To hear me read this review and its two other parts, check out episode 525 of the Spiritblade Underground Podcast, go to timestamp 25:38.
So, let’s continue right where we left off last time, with part 2 of the awesome Dawn of the Jedi trade paperback (TPB) comics trilogy!
(W ) John Ostrander (A) Jan Duursema, Dan Parsons (CA) Wes Dziboa, David Michael Beck
Xesh, a mysterious alien warrior, is enthralled with the madman Daegen Lok and his obsession with conquering known space. Hunter teams are dispatched by the Je’daii to stop Lok and save the misguided Xesh, but they’re not alone. Xesh’s former masters have sent their own hunter-with orders to kill! Collects Dawn of the Jedi: Prisoner of Bogan #1-#5.
In this second TPB we find our dark side protagonist Xesh on Bogan, one of Tython’s two moons, banished to meditate on finding balance between the dark and the light sides of the Force. There he meets Daegon Lok, banished seven years earlier for the same reason. Daegon immediately issues a challenge, striving for dominance between them.
Daegon manages to take Xesh by surprise, overwhelming him with dark force magic – a term which is not used in this story, but which we know from at least one other Star Wars Expanded Universe novel series, the Darth Bane trilogy. Bane’s apprentice Zannah shows remarkable talent in this area and Bane makes her study the ancient writings and holocrons to learn about this specific dark side skill, which he himself lacks. It may well be that the ancient knowledge Zannah is studying, stems from this Dawn of the Jedi period. Who knows, I haven’t read any of the other EU stuff yet, so this is my theory for now 🙂 Fact is that Darth Zannah applies the exact same magic as Daegon Lok: preying on other people’s fears and using it to their detriment and sometimes even demise. Maybe the writer wanted to help us make this connection by naming one of Daegon’s victims Bel Zana (Dawn of the Jedi was created some years after Darth Bane).
Since the Je’daii have taken Xesh’s force saber from him, Daegon wants him to make another. Which is how we learn how a dark side force saber is made: not only does one need a special crystal, but one needs also to practice alchemy, which I guess is also a form of dark side magic.
We get to know Xesh’s strength even better than we already did in part 1, Force Storm. We already know he’s a formidable force fighter, and can track almost everything through the force, but now we also learn about his pure, raw power in the force: he can power an entire space craft through the force!
While Daegon en Xesh plan their escape from Bogan to get the materials for new force sabers, the Je’daii study an ancient holocron to try to find out more about the threat that is coming, the threat Daegon Lok saw in his force visions years ago, that they say drove him mad and made them banish him to Bogan. What’s interesting about this holocron, is that it looks like a mini replica of a Tho Yor, the huge ancient force ships that brought all force users to Tython – about which we learned in part 1 of the trilogy.
Daegon and Xesh manage to escape from Bogan fairly early in the story arc, which turns the rest of the adventure into a hide-and-seek kind of manhunt, with ranger Shae Koda as the lead ‘search dog’ because of her special bond with Xesh (see also Force Storm). This offers us readers a nice view of the solar system, as they visit several planets and moons and the cities upon them.
The Je’daii are of course also studying Xesh’s force saber, trying to get it to work and if possible to replicate it. The reader now learns that the energy blade is not so much hot as it is cold!
Although most of this TPB’s story arc is a manhunt with a lot of chase and action scenes in true Star Wars form, Xesh’s character is also more fleshed out with more interesting details about his back story. This time we learn more about his past as a child, life as a member of a force hound brood, how they are torture-trained, and about the big sister-like female who always protected him. Although Xesh doesn’t really remember much about her because of a memory block his masters put into his mind, we readers immediately get it: this is Trill, the second force hound in this story, who we also met in Part 1.
There is much more to say about this story of course. I will highlight two things that stood out to me. First, the way Daegon treats Xesh. It reminds us of the Master-Apprentice dynamics between the Sith of later times. However, there are significant differences too: Xesh in the end is not only not an apprentice, he far out-matches Daegon in strength. It seems Daegon made a devastating error of judgment about their relationship…
And second, there’s the motif of close friendship & brotherhood vs betrayal, that echoes that of Obi-Wan & Anakin – and again between two friends that became Je’daii masters, namely Daegon Lok and Hawk Ryo. They also end up fighting a fierce forcesaber battle…
Stay tuned for part 3: Force War!