Updated: Feb 26
I recently picked up George Mann's Myths & Fables and Dark Legends because the nice hardcover copies were on sale at Target. The books had been on my (very long) Star Wars reading list for a little while, and I happened to see them. I'm glad I did, and that. I finally got around to reading them, because I totally loved both books. The Star Wars galaxy itself is its own kind of fairy tale land, so getting a collection of Star Wars short stories told in the style of fairy tales was a real treat, especially when coupled with the beautiful illustrations by Grant Griffin that accompany each one. And what's more fun is that because these stories are fables and legends, we don't have to concern ourselves with setting them up against any other content to check if they match up with canon or not- we can simply enjoy them as tall tales passed down, where details may have been changed to make it more exciting, or to fit the message the teller wants to send.
My spoiler free review is this: each book was filled with remarkable stories spanning the entirety of the history of the Star Wars galaxy, across many different planets, some featuring familiar characters and some that are entirely new. Many of the stories told are ones that you can easily envision characters within Star Wars passing down to their children, going on for generations and evolving as folklore does. Mann's stylistic writing really goes far in wrapping you up in the folk stories, describing characters we already know in ways that make them feel like mythical beings, and familiar concepts and places in a way that make them seem even more magical. Coupled with that is the beautiful artwork by Griffin, illustrating these Star Wars stories like classical paintings. I personally found myself more partial to the stories of Myths & Fables, but Dark Legends was also incredible, and a must-read for anybody interested in the darker parts of Star Wars lore, such as the Sith or Nightsister magic.
I'd definitely recommend picking up these books- I read them in one sitting each. You can pick them both up at Target like I did, or score copies from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or ShopDisney. Please note that the Target edition of Myths & Fables (the one that I'm writing about) has three additional stories from the original, and the Galaxy's Edge edition sold on ShopDisney has those plus three more. The Target-exclusive edition of Dark Legends has three new stories as well, but there isn't a Galaxy's Edge edition of that one (yet). I'd advise reading them yourself without being spoiled, but if that's something you don't care about (or if you've already read them, and just want to know my thoughts, read on for my thoughts on the stories in both books.
Myths & Fables
Myths & Fables is a collection of twelve short stories (in the Target edition of the book, which I'll be reviewing), all set spanning different eras of the Star Wars universe. I loved every story, and I'll be sure to go through each of them. This article would be way too long if I gave extremely detailed summaries for every one of them so I'll just be sharing my thoughts on each story, providing context from them as needed. Again, I'd highly recommend picking the book up yourself to get the full stories, because they are definitely worth it.
The first story is called "The Knight and the Dragon." Immediately, this story definitely feels like a fairy tale, but within a Star Wars setting, and because of that I think it was the best story to start the book off with. The art for this story (which can be found on the covers of the non-Target exclusive versions) is also definitely evocative of that classic fairy-tale feeling. The story is told pretty vaguely, like an old folktale, and in fact the only named character is the titular dragon- who is named Krayt. The story takes place on Tatooine, and though we now know that "Krayt Dragon"is a species of creature that lives on Tatooine, it is still interesting to think that the name of that creature may have stemmed from this old Tatooine legend. The story also gives us some insight into what may be the history of the Tusken Raiders- or the "Sand People" in the book- the story tells us that they raided a town in order to capture people to give to the dragon instead of their own, and after the knight in the story (implied to be a Jedi- or at least someone with Force powers and a lightsaber) disappears with Krayt, they swear not to raid the towns any more. Tuskens have been given more love than usual the past few years in The Mandalorian, so it's nice to gain this bit of insight into their culture and history, whether or not the fable itself is entirely accurate.
The second story in the book is "The Droid with a Heart." The story tells about a general who admired the strength of droids, and took to replacing as many of his body parts as he could with droid parts, while still keeping his organic heart and mind, believing that he would have the best of both worlds. Reading this story, it doesn't take much to figure out who this general is- and it doesn't really take any thinking when paired with the painting of General Grievous that accompanies the story. The story, though vague, acts as an interesting insight into Grievous' character- talking about his self-loathing, his lust for power, and how he seeks approval from his superiors. But General Grievous is not the hero of this story- despite literally being a droid with a heart, he is not THE droid with a heart. No, the droid with a heart is a tactical droid who secretly alters Grievous' plans while transmitting them to the droid army. Grievous' original plans would have cost mass casualties among the droids, even if they may have been more effective. Not wanting to see so many droids destroyed, the tactical droid makes the choice to change the plans- saving many droids, but costing them the victory, and the droid does get destroyed by Grievous for this action. However, all of the other droids admire the tactical droid for his heroism. This story was one that really fascinated me, as its a droid folk story rather than a story belonging to any particular culture. The end of this story talks about how the tale told in this story is passed down through generations of droid codes and messages, across different factions and eras- all droids respect this tactical droid's decision to save his fellow droid. I had never thought of it before, but I find something really nice and charming about the idea that droids have connections across the boundaries that the organics draw for them.
"Vengeful Waves" was the next story, and one I also really liked. This story doesn't have specific characters, but is told about much more general groups of people. It's a retelling of the history of Glee Anselm- specifically the two cultures on that planet, the Nautolans and the Anselmi. The Nautolans are a more peaceful people, and are happy to help the Nautolans, and give up their land to keep them satisfied. However, the Anselmi are more greedy, and take over more and more of the planet, building up above the ocean over time so their people are less accustomed to life underground, leading to their demise. This was a story that really felt like it could be a folktale passed down by generations on a planet- both as an oral history tradition to pass on the story of the planet (accurate or not), and as a story that could be told to youngsters as a warning against greed. Again, these stories are myths and fables, and myths and fables often have some kind of lesson to be told, and that message is clear with this story.
"The Wanderer" (bear with me while I avoid making Fallout jokes in this section) tells the story of a bountiful city wracked by various misfortunes over the years- exploitative pirates, creatures that raid the town and eat children, and a tsunami that threatens to destroy the whole city. Fortunately, through each one, a mysterious figure known only as The Wanderer comes at the crux of each tragedy to save the day, until to disappear once more. The Wanderer is pretty clearly a Jedi- he uses the Force (even if it isn't called that) and he's depicted with a green lightsaber in the art that goes with the story. It's hard to say if he's a particular Jedi we may already know- while we don't know the length of time that the stories of The Wanderer cover, we do know from the very end that one time when the people of the city fear the Dark Wraith (we'll get to his story soon) during the Imperial Era, the Wanderer is nowhere to be found. What I liked about this story was that it was about a specific figure that the people in the city spread legends of, almost like a King Arthur type. The kind of world-building for Star Wars that this story (and the book in general) provide help to make the galaxy far, far away seem a little more familiar.
"The Black Spire" was probably my favorite story in this book. It's about a little girl on Batuu who's brother goes missing, and when each of her sisters go out and look for him, they each go missing too. The little girl goes out to look for her siblings too, after being given a plain wooden dagger as a gift by a strange old man to help her. She finds her siblings being kept as slave laborers in a mine owned by a fearsome pirate, and hatches a plan where she pretends to be an assassin in the night, threatening the pirate with her wooden dagger to release the children or die. He, believing she actually is an assassin hunting him, releases the children, and they all return home. I loved this story so much because it felt so much like one of the fables that they tell children in order to encourage them to be brave, and inspire them with a "David and Goliath" type story, where the small girl uses her craftiness to take down a much more powerful foe (if you read my review of the Adventures in Wildspace series, you know that I'm quite fond of that trope). This story also talks about how this one girl's heroism was witnessed by the spire of Black Spire Outpost, and I also always love the idea of locations that stand over the test of time bearing witness to forgotten heroism.
"Gaze of Stone" is the first story that turns a little darker. It's about a poor Twi'lek boy who is off-putting and frightening to all of those around him, and he is taken in by a Sith lord and trained (though part of his training is also what I'd classify as torture). As the boy grows more powerful, he resents his master, and hatches a plan to kill him and take his place as the most powerful. The boy's plan is to use an ancient incantation to turn his master into stone- however, the Sith lord anticipates his betrayal, and secretly alters the text of the incantation that he's studying, so when the Twi'lek tries to do the incantation, he turns himself to stone instead, and the Sith lord leaves him at the clifftop as a reminder to those who may try to cross him. This is the first of the dark stories in this book (and we do hear of the Sith Lord and the Twi'lek again in Dark Legends) featuring ancient Sith magic. The onscreen Star Wars doesn't show very much Sith magic beyond what we already know of the Force (though that may change in the announced Acolyte series), so it's always interesting to me to read about such things.
The next story is another one featuring some dark magic, though this time not Sith magic. "The Witch & The Wookiee" tells the tale of a group of pirates who are able to fill their ship with treasures, and are looking for a place to hide it from the Empire until its safe for them to take it back and live in wealth. They come across the riches-filled home of an old woman, who feeds them, and they plan to betray and kill her, only for her to reveal herself as a witch- she summons a Wookiee familiar and chases the pirates out of her home. Once they get back to their ship, all of their riches are gone, and the old woman enjoys the piles of riches in her own home. Again, like the previous story, this story shows more of that magic that is in Star Wars, though this time it seems more like Nightsister magic. It's not explicitly stated in the story that the old woman is a Nightsister, but between the context of the story and the art that depicts an old, pale woman wearing red, it's a pretty safe assumption to make. I've always been fascinated by the Nightsisters ever since they were first depicted in The Clone Wars, so I enjoyed this story a lot. It was really neat to see a Star Wars version of the classic "old witch with a house in the woods" archetype. I think Star Wars leaning into old classic fairytale-type stories, but adding its own twist is really interesting, and why I love these books so much.
As someone who loves the in-universe mythologization of Darth Vader, "The Dark Wraith" was a real treat to read. The stylized art of Vader that goes with the story is probably my favorite illustration out of both books. The Dark Wraith is a figure described by the tellers of the story to be tall and dark, with a billowing cape and a glowing red blade from its hand. The story says that the Dark Wraith was powerful enough to lay waste to entire cities (the connection here to "The Wanderer" is that one such city was the same one that The Wanderer protected), and that the Dark Wraith would also steal naughty children who didn't listen to their parents, saying he lurks in the shadows and watches them for their behavior, like the Sandman or a twisted Santa Claus. This is where we have some fun and get to try and pick the truth from the legend- it's doubtful that Darth Vader would actually wait around random cities and snatch away kids who didn't listen at bedtime or ate too much candy. That part is one I'm sure was just part of the legend, or something that parents would tell their kids to get them to behave. However, I can't help but wonder if there's some truth to Darth Vader as a kidnapper. We know from Star Wars Rebels, the Servants of the Empire books and even Jedi: Fallen Order that the Empire was interested in taking Force-sensitive children to train them as Inquisitors, or for other uses. Normally we saw Inquisitors doing such things, but is it so hard to believe that Vader would take on some of those tasks himself? It's an interesting thought for sure, because as Ahsoka Tano says, "there's always a bit of truth in legends."
"Chasing Ghosts" was a fun story, because the origin of a tall tale was the story. A scoundrel being hunted by a bounty hunter weaves an elaborate story about a thief who could never be caught, who had a bounty on her head that would give whoever caught her extraordinary well. His story gets passed around, and the bounty hunter that's chasing him decides to chase this thief instead, leaving the scoundrel who told the story free, much to his delight. This story was so fun for me because we were being told this really fascinating story of a thief, knowing that it was entirely fabricated by another character. The story of the thief could very easily be a story of its own in these books, and yet we are able to see the specific origins of this particular legend- and those origins are really funny and simple. It was all started by a scoundrel who wanted to be left alone by a persistent bounty hunter, and the bounty hunter (and many, many others) fell for his trick.
"Chasing Ghosts" is the last of the stories in the original version of the book. The next three stories I'll be discussing can only be found in the Target-exclusive edition of the book.
"The Sleeping Eye" is the next story, its about Rodian constellation watchers on the planet of Maldroth who observe a constellation known as the Sleeping Eye, and there's a prophesy that the eye will one day open, and that will signify great forgiveness for the people. The story talks about how an oppressive empire took over the galaxy, and the people of Maldroth waited for a sign to open their hearts to the galaxy after such a thing. One day, a star-watcher views a great burst of light, and there are more over the next few nights, until there'a a brilliant light in the center of the Sleeping Eye- meaning it had awoken. While the story isn't particular with what exactly these beams of light are, we can only guess. I figure myself that what the star-watchers are seeing are actually events of Rogue One and A New Hope. The first two lights are smaller- perhaps the Death Star attacks on Jedha and Scarif. Then, there's a brighter one- the destruction of Alderaan, maybe? Finally, the biggest explosion is the last one- perhaps the destruction of the Death Star. The only explanation I can think of as to why the explosion of Alderaan is smaller than that of the Death Star, is that maybe Alderaan is further away from Maldroth than Yavin IV is. Whatever the lights are, they spark excitement within the people of Maldroth, and I suppose that's what matters.
"The Leviathan" is another story that definitely feels like one that would be told as a cautionary tale to children. It takes place in an underwater city of Mon Cala. Below where the cities are, there's deep, dark depths, and the a little boy, the main character of the story, wants to explore them, but no one takes him seriously, and when people realize he's serious, they discourage him from achieving his dream. However, that doesn't stop him, and he swims to the depths, only to find a creature far below the water. He sees what he thinks is a giant orb, way bigger than him- only to realize too late that it's the eye of a creature, who then swallows him up. "The Leviathan" is definitely a story that I can imagine the people in underwater cities of Mon Cala telling to children to urge them away from swimming out to those very depths- whether or not such huge creatures actually lurk there, or if this story is entirely legend, has yet to be seen. But I definitely think those creatures are there.
"The Golden One" is the last story in my copy of the book, and one I really loved. It takes about the Golden One, a bright figure revered by the Ewoks as a savior and protector for them. It doesn't take a lot of extensive Star Wars knowledge to figure out exactly who the Golden One is. This was a really cute story about how grateful the Ewoks were for C-3PO, and even after he is long gone after the events of Return of the Jedi, they still believe he watches over them in the form of the sun. I love Ewoks, so this story was just adorable to me, and its really charming that the Ewoks were so taken and grateful for their perception that C-3PO saved them, that they still trust him and believe that he protects them all of those years later. It was just a really sweet story that I liked reading.
"The Golden One" was the last story in my copy of the book. The additional three stories in the Galaxy's Edge version are called "An Unwilling Apprentice," "The Silent Circle," and "The Skiff & The Galleons." I'd love to read those stories, and especially because the Galaxy's Edge version has my favorite story's art on the faux-leather cover, is ribbon-bound, and overall just gorgeous- however, it comes with a pretty hefty price tag on the ShopDisney site. Maybe someday I'll bite the $45 bullet and read those stories, but as of yet I have not. I'll be sure to share my thoughts on them when I do, though, but for now it's time to move on to Dark Legends.
If Myths and Fables was full of fairytales and legends to pass through generations, then the stories of Dark Legends are the ones whispered around campfires at night and told to strike fear into the hearts of even the bravest. The most extensive copy of the book, the Target-exclusive edition, has 10 dark stories to be told, which I'll be reviewing for you here.
The first story is one of my favorites, probably because it has the closest to a happy ending and has a strong Star Wars Rebels reference. The story talks about an orphanage where the children share stories about a creature that comes into the window and steals children from their beds, and they're never to be seen again. The adults at the orphanage never take them seriously, assuming the children are just running away, until one night a girl who is seen as smart and trustworthy by the adults is able to tell them about him when she sees him steal another child. The girl, who has a special connection to the universe, is able to receive help from a Jedi who finds her. When the creature returns, the Jedi fights the creature and with the help of the girl, she's able to fend him off, never to return. It's obvious between the descriptions provided by the book and the provided illustration that the creature is actually the Grand Inquisitor, stealing away Force-sensitive children. He's fairly creepy in Star Wars Rebels, but the way he's described in the book is downright horrifying. The book describes him climbing through the window in the darkness, describes his long spindly fingers, and sharp, gleaming teeth. It really shows the power that writing has- this familiar character is very easily written as something out of a horror movie, and it works so well.
"Buyer Beware" is the story of a man who comes across an old mask. When he puts the mask on, he sees a vision of the wearer of the mask graining great riches, so he follows what the vision did, and gains riches. Then, the mask shows him the wearer of the mask killing for power- so, the man does just that, and becomes powerful. However, the mask then shows him a vision of the original wearer of the mask being killed for his power and riches. The man fearfully hides alone, only allowing himself to see his closest ally and confidant... who eventually, envious of the man's power and money, kills him for it. This story reminded me of the way that in some old Greek tragedies, it was the attempts at avoiding the outcome of prophecies that made them come true, like in the story of Oedipus. A main theme in a lot of the stories in Dark Legends are that magic and power, when pushed too far, always seem to backfire- making many of these stories cautionary tales- and "Buyer Beware" is definitely one of them, warning readers of the cursed mask and letting yourself be swayed by greed.
"The Predecessor" was another Vader story, and one I did enjoy quite a lot- it felt very much like a "spooky story" that could be told around a campfire within the Star Wars universe. It tells of an Imperial officer who has taken over the position of another officer who disappeared. The officer is haunted by raspy breaths, and choking sounds. He is unable to sleep, having fits of night terrors, and is plagued by visions of a choking figure. When Vader arrives to his post, the officer sees clearly a specter of the man who once held his position choking- and moments later, the officer himself is choked by Lord Vader, the last thing he sees being himself as he dies reflected in Vader's helmet. Then, a new person is given his old position after his death. I loved this story- as I said when discussing "The Dark Wraith," I think the mythologization of Darth Vader is really fun, so this story delivered on that aspect. As fascinating as I find Anakin Skywalker, and as much as I love exploring the depth of his story, being able to see Vader from the eyes of characters that aren't at all familiar with that history is really fun to me, because we just get to see him as the imposing, frightening menace he is. I like to think that it gives me a peek into how people who saw A New Hope upon its release felt about him, since I myself can't remember seeing that movie before knowing Anakin Skywalker's history as a whole.
"Blood Moon" was a really great story too, and was probably the one I found myself most enthralled with while reading- it builds suspense so, so well. It first tells of a planet called Lupal that once had a rich, thriving civilization, who had to flee once solar flares made the planet inhospitable. However, that doesn't stop a team of adventurers from going to the planet, despite warnings of the adventurers before them that had gone missing. However, one of the adventurers, a member of the wolf-like species Shistavanen, is driven mad by the solar flares, and attacks his crew. With an uncharacteristic ferocity and glowing red eyes, he kills all but one of the droids, a human and a one-eyed Lasat, who are narrowly able to escape in their ship- only for another solar flare to light up, and the human sees Borzul, the Lasat's eye glow red. This story was haunting, and extremely tense as I read through the escape from the Shistavanen, Vrak. I thought that suspense was built perfectly, especially with the sense of relief once they escape, only to feel a pit in my stomach when Borzul's eye glows red. But I found myself feeling really bad for Vrak and Borzul more than anything. The story talks about how the solar flares were agitating the whole crew, making them get more angry and tense with one another (it reminded me of the way that the Horcrux necklace affected Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), but Vrak, presumably because of his species, got the worst of it. The story describes Vrak as normally the gentlest and calmest of the crew, and yet he unwittingly became extremely violent, killing or injuring all of his friends. Similarly, I can't imagine the Lasat, who also became feral at the end of the story, would have wanted to kill his friend (as we can assume he does) either. I couldn't help but draw a connection to the clone troopers with Order 66. We saw how the clones were behaving totally out of order- clones that normally had strong bonds with their Jedi were able to gun them down without hesitation, and clones that normally question orders they thought to be wrong were unflinchingly loyal to Palpatine, no matter what. What they did wasn't their fault, and they were forced into doing things they normally wouldn't have done by a force out of their control. While what happened with Vrak and Borzul wasn't exactly the same, I still think both scenarios are linked by the loss of control of oneself.
"The Dark Mirror" was a story that, oddly enough, was centered around a Jedi. It tells about a Jedi who was so virtuous that all other Jedi saw him as a paragon of what the Jedi should be- unfortunately, he was killed. He did leave one thing to his padawan- an amulet he always wore with a kyber crystal in the center, which the padawan gratefully takes and wears constantly. He tries to fill his master's shoes, traveling the galaxy to help all sorts of people, just as his master did, and this earns him a lot of respect as a Jedi. However, soon on Coruscant bodies start turning up with crushes throats- just as they did long ago. His master had ended the last string of killings, so the Jedi sets out to catch the murderer- growing frustrated as he is unable to. Eventually, it dawns on him with horror that he has been the one that has been doing the killing, he just couldn't remember- and not only that, but that his master was responsible for them the last time too. The reason his master had been such a perfect appearing Jedi was that he stored all of his darkness within the amulet, but that darkness would come out when the Jedi wasn't in control. Ashamed, the Jedi fled Coruscant, giving in to his darkest thoughts. This story was very interesting to me as what the purpose of the story is within the universe. Is it a cautionary told by the Jedi to keep younglings away from magical items that promise to control their darkness for them, rather than taking on that responsibility themselves? Or is it a story used to critique the Jedi by groups like the Sith, saying that the ideals of the Jedi are too unrealistic to strive for? I've reread this story a few times trying to decide on which interpretation I subscribe to, but it's difficult. I think I lean towards it being a cautionary Jedi tale, if only for the way that the Jedi are romanticized within the story, but maybe somewhere out in the galaxy, there's a version told to suit a Sith narrative...
"The Gilded Cage" is a great story for those interested in both Nightsister magic and ancient Sith practices- because it has both! A Nightsister named Zeldin is trying to take down the Sith Lord from Myths & Fables' "Gaze of Stone," Darth Caldoth. She tries many things over the years, luring him into traps, manipulating his Twi'lek apprentice. It takes a lot of patience and hard work, and she gets more and more frustrated as she continues to fail. With the help of her sisters, she tries a final trick to take control of his mind through possession- however, just when she thinks she's going to succeed, Darth Caldoth traps her in a cage in his mind, before she can return to her own body, where she is stuck forever. This story was filled with the dark magic I loved from the Nightsister episodes of The Clone Wars, which made it really fun to read, and I also enjoyed the overlap with the "Gaze of Stone" story, as we kind of get to see the events from that story from a different perspective. This story was really great to read, as I found myself compelled by Zeldin's ambition and persistence, and I really did feel for her at the end of the story. I also found Darth Caldoth admirable in his own way- though of course he's not great, because he's a Sith, I do have to respect his cunning plans in defeating his enemies after they believe they've bested him over and over again.
"A Life Immortal" was a fascinating story, with some interesting implications (in my mind at least) about The Rise of Skywalker. It tells the tale of Darth Noctyss, who travels to Exegol in search of learning the secrets of immortality. She meets a small, deformed creature, who does all of her bidding for her as she reads the texts that explain the ritual she needs to do, which includes killing the creature. When she finally chants the incantation and kills the creature, she herself begins twisting and becoming deformed, just as the creature was. She realizes that this was the curse of the ritual, and she'd now be cursed into living forever in this form. She'd have to wait for someone else to come try and achieve immortality, just as the Sith Lord who tried before her did, who she just killed. To elaborate on the interesting implications for the Rise of Skywalker I mentioned earlier, it just makes me wonder if what Palaptine was trying in the movie by taking Rey's life force would have worked. I think if we can learn one thing from these stories is that Sith magic almost always comes with some kind of catch by nature, so I wonder if Palpatine would have suffered in some way if he had been successful. Obviously he wasn't successful, so we may never know, but it's interesting to think about. I think more than anything, this story is about Sith greed. We see repeatedly in both these stories and other Star Wars media that the greatest things that lead to their downfall are more often than not their own selfishness and hubris, it's clearly one of the core flaws of Sith ideology. We know that Jedi ideology also has some flaws, yet it appears that overtime different Jedi try to change their approach to combat those flaws, and the ideology evolves- the same thing does not seem to be happening among the Sith.
"A Life Immortal" is the last of the stories in the original edition of the book. The three I'll discuss to wrap up this article are only in the Target-exclusive edition.
"Sleep of Ages" was probably my favorite in this book. The story talks about an ancient benevolent princess who was the beloved ruler of her land, and after she died, it was rumored she buried herself in a tomb surrounded by gifts from her people, but no one has been able to find the tomb. Well, an archaeologist and her team, after a lot of hard work, found the tomb, and began excavation. The archaeologist felt a strange calling from the princess's body preserved in carbonite, and eventually she gives in to the temptation and releases the princess. However, the princess isn't a ruler at all- she's a Sith lord who kills the archaeologist and her team in order to steal their life force, before returning to the carbonite, waiting for someone else to fall into her trap. This story was fun to read, because I could admire the archaeologist's curiosity and dedication in finding the princess that she'd heard about so much as a little girl, even if she meets an untimely demise because of it. The reveal of the princess being a Sith lord did throw me off (though it probably shouldn't have, considering every other story in this book), and it was really exciting once it dawned on me what was happening. I think the character of the Sith, Darth Siberus, is really interesting. She continues to freeze herself in carbonite and drain power from unsuspecting adventurers in order to keep herself young and powerful, saving her power for when she feels that there will be a time in the galaxy that is worthy of her rule. However... in continuing to seal herself away, all she's doing is just gaining all this power and doing nothing with it. What if eventually, the myth she spread of the princess fades into obscurity, and people stop looking for her tomb? Then she'll be trapped forever in a prison of her own making. It's an interesting thought process that lead her to this plan, one I think she's too power-hungry and greedy to see the flaws in herself.
"Bakurat" was a story I loved (with art that has sparked interest in a new costume for me). It was about a fortune teller and her droid head that stayed in Maz Kanata's castle, giving readings to anyone who dared approach. One man, thinking it all to be a joke, approaches for a reading with his crew, and she gives him a pretty dismal reading that ends in his death. The man doesn't believe her, though he is nervous. His fortune does come true down to the letter- ending in his death. This story was really fascinating to me, as you could see with each step how the unfortunate prophecy was coming true for the man, even if he couldn't see it until it all came together for him far too late. I do have to pity the man. Who I was really fascinated by was the fortune teller, practice a banned future-telling art form for a few credits in Maz Kanata's castle, and how she uses an ancient droid head to assist her in telling the fortunes.
"A Bitter Harvest" is the final story in the book, and the one with the probably most "on-the-nose" message to it- definitely a cautionary tale that gets spread around amongst young people on Batuu. The story is about a farmer who comes home to discover that his wife has welcomed in a poor traveller to help him out. The farmer is enraged, and throws the traveller out. The traveller gives him an ominous warning- "All that follows is because of you." The farmer dismisses this, and sends the traveller away. The traveller had left behind a small bag with three seeds in it, which the farmer threw towards the woods. However, in the weeks to come, the farmer's community suffers a great loss of crops and a boy goes missing. Taking a trek into the forest one day after hearing strange noises, the farmer comes across strange, plant-like creatures where he threw the seeds. The creatures are sucking the life out of the boy that went missing. The farmer fearfully runs back to his village, only to find it in ruins, taken over by vines with everyone missing. He sees the traveller, who says that the seeds respond to intention- if they were planted with kindness, he would have had a bountiful harvest, but since they were thrown with anger, they became the creatures... who go on to consume the farmer after the traveller disappears. This tale was definitely a "spooky campfire story" in my point of view, and had a clear message about straying away from greed or shady activities. After all, if the farmer had just helped the traveller like his wife wanted to, none of this would have happened. Maybe that's another message- always listen to your wife. Sounds about right to me.
I hope you enjoyed my (very long) review of these books. They're definitely worth a read, all of the stories were well-crafted and interesting to read. My recaps of each story definitely didn't come close to covering all of the amazing detail that the stories have, so I'd recommend reading them yourself if you haven't already- hopefully I've piqued your interest in them! I'd love to know your own thoughts on these books if you do read them.