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Myths & Fables by George Mann REVIEW

by Ioana Balas

Myths & Fables is a collection of Star Warsshort stories from different corners of the galaxy, each of them having at least one lesson to be learned. As my pal and colleague Pris made a ranking of the top stories from the dark side of the series, Dark Legends, I decided just to talk about them in order. Not that I don’t like rankings, but what if I get sleepless nights if my ranking changes? So here are the stories written in this book, in the style of mythical literature.

“The Knight and the Dragon”

This story sets the tone for this book, being a great idea that it’s the first inclusion in this series. As a reader, you feel the inserts of more fantasy elements, and it also brings a familiar setting as the story takes place on Tatooine. The fantasy tropes are very well included. The “old knight” and the “dragon” are masterfully used and the story actually presents the sand people as really smart strategists.

“The Droid with a Heart”

Basically a story about technical advances and upgrades on a human being, this short story asks the question of how organic versus inorganic, soul versus body, might look like. A human with many upgrades becomes a greedy general, undermining droids and doesn’t care about their loss in the army, as long as the battle is won. He totally forgets that without his droid parts he probably wouldn’t exist anymore. Meanwhile, a tactical droid interferes with his plan, so the general fails and even though the Republic wins, the Separatist droid army doesn’t lose as many as the general initially planned. This is a cautionary tale on greed and prejudice and even though the general is still part human, the only one showing humanity is the tactical droid, hence the title.

“Vengeful Waves”

This is a tale of an aquatic planet, Glee Anselm, where two races live in peace and friendship- Nautolans and Anselmi. They help each other for a long time, sharing the belief in an ocean spirit, and live in harmony with sea creatures too. An interesting part of their history is that their rulers are usually female and they always have great and trustful relationships between them. After a thousand years, Anselmi becomes envious with how the Nautolans flourish, even though the Nautolans share their wealth. Anselmi feels superior and starts to become more greedy, expanding on an island and finding ways to distance themselves from the ocean, even draining parts of it when they need it, not caring about the Nautolans who remained a quiet nation. It’s a story of greed and nature versus toxic humanity, being a good parallel to real life pollution and global warming.

“The Wanderer”

This is the first of two stories that take place on Cerosha. The protagonist is very much so a “lone wanderer warrior” trope, a la Max Rockatansky from the Mad Max series or Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher series. The city of Solace from this planet grew rich having traders, but this brought illegal activities too. Pirates came and raided Solace for months, but The Wanderer intervened. After years of rebuilding, Solace needed The Wanderer again, this time because the people drilled into the crust of the planet until a hive of creatures was found and they attacked the humans of Solace. The Wanderer brought balance once again, destroying both the drills and protecting people from the devastating attacks. Last time The Wanderer intervened or was even seen was when a flood almost destroyed the city: the flood also being human provoked. This is another cautionary tale about the power of nature versus humans being greedy.

“The Black Spire”

The action of this story takes place on Batuu, a place we already know, but from far, far away in the future. It’s a story of a tree witnessing both heroes and darksiders, like Anya, a girl who had a brother and two sisters. Their mother forbade them to go in Surabat River Valley, but they went regardless to the river to play. After their second “act of rebellion”, Anya’s brother disappeared. The sisters returned home to their mother without him. At dinner, their mom explained why they weren’t allowed in Surabat River Valley, where a criminal called Sampa Grott (an obvious Pied Piper reference) lived and took children as slaves. The eldest sister goes to rescue his brother, and does not come back, and then the middle sister too. Then Anya went to the Trilon Wishing Tree, hoping to get her wish of recovering her family granted. She fell asleep and a man in brown robes appeared, wanting to help her. He said that even though the sisters had weapons, her best skill that can be used is her small stature. The man made her a dagger out of a small branch. Anya confronted the Outpost and followed where Sampa Grott was keeping his slaves. She found her siblings, but had to confront Grott using her skills, stealth, and intelligence. The overall message of the story reflects Yoda’s and Ewoks’ abilities very well.

“Gaze of Stone”

We are on Moraband this time, formerly known as Korriban. There is a known Twi’Lek statue, where pilgrims come and there are theories that it is a “Weeping One”, like many religious tokens. The origin of it is the story of Ry Nymbis, a strange kid from Ryloth, so peculiar even his family tried to stay away from him. His mothers visited doctors, but finally a robed alien called Darth Caldoth explained to her that he’s strong in the Force and took him as his Padawan. Caldoth trained Ry Nymbis to live for the kill and for seven years he trained him as a weapon. He tested Nymbis in battle and then they travelled together, Ry being left alone in a Sith Temple, where he was haunted by memories of his mother and his past life. After he earned his lightsaber, Ry Nymbis became interested in mystical practices, hungry for more power than his Master and became jealous of him hiding knowledge. Returning to Korriban, Darth Caldoth demanded a tribute from Ry Nymbis. So… There’s a great Carrie Fisher quote that fits here: “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die”.

“The Witch and the Wookie”

This one is about a band of three pirates in the Outer Rim who think that the Emperor doesn’t pay attention to what they do and they steal a ship with treasure. They knew that they made many enemies since they betrayed comrades, so they came up with a plan to hide and later recovered the said treasure. The human pirate, Houliet, came up with the idea to hide the loot on the moon of Jhas Krill, a very isolated location. The pirates went to scout the moon and left the cargo at the ship. After some time they got lost, but as they saw a light, they realized there must be a house nearby. It was inhabited by a woman called Shelish, a wealthy person when it came to collectibles, relics, and treasures. Even though both parties made money in shady ways, the pirates plotted to make the most of Shelish’s hospitality before killing her and claiming her goods. Suspecting the pirates’ plot, Shelish summoned some shadows that finally took the form of a giant aggressive wookie. The witch and the wookie let two of the pirates go, but with a twist. This made at least Houliet learn something from the whole experience.

“The Dark Wraith”

We see planet Cherosa for the second and last time in this volume, now being inhabited by people who didn’t learn from the past and still bring chaos and illegality to Solace. The Dark Wraith still exists, but there are people like one boy, Jherl, who believe he’s only an old legend invented by parents to scare their kids. Not after too much time took place, the boy started stealing, so the Dark Wraith punished him. Another example is a young girl, Marionette, who seemed like a promising student at first, but then began to become very spoiled. Even though her parents warned her, she was punished by the Dark Wraith too. Kup’bree’ak, a Togruta who came to Solace for gambling, met the same fate as he started cheating and doing more heinous crimes. After this, the Dark Wraith decided the town of Solace needed a lesson that no Wanderer would interfere with. The story served as a great bookend to the Cherosa introduction.

“Chasing Ghosts”

This story starts as a cat and mouse game between Misook and the bounty hunter Emim’Ai. As Misook reached Oga’s Cantina on Batuu, he started relating a story about a girl, Arquel, who was part of a Hutt Clan and was a criminal who should be hunted and that never was punished by authorities. Having this story become viral from mouth to mouth mostly, many became interested in finding the mysterious outlaw, even the bounty hunter who followed Misook. This ending tale is a strong story about the power of misinformation and fake news, something that troubles our real lives too.  

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