Category Archives: SWEU

Talking Tahiri Veila

Being raised by Tuskan Raiders and being shaped by the Yuuzhan Vong should make for a compelling character. Unfortunately, for Tahiri Veila, she’s cast into role of the pining lover, moldable apprentice and slave to her desires. As likeable as Tahiri is, the unfitting uses of her character threaten her position on the list of female heroes in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

Tahiri began her role in the EU as friend to a reluctant Anakin Solo. Orphaned and raised by Tusken Raiders, she has a vastly different background than her best friend. Tahiri and Anakin during the Junior Jedi Knights books act as children their ages often do as they go through their many adventures. She’s bright, bubbly and intelligent.

Tahiri pops up again during the New Jedi Order first in James Luceno’s Agents of Chaos II: Eclipse in a minor role. When the Yuuzhan Vong attack Yavin IV during Edge of Victory: Conquest by Greg Keyes, Tahiri doesn’t accompany most of the other students. Naïve about how the Vong truly are and feeling stifled by her age, Tahiri stays behind to fight alongside Anakin. Instead of the glorious adventure she envisions, she ends up captured by Shapers.

The shaping of Tahiri is one of the most horrifying and interesting events in the EU. The Vong Shapers have no qualms with eradicating Tahiri by replacing her with memories of another. They treat her as a science experiment, a game. The extent of the damage Master Shaper Mezhan Kwaad and Nen Yim inflict on Tahiri when they inserted the Riina Kwaad identity into the young Jedi trainee’s mind comes forth the strongest during the Force Heretic trilogy. While readers saw some of the effects before those, it’s only then does she have to fight the conflicting parts of her mind.

Tahiri and Anakin’s relationship turns from friendship to love during this time. It was short-lived, however, when Anakin died on Myrkr. Tahiri refused to kiss Anakin, telling him that he needed to return to receive it. It’s a common request seen in movies and books that the hero often fulfils, yet in this case, it adds another layer to the tragedy of Anakin’s death for Tahiri.

Tahiri appears to be recovering somewhat during her mission to Coruscant with Luke, Mara and several others including former Wraith Kell Tainer. Though subdued, Tahiri successfully contributed to the mission, especially when dealing with Lord Nyax. In addition, “Aunt Tahiri” and Kell’s interactions provide much-needed comic relief.

When Riina’s personality attempts to take control of Tahiri, she is forced to retreat into her mind to battle to deal with her two parts. She eventually merges the two and becomes a new mix of Riina and Tahiri. She’s harder, rougher, yet still maintains some of Tahiri’s brightness. It’s somewhat off-putting at first, but it makes sense with what has happened to her. During The Final Prophecy, Tahiri’s characterization continues to strengthen.

When the Killik crisis occurred, Tahiri became a Joiner. Despite that she suffered from depression from the loss of Anakin and that the Yuuzhan Vong part of her was known for blind devotion, Tahiri as a Joiner didn’t make much sense. Here was a woman who’d undergone a transformation into a more mentally sound person. She’d had her mind invaded once. It’d be logical for her to create some type of metal barriers against that happening again and be alert to it. This change would take time to become comfortable with, but it wasn’t as if Tahiri spent those five years on Zonoma Sekot in constant combat. She’d have time to recover. A world so rich in life and the Force seems like ideal healing grounds.

Moving past the Joiner kerfuffle, Tahiri’s characterization takes a major hit when she joins Jacen. Jacen manipulates Tahiri’s remaining feelings for Anakin to draw her into his trap. When it comes to dabbling in the Dark Side, Tahiri lacks the finesse of other Sith. While her fall to the dark side can be understood given the history, it’s the revelation during her trial for the murder of Gilad Pellaeon in Fate of the Jedi Allies by Christie Golden that Tahiri and Jacen were physically “involved” that does more damage to her—and her Sith Master. Tahiri pining after Anakin and then sleeping with his older brother is simply uncomfortable. It takes Star Wars to a place that it doesn’t turn to. In addition, it adds nothing to the story but sputtering by fans. The final verdict in her trial would have been the same without that particular development.

Tahiri returns to her role as a hero in Troy Denning’s Fate of the Jedi Apocalypse. She fought one of Abeloth’s forms with the help of Boba Fett. The alliance, if it can be called such, between such vastly different characters worked well. Tahiri also fights alongside the Jedi in the Temple towards the end of the book. In both cases, she shows the Tahiri unseen for years. She’s an assertive, decisive woman capable of holding her own in most situations.

Tahiri is yet another female character in the Expanded Universe whose potential is repeatedly misused. She’s stuffed into the box of the lost love and self-pity. While she received closure during Allies, I’m not convinced that the Anakin card won’t play again in her future. No one wants to see a depressed, wallowing Tahiri.

Tahiri’s destiny links with Anakin long after his death. Rather than force her to stay tied down to a ghost, let her move forward. She can still have fond memories of him without them dragging down her spirit. The relationship is a part of her, but shouldn’t define her entire life. Aaron Allston sent her in the right direction during Conviction and Troy Denning pushed it farther along with the events of Apocalypse. It’d be a terrible loss if Tahiri faded into the background.

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Filed under Allston, Anakin Solo, Expanded Universe, Fate of the Jedi, female characters, FotJ, Jacen Solo, NJO, Star Wars, SWEU, Tahiri, Troy Denning

Timothy Zahn’s Scoundrels full cover revealed

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On the back, from left to right, Paul Youll drew Kell Tainer, Winter Celchu, Zerba Cher’dak and Bink Kitik. The cover is eye-catching and looks different than other covers. Perhaps the appearance will help sway those who are unsure about the book.

Scoundrels comes out Dec. 16.

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Filed under Scoundrels, SWEU, Uncategorized, Zahn

Star Wars Dream Team (Allston, Stackpole, Zahn) talks Star Wars novels

Aaron Allston, Michael Stackpole and Timothy Zahn provided an hour of side-splitting hilarity at Origins this afternoon. Not only did we learn that Bantam didn’t know if the X-Wing series would sell—especially given that the main characters of the film weren’t leading the stories, but also that the release of The Phantom Menace had a major impact on the beginning of the New Jedi Order. Below are some of the highlights and discussions.

Fun facts and funny quotes:

Krytos Trap knocked a Stephen King book off the best seller list for one week.

Zahn wanted to call Scoundrels “Solo’s 11” instead, but Lucasfilm said there might be issues.

Stackpole: “Boba Fett is in my car!”

Stackpole on giving Booster the Errant Venture: “It’s like giving an air craft carrier to a Somali pirate.” “I’m doing this because Tim is going to use it in his next book. And so they said ‘okay’.”

Stackpole’s second Errant Venture footnote: “By the way, I realize the best name would have been Enterprise.” (as it’s a business)

Specter of the Past, I, Jedi and Visions of the Future were sort of a trilogy. Zahn had introduced Elegos and pitched Stackpole the pages. Zahn saw what Stackpole did with him in I, Jedi and continued on with character. Zahn needed a “hotshot Imperial pilot” for Visions. He talked to Stackpole, who said Baron Soontir Fel. The two created Fel’s entire back story in one phone conversation.

Zahn explained that he tried to establish in VotF: “That you can either get maximum guidance from the Force or use maximum power of the Force, but you can’t do both. The more power you do, the less wisdom you have.”

Allston on the ignored Wraiths: “I was kind of looking forward to someone screwing up my characters.”

Highlights

Stackpole and Allston compared on their experiences working large projects:

Stackpole and James Luceno studied what made the Original Trilogy so popular while creating the perimeters for the New Jedi Order. Some of the events were moved around later on, which negatively affected the series.

Stackpole sent in an outline that used the Horns, which was rejected and he was instructed to lose Corran and the secondary characters. He knew that those were the characters we readers liked. After the release of The Phantom Menace, he was told to bring Corran back into the story. Stackpole went through two edits of Onslaught. He was told to add R2 into the scene with Luke and Jacen on a Vong-formed planet. The idea was R2 could scan the plant. Stackpole argued that if they found evidence that R2 could and had scanned plant life before, then he would add it in. In addition, Onslaught was thought to be the intro for many to NJO because some fans wouldn’t want to pay for Vector Prime in hardback.

The beginning of NJO was affected by the buzz about The Phantom Menace. Not only was the movie receiving criticism, but Vector Prime and R.A. Salvatore faced serious backlash for killing off Chewbacca. Stackpole was a huge defender of Salvatore.

Stackpole explained why Chewie had to die: “We looked at all the major characters and said if we ranked them top to bottom, whose death hurt the most. We realized with all the major characters, any death would hurt a lot. We knew equal impact there. So we had to ask ourselves a second question: From which character’s viewpoint can we best tell the story of that hurt and Chewie is the only character that you can’t tell a story from his viewpoint. Therefore, Chewie had to die. That is what we had to do to set the New Jedi Order apart.”

By the time Allston joined in, he said everything had calmed down quite a bit. He cited that it’s hectic and overwhelming at times, with all the emails constantly being passed around and details to keep up. In addition, if the authors don’t click, some subplots seem difficult to write in his books.

“When I was working on my two books there were rumors all over the ‘net saying they brought Allston in to kill Wedge. So I wrote a scene that made it look like I was going to kill Wedge,” Allston said.

In the midst of the discussions, various ideas started flowing. Allston, Stackpole and Zahn joked about each writing a book that took place in a different era, but where one trilogy. In addition, Zahn wants the Vong war stories never told, including the Baron Fel clones “ripping up the rear” in Chiss space during the Vong war. Allston also joked about pitching one book with three stories in the Vong war, one from each of them, among other fun ideas.

On Mara’s death:

“Mara should have never died that way, for many reasons,” Zahn said.

Allston admitted to bringing up the idea of a sacrifice in Legacy of the Force. “During the meeting, I floated the notion that there would be a category of Sith who believed that they were maintaining integrity…by devoting themselves to a pattern of self-sacrifice. If they are always sacrificing.”

The discussion eventually went to Mara. Zahn then asked if the decision was made then to tell Zahn, which led to a hilarious confession by Allston.

“No one was happy with the notion. It became the decision,” he said. Zahn learned two months before publication. Zahn cites the Mara situation as the reason for the four year gap between his Star Wars books.

Allston said that they decided Jacen would fall, but his death wasn’t known at the beginning.

A huge thank you to Aaron Allston, Michael Stackpole and Timothy Zahn for a great panel.

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Filed under Allston, chewbacca, Fate of the Jedi, Michael Stackpole, NJO, Origins2012, Star Wars, SWEU, Timothy Zahn, Uncategorized

Let’s talk about the Hapans

Click here to read Fangirl, Kay and I talk about the Hapans and their female dominated culture. It’s the first part of the discussion, so look for more in the future!

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Filed under Discussion, Expanded Universe, Fangirl, female characters, Hapes, Star Wars, SWEU