Audiobook short: Darth Bane Trilogy, pt. 3

In my fourth Audiobook Short I’m sharing my impressions of Dynasty of Evil, the final installment of the Darth Bane trilogy, a Star Wars novel series from the so-called Expanded Universe, written by Drew Karpyshyn and narrated by Jonathan Davis. Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins.

For the spoken version of the below review go to Episode 466 of the Spirit Blade podcast, time stamp 48:52.

Publisher’s summary:

Twenty years have passed since Darth Bane, reigning Dark Lord of the Sith, demolished the ancient order devoted to the dark side and reinvented it as a circle of two: one Master to wield the power and pass on the wisdom, and one apprentice to learn, challenge, and ultimately usurp the Dark Lord in a duel to the death. But Bane’s acolyte, Zannah, has yet to engage her Master in mortal combat and prove herself a worthy successor. Determined that the Sith dream of galactic domination will not die with him, Bane vows to learn the secret of a forgotten Dark Lord that will assure the Sith’s immortality – and his own.

A perfect opportunity arises when a Jedi emissary is assassinated on the troubled mining planet Doan, giving Bane an excuse to dispatch his apprentice on a fact-finding mission – while he himself sets out in secret to capture the ancient holocron of Darth Andeddu and its precious knowledge. But Zannah is no fool. She knows that her ruthless Master has begun to doubt her, and she senses that he is hiding something crucial to her future. If she is going to claim the power she craves, she must take action now.

While Bane storms the remote stronghold of a fanatical Sith cult, Zannah prepares for her Master’s downfall by choosing an apprentice of her own: a rogue Jedi cunning and cold-blooded enough to embrace the Sith way and to stand beside her when she at last wrests from Bane the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith.

But Zannah is not the only one with the desire and power to destroy Darth Bane. Princess Serra of the Doan royal family is haunted by memories of the monstrous Sith soldier who murdered her father and tortured her when she was a child. Bent on retribution, she hires a merciless assassin to find her tormentor – and bring him back alive to taste her wrath.

Only a Sith who has taken down her own Master can become Dark Lord of the Sith. So when Bane suddenly vanishes, Zannah must find him – possibly even rescue him – before she can kill him. And so she pursues her quarry from the grim depths of a ravaged world on the brink of catastrophe to the barren reaches of a desert outpost, where the future of the dark side’s most powerful disciples will be decided, once and for all, by the final, fatal stroke of a lightsaber.

©2012 Drew Karpyshyn (P)2012 Random House Audio

My thoughts: “Alas, the trilogy has ended!”

I actually started and finished this audiobook in only one day, that’s how gripping it was. We follow Darth Bane and his apprentice Zannah, but also some new characters, just like in the previous two parts. This time I found these new characters actually interesting in their own right, so this is an improvement compared to parts 1 & 2.

The action scenes are fantastic, read perfectly thrillingly by Davis and enhanced even more by tracks from John Williams’s original soundtrack. The plot kept me interested in between action scenes as well, although it did ask me to suspend a lot of my disbelief in terms of consistency of character & skill set (can’t say more, otherwise I’d spoil it).

The sound effects were awesome as always, with one minor criticism: at one point the alarms are going off for a LONG time, it got on my nerve a bit since you can’t tone it down without losing the narration.

The final confrontation had me at the edge of my seat, the action climbed and climbed and climbed to a climax, which when it finally arrived however left me wondering “Wait. What happened?!” So not entirely as satisfying as I’d hoped, especially after such a thrilling ride to the top.

The epilogue is a definite cliff hanger, leaving me again dangling in the void of Wanting More, but this time there’s no more sequels to quench that thirst! Not so cool.

But those are only minor peeves, and not worth subtracting any stars. All in all this trilogy was absolutely thrilling, exciting and totally awesome. Jonathan Davis is a fantastic narrator, with a huge range of voices without overacting.

This third part of the series tempted me to listen to Darth Plagueis again even though I finished that not too long ago, because it is the next novel in the long, long list of the SW Expanded Universe novels and this trilogy left me really wanting some sort of continuity fix :-).

Again, highly recommend!

Also follow my reviews on Audible.com! (where I am Katarina – if you’re an Audible listener, simply click ‘Follow’ once you’ve found me)

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Some images on this blog temporarily disabled

As you may or may not have noticed, my blog didn’t show its many many images for a week or so. This was caused by Photobucket changing its terms of service overnight, without prior notice! For those of you who don’t know, they are the company that until very very recently marketed itself as the third party host of images, for blogs, forums and the like. They have done so for well over 10 years and thousands of bloggers have been hosting their pictures for their blogs on Photobucket.

Well, as it happens, Photobucket have very recently decided to change their policy to now no longer allow third party image sharing (or hot linking), unless users pay a whopping $399,- per year.

So yeah, that’s not going to happen on my end. So I worked very hard to replace every single image by a newly hosted one. I truly empathize with those bloggers who wrote hundreds of posts with thousands of images…

I can only hope the inconvenience for you all has not been too much of a drag, but even so I apologize. I hope you are still with me and keep enjoying my previous and future ramblings on this blog 😉

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Audiobook short: Darth Bane Trilogy, pt. 2

Rule of Two is the second part of the Star Wars: Darth Bane trilogy, written by Drew Karpyshyn. The audiobook version is narrated by Jonathan Davis and is 10 hrs and 12 mins long. In this Audiobook Short I’ll share my impressions.

For the spoken version of the below review go to Episode 461 of the Spirit Blade podcast, time stamp 22:00.

Publisher’s summary:

In the New York Times best-seller Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, Drew Karpyshyn painted a gripping portrait of a young man’s journey from innocence to evil. That man was Darth Bane, a twisted genius whose iron will, fierce ambition, and strength in the dark side of the Force made him a natural leader among the Sith – until his radical embrace of an all-but-forgotten wisdom drove him to destroy his own order…and create it anew from the ashes. As the last surviving Sith, Darth Bane promulgated a harsh new directive: the Rule of Two.

Two there should be; no more, no less.
One to embody the power, the other to crave it.

Now Darth Bane is ready to put his policy into action, and he thinks he has found the key element that will make his triumph complete: a student to train in the ways of the dark side. Though she is young, Zannah possesses an instinctive link to the dark side that rivals his own. With his guidance, she will become essential in his quest to destroy the Jedi and dominate the galaxy.

But there is one who is determined to stop Darth Bane: Johun Othone, Padawan to Jedi Master Lord Hoth, who died at Bane’s hands in the last great Sith War. Though the rest of the Jedi scoff at him, Joshua’s belief that there are surviving Sith on the loose is unshakeable.

As Johun continues his dogged pursuit of the man who killed his master, Zannah, faced unexpectedly with a figure from her past, begins to question her embrace of the dark side. And Darth Bane is led by Force-induced visions to a moon where he will acquire astonishing new knowledge and power – power that will alter him in ways he could never have imagined….

©2012 Drew Karpyshyn (P)2012 Random House Audio

My thoughts: “Even better than Part 1!”

I started listening to this book right after I finished Path of Destruction, for that first part of the Darth Bane trilogy left me wanting for more. And ‘more’ is exactly what I got with Rule of Two!
I found it even more gripping, it was (even) better paced and narrator Jonathan Davis gives a truly masterful performance.

Following Darth Bane as a full-blown dark lord of the Sith was a thrilling ride. Especially since he now has an equally intriguing apprentice in Zannah, a young woman strong in the dark side, whom Bane teaches a lot but who also has a unique talent of her own: Dark Force magic!
Darth Bane continues to be the villain you root for inspite of yourself. Zannah is a strong female character with her own voice and her own gifts, strengths and ambitions. Together, they are too strong to defeat…

As with the first part of this Star Wars EU trilogy I was so completely wrapped-up in the story I could only sit on the couch listening, doing nothing else. Which kind of totally defeated the purpose of listening instead of reading (i.e. multi-tasking!). So, on the couch I stayed… again…!

Unfortunately I finished this novel far too soon and again found myself wanting still more…. Fortunately there’s a third part! 🙂

Highly recommend!

Also follow my reviews on Audible.com! (where I am Katarina – if you’re an Audible listener, simply click ‘Follow’ once you’ve found me)

Audiobook short: Darth Bane Trilogy, pt. 1

This, my second Audiobook Short, is again about a Star Wars novel from the so-called Expanded Universe: Path of Destruction, which is part 1 of the Darth Bane trilogy, written by Drew Karpyshyn and narrated by Jonathan Davis. Length: 12 hrs and 11 mins.

By the way, the spoken version of the below review is part of Episode 457 of the Spirit Blade podcastgo to time stamp 18:26.

Publisher’s summary:

Once the Sith order teemed with followers. But their rivalries divided them in endless battles for supremacy – until one dark lord at last united the Sith in the quest to enslave the galaxy and exterminate the Jedi. Yet it would fall to another, far more powerful than the entire Brotherhood of Darkness, to ultimately realize the full potential of the Sith and wield the awesome power of the dark side as never before.

Since childhood, Dessel has known only the abuse of his hateful father and the dangerous, soul-crushing labor of a cortosis miner. Deep in the tunnels of the desolate planet Apatros, endlessly excavating the rare mineral valued throughout the galaxy, Dessel dreams of the day he can escape – a day he fears may never come. But when a high-stakes card game ends in deadly violence, Dessel suddenly finds himself a wanted man.

On the run from vengeful Republic forces, Dessel vanishes into the ranks of the Sith army and ships out to join the bloody war against the Republic and its Jedi champions. There, Dessel’s brutality, cunning, and exceptional command of the Force swiftly win him renown as a warrior. But in the eyes of his watchful masters, he is destined for a far greater role in the ultimate Sith plan for the galaxy – if he can prove himself truly worthy.

As an acolyte in the Sith academy, studying the secrets and skills of the dark side at the feet of its greatest masters, Dessel embraces his new Sith identity: Bane. However the true test is yet to come. In order to gain acceptance into the Brotherhood of Darkness, one must fully surrender to the dark side through a trial by fire that Bane, for all his unquenchable fury and lust for power, may not be strong enough to endure… especially since deception, treachery, and murder run rampant among the Sith disciples, and utter ruthlessness alone is the key to survival.

Only by defying the most sacred traditions, rejecting all he has been taught, and drawing upon the long-forgotten wisdom of the very first Sith can Bane hope to triumph – and forge from the ashes of that which he must destroy a new era of absolute dark power.

©2012 Drew Karpyshyn (P)2012 Random House Audio

My thoughts: “Hours on the couch doing nothing but listening!”

This is a gripping story about the rise of Darth Bane. The author allows the reader/listener far more than a mere glimpse of the dark side of the Force when telling the origin story of one of the great Dark Lords of the Sith.
Darth Bane is the one who will eventually instate the Rule of Two, which we know from the movies and which says that there can only be two Siths at one time. Which means that for most of this novel, the Rule of Two isn’t there yet, hence there are a multitude of Siths and dark side Force wielders!

The story is read brilliantly by Jonathan Davis, and of course enhanced with awesome Star Wars audio effects.

In conclusion, I literally couldn’t bring myself to do anything but sit on the couch and listen for hours on end – which is an absolute first for me for usually I do all kinds of stuff while listening to audio books.
If you like this book as much as I did, beware: for you’ll find it an absolute MUST to lay your hands on parts 2 and 3 of this trilogy as well!

Highly recommend!

Also follow my reviews on Audible.com! (where I am Katarina – if you’re an Audible listener, simply click ‘Follow’ once you’ve found me)

Audiobook Short: Darth Plagueis

Hey all! It’s taken me a while to get back here, what can I say, life is busy and often beautiful 🙂 But, here I am and with a new habit of geeky content consumption: audiobooks. Audiobooks are the ideal way to combine reading a novel while doing other stuff (like living life, busy and beautiful) and ever since I discovered the sheer endless well of narrated titles I dove in and started swimming.

And to help you swim along, if so inclined, I’ll share my audiobook reviews with you. My intent is to keep them concise and mostly just about my experiences with the books, without doing a fullblown review. This will keep it easy to get a feel for what a book might bring you without having to spend too much time reading each post – hence the name of this category: Audiobook Shorts. I will start each review with the publisher’s summary so you get a feel for the story, then add my own thoughts. I’ll also rate them according to the Audible.com rating categories of Story, Performance and Overall, with 5 stars as the highest score.

As a bonus, and in the audio spirit of things 😉 , I’ll post a link to a spoken (by me) version of my Audiobook Shorts series whenever one is available on the Spiritblade podcast. Like this one, my first 🙂 :

Spiritblade podcast episode 455, go to timestamp 2:54.

My first Audiobook Short is about a Star Wars novel from the so-called Expanded Universe: Darth Plagueis, written by James Luceno and narrated by Daniel Davis. Length: 14 hrs and 49 mins.

Publisher’s summary

He was the most powerful Sith lord who ever lived… but could he be the only one who never died?

“Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.” -Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

Darth Plagueis: one of the most brilliant Sith Lords who ever lived. Possessing power is all he desires. Losing it is the only thing he fears. As an apprentice, he embraces the ruthless ways of the Sith. And when the time is right, he destroys his Master – but vows never to suffer the same fate. For like no other disciple of the dark side, Darth Plagueis learns to command the ultimate power… over life and death.

Darth Sidious: Plagueis’s chosen apprentice. Under the guidance of his Master, he secretly studies the ways of the Sith, while publicly rising to power in the galactic government, first as Senator, then as Chancellor, and eventually as Emperor.

Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious, Master and acolyte, target the galaxy for domination – and the Jedi Order for annihilation. But can they defy the merciless Sith tradition? Or will the desire of one to rule supreme, and the dream of the other to live forever, sow the seeds of their destruction?

From the Hardcover edition.

©2012 James Luceno (P)2012 Random House Audio

My thoughts: “Fantastic Star Wars lore!”

Captivating story, brilliant reading performance by Daniel Davis, awesome audio effects & SW music. This is precisely why I love audio books so much!

The story clarifies a lot of Darth Sidious’s background and of course tells the story of Darth Plagueis, the main character. We also learn intriguing things about the Dark Side of the Force, and the order of the Sith.

To me this audiobook captured a real Star Wars atmosphere, it made me want to listen to it 24/7 and I wish the novel had lasted at least twice as long.
Because of it, I wanted to watch SW Episode I immediately following it, which to some would be a great feat in and of itself 😉
It also made me want to look into the Expanded Universe, which up until now I had always studiously avoided because – knowing myself – I would probably want to read everything, books, comics, audiobooks. Which would be 1. an enormous time hog and 2. frustrating since Marvel & Disney have declared the entire EU non-canonical, so, why bother. However, this first toe-dip left me wanting more and while still avoiding a full dive, I decided to go for a careful swim. So I bought the Darth Bane trilogy, about which you can read more in my next 😉

In short, I highly recommend Darth Plagueis and give it 5 stars for story, 5 stars for performance and 5 stars overall!

Also follow my reviews on Audible.com! (where I am Katarina – if you’re an Audible listener, simply click ‘Follow’ once you’ve found me)

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From OSX Lion to El Capitan (Clean Install)

goodbyeosxlion

Ever since I bought my iMac back in 2011 (16 Gb RAM, core i7 processor), I had been working with Mac OSX 10.7 – otherwise known as Lion. I never upgraded, for I firmly believed in the adagium “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

However, this also meant that more and more applications had reached their maximum update level, among which Safari – which meant that slowly but surely more and more websites no longer fully functioned. Sites like Youtube and Twitter, to name but a few. So the level of my user annoyance gradually increased, until I reached the point of feeling ready to move on from Lion after all.

When Apple announced their latest MacOS “Sierra” to be expected this Fall, I suspected I would not be able to make the jump from Lion. So if ever I planned to upgrade after all, I had to do it now.

Since I had to jump  four iterations of MacOS (from OSX 10.7 to OSX 10.11) in one fell swoop, I chose to take as little risk as possible and go with a clean install. After much reading and research I also chose to do this from a bootable flash drive/usb drive.

Since I had never undertaken such an adventure, and had to do lots of Googling and Trying of Things, I decided to write every step down for you all – but only the successful ones, so your path might be shorter and smoother. So here we go…

…but before you move on, please consider carefully that a clean install will erase everything, and I mean Every Thing, from your Mac’s hard drive. This not only includes your files and applications, but also your user accounts and network settings. Know that in most cases a so-called “over-the-top  install” (in which you simply install the new OS over the previous one, without erasing everything) works perfectly fine. I chose a clean install because as I said I had a pretty large “jump” between OSes to make, which also stood for a time leap of about 5 years. Years in which a lot of “baggage” had accumulated, like unused extensions, app support files, preferences etc. These could potentially pose security risks or app instability in the new system, or simply take up too much space. A clean install would be like setting up my l’ill ol’ Mac as if it came brand new out of the box – at least on the inside 😉 .

Please also make sure that all of your mission critical apps are all compatible with El Capitan, before you do the install… The safest way to ensure this is probably to visit the developer’s website. You can also checkout RoaringApps.com, although I’m not certain how reliable they are in all instances.

Okay, if you still want a clean install after all this, please read on for my own step-by-step process.

1. Clean up
Throw away files and applications that you no longer use or haven’t used in a long time. Use an app like AppCleaner to make sure every little file associated with an application is thrown out as well.

If you want to rearrange things and/or throw out garbage, do so now, before you make a cloned copy (steps 1-4).

2. Close all applications, update them, log them
Make a note which apps came from the Mac App store and can be readily recovered, and which apps require you to download a new installer from the developer’s website.

Also, you may want to have a log of all of your application licenses in a copyable format so that you can paste it in when reinstalling your apps (after the install of El Capitan).

3. Log off from cloudapps like Dropbox, Evernote, etc. Do this last and don’t edit anymore cloud files until after the clean install.

4. Disconnect any unnecessary peripherals such as printers, tablets, microphones, etc. Try to work with just attached drives and a wired mouse and keyboard.

5. Empty the trash. You can use the TrashIt app if necessary.

6. Repair boot drive permissions
Use Disk Utility to make sure your boot drive permissions are all repaired and that the disk directory is verified as good.

7. Back up
This may be the single most important action you should take. Back up, back up, backup! Use Time Machine, but if you really want to be safe, also make a complete cloned copy of your Mac. I used Carbon Copy Cloner for that, for it is able to make bootable backups. You can try it out for free, which is perfect for opportunities like this.

Note: you will need a second external harddrive for the cloned copy, do not try to cram it in next to your Time Machine backup, for Troubles might await you and you do not want to take risks with your backups…

8. Download El Capitan from the Mac AppStore
It will launch automatically but you need to quit (CMD-Q) out of the upgrade process.

9. Create a bootable installer flash drive
Click here for an explanation how to. Move the installer file from your Applications folder to your bootable flash drive. It’s about 6 gigabytes, so make sure your flash drive is at least 8 Gb, and doesn’t have any files on it.

10. Connect the bootable USB El Capitan install drive to the Mac and install El Capitan
Since this process has been described by many others, I’ll simply refer you to the one that I found most helpful and easiest to understand. Click here for those step by step instructions.

In my case this process took 40 minutes. Which I thought was pretty fast, but as stated above my Mac does have a Core i7 processor with 16 Gb RAM, so if you have a different setup it might take more – or even less – time than mine.

11. Restore your data
Right after you boot El Capitan the setup process will start. You can elect to restore user accounts and settings from Time Machine. I chose the following set of restore options: Users folder + Settings + Other files and folders: Yes; Applications: No.

By the way, when you sign into iCloud it will sync up anything you had previously selected in iCloud sync settings. This may include your mail (after you rebuild or log in to your account), calendar, contacts, reminders, Safari bookmarks, iCloud Keychain etc.

The same goes for your other cloud apps like Dropbox and Evernote (etc): as soon as you login to their desktop apps, your files will automatically reappear on your Mac.

12. Reinstall your apps
In step 2 you made a list of Mac App Store apps, and apps directly from a developer’s site. You can now use that list to restore your apps.

If you were using any cloud-based apps like Dropbox, Box, Evernote etc. you can simply download their desktop application installers, install the desktop apps, log in and you’re back in business.

In case anything goes wrong, or if it goes well but you’re not satisfied with the new system
Take the current Time Machine backup you made in step 7, you can boot from the recovery partition (CMD-R), do a complete erase (Disk Utility) and then restore from your Time Machine archive. You’ll be back where you were before you started.

Issues I encountered after the install

There were three major applications that no longer worked after I had installed El Capitan. Two of those I knew beforehand, but the biggest one took me by surprise and forced me to purchase a software update. They were:

  1. Parallels Desktop 7 – this version is not compatible with El Capitan, an issue of which I was aware before I started. If I want to continue to use Parallels, I cannot upgrade (the more affordable option) for the jump from 7 to 11 is simply to big. I’ll have to buy a new, full version.
  2. iMovie ’11 – it is still available in El Capitan but I could not get it to work the way I wanted it to, so I had to switch to the latest iMovie. Of this I was not particularly aware beforehand, I mean I did know there was a new iMovie but I had hopes the older version would still work satisfactorily. Which it didn’t and since a lot had changed between these versions, I actually had to sign up for an iMovie workshop in an Apple store to be able to work with it again. I still don’t really like the new version, but what can one do – I guess I’m going to have get over it.
  3. Microsoft Office 2011. Now this one not working surprised me, and I don’t mean in a positive way. I could not get Word, Excel or Powerpoint to work at all, they wouldn’t even start. (I don’t use Outlook). Searching on the internet taught me that many struggled with this problem. There had been some fixes from Microsoft, mainly aimed at Outlook, but for the other three there were no fixes at hand as of yet. Since Office to me is mission critical, I experienced a light panic. I tried Pages for a couple of days, and even the open sourced LibreOffice, but both did not function the way I needed them to, for my specific wants & needs (I create written tutorials with lots of pictures, and inserting these pictures the way I wanted them to was a complete train wreck in both of those programms). After a week of trying (and cursing) I gave in, for I had to move on with my work. So I purchased Microsoft Office 2016 – which works like a dream with El Capitan I have to say, but confronted me with an unexpected expense.

In conclusion

These were the steps I took to go from Mac OSX 10.7 Lion to 10.11 El Capitan with a clean install. It took me many hours to research the many options and possibilities and finally I settled on the above set of steps. They are of course based on my personal choices and preferences,  and given my particular hardware system setup. Nevertheless I feel quite confident that in most cases these steps will work, which is why I took the trouble of logging them here for you all, so as to spare you the same amount of hours of research (and doubts, and annoyances) I went through.

I hope this will be of help to at least some of you. I hope you feel encouraged by the fact that I, a simple user and not a software engineer nor any kind of other tech expert, have managed to sail through these steps successfully and have already enjoyed my new El Capitan OS for some weeks before I published this.

And when Sierra comes, I can now move confidently forward with a simple over-the-top install.

welcomeelcapitan

 

SW Clone Wars Animated Series: Anakin Skywalker pt. 2 – The Chosen One

Two blog posts ago I started a blog mini series reviewing the six seasons of Star Wars The Clone Wars – The Animated Series (TAS). In the first post I reviewed Seasons 1 and 2, recommending the series to you all with great enthusiasm (which to this day is still as great!). In the blog post that followed I decided to zoom in on Anakin Skywalker for the remaining four seasons of TAS, starting with Season 3.

Before moving on to Season 4 I’d like to linger with the third season a little longer, focussing exclusively on three episodes which together form the Mortis story arc. The rest of Season 3 consists of many adventures that are very entertaining and very Star Wars, but the Mortis story line is one of the key episodes not only of the series, but of the entire SW franchise as a whole. It establishes Anakin as the Chosen One, and it really swept me off of my feet.

This time I’ll give an extensive synopsis, which will not be objective at all by the way 😉 (other opinions are available…)

Season 3: Essential Force Mythology

Buried in the middle of the third seasonthe three-episode Mortis arc is a rare gem of Force mythology, stemming from George Lucas’s original ideas of what the Star Wars concept should be. Interesting? You bet! And exciting, thrilling, awesome! In fact, these are the only episodes I rewatched soon after I watched them the first time. Before you read on I have to warn you though, this blog post contains spoilers for the entire story arc, so please watch the episodes first if you don’t want to be spoiled…

Story

In S03E15 (Overlords) the Jedi Council receives a transmission from far beyond the Outer Rim. Why and from where it was sent cannot be established, but hidden in the message is a Jedi distress code that hasn’t been used in over 2000 years, so the Council sends Obi Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka to investigate.

As it turns out, three very powerful entities living in what seems to be some kind of extra-dimensional world have sent the signal to lure Anakin to them. They present themselves as humanoid beings, an elderly father and his grown son and daughter, and they’re simply called Father, Son and Daughter. The three call themselves guardians of the power, and they cannot leave their world, which turns out to be a conduit through which the entire Force flows. Daughter is aligned with the Light side, Son with the Dark side, and Father rules them both.

They are all keen to know whether Anakin is The Chosen One. Which would be more than simply Jedi or Sith, but to be a so-called Force Wielder like Father and his children. And on top of that, to be the One who controls and balances the Light and the Dark sides of the Force by controlling the son and daughter.

In the night all three of the Jedi are having visions, which though not crucial to the story, ring very true for at least the movie universe and probably future seasons of the animated series: Obi Wan seems to meet his old master Qui Gon, who asks if Obi Wan has trained Anakin well (a loaded question, considering what happens in the movies…). Anakin sees his long-dead mother, to whom he confides his greatest pain and fear: his guilt over loosing her and his fear of loosing the ones he loves, like Padme. Also very prophetic in light of the events in the movies…
Ahsoka meets her older self, who warns her of the seeds of the Dark Side that are planted within her by Anakin. She also warns her to leave the planet and Anakin, or she may never see her future. So maybe this shows us what might happen to Ahsoka: perhaps she won’t die, perhaps she won’t turn to the Dark Side – maybe she’ll simply leave Anakin and the Jedi (to grow up and live happily ever after…?).

Future Ahsoka

Balancing the Force – The Chosen One

Father wants to test Anakin to see if he is indeed the Chosen One and has Ahsoka and Obi Wan taken by his children, who have now taken the forms of huge and violent flying creatures: a gargoyle and a griffin.

They take them back to the temple-palace of the Father, landing in a Yin-Yang(ish) shaped arena. Father threatens to have them kill Anakin’s friends, challenging Anakin to choose and save either his master or his apprentice, while loosing the other. Father claims that making such a choice will help Anakin get free of his guilt over the death of his mother.
A very strange piece of advise in my opinion, for I cannot see how one could conquer his guilt by committing the same type of action that caused the guilt to begin with; in this case: having someone you love die while feeling responsible for their safety.

Of course Anakin refuses to choose (good for him!), uses the Force-amplifying properties of the planet and brings both creatures to heel, rescuing both of his friends in an absolutely awe-inspiring display of Force Wielding. (At this point I was positively thrilled and at the edge of my seat!)

Father is satisfied that Anakin is the One, for only the Chosen One could tame both of his children.
So apparently Father lied when telling Anakin that choosing would help him with conquering his guilt?! And here’s another thing, Daughter is supposed to embody everything the Light Side of the Force is: selflessness, life, forgiveness, etc. And yet she blindly obeys Father’s command to kidnap and (try to) kill Obi Wan?? That seems very inconsistent with her character.

Anyway, Father wants Anakin to stay on the planet and be his successor, as he is dying. He tells Anakin that he has to choose this voluntarily, but warns him that if he makes a different choice and leaves, his selfishness will haunt both him and the galaxy.

The rest is history, it seems, for Anakin chooses to leave the planet with his friends…

Premonitions

The story continues however and in the next episode (Altar of Mortis), they return to the planet, since Son takes Ahsoka before they’ve gotten very far. How is not clear, and personally I think this is a plot hole since during the rest of the story arc Son needs a space ship to leave the planet. So how can he get to Ahsoka in her ship (flying through space), when he’s still on the planet…?
Anyway, during the events that follow, the balance of the Force is actually broken, as Son injures Father and kills Daughter, his sister. Father warns that since his son has now descended deeply into the Dark Side, much more power will flow to the Sith and war will increase throughout the universe. Which is why he tells Anakin to quickly leave the planet with his friends, before Son can take the ship to leave the planet himself.

In Ghosts of Mortis, the last episode of this story arc, Ahsoka is busy fixing their ship, since they crash-landed it in the previous episode. (I’m sorry, but when was Ahsoka trained as a high-tech space craft engineer?!). Meanwhile, Anakin decides to visit the Father one more time to get his blessing to leave, otherwise he says it would haunt him for the rest of his life.
A striking difference with the first episode of this arc, where Father warns Anakin not to leave (or else…) and Anakin leaves anyway!

Father however simply repeats Anakin should leave before Son can take the ship and wreak havoc throughout the universe. He wants his son to remain on the planet so he can kill him.
Again, very strange. Aren’t his children supposed to balance the Force? How then, can Father even consider killing one of them?!
Anakin wants to help, but Father guides him to the Well of the Dark Side to find a third way for handling this situation, instead of either leaving or staying behind to kill Son. And again, I find this a rather curious advise of this supposed ‘wise one’, to send someone not to the Well of Good, but to the Well of Evil to find some wisdom, guidance and direction!

The Well of the Dark Side looks suitably ‘hellish’ of course, or at least how Hell is depicted most of the time: lots of lava lakes, fire and brimstone, and a devilish Son waiting for Anakin. The son breaks the laws of time and shows Anakin his future, while threateningly bellowing “Know yourself, know what you will become!”
OMG – another thrilling and exciting moment, for despite Anakin’s resistance against the vision he is overwhelmed by it and we see several glimpses of situations we know from the movies! I won’t spoil them but they are well-known situations where Anakin either is, or is becoming, Darth Vader! So cool! What’s more, in the end we even see a quickly dissipating vision of Darth Vader looming over Anakin, and however fleeting that moment is, it is absolutely awesome and a very satisfying climax to the scene!

Again Son shows his sly powers of seduction, for he now offers Anakin to avoid this horrible future by the side of the Sith Emperor, namely by Anakin joining Son and destroying the rising empire of the Sith together. Very well-played 🙂 , for Anakin, desperate to save the galaxy, his loved ones and himself, sees no other way and actually joins Son! His eyes immediately change, with dark circles underneath and sometimes even yellowish irisses, a clear foreboding of his ultimate downfall in the third movie.

Path of Death and Destruction

Just when all seems (somewhat prematurely) lost, Father intervenes and makes Anakin forget the whole thing, rendering him unconscious, saying: “Nothing is set in stone. If there is to be balance, what you have seen must be forgotten.”

Contrary to Father’s initial advise he now wishes Anakin to be the one to kill Son! Very inconsistent of course, but hey, by now we’re all used to that.
Anakin shows himself to be a cold-blooded killer once again, for he simply strikes the Son down at the command of Father, without any hesitation.

Well, to cut a long, long story at least a little short, in the end all three guardians of the Force die. And Ahsoka too – though thanks to Daughter’s dying breath not permanently.
Father’s last words are for Anakin, urging him to stay on this path “for he has brought balance to this world, and will do it again for the Galaxy.” Yet again, a very curious remark of a so-called wise character, for in this case restoring the balance meant destroying three living, breathing entities! Of course we know that his words are darkly prophetic, since Anakin will do a lot of destroying and killing before he finally brings balance to the Force in the galaxy. But that still makes the advise to stay on this path very strange at best.

What a ride

In spite of all inconsistencies, plot holes and a generally flawed plot, this story arc was such a blast! Lots of action, thrilling moments, many visions and dreams and of course a deeper look into the Force and the legends and myths surrounding it. And what stunning insights into Anakin, his way of thinking, his intentions and his character journey!

As for the mythology of the Star Wars universe, of course we already know that the Force is not a biblical concept. In this story arc it was very abundantly made clear that if there has been any religion or philosophy that influenced George Lucas when creating this universe, it most definitely was not biblical christianity. If anything, in Star Wars can be found some buddhistic, gnostic and new age influences. And those are the obvious ones, who knows what we would find if we really start digging into it. 😉 All of which does not have to be a problem for Christians however, as long as they’re consciously aware of those influences and are careful not to be tempted by them.

 A Yin Yangish arena

One of the rare statements that are actually in line with the bible by the way, curiously comes from one of the least biblical characters of the story arc: Father. For when Father states, in his final words to Anakin: “Beware your heart,” this echos – probably wholly and utterly unwittingly – the book of Proverbs in the bible, where it says:
‘Above everything else, guard your heart; for from it flow the springs of life.’ (Proverbs 4:23).
The bible also tells us our hearts are “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).

To be continued?

Although the rest of Season 3 never refers back to the Mortis story arc again (how strange!), I cannot wait to see what Seasons 4-5-6 will bring, for there are enough loose ends left open in this story arc to revisit at least some of its plot line.

For instance, nothing ever really dies, according to the three guardians of the Force. So does that mean we’ll see one or all of them again…? Or (one last spoiler ahead!) will Daughter simply be seen in the traces she left in Ahsoka when Father and Anakin revived Ahsoka with Daughter’s last remnant of Life force? Who knows, let’s just find out shall we… 🙂