Biweekly Book Review: Star Wars: Myths & Fables

I know that when I started this project, and many times since, I’ve talked about how much I like that all the stories I cover here are “canon”, and that they all fit into one coherent timeline/tapestry. Well, mostly coherent, but I’m not beating a dead horse today.

That said, even within this desire for things to be canon, I still acknowledge and even crave space to be made for myths, legends, stories that may not be entirely true but they might be. Legends of Luke Skywalker is a good example of this. The truth of the stories is up for debate, but they’re all framed as being heard third or fourth hand anyway, so naturally some of the details changed.

George Mann’s Myths & Legends feels very much in the same spirit. It’s a series of short stories that don’t directly feature any named characters – not directly, anyway – that all nonetheless add to the overall “flavour” of the GFFA. There is no *point* to these stories, no frame narrative holding them together. They’re tales designed to be told or red at bedtime, and like the fairy tales of old, they are equal parts thrilling and terrifying.

Let’s dive into the highlights.

The Stories That Were Probably True: The Knight and the Dragon and The Droid With a Heart

Maybe it’s me wanting to see Obi-Wan Kenobi everywhere I go, but tell me “The Knight and the Dragon” isn’t supposed to be about him. A warrior who was once mighty but now lives in the sands of Tatooine guarding a precious treasure? As the great bard Taylor Swift once said: that’s my man.

Though this isn’t just about the story itself, given how every piece of media that deals with Obi-Wan’s time on Tatooine has him interacting with the Tuskens in some way beyond killing them, it is once again getting my hopes up that we’ll see something of the sort onscreen when the show comes out. But whether or not he’ll tame a dragon? That seems less likely.

The other story that’s likely true, “The Droid with a Heart” appears to be a General Grievous origin story. And in all honesty, for a franchise that does so love giving everyone and everything an origin story, it’s hilarious to me that the cyborg general has his origins told in a book that may or may not even be telling the truth.

The Story That Was Most Like What I Expected: The Black Spire

Of all the stories in the book, “The Black Spire” is the most straightforward. It doesn’t operate on allegory or suggestion. It is a straightforward fable about a girl named Anya living on Batuu, near Black Spire Outpost, and her quest to save her siblings from a slaver who lives in town.

There is a little ambiguity in the form of the mysterious cloaked figure – likely a Jedi – who helps her find her inner strength to save her siblings, but otherwise the story is exactly as presented, with an expected outcome. This isn’t a critique, by any means. It’s just interesting to note that this is one of the only stories to play it so straight in the whole book.

The Stories That Play With A Point of View: The Wanderer and The Dark Wraith

The first of the two stories, “The Wanderer”, tells the story of a heroic figure who saves a town from the Dark Wraith on three separate occasions, before disappearing, never to be seen again. Standard stuff until the followup story, “The Dark Wraith” shows that while the hero left, the evil was never truly defeated, and continues to wreck havoc on the people left behind.

This duo of stories interested me the most because of how they made me consider the larger meaning behind them. It could be a corresponding set of myths told straight. It might also be a commentary on how evil, in any form, is never truly defeated. But applying it more to the tapestry of Star Wars, I saw it as a Luke/Vader allegory.

As “The Wanderer”, Luke does his best to rid the galaxy of the Empire’s evil, and for a time, tries to get rid of Vader too. For reasons only he knows, he gives up the effort, and for a while it’s fine, with only the spectre remaining. But then come the cultists, those that idolize the monster Vader was, and in repeating his legend never truly allow the evil to die. With the Dark Wraith functioning as a boogeyman in his self-titled story, he remains an omnipresent threat long after the Wanderer has left, much in the way the Empire’s ideals remained long after the destruction of Death Star II.

But maybe I’m reading too much into it.

The Story That Freaked Me Out: Gaze of Stone

You know what’s really cool? A story about Sith Lords.

You know what’s terrifying? Crying statues.

With that in mind, we can chalk this story up as both cool and terrifying. The story of Force sensitive Twi’lek Ry Nymbis, and the way in which his Master Darth Caldoth turned the seed of hate in his heart into full blown darkness was so fascinating it made me with we had more Sith stories. It’s rare that we get insight into “proper” Sith training, since Anakin was a special case and Kylo Ren is not a Sith (don’t @ me).

While the Jedi student/teacher relationship isn’t by any means a perfect one, the Sith are unsurprisingly ruthless, the Rule of Two meaning one must constantly undercut the other. Which is exactly what happens with Ry and Caldoth.

The story reads almost like a cautionary tale, though of what I’m not certain. Don’t run off with the Sith? Trust no one? It’s almost cautionary for Sith specifically, which is curious, but it’s not unlike Star Wars to take sudden turns for the weird like that.

The Story I Had Different Expectations For: Chasing Ghosts

“Chasing Ghosts” is the story of a smuggler and the bounty hunter who is trying to bring him in. Using the power of storytelling, he weaves a tale of an even bigger bounty throwing anyone who would apprehend him off the scent.

But having gone into this already thinking that maybe “The Wanderer”/”The Dark Wraith” was some kind of Luke/Vader allegory based on the artwork, I was half expecting for the smuggler and bounty hunter to be a Han/Leia allegory. Like maybe they would run away together or something?

This is based on nothing but my own wishes, but it would have been cool for this book to really go there. Then again, fables don’t usually encourage bad behaviour, and running off with a smuggler is definitely bad behaviour.

Random Thoughts

As a general note, I love how out of the timeline this book is. Star Wars, the movies, are a long time ago as we’re told, and the book rolls with that logic. The Clone Wars are a long ago war. and some of the other legends are even older than that.

Maybe it’s just me, and the stories I read as a kid, but it’s funny that in such a wide-ranging book of essentially GFFA fairy tales, there isn’t a single love story. It wouldn’t have exactly fit with the tone of the rest of the stories – except possibly the last one, but it is interesting to think about.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Grant Griffin’s absolutely beautiful artwork, each one worthy of being framed on a wall somewhere. Gorgeous

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