In August of 2020, Disney and Lucasfilm will launch the next phase of Star Wars storytelling across comics and novels. Previously called “Project Luminous,” the official title for this era is Star Wars: The High Republic. Taking place approximately 200 years before The Phantom Menace, Lucasfilm will introduce fans to a whole new range of characters completely detached from the Skywalker storyline.
From Lucasfilm Publishing creative director Michael Siglain: “Star Wars: The High Republic features the Jedi as we’ve always wanted to see them — as true guardians of peace and justice. This is a hopeful, optimistic time, when the Jedi and the Galactic Republic are at their height. But of course, into this glorious new era something wicked this way comes…”
For fans of the mothballed Legends lore, this sounds very familiar and it’s certainly possible that characters, places, and storylines from The Old Republic will pop up eventually. But while we hold our collective breath for the return of Revan, there are other, far more familiar characters that could make an appearance in The High Republic. By condensing the timeline down to a couple of centuries before the Skywalker Saga, instead of millennia ago, Lucasfilm leaves the door open for a throughline between the two eras.
So who would be alive 200 years before the prequels? Let’s take a look…
By far the most likely to make an appearance in The High Republic is Master Yoda. The mysterious Jedi has been part of the Order since he was a youngling and attained the rank of Jedi Knight by the time he reached 100. During The High Republic, it is likely that Yoda has yet to become the Grand Master of the Jedi Order. Though it’s possible this will be the time period during which he is elevated to the highest rank the Order can give.
Not much is known about Yoda’s life before the Skywalker Saga, and the parts that were once fleshed out have been relegated to Legends tales. However, if The High Republic was going to bring in any aspect of Yoda’s old life, the story of the Potentium feels most apt for this era both in terms of timeline and storytelling. Yoda was part of the Jedi Council that cast out the members of the Potentium — much like with Ahsoka Tano was once cast out of the Jedi in The Clone Wars — a sub-sect of the Jedi Order whose beliefs were considered heresy. Instead of seeing the Force as divided into Light and Dark, the Potentium came to believe the Force was itself a neutral entity, with Light or Dark being manifestations of the user. They preached that self-awareness, restraint, and motive could be utilized to keep one from falling to the Dark Side whilst still using powers the Order had deemed off-limits. For this, they were expelled and stripped of their Jedi ranks.
Lucasfilm loves narratives that rhyme. With The High Republic promising to show the Jedi in the height of their power when a new threat arises, it would be tragic poetry to see Master Yoda fall prey to the same narrow beliefs that would one day push Ahsoka from the Jedi Order as well.
First introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Maz Kanata is an enigma. Claiming to be at least 1,000 years old, the “pirate queen” of Takodana has accrued quite a bit of life experience. But fans still don’t know her history, how in-tune with the Force she is, or even what species she belongs to. But there are plenty of tantalizing hints that Lucasfilm could expound upon in The High Republic.
Where is she from? Like Yoda, is she part of a species that is rare, bordering on extinct? What exactly is Maz Kanata’s relationship with the Force? How did she come to be the proprietor of Takodana Castle for a millennium?
That last bit is particularly juicy. Takodana Castle did not begin life as a safe haven for rogues and scoundrels. Long ago, it was a Jedi Temple. The catacombs where Rey discovers Anakin’s lightsaber. Within its depths, tombs to long-forgotten Jedi still remained up until — and conceivably beyond — the First Order attack on the complex. Then there’s Emmie, Maz Kanata’s protocol droid. She is ancient, far older than Maz herself. She is a free droid who serves no master but chose to stay and help Maz. By all accounts, she came with the Temple, a relic of the Jedi population who inhabited Takodana. She also appears to be in the cover art of The High Republic middle-grade novel A Test of Courage — or at the least, a droid that looks much like her — though the presence of twin suns rules out Takodana as the location.
It is extremely likely Maz at one time was a Jedi Knight herself, or at least Jedi-adjacent. To completely put on the tin-foil hat, one might even think she was fished from Legends and given a makeover. After all, Maz bears a striking resemblance to Fae Coven, the Grand Master of the Jedi during the New Sith Wars (now known as the Jedi-Sith War). Mirroring the events of the Skywalker Saga, the Jedi-Sith War saw the Order fall prey to cutting corners, moral event horizons, and political compromises that left the Jedi nigh unrecognizable. Fae Coven wrote The Jedi Path as a way to help bring the Order back to basics, but a critical reading of the book reveals Grand Master Coven may have begun to question the stringent rules that guided her life. She disappears from the record shortly after Yoda began his training, though no death date was announced. Could it be that, instead of dying, she chose another path? It’s one of many possibilities.
Another member of Yoda’s mysterious species, Yaddle is even more of a cipher. She first appeared in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace as a member of the Jedi High Council. However, by the time of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, she had vacated her seat, which was filled by Shaak Ti. From there, Yaddle all but disappears from the official canon record (though she had robust adventures during the non-canon Legends years).
Here’s what is known for sure. Yaddle was approximately 400 years younger than Yoda. She trained at least one apprentice — Oppo Rancisis — who would go on to join the Jedi High Council. Yaddle’s training allowed Master Oppo to survive the Jedi Purge of Order 66. In the recent video game Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order, it was hinted that Yaddle herself still lived, though deep in hiding. Master Yaddle was known for her quiet nature, kindness, and wisdom. But she was also one of the few Jedi permitted to learn the art of Morichro. A borderline dark side ability, and extremely dangerous, Morichro was an ancient technique that allowed the wielder to slow down a being’s bodily functions to comatose, suspended animation, and in the wrong hands, death. The High Republic could easily expand upon the details of how Yaddle came to be trusted with this technique.
JABBA THE HUTT
His Excellency Jabba Desilijic Tiure of Nal Hutta, Eminence of Tatooine was born approximately 600 years before the Battle of Yavin. But he did not begin his life as a mob boss and leader of the Grand Hutt Council. Like any criminal with ambition, Jabba had to climb his way to the top of the food chain. The junior novelization of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi gave a preliminary outline to Jabba’s rise. “Several centuries” before the events of the Skywalker Saga, Jabba began to consolidate his power, becoming a major player in the Outer Rim underworld.
Should they so choose, The High Republic may delve into some of Jabba’s motivations. Why did the Hutt choose Tatooine as his base of operation? His palace was formerly a B’omarr monastery, but Jabba was not the one to invade and overtake the religious sect. That feat belongs to a mysterious bandit known as Alkhara, who gained the trust of the monks before overtaking their monastery and converting it into a battle-ready fortress. Why Alkhara did this, and how he was ousted by Jabba remains a mystery, though the Hutt did allow the monks — who in their desire for extreme isolation placed their brains in jars attached to spider-like droid — free roam over the palace after his coup.
Perhaps no Force-wielders in all of Star Wars are as unsettling as the Witches of Dathomir. Also known as the Nightsisters, these women gain their power through the green spirit ichor that is the lifeblood of the Dathomir planet. Their abilities are foreign to both Jedi and Sith alike, and the Nighsister leader, Mother Talzin, deftly played both sides for the advantage of her people.
Talzin’s powers rival that of a demi-god. Under her watchful eye, the Nightsisters were able to perform feats such as physical transformation and invisibility. On her own, Talzin was able to dematerialized and rematerialize at will, project her visage across the galaxy (similar to Luke’s trick in The Last Jedi), torture enemies across long distances as long as she had their DNA, and regenerate the limbs of other. She could create a lightsaber-like weapon from thin air, conjure green Force lightning, and sustain a bubble of magical energy to protect her during battle. Mother Talzin was also proficient at telekinesis as well as pyrokinesis. On Dathomir, her power rivaled that of Darth Sidious, and she may have killed him outright during their battle if Grievous and Dooku had not joined forces with their master against her. Even death didn’t slow her down, with Talzin able to possess the body of her son, Darth Maul, or appear as a spirit. Her age is unknown, but the sheer magnitude of her power makes it believable that she would be around during the events of The High Republic. How she and her Nightsister coven might factor in is unknown, but intriguing.
This one is a little tricky, but we’re throwing it in as a wild card possibility. The man known as Sheev Palpatine was allegedly born on Naboo approximately 84 years before the Battle of Yavin. But anyone within the Star Wars galaxy would have a hard time proving it. Palpatine seems to have appeared out of thin air, with no family to speak of. If there were ever any records of Palpatine’s familial history, they were purged along with his rise to power. One is expected to simply take Darth Sidious at his word that he was recruited to the Dark Side by Darth Plagueis. But why would you?
The evidence that Palpatine is older than he is saying is slight but suspicious. First, there are the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. During his climactic encounter with Rey, Palpatine speaks to the throngs of Sith Eternal who have gathered to witness the triumphant return of their culture. Palpatine uses language that insinuates he is one of them; that he has struggled alongside them for millennia to bring about a new era of the Sith. Then, he asks Rey to kill him so that he might transfer his essence into her, merging them into a single whole. Rey would become the Empress, but Palpatine would have been pulling the strings.
Then there’s a throwaway line from the novel Star Wars: Force Collector, in which it’s rumored that human Sith (or Jedi) can live for 500 years or more. Taken together with Palpatine’s behavior in The Rise of Skywalker, it is entirely plausible that the Emperor’s assertion that he is all the Sith is not hyperbole. That, in fact, Palpatine is Darth Plagueis, and Darth Tenebrous, and Darth Bane. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Rule of Two was instituted not only to keep the number of Sith to a minimum but to ensure the essence transfer between master and apprentice. If so, Palpatine could be the real threat behind whatever wrench is being thrown into the gears of The High Republic.