disagree with the level of critique that the narrative point of view levels at Sovv, I think the underlying analysis of what the New Republic commanders were trying to do is broadly borne out by the novels.
It’s not very Jedi, or very Rebel, is it?
For readers who are surprised that this narrative places all three Solo kids on Yavin 4, the reference is to the scene implied towards the end of Edge of Victory: Conquest, where Karrde’s fleet touches down to rescue the vast number of slaves liberated from the concentration camp. It’s also a reference to the final panel of the Dark Empire 2 comic, where Luke sees the bright future of the Jedi Order: the three Solo kids full grown, with Jedi cloaks and drawn lightsabers, and with typically “boxy” Rebel-style ships coming in low behind them. We never really saw that anywhere else in canon, and I knew that I wanted to fit it in somewhere.
Vonak is a new system. It was inspired by the glimpse of Arbeloa and Cilare in the first issue of Star Wars: Invasion — at the time, it wasn’t clear that we’d see them again or that they’d get on-the-page names, and I wanted a random name to represent that sort of system. Commodore Brand’s first name is also a new addition — it falls somewhere between the nickname of “Mustapha” Kimmel, the U.S. commander at Pearl Harbor, and the name of the Truk Lagoon, the opposing Japanese fleet base. Another of those weirdly complex subtexts that just pops out of my mind fully-formed. The genesis of the name of Sovv’s defensive position, the “Northern Line,” is more straightforward — it’s the name of one of the major subway tracks in London.
Coralskipper: I didn’t know if every Sensor Profile would get an associated image, so I tried to include some form of narrative description of the vehicle in each piece, and I really like how the text and image complement each other in this one. The Slayers’ coralskipper variants in The Unifying Force are shaped to look like voxyn, which seemed out-of-place in a technical description, especially since the arc of this chapter was to make the Vong seem increasingly comprehensible as the reader read on; so instead, their appearance inspired the “rumor” — nothing more — of Force-sensitive fighters; they are, after all, a dark counterpoint to the Force-tinged Sekotan cutters acquired by the Jedi in the same novel.
Yuuzhan Vong Warships: Extensively synthesized out of the New Jedi Order novels. The impressive armament and firepower of a Yuuzhan Vong frigate, for example, is based on the depiction of the captured Kstarr, which features in Star by Star, Dark Journey, and especially Destiny’s Way. There’s very little that’s truly new here, but the final line identifies the mighty Baanu Rass from Star by Star with the unnamed “Domain Lah worldship” in Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream: Both are massive prestige ships of the same class, and both are important bases for rear-area military development located in the Myrkr system, so it made sense to identify them with each other.
(On to Pt. 16)