I think I’ve underestimated Xanatos as a villain. If someone is able to break into the Jedi Temple, conceal their movements, collect a new apprentice (is Bruck his brother?) and make an attempt on Master Yoda’s life, they are a dangerous person indeed. If before I read these books you were to tell me that such a laundry list of capable feats was accomplished by a character named Xanatos, I would have replied with “Xanatos who?”. I would assume this list of accomplishments could only be reserved for the likes of Cad Bane, Boba Fett, or any number of Dark Lords of the Sith – I think Maul could probably get away with something like this as well, despite his poor showing in The Phantom Menace.
I think I’ve underestimated Xanatos because I don’t know much about him – yet when I list what I do know about him it becomes quite clear that he’s a 3-dimensional character. We are told he was once Qui-Gon’s apprentice, was the son of a powerful ruler from the planet Telos, watched Qui-Gon kill his father, and is the head of a powerful mining corporation. After the events of The Captive Temple, it is evident he’s just as dangerous as any of these other character’s that I’ve mentioned above – well, maybe not AS dangerous, but obviously pretty close. He can hold his own against Qui-Gon in a lightsaber duel. That’s something.
There is a great back-story to Xanatos, and his motivations make sense. I guess that’s why Dark Horse is doing a story arc about him and Qui-Gon. I’m looking forward to its release, as it will bring Xanatos out from the pages of “Scholastic” children’s books. I’ll talk more about what I mean by this in a second.
I’m rooting for Xanatos. It’s not that I want him to win, but I do want these books to have a proficient villain, someone who I fear could capably get away with “it”. I think another reason I’ve underestimated him as a villain, in a literary sense I guess, is because he appears in the pages of Star Wars children’s books. This is a silly reason to dismiss his ‘villainess’, but one I fear I’m guilty of. Because he doesn’t appear in a “real” Star Wars book, he’s not a “real” villain.
When it comes to Star Wars sources, I don’t want to have an exclusivist mentality when dealing with the history of this universe. I’ve actively ignored the idea of levels of canon, because, quite frankly, I find the notion to elitist. I understand why many people like the idea, and in absence of such a structure would probably demand such an organization in place. Hierarchy provides clarity, along with right and wrong answers. My entire religious tradition is built upon the idea of hierarchy – it provides stability. However, I don’t like the idea of “levels of canon” because it puts some artist’s contribution to Star Wars over others, and creates a hierarchy of meaning, with George at the top, and someone like Darko Macan at the bottom. Many would argue that this is a good thing, and I think that some of their arguments would make sense, but I really don’t like the idea of George Lucas being the “God” of the Star Wars universe, or of there being "George's Star Wars" and "Everything else".
I have a very conflicted reconciliation to the idea of “levels of canon’, and one I’m not sure I’ve worked out entirely in my mind, but I think I’m going to stop this tangent here, as I want to deal with this idea, but I want to deal with it when I get to the novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, and Lucas’ forward to that book. To clarify what I’m trying to say (and so very poorly as well) is, just because Xanatos was introduced to Star Wars history in a children’s book, doesn’t’ mean he’s not a badass villain – and most of you probably already knew this. I think I’ve just had to come to terms with my own elitist and exclusivist self.
Moving in a different direction, it was interesting to come across Mace Windu in Star Wars history again. Good ol’ Mace cut right to the chase and put Obi-Wan in his place: “Mace Windu’s sharp gaze cut him like ice ‘I think the Jedi can manage to solve the crisis without that kind of help from you’” (8). Translation: we don’t need any meddling kids, Scooby gang, or curious magical children solving our problems for us – piss off! I was like ‘Finally! An adult stepping up!’
All in all it’s great to watch the development of Obi-Wan as a Knight, how he deals with death, and how he deals with killing. It’s going to be fun engaging with Obi-Wan down the line in history, knowing what I know about his past. It’s a great feeling – engaging with characters whose extensive history you are familiar with.
For my next post I’m going to talk about book 8 in the Jedi Apprentice series: The Day of Reckoning, but before I sign off, I want to ask you all how I should deal with the next few upcoming sources, namely, The Stark Hyperspace War and Rite of Passage. It is best for me to deal with them as flashbacks at 44 BBY, or would it be better if I waited until they appear again at 30 BBY (The Stark Hyperspace War), and 29 BBY (Rite of Passage)?
Let me know what you all think.
Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.