For years now we’ve been hearing about the “Siege of Mandalore”, so much that it has become one of the most known battles in Star Wars history. A most interesting fact is that its familiarity is based on name-recognition alone, as it’s never been depicted before, either on film or TV. And if you’re looking to publishing for answers, you’re mostly out of luck as you’ll find almost as little there, aside from a few tidbits.
Sure, it’s been mentioned, alluded, and referred to many times in shows like The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and more recently The Mandalorian, but it’s a part of Clone Wars history that has never been seen…until now.
Yes, with the seventh season of The Clone Wars now a reality there’s an opportunity for Dave Filoni and the rest to tie up some loose ends, one of those being The Siege of Mandalore. Like I said, there are no animatics around to help you along as was the case with the Bad Batch arc, so we’ll be seeing it for the first time on April 17th.
Normally it’s a safe bet that you can look to publishing for edification, but this one’s a little sparse. Luckily, the cupboard isn’t totally bare and here is some essential reading that will help you prepare yourself for what’s to come.
It’s not much, but this little bit of prep work will help.
“Ahsoka” by E.K. Johnston
These are the first words in the prologue of this 2016 novel written by E.K. Johnston and the first, and only, appearance of The Siege of Mandalore in any medium to date. It’s also the only Ahsoka novel published and depicts, short of a flashback or two, the beginning stages of the former Jedi’s life, post Siege, and post Order-66.
Like I said, it contains our only representation, written or visual, of the Siege and gives us a glimpse into the battle between Ahsoka and Maul. Apparently, Johnston was asked by Lucasfilm at the time to not include any action scenes from the Siege, as they would conflict with their plans for a future seventh season. So because of that, there’s very little here to chew on, but what is here, is good stuff.
What is in the book is limited to the prologue, so it doesn’t provide a lot of context but does contain some great exchanges between the Togrutan and the Zabrakian. Take this one for example…
“It was so nice of your former masters to send you out alone and spare me the exertion of a proper fight,” Maul said. “You’re not even a real Jedi.”
“It’ll be a fair fight then,” she retorted, looking him up and down. “You’re only half a Sith.”
Pretty great stuff from E.K. as she sets the scene beautifully, presenting us an untouched and relatively calm plaza, amidst a myriad of destruction and violence. You can easily conjure up the moment when these two titans square off, with smoke, ash, and violence in the background, it’ll be something. This conjuring is slightly aided now by the trailer for Season 7, which gives us a couple of snippets from their encounter, such as the one above.
We still don’t know how Ahsoka finds out Maul is back on Mandalore (I suspect it has something to do with Bo-Katan Kryze), that answer is coming this week I’m sure. The important part is that she does find out, and when she does, she acts. But like when Rex removes his implant chip, Ahsoka finding out Maul’s location isn’t the most important detail of this story, knowing it happens is good enough, but it is something we’d all like to see I’m sure.
Additionally, the middle arc this season, Ahsoka’s time on the lower levels of Coruscant, is providing some answers as to what she was doing before the Siege, and her reunion with Anakin and the Jedi. She’s going to receive a call-to-arms and they're going to show it, we just don’t know the exact moment in time.
The book also hints at the horrific journey Maul took to arrive at this time and place, something we’ll explore a bit next. Yes, this version of Maul has been through the ringer and back, and Ahsoka, ever attuned the Force, recognizes this immediately. Just read this passage…
“Malice dripped from his every word, and he bared his teeth at her. His was the kind of anger that Master Yoda warned the younglings about, the sort that ate a person while and twisted every part of them until they were recognizable. Ahsoka shuddered to think what Maul must have suffered to become this way.”
You literally crawl under Maul’s skin in this moment and feel his rage, his pain, and yet Ahsoka has such a delicate understanding of the Force, she’s able to feel for this monster, even if it’s just for a brief moment.
Bottom line is that this prologue alone is worth the price of “Ahsoka” and I suggest you pick up a copy if you haven’t already as we approach the Siege airdate.
“Darth Maul – Son of Dathomir” by Jeremy Barlow
Part of The Clone Wars Legacy line, this four-issue comic run by Jeremy Barlow in 2014 was made up of unproduced scripts leftover after the series was cancelled. This mini-series doesn’t depict the Siege of course but does tell us what Maul was up to after his last appearance in the show, an episode titled “The Lawless”
At the end of that episode, after killing the Duchess Satine Kryze, he and his brother, Savage Opress, squared off against his former master Darth Sidious. The violent encounter ended quickly, resulting in Opress’s death and the defeat of Maul, with the Sith Lord saying, “Do not worry; I’m not going to kill you. I have other uses for you.”
We never found out what Sidious meant by "uses" as the show was cancelled shortly after, and this story was relegated to the Legacy line as stated above. So, what did happen to Maul?
Well, Sidious imprisoned Maul on Stygeon Prime, intending to use his former apprentice as bait, hoping to draw out a potential rival, Dathomirian Witch, Mother Talzin. Maul’s mother, Talzin was very strong in magicks and Sidious definitely saw her as a threat to his plans.
Maul wasn’t captive for long as Prime Minister Almec, appointed ruler of Mandalore, ordered Gar Saxon to rescue Maul, which they did, eventually returning him to Dathomir and Talzin.
Both sides, Separatists and Shadow Collective, converged on Dathomir and engaged in a battle which now included General Grievous, Count Dooku, Maul, Talzin, and even Sidious himself. And thanks to Talzin’s sacrifice, Maul would survive the attack and along with his Death Watch saviors, return to the relative safety of Mandalore which was still neutral and under the rule of Almec.
With Talzin dead and viewing Maul as no longer a real threat, Sidious gave up the chase and went about his usual business of arranging to take over the galaxy. Whether he knew it or not, Mandalore would be under his authority soon enough.
By this time, many of his Shadow Collective allies, including the Pyke Syndicate and Black Sun, left Maul’s criminal organization sensing defeat at the hands of the CIS. This left Maul with a significantly smaller army to command, basically only the Super Commandos, so he once again sought refuge on Mandalore, just prior to the “Siege”
This series really helps you understand a few things about Maul’s mindset and the current state of Mandalore when we do eventually see it this season.
Maul’s state of mind, which was already suspect, is even more so at this point after suffering heavy personal losses and even more betrayal. With the bulk of his crime syndicate gone, his brother and mother dead, and his former Master again getting the better of him, Maul is about as low as you can get.
But, as has always been the case, Maul’s at his best when his back is against the wall and especially when he’s got an ax to grind. And let’s face it, he was born into a world of betrayal, anger, and hate, and he has been trained to weaponize these emotions, not suppress them. In fact, they fuel his power, not stifle it.
Still, it’s important to understand his weakened emotional state and severe lack of resources at the onset of "The Siege of Mandalore" By the time he faces Ahsoka Tano, the Mandalorian Resistance, Captain Rex, et al, he’s really been through the ringer and back, and that may be the understatement of the year.
So, there you have some idea on what the two key players we’re doing just before the Siege and their state of mind. Both are at unique points in their lives, Maul losing his family, and Ahsoka returning to hers. And both are on collision courses with more important things, and as we know, will cross paths again.
Because this battle isn’t just about Ahsoka and Maul, there are implications that go far beyond their personal journeys, most importantly a post-Clone Wars Mandalore, a galaxy now under Imperial rule, and the aftermath of Order-66.
Things are about change, in a big, big way.
Till next time…MTFBWY.
To order a copy of “Ahsoka” by E.K. Johnston, click HERE!
To order a copy of “Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir” by Jeremy Barlow, click HERE!
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