Cracks in the Temple: Foreshadowing the Fall of the Jedi Order (Part One)

Part 1: The High Republic

Anna

The fall of the Jedi Order was as stunning as it was predictable. The swiftness with which the Jedi were eradicated was shocking, the scope of the tragedy devastating, however, the proverbial writing was on the wall regarding the Order. The seeds of that fall can be seen across the canon timeline, including The High Republic Era and the Fall of the Jedi Era. I decided to go back and look at these cracks in the temple after finishing Into the Darkbecause I was so struck by the differences in how the Jedi interact with each other and with the Force. The first part of this series will draw from the first wave of High Republic canon novels: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule, A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland, and Into the Dark by Claudia Gray. As such, there are spoilers for the aforementioned novels in this article, so proceed with care.

Perhaps the greatest piece of foreshadowing in canon is found in Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule. The sheer power shown by Master Yoda, Master Avar Kriss and Jedi across the galaxy during The Great Disaster is immense in nature. It is such a great well of power and wielded so confidently. Hand in hand with this well of power comes the unique nature of Avar, in that she sees the Force as music. I cannot think of another Jedi with that gift. Charles Soule said:  “She perceives the Force as basically music. She calls it ‘The Song of the Force’. And so for her, all the different Jedi have their own songs and instruments and it all comes together into this great symphony of dissonance and assonance, and all these beautiful things that she’s able to perceive – the way the Force connects all things as music.”[1]

The communion and connection shared by the Jedi through the Force in Light of the Jedi is really fantastic and feels very pure. The way the Jedi are able to work together, sharing power through the Force across the galaxy is overwhelmingly beautiful and profoundly sad, because that ability has clearly been lost for the most part by the time Order 66 is enacted. Clearly, Yoda can sense things across the galaxy, however I do not think he can wield his power the same way he did in Light of the Jedi. This change in how the Jedi can wield the Force, in the lack of another Jedi with similar gifts to Avar Kriss, is the clearest sign of the sickness in the Force during The Fall of the Jedi Era.

Justina Ireland’s A Test of Courage foreshadows in a different way. The compassion Vernestra has for Imri when he is being pulled to the dark side, and her action to bring him back to the light are as impressive as Vernestra herself (she is the youngest Jedi to have passed her trials). She tells Imri “you can be angry, but giving in to your rage, letting that single emotion drive your actions, that is a direct path to the dark side. We can bring those people back there to justice, but what that looks like is not up to us. We serve the Force, and the Force does not pick sides.”[2] It is clear Vernestra’s mandate is to have and show compassion for Imri in his emotional unrest and pull to the dark side. It is not a punitive response, but one designed for Imri to be able to choose the light over the dark. Later in the book, Jedi Master Skeer says “The Force is not so simple, and neither are the emotions of living creatures. Most Jedi have felt the temptation of the dark side. It is only natural. But we resist it. It is a deliberate path to the dark, not a series of bad days. Being a Jedi is about choosing the light over and over again.”[3] This posture of compassion, understanding and choice would have gone a long way in respect to Ahsoka, Dooku, and Anakin. I was so saddened reading this and knowing where the Order was headed, and where they would end up in a few hundred years.

Into the Dark by Claudia Gray is a little different in that there is a constant questioning of the Order and of what the Force expects of each of the main characters. This is much like her Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan centered novel Master and Apprentice, where there are similar overarching themes of questioning of the Order, the Council and their direction. In this novel, Master Cohmac Vitus questions the Jedi Order’s wisdom in refusing “to look at the Force in full, to examine the darkness as well as the light”, asking “how can we split the Force in two? How can we justify such an act of violence—and it is violence such a dividing, even the darkness from the light.”[4] I think this is the fundamental flaw in the Order. It is a lack of balance. As we saw in the sequel trilogy, I do not think full balance was achieved until Rey came into her power and was able to find balance in the Force and in her powers, dark and light.[5]

My favorite character from Into the Dark is Wayseeker Orla Jareni. I believe she is one of the most interesting Jedi to whom we have been introduced. As a refresher, “Wayseeker” is a new class of Jedi, operating independently of Jedi Council rule. Orla is so clear in her devotion to the Force, even though it sometimes puts her at odds with the Council, and despite the questions it evokes, even within her own mind. If this sounds familiar to you, I agree—I see her very much as a kindred spirit to the ever questioning Qui-Gon Jinn. At the beginning of the book, Orla is questioning her choice to be a Wayseeker—debating if she should continue on this path and deciding in that moment that she has to “at least begin. Go back to the origins of it all.”[6] She later says that “The Jedi Order and I no longer…see eye to eye”[7] The freedom to explore outside of the strictures of the rule of the Council is important, and sanctioned. This freedom seems to be absent, and the rule of the Council appears to be more absolute in The Fall of the Jedi era. 

Orla echoes Vernestra’s sentiments when she talks about the importance of balance in emotions—that you can have them, but that they should not be out of proportion. This is very different from the seemingly outright denial of feeling your emotions. At the very least, there is a serious lack of mechanisms to help Jedi process their emotions, as seen during The Fall of the Jedi. 

I just finished re-listening to Dooku: Jedi Lost for the next part of this series. It brought me back to this quote from Vernestra:

“Recognizing our mistakes and doing better is the path of a Jedi. Imri, the Jedi Order isn’t going to kick you out for a single mistake. It just doesn’t work that way. If it did there wouldn’t be anyone left.”[8]

I think this inability to work through his feelings, the emotional avoidance taught to him by the Jedi is the single biggest contributor to the fall of Anakin Skywalker. This inability allowed Palpatine to manipulate Anakin repeatedly, and enabled the success of Order 66, but we will get back to Anakin and the prequel era later! Join us next time for a discussion of foreshadowing found in Claudia Gray’s Master and Apprentice and Cavan Scott’s Dooku: Jedi Lost!

How do you feel about the High Republic foreshadowing the fall of the Jedi Order?

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[1] “Star Wars: The High Republic Writers Explain the New Characters and Major Conflict,” YouTube video, 26:57, posted by “New York Comic Con,” October 8, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIwWQ0DiNI0.

[2] Justina Ireland, A Test of Courage. Disney Book Group, 2021. pg 138.

[3] Ireland, A Test of Courage, pg 148.

[4] Claudia Gray, Into the Dark. California: Disney Lucasfilm Press, 2021. pg 128.

[5] If you DM me/comment and use the words “Mary Sue” or similar, I will block you. No joke.

[6] Gray, Into the Dark, pg. 26.

[7] Gray, Into the Dark, pg. 39.

[8] Ireland, A Test of Courage, pg. 149.

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