I definitely should have read the Dawn of the Jedi comics before venturing into the first novel set in this time period. I would have enjoyed Into the Void more.
At the library on Wednesday, I picked up the first tradepaperback in the Dawn of the Jedi comics series — Force Storm. It gathers issues 1-5 of the Dawn of the Jedi series, and provides a much better explanation for this time period than Into the Void did. Not to mention it introduces characters that I like much, much better than Void’s heroine, Lanoree.
Draigon-loads of spoilers ahead.
Proceed at your own risk.
The series starts off with a concise but thorough explanation of how the Je’Daii came to live on Tython. The Dai Bendu monks have been safeguarding a Tho Yor, a mysterious object which is in reality a (maybe sentient) space ship. One day it calls to them, and they board it, leaving their world. Across the galaxy, seven other Tho Yor do the same thing, gathering Force sensitives like Wookies from Kashyyyk, Witches of Dathomir and Twi-lek from Ryloth. As the ships travel to the Deep Core, and Tython, they pick up Force sensitives of other races. These people unite to form the Je’Daii, residing on Tython, a planet rich in the Force and orbited by two moons, Ashla (Light) and Bogan (Dark).
Over time, non-sensitive children born to the Je’Daii are sent to live on other planets in the system, as Tython, with weather that reacts to changes in the Force, has proven to be too dangerous a place for them to live. At the time this story takes place, these outcasts have settled all the worlds in the system, and there has been at least one system-wide war. Also, no one, outcast or Je’Daii has managed to find their way back out of the system. The very last planet, ‘Furies Gate’, has an orbiting station (also named Fury) to watch for the return of exploratory ships which are sent out periodically to find the route out of the system. To date, none of them have returned — but something else nevertheless finds its way into the Tythos System.
The comics then start to weave together two storylines, with references to a third — the Infinite Empire, the experiences of a select group of Je’Daii, and fleeting mentions of someone called Daegen Lok.
The story opens on Tatooine, yes, the Tatooine of the Skywalkers — only this planet is lush and covered with water. It’s also under attack by the Rakata of the Infinite Empire, who appear to have a massive desire to conquer the entire galaxy. The ‘Predors’ — warlords — of the Rakata keep ‘Force Hounds’ who, among other things, seek out Force-sensitive worlds and people. One of these hounds, Trill, has sensed a powerful Force-world in the Core, but can’t locate it. Xesh, another Hound, says that he can, and off he and his Predor go into the Core.
No surprise, the world is Tython, and naturally, Xesh’s ship crashes on it, killing everyone but him. In entering the system, it passed by Fury Station, and Hawk Ryo sets out to track it, sensing the Dark nature of its occupants. Hawk was a character introduced in a short story set before Into the Void, and it looks like I nay have been right — the comics seem to be setting him up to play a larger role in these events.
We’re next introduced to three Je’Daii Journeyers, or apprentices — Shae Koda, Tasha Ryo and Sek’los Rath. They each saw a vision of a masked person (Xesh) and set out to find him. Daegen Lok, an exile on Bogan, has the same vision — only he senses the darkness, and the power, within the person. The Je’Daii arrive just in time to witness the crash of Xesh’ ship and find his escape pod — and of course, to get into a pitched fight with Xesh, who then flees into the Abyss of Ruh, a place of Darkness on the planet.
Xesh, incidentally, brings the first ‘Forcesaber’ — a blade of light — to Tython. Unfortunately, this lightsaber can only be ignited through the Darkside.
Ultimately, Xesh is subdued by the Je’Daii, but only after he acts against all his instincts and training to aid Shae in her fight against an attacking creature from the Abyss. He admits that he could not allow her light to be extinguished, and that he does not understand their version of the Force at all. Since he is so completely out of balance in the Force, knowing only the Darkside, he’s banished to Bogan, there to study upon the Light and hopefully achieve balance. The fifth issue ends with the ominous statement by Daegen Lok that “Finally, it has begun.”
I enjoyed the comics much more than the novel, in part because the comics were more understandable. That opening explanation provided a basis from which to dive into this world, since so many of its terms, and Je’Daii behaviors, are different from those of the Star Wars Universe of later years. Moreover, the very fact that this story was in a comics-mode really helped, by giving a visual to the unfamiliar terms. Forcesabers and other new terms are easier to understand when you see what they look like.
Although, a rancor is still — unpleasant — whether it’s a full rancor or a half-breed. I’m just saying.
The one thing I wished they had done here was to provide more of a background for Daegen Lok. I know that people are exiled to Bogan because they are too far into the Darkside, but who Bogan is, and what he may have done while under the influence of the Darkside, are not explained here, although you’re definitely left with the impression that he’s going to play a large role in the story.
Overall, these five issues were a nice start to this part of the Star Wars Universe, although they do raise some interesting points about the changes that have occured ove time, particularly among the Jedi. One of the fascinating aspects of the comics was reading the creed of the Je’Daii:
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no fear, there is power.
I am the heart of the Force. I am the revealing fire of Light.
I am the mystery of darkness in balance with chaos and harmony,
Immortal in the Force.
Contrast that with the modern Jedi creed, which holds that the Darkside is not to be touched by Jedi, and that merely touching it will taint that Jedi’s actions forever. These Je’Daii, at least on the surface that we have seen thus far, appear to be more in balance, able to see and use both sides of the Force without (hopefully) falling prey to one side or the other. Indeed, just as those too immersed in the Dark are banished to Bogan, those who fall too far into the Light are banished to Ashla until they can regain their balance. An extreme move to one side of the Force or the other is not desirable in the eyes of the Je’Daii; balance is everything.
I’m still mulling over the implications here for the Jedi of later years.
I haven’t read anything past issue 5, as the library had nothing further from this series. But I can see that I’ll definitely be visiting the comics shop for additional issues, so I can follow up on the storylines introduced here.
And figure out if these Je’Daii are more knowledgable about the Force than Yoda and his Council.