Star Wars: An Unlikely Hero Is Drawing Comparisons to Luke Skywalker
Jennifer Roy
Sylvestri Yarrow from Star Wars The High Republic Out of the Shadows in front of luke skywalker
Sylvestri Yarrow from Star Wars The High Republic Out of the Shadows in front of luke skywalker
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland, on sale now.
While the stories of the Star Wars universe often focus on a galactic scale, many of the characters who resonate the most with the audience come from seemingly humble origins. At the beginning of Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke Skywalker believes that he is just a simple farm boy, after all, until he learns of his heritage and his connection to the Force. Well, in Justina Ireland's Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows, Sylvestri Yarrow, a down on her luck pilot and hauler, also learns that she may be more connected to her enemy, the Nihil, than she realized.
Ever since the Nihil enacted the Great Disaster, a hyperspace explosion that killed millions due to the initial explosion and the subsequent debris sent hurtling throughout the galaxy, the Nihil have continued their reign of terror. Meanwhile, a group of Jedi also accidentally awaken the Drengir, a species of sentient plants intent on literally devouring all sentient life in the galaxy. In wave one of the subseries, both groups' destruction mainly occurs in the Outer Rim. However, with the attacks on the Republic Fair on Valo, even the inner core of the Republic begins to realize that the threats may not remain contained and may spill over into their own world. For Sylvestri Yarrow, the damage is more personal because she believes that her mother was killed on Valo as well.
Reath Silas, Sylvestri Yarrow and Vernestra Rwoh stand together on the cover of Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows
Reath Silas, Sylvestri Yarrow and Vernestra Rwoh stand together on the cover of Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows
At the beginning of the novel, Syl's ship, the Switchback, is kicked out of hyperspace and taken by the Nihil. Syl and her crew are able to escape, and she travels to Coruscant to tell them about the Nihil's new weapon. Her reports are ignored at first, but she is contacted by Xylan Graf, who seems to believe her. Through Xylan, Syl meets Professor Thaddeus Wolk, a Gungan scientist and one of the galaxy's leading experts on hyperspace. From Wolk, Syl learns that her mother kept many secrets from her, including a military background and a strong education in hyperspace theory and technology. Wolk also reveals that Chancey had "'a theory about the use of artificial gravity wells, and how they could be used to force ships out of hyperspace at opportune moments,'" a tactic similar to the one used on Syl and her ship by the Nihil. Wolk later is murdered before he can give Syl more information on her mother, but his comments still cause Syl to question everything that she knows about her mother and her childhood.
Syl feels betrayed by all of the secrets that she now knows that her mother kept, but she isn't ready to believe that her mother is affiliated with the Nihil. So, to try to prove to the Galactic Senate that Wolk's theories about her mother are false, she accompanies Xylan along with her ex-girlfriend, Jordanna Sparkburn, and four Jedi, Master Cohmac Vitus, Vernestra Rwoh, Reath Silas and Imri Cantaros. Their mission is to inspect the Berenge Sector, where these hyperspace accidents are occurring. But on the way, the Nihil attack their ship and take Syl, Reath and Imri hostage. And it's while in captivity that Syl learns the truth: Chancey Yarrow is alive and working for the Nihil, and Xylan Graf knew all along.
During Syl's reunion with her mother, she learns that Chancey is only working for the Nihil semi-willingly. They kidnapped her, and Chancey gained some measure of control over the situation. Chancey could still potentially escape, but she would then lose access to her research and the resources to truly bring her weapon to fruition; the version the Nihil have been using is a prototype that ceases to function. While Chancey tries to get Syl to join her, Syl instead chooses the side of the Republic, knowing that she will lose her relationship with her mother in the process. Syl reflects that "her mother truly was dead, after all. Whether it was fear or something else that had killed her bright spirit didn't matter. Chancey had chosen her path. And Syl would choose her own."
In an interview with Emily Shkoukani from StarWars.com, Justina Ireland spoke about her desire to write about the ordinary people of the galaxy through Syl and made note of Luke Skywalker's humble beginnings. With the reveal of Chancey’s duplicity, Ireland forges another connection between Luke and Syl. They both must deal with the knowledge that their supposedly deceased parent has become an agent of the enemy, albeit under different circumstances. Unlike Luke, however, who believes there is still good in Anakin Skywalker, Syl believes that her mother cannot be saved.
So, while Syl fills the role of an ordinary person in comparison with the Jedi, her humble beginnings and her hidden heritage actually connect her more with Luke, a Jedi hero. At the end of the novel, Syl has rekindled her relationship with Jordanna, and they plan to potentially begin working for Maz Kanata. While Syl may believe that her role on a galactic scale is over, the galaxy may have more in store for her as her mother continues her work and the Nihil continue to spread their influence deeper into the core of the Republic.