Monday, December 20, 2010

Etain the Jedi

Etain Tur Mukan is my favorite Republic commando character. If you ask pretty much anyone else, however,  this would not be the case.

When I first read Triple Zero, I, like many others, was disgusted with her. Here was a Jedi. But she's not a swashbuckling, bad-guy-busting, lightsaber wielding, legendary hero. She's instead a petite, insecure,  girl frightened by the war and life around her.

Kal Skirata describes her as "rather a schoolgirl then a Jedi." Wookieepedia's article states that "
Etain was a caring, but very insecure person." and "Etain was a doubtful person; of her own abilities, her worth and usefulness as a Jedi and commander. Her fear of disappointing those who relied on her made her draw back from responsibility, which sometimes, especially under stress, made her desperate and angry."

And she is. She's like no other Jedi. She apologizes to clone troopers rather than commanding them. She throws up over the fact that she has to pry into a prisoner's mind for information, something Jaina Solo does twice a day.

Why? Why would Karen Traviss write such a soft, amateur, pathetic character? She could have created another Obi Wan, a legendary Chuck Norris of Star Wars, someone to sit in the Hall of Fame with Kyle Katarn and Corran Horn.

After I put down the book, I just couldn't get her out of my head. Then I saw it.

Etain is my favorite Republic Commando character because she is a hero.

Etain was dumped at the temple when she was very young. She had no choice but to become a Jedi. And all of a sudden she's leading an army full of slaves, with her fellow "compassionate" Jedi indifferent to their plight. She didn't want to be a Jedi. She doesn't fit into the Republic Army. She doesn't belong on the front lines, in this nightmare, at all.

But she decides that, if she can't save herself, and she can't free the clones or make their lives better, she'll do what she can for whoever she can, and hope it works out. This is not a heroic, grand endeavor. This is a desperate, tiny, plea in the middle of a lot of gunfire and noise.

 She eventually marries Darman, a clone, and has a son, Venku. When Order 66 happens, she steps in front of a random clone to keep him from being killed by one of her fellow Jedi. The Jedi kills her accidentally.
So that's it. She sacrifices herself for somebody who was ordered to kill her anyways. If there was a Star Wars FailBlog, she'd be on the front page.

But Etain is a hero. She deserves to be up there, with Quinlan Vos and Luke Skywalker. Why isn't she?
Heroism isn't just all about the flash and flak. Etain found herself caught in a place she doesn't belong, facing the grim reality of a people she couldn't possibly help. 
And she decides to make life better for a few of them, any way she can, defying her order and her place to do so.

Etain is also a Jedi. When people think "Jedi" they think flashy laser swords and Obi Wan Kenobi, yeah. What about all the unsung Jedi? The ones that place their own instincts above orders?
The ones that, instead of just obeying their mandate and fighting their little war obediently, they take a step beyond that, and do what they believe they are actually called to?


  1. Amen. I always liked Etain.
    My friends don't like her because she got pregnant out of wedlock, but, you know, people mess up. That doesn't mean we should look past the other qualities of people.

    Thank you, Amarathine.

  2. I liked that, Amaranthine. Thanks for singing for the unsung heroes. It strikes a chord in people like me. :)

    Now apparently I have to catch up on my SW reading, ack :P

  3. I wasn't a big fan of Etain, that is until the later, post TZ, books. She WAS a hero. Poor girl...

  4. I was so upset by the end of Order 66, I knew going in to the book it was probably gonna happen but by the time it did I was so invested in the story and I genuinely believed she'd make it. I remember being so annoyed at Karen Traviss for writing it that way.

  5. I just finished Order 66, and am a little devastated. Etain put a human face on Jedi for me, and was relatable in a way that Jedi never get to be: quietly terrified and unconfident, compassionate for the men under her command, tender with her illicit loved ones. Struggling to measure up to standards of typical Jedi made her believable and noble. Finding the courage to abandon the Jedi code altogether when she found it was promoting a great evil (enslavement of human beings) made her heroic in a way utterly unique to Jedi in the Republic era.

    When I fondly think back over the series, I'll always have the image of Kal carrying a small, blanket-wrapped body home.


Amaranthine <3's you. Thanks for the comment!