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  • Brennan Renwick

SE Breakdown (Part 2)


Welcome back to episode 2 of my new breakdown video script series of the new Star Wars EU Novel: Supernatural Encounters by Joe Bongiorno!


In this series I go through the 1,050 page odyssey, chapter by chapter, and point out every reference and easter egg I spotted in the book. Today we will be taking a look at Supernatural Encounter’s Prologue, titled Prologue: The Life and Death of a Historian. Before we begin, I will briefly mention the obvious spoiler warning for those of you who have not yet read the Prologue to Supernatural Encounters, as well as urging you to take the time to go back and watch the first episode, which deals with the Introduction to Supernatural Encounters. With all that out of the way, let’s jump into the Prologue, which begins on page 15 and ends on page 20, though 2 of those pages are taken up by absolutely gorgeous art depicting an event from the prologue. 


Before I get into specific references and connection breakdowns, I will briefly summarize what the events of this section entails. We are introduced to Arhul Hextrophon via this beautifully written narrative portion, set in 38 ABY. We meet Arhul who is older in his life now, I would estimate him to likely be in his 50’s or 60’s by this point in time. Arhul is in his study mulling over his life and all he had accomplished in it. He thinks on many grandiose concepts, the value of the battle against evil, and whether or not all has been for nothing. He reflects on his time fighting against The Empire with the Rebels, and his time as a notable historian and archaeologist. As the night progresses, Arhul’s contemplative somber demeanor turns to an anxious nervousness, as he knows something is coming for him. Arhul is clearly fearful for his life by this time, but he attempts to remain calm as darkness literally comes for him. These beings are literal shadows that serve a greater currently unseen threat.


They are furious with Arhul for learning knowledge that only the Celestias had known and for publishing it as a manuscript and distributing it into the Galaxy days prior, (as we learned from the introduction, he distributed the manuscript via Q9-X7 and Mistress Mnemos among others). Arhul seems to have been anticipating this encounter with the shadow beings, and they attempt to possess him, so they can discredit his work, making him appear like a lunatic, which would thus keep their master’s existence secret by invalidating Arhul’s work’s revelations. Arhul refuses to become their puppet, knowing this was seal his fate. As the shadows envelope him, he sees a mysterious man within the shadows in clothing that is of the prior century, this is when Arhul knows no more and dies. 


There’s a ton of references within these portions, particularly during Arhul’s musings, and I must say, this Prologue is written in a breathtaking manner and had me on tenter hooks. The tension is palpable here, and it builds slowly, allowing the reader’s dread to build with Arhul’s. 


The first reference we find is in the opening quotation that is placed before we get into the main text. The quote reads, ““For what they have done and continue to do, I see no limit to the horror to which Mankind is heir… Men hovering forever on the brink of secret, abyssal oceans of supernatural terror, severed from the next world by a thin veneer which will soon be rent.” This quotation is attributed to something called The Journal of Lord Nyax. Lord Nyax is essentially the boogeyman of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, a Corellian legend about a powerful man from the shadows who would kidnap children. The legend was often based on actual exploits of Darth Vader’s that were incorporated into the in-universe folklore. Eventually violent and dangerous cults sprung up, of individuals who followed the mythic fictional Lord Nyax legend, so I assume this journal is probably written by one of the cultists who followed the legend of Lord Nyax. The myth of Lord Nyax was first mention in The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand. 


The next thing I noted, as we follow Arhul’s brooding contemplation on his final night, comes in the form of his observation of the moonlight. As the moon shines down on the fields around him, Arhul notes the chicory and lyris that grow in the fields on Chandrila. Chicory are a real world plant, that can be found on several continents, the plant sports pretty blue flowers. The Lyris is our next notable reference, as the lyris was a type of flower first mention in The Dark Nest Trilogy, specifically in The Joiner King by Troy Denning. Now we know that Lyris grow on at least Chandrila. And for any avid botanist Star Wars EU fans, we now know that chicory grow in a galaxy far far away as well. 


Arhul reflects on the many heroes he had known over the years, such as Mon Mothma who he thinks of as notably departed, which is a reference to her death in 24 ABY (12 years prior) as first mentioned in The New Essential Chronology. During his brooding Arhul drinks a type of whiskey called Segir Reserve, which as far as I can tell is not from any prior source, so this beverage makes its first appearance here. 


Next Arhul reminisces on the words of a Lurmen Chieftain whom he once interviewed. The quote being, “War only feeds the violence, engorging the bloated death-worm that cares nothing for ideologies or sides.” The Lurmen species also called Mygeetans are a primitive furred sentient species that first appeared in season 1 episode 13 of The Clone Wars television series, an episode called “Jedi Crash”. The Chieftain whom Arhul spoke to is revealed to be Wag-Too. Chief Wag-Too first appeared once again in The Clone Wars episode “Jedi Crash”. But in that episode he was not a chief, but a young member of a Lumen tribe, and the son of the current Chief during the Clone Wars era, named Tee Watt Kaa. I think that it’s super cool that Supernatural Encounters establishes that by Arhul’s time, Wag-Too had succeeded his father as the next Lumen Chieftain. 


However, Wag-Too’s words that Arhul recalls, are not Wag-Too’s own words. Wag-Too was quoting from an unnamed Sylphe King’s writings, this unidentified King being the monarch of the planet Sainte-Evanëflore. The humanoid botanical Sylphe species first appeared in Issue number 2 of the French role-playing magazine Avalon, and their home planet Sainte-Evanëflore first appeared in the Star Wars article: Quatre nouveaux profils pour Star Wars, which was featured in another French role-playing game magazine, this one being Casus Belli issue number 95. This is a super deep cut lore reference, and I absolutely adore it.


But Arhul’s thoughts and reflections on these quotes regarding war, leads his thought process to yet another reference. The Sylphe King’s writings reminds Arhul of a passage from an in-universe book called “The Challenge of Peace”, a book written by the Nuiwit Council of Elders. The Altorian Nuiwit’s were a primitive sentient reptilian species that first appeared in Galaxy Guide #2: Yavin and Bespin. The Nuiwit’s governing body, known as the Council of Elders was first mentioned in Galaxy Guide #4: Alien Races, the revised edition. The passage from the Nuiwit Elders says, “In war, there is no good and evil, only spilt blood and shattered bones.”


Arhul then recalls another quote, this one being from the ex-Rebel, turned City of Dreams founder Cody-Sunn Childe. The character referenced, Cody Sunn-Childe, originally comes from the original Marvel comic series, specifically appearing in issue number 46. Cody is portrayed as a pacifist in that comic book issue, and the quotation recalled here by Arhul reflects that, as he denounces war with his words, “The most fervent expression of the Father of Shadows, serving nought but him and those who serve him.”


Arhul then ponders on if the Rebels had wasted their time in the time he spent with them fighting the Empire. He notates that Emperor Palpatine was evil incarnate from his perspective, and believes that trying to dethrone him justified their fight. Arhul’s musings are interrupted by what I think is another connection, as a mournful Silverwing’s call pierces the night and his thoughts. There is a TIE Fighter squadron called SilverWing Squadron that appeared briefly in a West End Games sourcebook, The Far Orbit Project by Timothy S. O’Brien. I assume that squadron is named for this animal that we see here for the first time, if intended, a neat little reference. 


Arhul reflects on his easy going upbringing, followed by a horrific event that forced him into joining the Rebels, a catalyst that will be expanded much more later on. Arhul finishes his glass of sequir reserve and drinks something next that is called saqua, which I believe makes its appearance for the first time here. The new beverage Arhul consumes is drank out of a tulip-shaped snifter. A snifter is a real world glass, and the dictionary gives its definition as “a short-stemmed goblet with a bowl narrowing toward the top.” Arhul describes the snifter as tulip-shaped, implying the real world tulip flowers exist somewhere within the Star Wars universe. I believe this is the first in-universe mentions of snifters and tulips here. 


As Arhul tugs on his stubble, he notices the crystal skull that he has on the desk in his study. Crystal skulls have a long and nuanced history in Star Wars. Dating back to the visual depiction of a crystalline skull on the cover of Brian Daley’s Han Solo and the Lost Legacy. The cover features a crystal skull, though such a skull does not appear in the novel itself; the skull on the cover is in reference to both Xim the Despot being dead and the mytag crystals which he had stockpiled. The crystal skull itself does not appear. In episode 22 of The Clone Wars television series, the season 3 finale; an unidentified alien’s elongated crystal skull is seen to be among the many trophies of Trandoshan Hunter Garnac. The episode titled, “Wookiee Hunt” makes reference to the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; as the skull seen in the episode is identical to that of the alien crystal skull featured in that film. This Star Wars Indiana Jones reference is a very interesting preexisting lore Easter egg to Indiana Jones, and Supernatural Encounters will expand upon the already present Indiana Jones references. The skull on Arhul’s desk is most likely the one displayed in The Clone Wars show, as the show’s skull actually exists in universe, and doesn’t simply adorn a cover. 


As the darkness closes in on him, Arhul once more notes the scenic hills upon which the loosestrife and iris are growing there. Loosestrife is a real world plant, making its first appearance in Star Wars here. The iris is a real world flower, that is actually already in Star Wars, with the Rigellian Iris that was first mentioned in Sean Stewart’s novel: Yoda: Dark Rendezvous. This iris may be a different kind, or perhaps it is the same as the Rigellian Iris indigenous to Rigel 7. 


Arhul is then confronted by the creatures made of shadow that creep into his library. The creatures claim they are The Emissaries of Shadow, and they refute Arhul’s claims that he knows what master they serve. The ghouls then mention Dread Typhojem, a Sith deity that made a previous published appearance in The Book of Sith by Daniel Wallace, who was seeking to tie his sourcebook into the drafts of Supernatural Encounters. Typhojem was established to also be known as The Left Handed God. The moniker or title, The Left Handed God, was first mentioned in the comic book story “The Pandora Effect” by Alan Moore, which was included in The Empire Strikes Back Monthly Magazine number 151. 


The beings mention they are not the pawn of the rulers of planets Xanthiir and Oozultharoum, two planets that are apart of the anti-Force, and will be expanded upon later on. These dark, and eery planets made their first appearance here. This is when the shadow creatures swirl around Arhul and he is no more, murdered by tyrannical forces of darkness.


That wraps up my breakdown for Supernatural Encounters: Prologue: The Life and Death of a Historian. Let me know in the comments if I missed any references, easter eggs, or other connections. Join me next time when we cover Chapter 1: Division and Debate! See you then!


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