Force War, One
Author: John Ostrander
Artist: Jan Duursema
Publication Date: November 2013 – March 2014
Timeline Placement: 25,792 BBY
Series: Dawn of the Jedi
We jump forward in time one year to find the Tythan system under siege by the Rakatan fleet and their foot soldiers, mutated Rakatan warriors called Flesh Raiders, a name that sounds like it could also be any number of other perverse things. Daegen Lok, the completely insane slavemaster visionquest psycho from the last book, has been released from the Evil Moon of Bogan and put in charge of the Je’daii armies for some reason, while Master Ravioli, a bald and somewhat boring monk, commands the combined forces of Tython and the non-Je’daii worlds. Despite this he still contributes nothing to the plot. Xesh, emodouche protagonist, has taught the Je’daii how to manufacture Forcesabers, which have become their primary melee weapon against the similarly armed Flesh Raiders.
Redheaded love interest Shae Koda (and presumably Sek’nos Rath, Shae’s (best? I don’t even know) friend, as well but I don’t think it’s ever clarified) has been promoted from Je’daii Journeyer to Je’daii Ranger, a meaningless distinction with no bearing on the text. I guess Sek’nos and Trill, the Force-hunting double-agent sent by Predor Skal’nas the Big Evil Space Guy, are dating now, because sure, whatever. Poor, neglected Tasha Ryo, one of three equally prominent protagonists in the first volume, is marginalized even more in the finale. Since she sucks at fighting, she’s become a Je’daii “seer” and now just sits around with other seers, all of whom are nameless, trying to divine the future and see where the Rakata will strike next. She does nothing of consequence for the entire book until the end, where she dies. Spoiler alert!
We open with all our main characters (except Tasha, because she’s not even a main character anymore) engaged in battle on Shikaakwa. They kill a bunch of Flesh Raiders and beat back the Rakata forces with their armada of monsters (including Butch, the flying rancor-dragon!). You would think that these creatures wouldn’t be much use against the Rakata’s advanced technology and starships, but fortunately the Rakata’s Force Hounds apparently have their own beast-mounted air cavalry for some reason, and the Je’daii kick their ass. Also apparently Xesh’s armor-and-helmet look from the first volume wasn’t unique to him but was the generic Force Hound uniform, which makes his co-Hound Trill’s red bustier and leather pants even more ridiculous.
The allied Je’daii and non-Je’daii forces beat back the Rakata’s advance, and Sub-Predor Ceh’let, a female Rakata (which you can tell because she has a ponytail), is none too happy with how things are going. She confronts warlord Skal’nas about how much he sucks at winning wars and demands to know why he is so obsessed with capturing Tython. Skal’nas explains that the Rakata are slowly losing their connection to the Force.
[Continuity Note: All of the Rakata’s technology is powered through the Force, including their starship hyperdrives and navigation. In the videogame Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, the player rediscovers the remnants of the long-forgotten Infinite Empire and learns that the Rakata were ultimately destroyed by a plague that cut them off from the Force. Unable to use their weapons or technology, the Rakata fell prey to mass slave revolts and lost control of their empire. By the time the game takes place, only a few tribes of Rakatan primitives remain on their lost homeworld, Rakata Prime (later retroactively renamed Lehon because continuity). What we are seeing in Dawn of the Jedi is the beginning of their downfall.]
Rakatan legend tells of a world so rich in the Force that it can renew the Rakata’s failed connection to it. This world also contains a Prime Gate, the greatest of the Kwa Infinity Gates. Unlike other Infinity Gates, which linked only to a sister gate on a single other world, the Prime Gate can instantly take you anywhere in the galaxy. Skal’nas plans to use this gate to make the Infinite Empire infinite in fact as well as in name. Ceh’let is flattered to be told all this and asks if Skal’nas plans for her to be his queen when he becomes Over-Predor of the empire. Skal’nas says, “No, I just wanted you to understand the prize you were losing out on before you died,” and vaporizes her with Force lightning.
Meanwhile, Xesh continues to be angsty. He has a nightmare wherein twisted Rakatan visages tell him he can never escape the darkness inside himself and wakes up screaming. Shae runs into his tent and confesses that she loves him and Xesh is like “. . . uhhhhhhh . . .” Shae turns to go but Xesh tries to make up for his comical awkwardness by telling her something about himself that no one else knows. “Xesh” is his slave name, but he has secretly renamed himself “Tau,” the only word from his native language that he remembers. It means “soul.” It is a stupid name.
That said, this may explain why Sek’nos didn’t make anything out of Xesh and Trill both being named after Aurebesh letters, something I wondered about in the previous review. The implication, then, would seem to be that Aurebesh, the most commonly used alphabet in the Star Wars galaxy at the time of the films, originated as the Rakatan alphabet. So basically the Rakata are responsible for everything in Star Wars: the alphabet, the lightsaber, the hyperdrive, the Sith name “Darth,” spreading humans across the galaxy, turning Tatooine and Korriban into deserts, hyper-accelerating the foliage growth on Kashyyyk, creating the Twi’lek and Zabrak species, giving pyramidal holocron technology to the Sith, and forcibly driving the Celestials from the galactic stage (prior to the invention of the Rakata, the Celestials were the EU’s go-to ancient advanced civilization for explaining lingering cosmic mysteries). I love the Rakata but it’s a bit much, isn’t it?
Anyway, then Xesh and Shae fuck.→