Jacen Solo, Vergere and the Force
This is an essay written by me that was begun September 18, 2006 and finished November 9, 2006, after the release of the novels Legacy of Force: Betrayal and Legacy of Force: Bloodlines. It was posted on the Jedi Council Community of TheForce.net around this time as well. The essay is shown verbatim, with no changes (other than spelling and punctuation) than the original version with a preface as to what has happened since then.
This is the question Vergere puts to Jacen Solo while the young Jedi is imprisoned by the Yuuzhan Vong in Traitor and it is a question that deserves close consideration, especially given that the subject of this essay is Vergere and her eclectic and most of all controversial views of the Force. These are a matter of dispute amongst fans of the Expanded Universe novels, some buying into Vergere’s views while others favouring a more simplistic and binary view of the dark and light sides of the Force that is more in line with the good-versus-evil, us-versus-them, black-and-white paradigms in our own galaxy.
What I propose to do is not say that one is better than the other, to attempt that would be embarking on a long and rather meandering argument which would really benefit no one in particular, but rather to examine Vergere’s teachings from their supposed nexus and expand outwards from there. In other words, to go to the root of the problem and see how it grows, and it really is rather surprising when the more recent supposed teachings of Vergere are compared with the original ones, even though they talk about the same character what she actually says is different to the what is said of her some years later.
My conclusions may cause some disagreement given my own invested interest in this subject, I must confess that I have been a supporter of Vergere since I read and loved Traitor and have been very disappointed with what happened after, especially of late with the Legacy of the Force series. This essay cannot be entirely without bias, yet I have approached this as objectively as I could, analysing what I had with an open mind and comparing what Vergere said with what is said by other Jedi—both past and contemporaneous to the time of the New Jedi Order. I have approached this is in a quasi-academic style for the main reason that I find it easier to arrange my thoughts this way—in other words I’m going to lead you down the garden path and show you where the flowers are.
Firstly there is Vergere herself and her teachings, here I am going to rely on Traitor and to some extent Destiny’s Way, yet the reasons for my continual emphasis on Traitor will become apparent at a later stage. Here I am going to analyse several aspects of the Force and morality, how Vergere speaks of it and how it washes with other characters like Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Mace Windu and even Obi-Wan Kenobi. This is necessary as everything following depends on a grounding of Vergere’s views before an analysis of their changing can begin—and they do change, there is no denying that. How they change and when is next important, even if sometimes it is somewhat inconsistent with certain character arcs.
Unfortunately I have to end my analysis with Betrayal as that is the latest novel I have been able to lay my hands on yet I have been told that Bloodlines rarely mentions Vergere even though Jacen Solo plays an extensive role. Yet my focus is not purely about Jacen, but of his relationship with Vergere and what he learns from her.
Traitor and Vergere’s Teachings
I begin with Traitor, a rather dark and at the same time deeply philosophical novel yet the author Matthew Stover achieves this contrast masterfully which is also true in his other two Star Wars novels Shatterpoint and Revenge of the Sith. It holds none of the bells and whistles of Star Wars novels do such as space battles, extended lightsaber fights and several plots on different planets yet it is sandwiched between novels that do just that. Prior to Traitor in the New Jedi Order is the Enemy Lines duology, after is Destiny’s Way both of which have battles, action and lots of things blowing up. Traitor has none of this, at least not much, instead it has Vergere, Jacen Solo, Nom Anor and in the end Ganner Rhysode who finally gets to be a hero.
But enough about how much I love Traitor and more on with this essay. I will examine several points about the Force—particularly morality and the Force—in accordance with Vergere’s teachings in Traitor. The first, and perhaps the most obvious place to start, is with perception.
Perception is a much used topic in Star Wars ever since Obi-Wan’s ‘certain point of view’ in Return of the Jedi and the best way it is used in Traitor is Vergere’s constant ‘Everything I tell you is a lie’ as well as her ‘Everything I tell you is the truth’. This is somewhat hard to understand as lies and the truth are mutually exclusive, at least in the minds the readers and perhaps is one of the many reasons why a lot of people didn’t buy into Vergere and were quick to discredit her views as false.
Analysing those two statements would take more time and effort than is needed so perhaps another approach is needed to Vergere’s take on perception, such as the opening quotation in which Vergere sarcastically suggests to Jacen that there is one universal truth for everything. While this may seem somewhat revelatory, and somewhat surprising, there is a set of arguments to support this and not all are said by Vergere. Take the following quotations for example:
- “But the truth lies side by side with lies, and errors, and self-deceptions—with hopeful dreams, and baseless fears, and mistaken memories. And we have to try to know one from the other.”
- —Luke Skywalker[src]
These might seem like something that was said by Jacen Solo himself, possibly in Traitor or even afterwards yet the first is from Mace Windu in Shatterpoint and the second is Luke Skywalker in Tyrant’s Test. Rather surprising as they seem to be supporting Vergere’s point of view, but didn’t she always say she was on the side of the Old Republic?
The point is that truth—or lack of it—is not something that is exterior to the self, something that is known rather than understood and unable to be conveyed in words. Yet what has this to do with perception? As I stated earlier, truth and point of view go hand in hand as Vergere explains to Jacen later:
- “But everything you tell yourself should be the truth—or as close to it as you can come. You did what you did because of who you are.”
Vergere constantly told Jacen he had to stop deceiving himself—something he did throughout the first part of the New Jedi Order when he refused to use the Force even to stop his mother from bleeding to death—and that it wasn’t enough to be indecisive, but action is something that we’ll get to later. We all know where self-deception leads, assumptions based on a perception of the truth which can be through manipulation (such as in the case of Anakin Skywalker or Quinlan Vos) or bitter disillusionment (for example Asajj Ventress, Mara Jade or Count Dooku). Hand in glove to this argument is the perception of the dark side as several Jedi remind us throughout the films and novels of Star Wars. Yet common to all of them is the fact that those who turn to the dark side believe they are doing the right thing, either for themselves or for someone else.
So what has this rather rambling argument explained about perception? The main point is how personal it is, what is true for one may not be true for another, and the fact that perception is how the truth is actually seen. This can be hard to understand unless you remember that we all have a point of view, a personal bias no matter who we are—I pointed out my own bias at the beginning of this essay. The important thing is not what it is, but the fact that you are aware of it. Complete subjectivity within oneself is something that Vergere tries to instil in Jacen, except he goes hopelessly off the deep end and does what he thinks is right.
This brings me to the second point: motive, for this is next door to perception yet perhaps even more important, as from motive we can often reason the actions of someone.
What does Vergere say of motives and intentions? Here are several quotations:
- “You seem to be telling me that what you do is irrelevant, all that matters is why you do it.”
- “You can do whatever you want, so long as you maintain your Jedi calm? So long as you can tell yourself you’re valuing life? You can kill and kill and kill and kill, so long as you don’t lose your temper? Isn’t that a little sick?”
For those of us who have read The Swarm War or Betrayal, this is rather surprising given Jacen’s actions in those later books and his supposed reasons for them. Here Vergere seems to be saying that it is not motive that is important, but the actions behind it. The means rather than the ends, take this other quote for example:
- “‘Why is a question that is always deeper than the answer. Perhaps you should ask you should ask instead: what?”
Was not there a certain Jedi Master who berated a would-be Jedi and told him that there was no why? Perhaps we could paraphrase one of his oft quoted maxims into: “There is no why, there is only what” meaning there is no motive, there is only action.
Don’t be too quick to dismiss Vergere’s views and my personal spin on them, there is quite a lot of evidence to back up this view of action over motive, here is a sample:
- “I know how tempting it is to simply bend someone to your will, or break them and push them aside. All of the whims and wants we carry inside—I have the power to fulfil mine. So I find I have to be careful about what I let myself want.”
- —Luke Skywalker[src]
- “The Jedi is altruistic less because to be so is good, than because to be because to be so is safe: to use the Force for personal ends is dangerous. This is the trap that can snare even the most good, kind, caring Jedi: it leads to what we call the dark side.”
- —Mace Windu[src]
The first quote is again Luke from Tyrant’s Test and he second one is again Mace from Shatterpoint, and while it can be argued that the theories match because Stover put his own view into his novels, the same cannot be said for Tyrant’s Test as there is a good number of years as well as novels between it and the start of the New Jedi Order.
From here it can be concluded that Vergere’s teachings to Jacen on intent—i.e. that action was more important—are on par with that of other Jedi of the past and therefore need more consideration than otherwise.
From intention we move to emotion and into the territory where some interpretations of Vergere’s teachings can be seen as completely misunderstood. Yet here it is necessary to divide the argument into two categories, firstly there is emotion it self and what it has to do with the Force, secondly there is the Old Republic Jedi principle of non-attachment and what Vergere says on that.
Surprisingly, Vergere is not very specific about emotion in Traitor, she hints, she makes Jacen second-guess himself and what he learned previously from his Uncle Luke but the references that are later made to her about emotion (such as letting feelings control your actions) seem to be strangely absent. True, she does refer to emotion in a cursory way but that is in another context that we discuss later.
However, an examination of other things Vergere says we can form some kind of idea on her standpoint on emotion is. We have already established that the action is more important than the motivation behind it, the same is true with emotion and it is best defined with this quotation:
- “Feelings don’t come with ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ labels. You feel how you feel. You are only responsible for how you act.”
- —Barriss Offee[src]
Using the above quotation (incidentally from Medstar II) the points made about intention can be expanded to include emotion. So really, it is not about what you think or even about what you feel, it about what you do.
So now onto non-attachment, which seems to be a very odd thing for Vergere to be teaching to Jacen Solo given his own close attachments to others—his sister Jaina, Tenel Ka, Danni Quee to name a few. Vergere presents this to him in Traitor in the form of an object lesson in the slave quarters on board the Yuuzhan Vong seedship. She leaves Jacen there, a place where the captors are at the mercy of the hazardous and often bloodthirsty Yuuzhan Vong biotechnology growing there saying before she does:
- “You were born to be a gardener. Remember this: it is not only your right to choose the flowers over weeds, it is your responsibility. Which are flowers? Which are weeds? The choice is yours.”
Jacen takes it upon himself to help the injured despite being cut off from the Force. Later, Vergere approaches him and asks Jacen why he has chosen to do this, to help these people and Jacen tells her that someone has to do it. Yet when he loses someone Jacen knew he could have saved with the Force, he realises how Vergere was right: he can’t save every one. This is a similar lesson that Jacen’s grandfather Anakin Skywalker faced during his Jedi training—a lesson that Anakin never really learned and led to his becoming Darth Vader. And Anakin wasn’t the only one as both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn faced the same realisation, yet only Obi-Wan seemed to completely grasp the realities of this—perhaps culminating when he abandons Anakin on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith.
This is further explored Destiny’s Way in the Battle of Ebaq 9 when a decision that Jacen makes results in—either directly or indirectly—in Vergere’s death. Before the battle Vergere reminds Jacen that he is only responsible for the decisions he makes for himself yet refuses to give away any more information. Jacen only fully understands this after he abandons his command post to save his twin sister Jaina and encounters Vergere in the form of a Force-ghost reminding Jacen again of what she had told him so many times during his captivity, that he had to choose and to act.
Already we can see a recurring theme in Vergere’s teachings, that actions are more important than anything else. We have examined this in terms of perception, intention and emotion, we now turn to the subject of control which is slightly different to what had been analysed already.
Firstly we must define control. In terms of the context I would define control as the self—whether it be ethics and morals that are instilled or one’s conscience—as the defining factor of this. It can be simple as facing the choice to do something that may hurt others (like a Force-choke) and choosing not to do it, or as intuitive of keeping one’s emotions in check during a heated debate or duel, after all, we have all used the expression ‘losing control’ at one time or another.
Vergere defines control somewhat differently and in a way that not all would agree with, she says that control has nothing to do with morals, ethics or anything or the like. Instead control—or at least what people call control—is another name for something else, be it a barrier or an excuse. Control as an excuse is easily defined in this quote in Traitor:
- “‘Out of control is just code for ‘I don’t want to admit I’m the kind of person who would do such things.’ It’s a lie.”
And after all, Vergere was teaching Jacen to make decisions and take responsibility for them, wasn’t she? This also repeats the conclusion of just how important action is.
In terms of evidence from other sources backing this, perhaps the most interesting come from Count Dooku even though his perception is somewhat skewed by his own opinions about the Force and the galaxy as a whole. Such as in John Ostander’s Dark and Light where Dooku knows he can count on the loyalty of Quinlan Vos due to what he has done as well as his past history—even when the seemingly rogue Jedi is discovered to be a spy. And this might be easy grounds again to dismiss the views of Vergere unless the other side of the coin is given a mention as in that same comic both Yoda and Mace Windu come to similar conclusions, that what Quinlan Vos did, such as killing in cold blood, would affect him more than any sort of attempts to turn him (or even certain forbidden passions).
Vergere, however, takes control to a new level in the context of attaining power and this is perhaps were she is most misunderstood. Here is the quote below:
- “To be a Jedi is to control your passion…but Jedi control limits your power. Greatness—true greatness of any kind, requires the surrender of control.”
Here we could be going into dangerous territory as Vergere seems to be saying that you should lose control and do whatever the hell you like to attain your full potential, but given what has been discussed earlier in this essay, particularly how everything is secondary to action, this statement must be examined more closely. Perhaps in contrast to another statement by a more reliable Jedi, like our old friend Mace:
- “We let the Force flow through us, and ride its currents to peace and justice. Most of Jedi training involves learning to trust our instincts, our feelings, as opposed to our intellect. A Jedi must learn to ‘unthink’ a situation, to ‘unact’: to become an empty vessel for the Force to fill with wisdom and action.”
- —Mace Windu[src]
This might seem pure Stover, after all he did write both novels but forms of this exist in the highest form of canon there is, the Original Trilogy itself. Did not both Obi-Wan and Yoda instruct Luke to let his mind go free and let the Force determine his actions rather than Luke determine what he should do with the Force?
Yet if we do as they ask, surrender all control and let the Force guide us completely, what is there to stop us from doing something that we would regret. The answer is of course ourselves as Mace explains:
- “The Force acts through us when we surrender all effort. A Jedi does not decide. A Jedi trusts.
To put it another way: we are not trained to think. We are trained to know.“
Did not we establish at the beginning of this essay that there was one universal truth that could never be expressed but only intuitively felt? This might be the closest we can get to putting it into words without delving into the realm of the esoteric.
So what is Vergere really saying to Jacen if she is not telling him he can do whatever he likes? She says he has to trust himself to make the right decision and that his actions will be in accordance with what he knows to be right as the Force is telling him—not to be confused with doing things because he thinks they are right. Perhaps this is where the confusion set in from Traitor onwards as authors have interpreted Vergere somewhat differently than I have done and this quotation is perhaps one of the best examples of how the difference came about. Was this oversight? Poor characterisation? Or an inability to grasp Stover’s quite impenetrable and rather contradictory themes in Traitor? These are themes that will be explored later when I begin to account for the change in Vergere, inevitably Vergere’s theories about control, just as her other theories, will be something we will return to again. However, now we must move on to the concept of power.
As you may have seen, control and power are inextricably linked in terms of Vergere and of course we must further emphasise the importance of action. To return to this quotation:
- “Ah, I see. You can do whatever you want, so long as you maintain your Jedi calm? So long as you can tell yourself you’re valuing life? You can kill and kill and kill and kill, so long as you don’t lose your temper? Isn’t that a little sick?”
Vergere may as well say “You can do whatever you want as long as you are telling yourself you are doing the right thing”, if power and perception, and not to mention intention, linked in the way that Vergere suggests?
The short answer is no as Vergere does not talk about power per se, and then only in an ironic sense when she is testing Jacen, she does however talk about greatness which is quite a different thing. Greatness I would classify as potential, or the ability to do a thing. And here again, we return to the fundamental issue of action over everything else. It is not about power, it is about what you do with it as Mace Windu says in Shatterpoint:
So even Mace says it doesn’t matter why you do something, the fact is that you do something even if for so-called ‘noble reasons’ or another and that action has an effect of it’s own that is often quite different to the intention that was behind it. Remember why Padmé was upset with Anakin in Revenge of the Sith even when he explained to her that everything he had done (such as all the killings) was for her? She was more focused on what he had done rather than the why, something that Obi-Wan seemed to miss entirely.
So power, just as with perception, intention, emotion and control, is merely secondary in relation to action, at least in the eyes Vergere and the Old Republic Jedi.
We are nearing the end of this analysis of Vergere’s teachings and will shortly go on to an examination of how they changed, yet I have saved the most controversial for last—Vergere’s views on the dark side of the Force.
The Dark Side
Firstly what does she say about the dark side, for someone who is often quoted as saying the dark side does not exist she says quite a lot about it. Here is a sample:
- “What you call the dark side is really the raw, unrestrained Force itself: you call it the dark side what you find when you give yourself wholly to the Force.”
- “ Sith? Jedi? Are these the only choices? Dark or light, good or evil? Is there no more to the Force than this? What is the screen on which light and dark cast their shapes and shadows? Where is the ground on which stands good and evil?”
- “Kill one, it’s nature, kill them all, it’s the dark side? Is the line between nature and the dark side only of one degree? Is the dark side if it kills only half the herd? A quarter?”
We will take these statements one by one in due course, yet it must first be said that Vergere’s views about the dark side are confusing and contradictory which will probably explain what happens later to them.
Take the first statement which basically says, “There is no dark side, there is only the Force” and compare it with these two quotations:
- “The truth is, there is no good, and no evil, either. There is only life…or not.”
- —Asajj Venresss
- “In this world the only rule is power: who has it, and who is willing to use what they have.”
- —Asajj Venresss
Both of these statements are made by Asajj Ventress in Dark Rendezvous who, like Dooku, has skewed perception of the Force and of reality. Here it is easy to see how what Vergere has said can be taken out of context and be redone into something else as though Vergere and Ventress seem to be talking along similar lines, they are at complete opposites to each other.
The second statement is somewhat more difficult to understand as it argues for a middle ground between good and evil, shades of grey between the extremes of black and white which can be most unsettling in an ideal universe full of the archetypal heroes that always have to win. Therefore it is of no real surprise that many people have not bought the idea of a grey area of the Force, yet even if they have not there are other sources to show that Vergere is not alone in saying this:
- “Jedi refer to the ‘light side’ and the ‘dark side’, but really, these are only words, and the Force is beyond words. It is not evil, just as it isn’t good—it simply what it is.”
- —Barriss Offee[src]
Another quote from Medstar II and perhaps the best example of defining what Vergere says the dark side actually is, not something exterior to the self but something that is within. There are countless examples of this throughout Star Wars continuity but the best example of this is in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke encounter’s Darth Vader in the cave and to his surprise sees his own face inside Darth Vader’s helmet, reminding him not to externalise evil to the point of it being outside himself. This further hits home towards the end of Return of the Jedi when Luke makes his choice to reject the dark side, and almost at the cost of his own life.
And what is it that determines whether a person follows urges to follow the dark or the light side of the Force (we have to use these terms even though they are merely handles)? To return to what seems to be the recurring theme of this essay, our actions and our choices as can be seen here:
- “It is the decision to dominate, to crush, to draw your strength from another being’s weakness that signals a turn to the dark side. Dark or light is not a feeling, but a choice.”
- —Jai Maruk[src]
- “The Force was not an instrument of any but the most basic of ethics and morality. There was the light side and the dark side, and those were the choices that the Force offered.”
- —Barriss Offee[src]
- “If no plan there is, no fate, no destiny, no providence, no Force: then what is left? Nothing but our choices, hmm?”
The third quote is of course from Yoda while the first and the second are from Dark Rendezvous and Medstar II respectively and perhaps the best evidence is from Yoda’s quote as he strips away everything down to a level for everyone, Jedi or Sith, Force-sensitive or none, perhaps even down to a sense where it can apply in this galaxy.
Yet, as Vergere says in the third quotation of hers that I had earlier, the line between light and dark was not as clearly defined as one might think. Even actions done with emphasise to reduce all harm to others have adverse effects that one might not expect. Yet as both Yoda and Vergere emphasise in their respective timeframes, we have to choose, we have to act and it does more harm than good to sit on the fence as Jacen did for the first part of the New Jedi Order series.
Before ending this section on the nature of Vergere’s teachings, it is necessary to account for what Vergere’s actions were in Traitor as well. Up until this point I have gone through what Vergere says, yet what she actually does must be taken into consideration.
In one light we can say that there is no excuse for what she did to Jacen, she led him to capture on no less than three occasions and in Traitor leaves him to the relentless torture of the Yuuzhan Vong’s Embrace of Pain. She is also callous towards the lives of those imprisoned in the Vong seedship, seems to delight in telling Jacen how his family react to him being dead and most of all has no illusions about what she is doing. Is there a reason for this? Yet need there be a reason, for we have already established that it does not matter why you do something, the fault lies within the deed itself. However, seeing as what Vergere did is nothing short of reprehensible, at least in our eyes, then we must examine the reasons behind it even though it may be a case of “do as I say, not as I do”.
Any reasons Vergere reveals in Traitor for her actions are shrouded in her cryptic method of speaking and thus open to several interpretations. They are also somewhat contradictory in their conclusions, take this for example:
- “I say that pain itself is a god; the taskmaster of life. Pain cracks the whip, and all that lives will move. The most basic instinct of life is to retreat from pain. To hide from it. If going here, hurts, even a granite slug will go over there; to live is to be a slave to pain.”
While this may seem somewhat harsh consider what Vergere’s most constantly pushed teaching was to Jacen, the fact that he had to decide and be responsible for the decisions he made. Yet that quotation speak of things that are beyond decisions, something that no living thing can avoid. In Destiny’s Way, Vergere speaks to Luke of this when she is being held prisoner and admits that while she regrets the methods she used, they were necessary for Jacen to come to the understanding of the Force that he never would have found out otherwise. She even said to Luke that she could have taught the lesson some other way, much gentler in order for Jacen to learn the same lessons as he did in Traitor, but all she had was what was at hand, what the Yuuzhan Vong provided her with—the Embrace of Pain.
Even though this seems to be an argument about ends over means, consider what happens in the Star Wars films. In The Phantom Menace they spoke of the prophecy of the Chosen One, of how the dark side would rise and that the Chosen One would be conceived by the Force to bring balance. What the prophecy neglected to mention was how it planned out, an interstellar war going for years, the murder of thousands of Jedi throughout the galaxy as well as the countless other deaths and desolations that came about during the rule of the Empire. Sure, the prophecy did come true, the Chosen One did bring balance to the Force, but at the cost of how many lives?
Bear in mind though that most of my interpretations for the motivations of Vergere’s methods come from Destiny’s Way which may or may not be trusted to give us a fair assessment of the events of Traitor. This is an issue that I will go into later.
Summary of Traitor
We are at the end of the analysis of Traitor, before moving on to how these theories change I will first go through what points were made. Predominantly there is the importance of action, this cannot be understated as it is the key to everything and outweighs perception, intention, emotion, control, power and the dark side of the Force. Vergere’s views may be considered controversial and somewhat hard to follow as well as easy to misunderstand, but when viewed in the light of what is said by other Jedi—such as those considered more trustworthy than Vergere like Mace Windu and Yoda—we can see she is not out of step with the views of her time, even if the way she instills them in Jacen may be considered slightly adverse. Can we turn all her theories on their head because of her methods? Perhaps, but how else would have Jacen learned these things and understood them? I would like to explore that issue but that is a topic for another time. Now we move on to the change in the views of Vergere and this begins, rather surprisingly, as early as Destiny’s Way.
A ‘Hybrid Vergere’ in Destiny’s Way
For all it being the book after Traitor, Walter Jon Williams takes several liberties with Vergere’s teachings in his novel even though he does deliver a good story. Yet unlike Traitor, Destiny’s Way is a run-of-the-mill fights-battles-explosions Expanded Universe novel with little room for the philosophy that Traitor had in abundance. Before I go into this in detail I feel I must make a quick apology to Walter Jon, his book is definitely one of the highlights of the Expanded Universe even though it is the only one he has delivered so far. He has managed to grasp quite a number of nuances about Star Wars in one novel that some authors have not grasped in several (Jeter, I am looking at you). Yet where he falls short is with Vergere, particularly with her debates with Luke, and how Vergere relates with Jacen.
In this analysis I will be much more succinct than I was with Traitor for the simple reason that the scope of Destiny’s Way is quite broad and mine is rather narrow in comparison. It need to be, as I do not have the time nor the patience to go through all of the other characters that are shown in the novel and they have no relation to this essay. As I said in the beginning my focus is on Vergere, and what she teaches Jacen about the Force.
Interestingly, Vergere teaches Luke a lot about the Force in Destiny’s Way, perhaps more so than Jacen as Luke comes in to interrogate her several times and then deliberately keeps them apart after he learns of Jacen’s torture. It is these conversations that I am first going to look at, as they are the first signs of the change in Vergere’s teachings.
In their first conversation Luke is angry with Vergere when he finds out what she did to Jacen, and further angered by the fact that she admits to it. Vergere merely reminds him when Luke himself was in a similar situation that Jacen had been in—being fried by Palpatine’s lightning—he had stayed true to himself. The second conversation, however, is a bit more dubious. Vergere asks Luke if emotions such as anger and aggression are useful as when Luke was angry with Vergere over her actions, it led to an understanding of her methods. What can we make of this, I can see two possible interpretations. On the one hand we can discount Vergere’s views as coming from the dark side as with Yoda’s adage “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering” and more than once in the course of the films he stated how anger and aggression spawned from the dark side of the Force. Furthermore, if we take Vergere’s teachings of method over motive into account, acting through anger because it is aggressive within itself is clearly the wrong thing to do.
There is another way we can interpret this, we need to take into account what else Vergere says about emotion as she clearly states that it is emotion without reason that leads to the dark side. Luke’s anger was not dark towards Vergere as it achieved results, Vergere’s actions were not dark towards Jacen as they too achieved results. Here we have, perhaps, the crux of the misunderstanding of Vergere’s views. Traitor tells us that it is what you do that matters, not the motive behind it; Destiny’s Way tells us that it is the motive that matters and what you do is irrelevant. Can we account for this drastic change at all? Where did the Traitor Vergere end and the Destiny’s Way one begin? Unfortunately we can only do so much to answer this question as the Vergere we see in Destiny’s Way is a hybrid of what she was in Traitor and what she is seen to be in novels like The Swarm War. Destiny’s Way does not mark a drastic change as you might think, rather it marks the transition between the two Vergere’s as if you look hard enough you can see the Traitor Vergere there. The answer comes in Jacen’s sacrifice to save Jaina in the Battle of Ebaq.
I have already discussed this in relation to emotion in Traitor and before going on I will quickly re-visit it again. Vergere’s reluctance in revealing Jaina’s fate to Jacen hinges on her making Jacen responsible for his actions as well as the fact that he couldn’t save everyone, something that Jacen is only able to understand once Vergere is dead. We also need to consider the reasons—if any—for Vergere sacrificing herself as she did, she said it was necessary as either herself or Jaina had to die and never in this are any illusions about self-sacrifice or even Old Republic Jedi maxims about how a Jedi accepts death when it comes. Vergere knew what the consequences were, and then when Jacen left his command post to save Jaina, Vergere acted as she did in crashing the A-Wing into Ebaq 9. This is the Vergere from Traitor, not what she is later reputed to be as if she was her actions would have been quite different, such as mind-tricking Jacen into thinking that saving his sister was not a good idea.
However, this is not the only time we see the Vergere from Traitor, her ruining the Alpha Red project is another instance. Alpha Red was aimed at the destruction of the Yuuzhan Vong as a species, yet as the Intelligence Director Dif Scaur pointed out when he explains it in the novel, this was done with the best of intentions. Yet to Luke, as well as the other Jedi in the know, there is no excuse for using something like Alpha Red even with what the Yuuzhan Vong had done to the galaxy. Vergere finds out what Alpha Red is yet does not waste time with words, she merely acts. Vergere’s actions may go in line with what she said in Traitor, but they go against the bulk of what she says in Destiny’s Way namely her saying to Luke that it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it for the right reasons. With this in mind Alpha Red would have been justified in its use, particularly if you use Dif Scaur’s brand of justification.
There are other instances that run rather borderline between Traitor Vergere and Destiny’s Way Vergere, like Jacen using the Force to convince the snakes on Kashyyyk that they would be better off going elsewhere and then later using Force-lightning on Yuuzhan Vong warriors even though Traitor states that the Vong were immune to this as part of their being absent from the Force, yet the main ones I have outlined above.
From this point my essay will take a rather different turn, merely due to the issues of plot. Before this I have focused on Vergere and while I made references to Jacen and other characters the emphasis has been on her and her teachings. But since Vergere dies at the end of Destiny’s Way I must now I must focus on people’s perception of Vergere, a much more ambiguous topic and open to more interpretations than the galaxy has stars.
Force Heretic Trilogy
From Destiny’s Way we will move along the New Jedi Order timeline and into the Force Heretic trilogy, here I will focus on Refugee and Reunion as these have the most evidence as to Jacen’s interpretation of the Force.
My analysis on Refugee will be brief as there is relatively little in this novel that relates to this essay, most of it contained in Jacen Solo’s conversation with Syal Antilles Fel’s daughter Wynssa. She is critical of Jacen as she points out that while his twin sister Jaina is fighting actively in the war, he seems to be doing nothing. Jacen tells her that they are each doing that they are best at and it happened that Jaina was much better at fighting than he was. Take a look at the following line which sums up his philosophy perfectly:
- “Not every conflict can be solved with violence. Some become exponentially more difficult to solve once violence has entered the equation. The Force may need both sides of life—birth and death—in order to be balanced, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look for peaceful solutions. It’s the same if violence seems to be the only—or indeed the easiest—option.”
- —Jacen Solo[src]
Jacen is echoing one of Vergere’s main teachings, that we need to be aware of the consequences of making a choice, and then deal with them when they come. Choices and their consequences is an issue that is further continued in Refugee, particularly in the conversation between Sekot, the mind of the planet Zonama Sekot, and Luke Skywalker.
Unlike Jacen, Luke is much more resilient in adopting new philosophies about the Force yet this is not very surprising given that Luke is both older than Jacen and has had more experience with the Force and with the dark side. Nevertheless, Luke is willing to keep an open mind about the new approaches put forward by Vergere—his continued willingness to listen to her in Destiny’s Way attests to that—yet on some points he remains firmly unconvinced, particularly Vergere’s and later Jacen’s assertions that the dark side did not exist.
Despite all of this Luke is confronted with a unique situation when he, Jacen, Mara and the others find Zonama Sekot for the entire planet is a living thing and therefore part of the Force. Yet the views that Sekot and the inhabitants of Zonama have on the Force (or as they call it, ‘the Potentium’) are virtually the reverse of Vergere’s; intention trumps action. Is this another point where the views of Vergere were changed at a later date? It is entirely possible as Jacen follows this ideology in the novels that follow the end of the New Jedi Order and cites Vergere while doing so. However, the analysis cannot end here as Sekot refers to one of the central teachings of Vergere: choices and their consequences as can be seen in the following two quotes by Sekot:
- “Everyone with power makes a choice. It’s a difficult choice, and the choice is different for everyone. Only time reveals which choice is correct.”
- “We inhabit the galaxy that arose as a result of their decisions, just as our descendents will inherit the galaxy that will arise from our own. It is the responsibility of each generation to choose well.”
Here I have to end the Force Heretic analysis as I was not provided with much material through the novels, much of what takes place over the three books is action and character oriented with philosophy thrown in occasionally. However, it is necessary to highlight the two conflicting views of Vergere that are shown, even though they are not completely attributed to her. Nevertheless here exists the same conflict that existed in Destiny’s Way and as we follow the New Jedi Order through to its conclusion we can see which views take precedence.
‘Demystifying’ in The Unifying Force
From Force Heretic we move to the final book of the New Jedi Order series, The Unifying Force by James Luceno. I have spoken to other fans about The Unifying Force as well as reading comments by some authors and some Lucasfilm employees and they more or less confirm that The Unifying Force is where the perception of the Force changed for the Jedi, particularly for Luke Skywalker. As James Luceno himself said, the New Jedi Order ‘demystified’ Force principally through the actions and words of Vergere. However, enough summary.
Firstly we must answer the question that I have been asking of all the novels so far, how does the view of Vergere here clarify with the view of Vergere in Traitor? Apart from when Sekot takes the form of Vergere to speak to Jacen (in which case I attribute the words to Sekot and not Vergere herself), Vergere is only referred to in Luke conversation with Jacen of how there was no dark side. With apologies to the author, it is my understanding that Luceno understood this incorrectly which is a shame since he is not the first to do so and is a key concept of Vergere’s teachings. Here is what Luke says:
- “… here’s where I think you and Vergere are incorrect: the dark side is real, because evil actions are real. Sentience gave rise to the dark side. Does it exist in nature? No. left to itself, nature maintains the balance. But we’ve changed that. We are a new order of consciousness that has an impact on all life. The Force now contains light and dark because of what thinking beings have been brought to it.”
- —Luke Skywalker[src]
The reason Luceno misunderstands Vergere’s teachings that there was no dark side is because the above quotation is more or less a paraphrase of what Vergere said to Jacen in Traitor. Now I am not completely sure what Luceno’s understanding of Vergere’s ideas actually is, but clearly it is incorrect as Luke explains to Jacen a lesson he had already learned from Vergere.
And this is not the only time that Luke seems to have attached himself to Vergere’s views, yet he does not acknowledge her. Examine this quote:
- “The emphasis that the Jedi have always placed on control works the same way. Control blinds us to the more expansive view of the Force.”
- —Luke Skywalker[src]
Now this is not only a reference back to Vergere, but a further reference back to some of the more respected Jedi Masters of the Old Republic such as Mace Windu and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Later, in his speech to the gathering of Jedi on Zonama Sekot, he continues to cite her without acknowledgement. The following quotes are but a sample from his very long speech:
- “Light and dark do not always stand opposed, but mingle with each other in curious ways.”
- —Luke Skywalker[src]
- “Anger by itself is not of the dark side unless it is accompanied by a desire to dominate, when we act in harmony with the will of the Force, we disappear into it. When we struggle against it, we not only sever our ties with the Force, but also feed the needs of chaos.”
- —Luke Skywalker[src]
- “We serve it best by listening to its [the Force’s] will, and serving the good with our every action—by personifying the Force.”
- —Luke Skywalker[src]
- “The real powers [of the Force] are more subtle, for they involve adhering to the true path, avoiding the temptation to dominate, by recognising that the Force doesn’t flow from us but through us, ever on the move.”
- —Luke Skywalker[src]
Studying Luke’s views of the Force are particularly interesting, particularly when they agree with Vergere. Throughout the Star Wars continuity, in both the films and the novels, we assume Luke decisions that he makes about the Force are the current ‘correct’ views in which the grain of the novel (or film or comic) is based, yet there are exceptions where Luke has realised that he was wrong such as in Dark Empire and to some extent part of the New Jedi Order. This is Luke Skywalker we are speaking of, and we can never forget that. If Luke says something is right we more or less trust him unless he’s being an idiot.
However, if Luke has taken on board Vergere’s view of the Force, even without directly citing her, then Vergere’s views—hybrid and contradictory as they are—are also the ‘correct’ set of views to follow about the Force. Yet this is very short-lived, when we come to the Dark Nest Trilogy Luke has either changed his mind about Vergere or (more likely) been written by an author who doesn’t really understand what Vergere was trying to say.
However, this analysis is not over yet, here we have only focused on Luke yet the emphasis in The Unifying Force is clearly on Jacen Solo who is the real hero of the New Jedi Order. At the climax of the novel, when Jacen confronts the Shamed One Onimi, familiar of the Yuuzhan Vong emperor Shimrra, he dissolves completely into the Force and loses all sense of self, an experience which has only been documented one other time in the course of the Star Wars continuity. He connects with what he known incidentally as the Unifying Force. This it not something that Vergere mentions to him by name, she merely speaks of the Force and not of its individual parts. Perhaps the best definition of the Unifying Force is not in the novel by the same name, but in The Phantom Menace novel by Terry Brooks through the words of Qui-Gon Jinn, a Jedi Master who has strongly resisted the Unifying Force in favour of the Living Force:
- “He was too close to the life Force when he should have been more attentive to the Unifying Force. He found himself reaching out to creatures of the present, to those living in the here and now. He had less regard for the past or the future, to the creatures that had or would occupy those times and spaces.
It was the life Force that bound him, that gave him heart and mind and spirit.”
- —The Phantom Menace
Yet it is within the sensations that Jacen feels while in harmony with the Unifying Force that Vergere’s views are shown in their best light outside Traitor and also shown that she, as well as all the other Jedi of the Old Republic, were right:
- “… As his grandfather had done, [Jacen] had broken through the apparent opposites that concealed the absolute nature of the Force, and found his way into an unseen unity that existed beyond the seeming separateness of the world. For a moment all the cosmic tumblers clicked into place, and light and dark sides became something he could balance within himself, without having to remain on one side or the other. The consciousness that was Jacen Solo was strewn across the vast spectrum of life energy. He had passed beyond choice and consequence, good and evil, light and dark, life and death.
All that had been required of Jacen was complete surrender—a technique once mastered by the Jedi Order but at some point misplaced; transposed to an emphasis on individual achievement, which had opened the way to arrogance.“
- “[Jacen] had become so powerful as to be a danger to his own galaxy, for he could clearly see the temptations of the dark side and the desire to Force one’s will on others—to so completely dominate that all life would kowtow to him.
He purged his mind of all pride and evil intent and entered a moment of unadulterated bliss, where he seemed to have unlocked the very secrets of existence.“
Even if Luceno misunderstood Vergere’s views of the dark side, at least in the scene with Luke, here it is clear that he knows exactly what he is talking about even without mentioning Vergere at all. Vergere’s views can stand alone whether cited by Jacen, by Luke or—on one occasion—by Leia Organa Solo. In addition to this not only are Vergere’s views understood at the conclusion of the New Jedi Order, they are the accepted views of the Force that Luke is prepared to lay aside his old beliefs for. Perhaps this is why that this all changes with the Dark Nest Trilogy, Vergere’s views are not very popular with fans, as I said in the beginning of this essay there are those who prefer a more simplistic and less philosophic view of the Force.
It is now with great trepidation we leave the New Jedi Order series and all the changes and contradictions that it introduced and go to the next part of this essay, how Vergere’s views were further changed even though everything seemed to be understood at the end of The Unifying Force.
The Dark Nest Trilogy – the second Vergere
The Dark Nest Trilogy takes place five years after the conclusion of The Unifying Force and its focus is much narrower than the New Jedi Order series was. Instead of focusing on a galaxy-wide conflict as the Yuuzhan Vong invasion was, Dark Nest follows a conflict in the Unknown Regions that almost—but not quite—leads to full-scale war between the Galactic Alliance and the Chiss Ascendency. And unlike the New Jedi Order which has a wider range of characters that it draws from, Dark Nest is mainly about the Skywalker/Solo family, particularly Luke and Jacen. This is all necessary to mention as Dark Nest is a rather different form of novel than the ones of the New Jedi Order, rather a throwback to the old days of Bantam when steps in Star Wars continuity were made slowly and carefully.
For the purposes of this essay I have chosen to deal with the Dark Nest novels as a whole rather than individually which was the case with the New Jedi Order novels that were analysed earlier. The main reason is these three novels were all written by the one author Troy Denning, so thus any themes and events are carried right through the trilogy in the same light as the story would have been considered as a whole, more or less. If there were different authors, such as with the New Jedi Order as well as the Legacy of the Force series, there of course would be the need to consider them in their own merits. Further more my analysis will revolve around Jacen’s actions and how these might be accounted for. While this may seem a slim selection, the following paragraphs will further show how the perception of the Force changed through these novels as well as how it might be considered to be a surprise.
Firstly, Jacen’s actions, which in my opinion are inexcusable. For starters in The Joiner King he ‘borrows’ a Hapan battle fleet from the Queen Mother Tenel Ka which appears on the scene during the negotiations between the Chiss and the Galactic Alliance. Of course, the Chiss take this as an aggressive stance even though the ships were only used to ferry the Killiks to their new home. In The Unseen Queen he acts in a way that he loses the trust of his twin sister Jaina when he leads an attack against the Chiss, justifying it by the vision he experienced in which he saw a war engulfing the entire galaxy. Yet he doesn’t stop there, he probes the mind of Tenel Ka’s grandmother Ta’a Chume to such an extent that she is killed by a severe brain haemorrhage in order to find out how she betrayed his newborn daughter. Furthermore, he erases the memory of his daughter from the mind of his apprentice and cousin Ben Skywalker in order to protect her identity.
Can there be anything said for Jacen’s actions? Any form of justification whatsoever? In Jacen’s eyes there is: Vergere. But what Jacen has done in the Dark Nest novels follows the second Vergere in introduced in Destiny’s Way and not the Vergere from Traitor. Vergere in Destiny’s Way says to Luke at one point that it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are acting for the right reasons. This clearly goes against the Vergere from Traitor and the Vergere from The Unifying Force, the teachings there clearly state that it is action that outweighs everything. The final novel of Dark Nest, The Swarm War contains several rather illuminating conversations between Luke and Jacen on the nature of Vergere’s teachings and what they say I find nothing but disturbing. Here are some lines by Luke:
- —Since the war ended, I’ve been growing more and troubled by Vergere’s teachings, and I think I finally understand why…Because their ruthlessness reminds me so much of what my father believed. Of what the Emperor taught him to believe.[[Luke Skywalker|[src]]]
- “I’m not saying Vergere’s teachings are immoral. In fact, they don’t concern themselves with morality at all. They provide no guidance.”
- —Luke Skywalker[src]
I find these two statement surprising, for quite different reasons. The first one is because Luke had actually bought into Vergere’s teachings at the end of The Unifying Force and he showed no sign of any doubts he had about what she said. Of course, his opinion differed at points with what she was reputed to have said, but more or less Luke actually agreed with Vergere without actually acknowledging her. The second quote I find surprising as it seems Luke (or Denning) has gone completely off the deep end with Vergere’s teachings. Vergere does actually speak of morality in both Traitor and Destiny’s Way yet it is in terms of actions, not feelings or intentions. This is another thing that Luke agrees with in The Unifying Force, and again without citing Vergere. So given that we can discredit the Vergere mentioned in Dark Nest, which is more of an authorial mistake than anything else, can we make anything of the other changes between The Unifying Force and Dark Nest? The first and foremost of course is the change in Jacen’s character.
So how can Jacen have gone from what he was like in The Unifying Force to his near-ruthlessness in Dark Nest? I can provide two answers, from within the Star Wars continuity as well as from comments made by Lucasfilm. For the first answer, we need to remember that five years passed between The Unifying Force and The Joiner King and in those five years Jacen had been learning more about the Force from rather esoteric Force-sects such as the Fallanassi, the Jensaari, the Sunesi and others, this is mentioned both in The Unifying Force and Dark Nest. In those five years of learning about the Force outside the guidance of his uncle it would be no small surprise if the new attitude he has was influenced by one or more of these sects. The second answer is from a comment from Shelly Shapiro in an interview included in the back of the paperback edition of The Unifying Force. Here it is below:
- “I personally would like to see the Force return to the more mystical life force we saw in the first three movies, but in the end, the plot and the characters are more in charge than I am and they moved in that direction naturall”
- —Shelly Shapiro[src].
However, the change was made without regard for plot, character arc or even the current accepted view of the Force. Without warning, without preamble, we are flung with this ‘new Jacen’, someone very different to what we knew in The Unifying Force and he changes very little over the course of the trilogy. Likewise we are shown with the changed perception of the Force, again something we can react to as it is entirely different from what the New Jedi Order covered. If for example Dark Nest was about how the Jedi’s view of the Force was changing back, and this became a major thematic point over the course of the three novels, then what happens wouldn’t be surprising. The same can apply for Jacen if, for example, he decided to shelve what Vergere taught him in order to do whatever he wanted.
If Vergere sought to demystify the Force in the New Jedi Order, Dark Nest seeks to remistify it back on the terms with the original Star Wars films. In Dark Nest Luke takes pains to ‘maintain the mystique’ about the Jedi such as their not eating in the presence of non-Jedi, this is something that is continued to the Legacy of the Force series, such as when Jacen and his apprentice Ben tour a factory on Adumar. So really, if we go by Shapiro’s comment, it doesn’t really matter in the end if the characters and story make the change because the publishing company can simply change things back! I would personally like to see her comments on the change following Dark Nest and theLegacy of the Force’ novels even though she is not a writer but an editor.
So what was gained, if anything, by the series of events in the Dark Nest Trilogy? Well for one thing Jacen and the others seem to be following the wrong Vergere, either that or something serious happened to Jacen while he floated around the galaxy for those five years that are unaccounted for. An extra-textual argument can also be made for the change in the nature of the Force, imposed from outside to bring the perception of the Force back to the level of the Star Wars films without regard for plot or character arc. This was without regard to what was gained at the end of the New Jedi Order, being a more holistic and eclectic view of the Force which (at least in my opinion) is more mystical than what was first shown to us in the films as well as a better characterisation of Jacen Solo that we can admire and respect.
At long last I turn to the last novel in this essay that I will analyse, the first novel of the Legacy of the Force series, Betrayal by veteran Expanded Universe author Aaron Allston. Betrayal is quite a different novel from the Dark Nest Trilogy as it is the first of a series that will be written by different authors, yet it is different again from the novels of the New Jedi Order. The story opens five years after the conclusion of Dark Nest—a further ten years after the New Jedi Order—and very much continues the ideas and philosophies about Vergere and the Force that were set about in Dark Nest. As with Dark Nest my focus will be on Jacen Solo, on what he does and what he says to ‘justify’ his actions, but I will also focus particular attention to the character of Lumiya, someone not seen in the Star Wars continuity for at least twenty years.
As with the Dark Nest Trilogy, Jacen’s actions in Betrayal are reprehensible, even though he claims they were done with the best of intentions. Yet already from the beginning he has strayed away from the Vergere in Traitor who said that action was more important than anything. But firstly, let us focus on what he does. There is the way he acted on board Centrepoint Station which are strangely reminiscent of his Uncle Luke in the first Dark Empire comic more than ten years ago and also displaying a degree of arrogance that is quite alien to his character, even in Dark Nest. There is the plan that he worked to destroy Centrepoint Station, a plan intentionally or unintentionally designed to kill everyone on there by giving them only ten minutes to evacuate. And we must not forget his decision to kill Thrackan Sal-Solo which was borne not out of any present necessity—such as immediate self-defence—but from a vision of a possible future even though the man had surrendered. These are perhaps the major events prior to Jacen finding Lumiya, they show a ruthlessness, almost a callousness that is rather surprising of Jacen’s character since the New Jedi Order even given the ten-year gap. The Jacen that is in this novel is based on the character arc that was present in Dark Nest rather than on the original character and for this we cannot blame Allston as he was merely following the story as it was set out before him as well as the directives of the publishers.
Does Jacen make any attempt to justify these early actions? Not really as his only justification is the visions he has of the future, a future which may or may not come about given the sketchiness of predicting the future that is the case in Star Wars. Yoda, more knowledgeable about the Force than Jacen, understood the precariousness in acting to prevent the future, a lesson he taught to Anakin Skywalker and later to Anakin’s son, Luke. Either the lesson was not passed on the Jacen —which is very unlikely—or, and this is probably what actually happened, Jacen chose to ignore it and do everything his way.
Jacen’s ruthlessness continues when he and Ben are on Lorrd following up the attacks at Toryaz Station and a number of Jedi-related ‘terrorist threats’ take place. Yet it is only his apprentice Ben and Nelani Dinn, the Jedi based on Lorrd, who act in the way Jedi should act. For example, Jacen lets an innocent hostage die without seeing a bloodless way out of the situation. In another instance Jacen argues with a man who threatens to jump off a roof to no avail for an hour about how the Force cannot be taught, Jacen finally tells him that he’s too tired to argue and to go ahead and jump, which he did.
Lumiya and Vergere
Since the event of Vergere’s death at the end of Destiny’s Way this essay has primarily been about Jacen and, to a lesser extent, Luke, even though I stated clearly and repeatedly that my focus was on Vergere. This is more of a side-effect of my Vergere analysis as her teachings are closely linked to the changing characterisation of Jacen. Yet this is more the case with Dark Nest, Betrayal on the other hand gives us an alternate view of Vergere that is not from a New Jedi Order character. After luring Jacen, Ben and Nelani to her home near Bimmel, Lumiya reveals some supposed ‘truths’ about Vergere that make Jacen act in a way that is clearly against the light side of the Force. Given my own knowledge of Lumiya from the early Marvel comics, I personally found what she said harder to believe than others might as she deceived Luke on more than one occasion, yet he always found her out. Leaving that bias aside, I will examine what she said ‘fact’ by ‘fact’ see how it washes with one of the Vergeres.
Fact one: Vergere was training Jacen to be a Sith.
This claim seems to be based on the black-and-white view of the Force where a Force-sensitive was either a Sith or a Jedi, no middle-ground whatsoever. Even her claims that there was no dark side were based on the Old Republic Jedi belief that the Force was one and took no sides. On close examination of Vergere in Traitor it can be seen clearly that Vergere was not training Jacen to be a the next Sith any more than she was training him to be a better Jedi, she was simply teaching him to use the Force for what it really was, without labels, without preconceptions and, perhaps most importantly, without boundaries.
Jacen also states that Vergere was teaching him to survive which is something that it not strictly true. By opening his understanding of the Force to a much wider appreciation of it—including the supposed Force-blank Yuuzhan Vong—Vergere was teaching him to live which is a very different thing from survival. This claim of Lumiya evidentially belongs to the second Vergere as it has the ruthlessness and selfishness attached to it.
Fact two: Vergere was a rogue student of the Force and out of step with the Jedi Council teachings.
This is perhaps where Allston did not do his research correctly as it is clearly incorrect. According to the arguments that I made about Traitor, which included several quotes from Old Republic Jedi Masters, as well as the roundtable interview with Del Rey books Vergere was meant to be a bridge to the Jedi traditions of the Old Republic. And in saying that we must also say that her views were clearly in line with those of the old Jedi order, at least the Masters on the Council. This is another point for the second Vergere as she clearly does what she likes, something more in line with the likes of Anakin Skywalker than any respected Jedi Master.
Fact three: Vergere was approached by Darth Sidious and offered the chance to become his apprentice.
As Vergere’s role was to be a bridge to the Jedi of the Old Republic, her views were on par with that of the Jedi of her time. Given that she would have been an extremely unlikely candidate for Sith Apprentice, far more suitable was the disillusioned Dooku and later the supposed victimised and embittered Anakin Skywalker. The further claims that Palpatine sent out assassins to kill her that she managed to evade is also beyond belief, if Palpatine—a Sith Lord to boot—wanted to kill Vergere he would have made sure the job was done even without the berserker Darth Maul as after all, she supposedly did know who he was.
Lumiya: A Summary
When dealing with Lumiya a further question needs to be asked: why should we believe her at all? We know for a fact she is an initiate of the Sith teachings and was Vader’s apprentice during the Galactic Civil War and served as his enforcer in a similar way that Mara Jade did to the Emperor. Another fact that cannot be disputed is the fact that she manipulates fact with fabrication, something that Nelani points out that all Sith do. However, after Jacen leaves her something rather startling is revealed when Lumiya speaks to the ‘not-Jacen’: she lied to Jacen about Toryaz Station and the seemingly inevitable war and she in fact started the war. Personally, I take this as a sign to regard everything that Lumiya says with a grain of salt as there is no conclusive proof that what she says is true. Until this is shown from an independent source not controlled by her I am willing to retain that the Traitor Vergere is the correct version and everything different since then is only a distortion. The future novels of the Legacy of the Force and maybe even the Legacy comics may prove otherwise in time, but until then my opinions stand.
This essay has taken more time (almost two months) as well as more effort and certainly more length than I initially expected. my originally goal was to clarify Vergere, to pinpoint where the change began and even though I was unable to do this (Destiny’s Way remember is the transition book with the hybrid Vergere) it is definitely clear the directions the change went in, correct or incorrect. To end this properly I will summarise as best I can the conclusions I came to as no doubt you’ve forgotten some of them already.
Traitor presents us with Vergere offering a bridge back to the teachings of the Jedi of the Old Republic even if her methods were rather unreasonable, at least on the part of Jacen Solo. This is further backed up by Del Rey who support this claim even though I uncovered it before I read that particular interview. With Destiny’s Way however there was a transition from the ‘old Vergere’ of Traitor towards the ‘new Vergere’ which would become important in the novels after the New Jedi Order. The remainder of the New Jedi Order series supported the ‘old Vergere’ and this came to a climax in The Unifying Force when Vergere’s teachings are adopted by Luke Skywalker, making them acceptable. The novels of the Dark Nest Trilogy follow the second Vergere, the more ruthless Vergere with Luke doing some serious back-pedalling with to what extent he supported Vergere’s teachings. This is continued on in Betrayal not only with Jacen Solo’s actions and beliefs but also the assertions of Lumiya which clearly go against the Vergere in Traitor.
As much as I hate to admit it, I can see the later Legacy of the Force novels following this ‘second Vergere’ for the simple fact that it creates a much better story. At the expense of the new understanding of the Force that Vergere proposed and Jacen experienced in The Unifying Force which would have made a more deeper, but much less fantastic, storyline there is the inclination to sell books and keep audiences happy even if they aren’t learning something new about themselves. I can only wonder if this black-and-white view of the Force is more or less an extension of the view we are supposed to have on the real world, a case of art imitating life. Betrayal I found increasingly disquieting with many of the events having real-world equivalents, as well as the continuing changed characterisation of Jacen that I had hoped would have stopped with Dark Nest. If this is the case, if Del Rey is willing to sacrifice philosophy for simplicity and unconventional views in order to sell books, then this will probably spell the end of Star Wars for me.
May the Force be with us all,
Katana_Geldar, November 9, 2006