Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha: The Confusing Life and Times of Freedon Nadd

Continuity Spotlight: Freedon Nadd

Despite being a comparative footnote in Star Wars lore, Freedon Nadd’s history is almost as convoluted and contradictory as that of the Sith as a whole. Actually it might be even more so, because fewer authors cared as much about trying to iron it out.

It’s stated in Ulic Qel-Droma and the Beast Wars of Onderon (1993) that Freedom Nads fell to the dark side and apprenticed himself to a Dark Lord of the Sith. According to Sith tradition, there could be only one Dark Lord at a time, so Nadd, knowing his potential for career advancement was severely limited in that field, went to Onderon and used his powers to make himself king.

This back story was further fleshed out in Tales of the Jedi Companion (1996), which explains that Nadd was once a gifted Jedi prodigy on the fast track to Jedi Mastership. He was put to a test by the Jedi Masters, however, when they refused to promote him from apprentice to Jedi Knight in order to gauge his response.

In confusion, he sought out Master Matta Tremayne to ask for advice, but she refused to explain what was stopping him from achieving Knighthood. After provoking him to rage, she challenged him to a lightsaber duel, and Nadd cut her down. At the moment that he did so, however, he realized that this had been his true test, and he had failed. Nadd then fled to the Sith planet of Ashas Ree to learn forbidden Sith knowledge and take his revenge on the Jedi.

At this point in Nadd’s story, the Companion contradicts Arca Jeth’s version of events. Now, rather than fleeing to Onderon out of frustration with his inability to become the Dark Lord of the Sith, Nadd killed his Sith teacher and named himself the new Dark Lord, then went to Onderon for no apparent reason.

Star Wars: The Essential Chronology (2000) established that the Dark Lord who trained Nadd was in fact our old friend Naga Sadow, which makes sense given that post­-Companion canon established Sadow as the only Sith Lord still alive at the time (that would eventually be retconned as well but we’ll get to that later). Its wording is ambiguous but implies that Sadow had already died and Nadd merely encountered his ghost. The Dark Side Sourcebook (2001) backs up this idea, and further wrinkles Freedon’s Nadds by claiming that the Jedi he slew was his own personal Jedi Master, rather than some lady he didn’t know and only talked to in search of guidance.

It wasn’t long before Naga Sadow’s status returned to the original narrative in Tales of the Jedi Companion, however. In its short biography on Sadow, Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters (2002) claims that he entered a state of suspended animation on Yavin 4 and that his fate after encountering Nadd remains unknown, although it is believed that he perished at his pupil’s hand.

“The Shadow of Freedon Nadd,” an article in The Official Star Wars Fact File #90 (2003), backtracked yet again, making Sadow’s existence less certain than Schrödinger’s cat’s. This article claimed that Sadow was inspired by the visitation of Marka Ragnos’s ghost to preserve his own consciousness after death. He did this by having his remaining Massassi warriors construct huge temples on Yavin 4 to focus and preserve his power.

After learning from Sadow, Nadd then destroyed his lingering spirit, a detail which I guess was meant to somewhat preserve the earlier narrative of Nadd killing his Sith predecessor when in this version that predecessor was already dead. “The Shadow of Freedon Nadd” also restored Matta Tremayne to her previous position of some random woman Nadd had never met before.

(In a completely irrelevant point, the title “The Shadow of Freedon Nadd” apparently originated as a section heading in The Essential Chronology. Evidently some editor at LFL had a real hard-on for it, because in researching this article I’ve found it reused in Fact File #90, Chronicles of the Old Republic, The New Essential Chronology, and Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force.)

Chronicles of the Old Republic (2004), an online article published by LucasArts as back story to their Knights of the Old Republic games, tweaked Nadd’s tale yet again. In this version, Nadd was already a Jedi Knight when he turned to the dark side, thus removing his entire reason for turning to the dark side.

One of the last amendments to Nadd’s story came in “Evil Never Dies: The Sith Dynasties” (2006), an article exclusive to subscribers of StarWars.com’s Hyperspace feature. Strangely, this account doesn’t mention Nadd’s tutelage under Sadow, but it does reintegrate Nadd’s journey to the Sith world Ashas Ree. On that planet, it says, he discovered a holocron belonging to Adas, the ancient king of the Sith people who drove the invading Rakata from Korriban in the centuries before the Old Republic. It was the knowledge Nadd gained from this device that allowed him to conquer Onderon.

Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force (2007) includes this account, but rather than saying that he went first to Ashas Ree and then to Yavin 4, it holds the Ashas Ree version of the story in opposition to the version involving Naga Sadow. Those stupid fictional history scholars just don’t know what to believe! Jedi vs. Sith also goes back to the idea of Matta Tremayne being Nadd’s instructor, which was reaffirmed for the last time in The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (2008). I think it’s also the first source since Ulic Qel-Droma and the Beast Wars of Onderon to posit that Nadd fled to Onderon because he knew he could never hold his Sith master’s title.

So we have Freedon Nadd, a man who may or may not be a Jedi Knight, who kills a woman who may or may not be his own Jedi Master, then may or may not learn from Naga Sadow, who may or may not be alive, and then either kills Naga Sadow or destroys his ghost, whereupon he may or may not name himself the new Dark Lord of the Sith.

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