Legendary Adventures: Rogue Planet

Legendary Adventures #18 Rogue Planet

The Legendary Adventures move out of the The Phantom Menace era and into a new era: that of the rising Separatist movement as the galaxy barrels along toward war! The first stop? The mysterious sentient planet known as Zonoma Sekot, recognized from its role in the New Jedi Order era as the home planet of the Yuuzhan Vong!

I’ll discuss this more when we reach the Attack of the Clones milestone, but the Legends canon was not too concerned with fleshing out the time between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones in terms of connecting the films. In this era, two of the three novels were more concerned with setting up events post-Endor. Now, these books don’t suffer for a lack of film connections by any means, but I felt like it was a bold move. As the Legendary Adventures continue, I am excited to see how these threads pay off far, far down the line. (Just think: considering that the Legendary Adventures won’t reach Revenge of the Sith until the end of this year, it’ll be years before we see the payoff!)

Rogue Planet Full CoverAnakin and Obi-Wan, having been paired for the two years since the Crisis on Naboo, are sent to investigate the disappearance of Vergere, Jedi Knight. Their quest leads them to Zonoma Sekot, a planet hidden away in the Outer Rim. The Council, on the advice of Thracia Cho Leem, a married Jedi Knight introduced in this novel, decides that this mission would be a good bonding experience for the Jedi. Unfortunately, Tarkin and Rath Sienar have plans for the planet as well. The planet is known for creating the fastest starfighters the galaxy has ever seen. Tarkin wants to use these plans in his nascent battle station, while we know Sienar is the progenitor to the TIE Fighter. As Anakin and Obi-Wan are introduced to the process of ship building, they start to find themselves involved in something deeper…far deeper.

While this book has a plot, it may be one of the barest plots in the Legends canon. I am not complaining about that at all. I feel like most Legends novels are filled to the brim with plot lines, making most dense and hard to follow. That Rogue Planet has far fewer plot lines makes it a much lighter read. Because it has much less going on, this book felt like a relatively easy read compared to the others. What it “lacks” in a dense plot it makes up for with deep characterizations, and focusing a lot of time on young Anakin Skywalker while developing his relationship with newly minted Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan.

This novel struggles with Anakin on his own, in both speeding up his descent into darkness too quickly and not knowing how to define his power in a natural way. At the beginning of the novel, we meet a young Anakin Skywalker, engaging in secret, dangerous, underground sporting events. During the course of his latest race, he is attacked by a Blood Carver named Ke Daiv. Obi-Wan swoops in to save Anakin from the Carver, but has to bring him in front of the Council to see if he’s merited any punishment because of his actions. It is at this meeting that the Council’s initial misgivings about Anakin’s training are made manifest. Anakin brims with righteous anger, both at the Council meeting and when Jabitha, a “native” to Zonoma Sekot is threatened, and this righteous anger causes him to lash out and accidentally kill Ke Daiv later in the novel. The killing doesn’t feel like a dark murder; rather, it feels like a kid who can’t control himself lashing out because he can’t control anything going on around him. Also, as Daiv harassed Anakin for the duration of the novel, it could be instinctual, self-defense. This isn’t to make excuses for Anakin, but trying to better understand where his first kill could have come from. I was a little surprised that Anakin was set down a dark path so early, but it isn’t quite as “in your face” as you might expect. Where later EU works (like Dark Horse’s Republic comics) showcases Anakin’s dark tendencies in neon lights, this novel felt more subdued, giving us a glimpse into a boy who could easily succumb to the weight of his own power.

As Obi-Wan and Anakin investigate the planet, they are led through a process of creating their own ships. Anakin takes this in stride, and his connection to the Force is powerful enough that he would be able to build the fastest ship to ever come out of Zonoma Sekot. In addition to making Anakin a killer very early in his life, Bear shows that he, too, struggles with defining how powerful Anakin is. Just as Lucas used the midi-chlorians in The Phantom Menace, Bear relies on a bio-technical answer to show, rather than tell, how powerful Anakin is. Anybody with such obvious power levels, with dark tendencies, should have been put under much more strict guidelines much sooner. If the events of this novel took place closer to the Battle of Geonosis, this struggle to define his power and his relationship to the darkness might have been much more understandable.

If Bear struggles to develop Anakin on his own, he shines in developing Anakin and Obi-Wan’s relationship. Anakin is a kid, first and foremost. He struggles with emotional neediness, he seeks approval and validation, and he is hot-headed and can get himself into trouble. This creates a sort of dependence on Obi-Wan, maybe a projection of his recently “lost” mother. His emotional neediness is met with disapproval from the Jedi at large, who worry about his tendencies to create strong connections quickly. Obi-Wan is shown to be a good father figure to Anakin. Rather than being distant from Anakin out of fear or hatred, Obi-Wan keeps up his emotional distance out of fear. He is afraid he can’t be a good Master for Anakin, and he is afraid of how much he has to live up to as a Master. They both live under the shadow of Qui-Gon Jinn: Anakin wants to make him proud, but Obi-Wan buckles under self-created pressure of living up to his legacy. I’m not a fan of Obi-Wan as a whole, but this book opened me up to care a bit more for the man. This Obi-Wan is kind and gentle, guiding and correcting Anakin. He does not nag, nor does he press unnecessarily, like he will in the Clone War. He listens, hoping and praying that some day, somehow, he can be a good Master for Anakin. This type of vulnerability is rare for Legends, so it was a refreshing treat here.

The Republic’s relationship with the Trade Federation is interesting in this novel. Following the Summit on Eriadu and the invasion on Naboo, the Republic forces the Trade Federation to disarm and disband their entire military. This Federation material is not wasted, though. As an interesting retcon, former Lieutenant Governor Tarkin is in control of the Outland Region Security Force, a Republic taskforce using commandeered Trade Federation material as private security. This worries the Republic, as they are ardently against a standing army, as this borders on a personal army for Tarkin.  Rath Sienar is declared captain of a Federation cruiser by Tarkin himself, which he takes to Zonoma Sekot. Sienar is also placed in control of hundreds of Federation battle droids. This Security Force is actually an invasion force for Tarkin, who seeks to take control of the planet for the Republic, but also as a means by which he could secure her resources.

Anakin and Obi-Wan hear whispers of a concept called the Potentium, ringing alarm bells in Obi-Wan’s head that they were followers of a rogue Jedi sect. The Potentium taught that there was no inherent dark side of the Force; any darkness in the Force was a point of view the user inserted into it. This point of view comes to a head more in the Yuuzhan Vong War rather than this novel. This is slightly disappointing – I think the same arguments that convinced Jacen to turn to the dark side would have been interesting to Anakin as well.

The novels prepares some of the stage to help us to know that something has happened to Vergere, but we won’t know the full extent of her fall until we get a lot further into our Adventure. The Potentium plays a big role in the New Jedi Order series. For those somewhat familiar with Legends, we know that Vergere is heavily involved in Jacen Solo’s decision to turn to the dark side after the Dark Nest Crisis during the Second Galactic Civil War. For now, the Potentium suggests they had something to do with Vergere’s disappearance. We will find out later how much affect they truly had on her and her teachings. For now, we Adventurers will have to be content with their role in the grand Saga as a mystery!

As it stands, the mystery of the Yuuzhan Vong is only hinted at here. Zonoma Sekot shows significant damage, which Anakin and Obi-Wan initially think is a cliff. As the book goes on, though, they start to refer to it as a “scar”, showing significant damage from a previous battle. Nothing is said about the sentience of the planet, explicitly, but it is hinted at (but you may only catch these hints if you know what is coming in The New Jedi Order). The book makes multiple mentions of “Far Outsiders”, with whom Vergere made contact with, but don’t define who these Outsiders are. Again, those in the know may have a grasp about who these aliens are, but new fans won’t. This is probably a double-edged sword: its not very accessible for new readers in this sense (the book never answers what happened to Sekot or Vergere), but it is a treat for people like us on a Legendary Adventure.

Legendary Travel Tips:
-This book marks the Legends canonization of Rath Sienar. Sienar was the name given to the producers of TIE Fighters by West End Games, and Bear worked that origin into his novel as an accomplice to Tarkin’s grand plans.
-This novel also introduces Thracia Cho Leem, a Jedi Knight who is married. Because this novel was written in 2002, Lucas had not established the non-commitment/attachment rule for the Jedi Order that is introduced in Attack of the Clones. Funnily enough, even after the film, married Jedi during the Clone Wars seems less like an exception: they show up frequently enough you might expect that the Order rolled back their non-attachment rules! Other married Jedi are featured in Jedi Trial and No Prisoners.
The novel is preceeded by Jedi Apprentice: Deceptions and followed by Jedi Apprentice: The Followers. Young readers book dominate the period between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones detailing the rise of Padawan Anakin Skywalker.

Come to find out, this novel is one of the first Prequel era novels. This book fits right into the era, and the whole of the Legends canon. You would never know that it was written first. It feels like it has the combined knowledge of many Legends book behind it, rather than paving the way forward for more Legends novels ahead of it. As it stands, Rogue Planet is one of my favorite Legends novels, and I implore each of the Adventurers to spend time in it. I am so excited to see where these threads are picked up later in the Yuuzhan Vong War.

Chris is the Sous Chef at the Mynock Manor. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisWerms, and of course, follow the Manor.

Movie Reviews:
The Last Jedi 

Legendary Adventures:
The Old Republic EraDawn of the Jedi: Into The Void | Lost Tribe of the Sith | The Old Republic: Revan | The Old Republic: Deceived | Red Harvest | The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance The Old Republic: Annihilation | Knight Errant | Darth Bane: Path of Destruction | Darth Bane: Rule of Two | Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil

The Phantom Menace: Darth Plagueis | Maul: Lockdown | Cloak of Deception | Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter | The Phantom Menace

The New Jedi Order Era: Scourge

Canon Novel Reviews:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars Young Reader Reviews:
Adventures in Wild Space: The Escape (Prelude)
So You Want to be a Jedi? 
Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
Poe Dameron: Flight Log
Rebel Dossier
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel (Backstories)
Darth Vader: Sith Lord (Backstories)
The Force Awakens: Finn’s Story
Forces of Destiny:
Daring Adventures vol 1 | Daring Adventures vol 2 | Tales of Hope & Courage | Leia Chronicles 

Star Wars Comic Book Reviews:
Darth Vader: The Shu-Torun War
The Force Awakens 1-2

LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Reviews:
“A Hero Discovered” 1×01 | “The Mines of Gabralla” 1×02 | “Zander’s Joyride” 1×03 | “The Lost Treasure of Cloud City” 1×04 | “Peril on Kashyyyk” 1×05 | “Crossing Paths” 1×06 

Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide