WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott and Star Wars: The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower by Daniel José Older, on sale now
Because the Star Wars universe is a blend of science fiction and fantasy, many folklore creatures have been adapted into aliens or creatures within the galaxy far, far away. In wave two of the Star Wars: The High Republic subseries, the Nihil invade the Republic Fair on Valo, and the Jedi need all the help they can get to put a stop to the slaughter. Therefore, in both Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm and Star Wars: The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower, the Jedi receive assistance from an unlikely source: the sanvals, who are basically the equivalent of dragons.
What Are the Sanvals?
Ty Yorrick and Elzar Mann ride sanvals into battle as Lina Soh commands in Star Wars The High Republic. Ty and Elzar are barely visible, but their lightsabers shine brightly.
In Cavan Scott’s The High Republic: The Rising Storm
, the sanvals make their first appearance amid the chaos after the Nihil attack
. As part of their strategy, the Nihil attacked the Lonisa City Zoo, freeing many of the exhibited animals, much to Jedi Master Elzar Mann and monster hunter Ty Yorrick's dismay. Amongst the newly freed creatures from an exhibit on apex predators are the sanvals. Elzar describes them as "twenty meters from nose to tail, with wingspans as broad as their dragon-like bodies were long."
The sanvals that Elzar and Ty encounter, while enormous, are actually babies. In Daniel José Older's The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower
, the sanvals' mother plays a pivotal role. The mother is described as "a giant winged reptile that was older than time and rumored never to forget a face." In most fantasy, from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
to tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons
, ancient dragons are powerful beings. The connection between age and power seems to come into play in the Star Wars
universe as well. Lula also senses later that the sanval has a "hunger for chaos, destruction, explosions." While this hunger could be disastrous if aimed at civilians, it becomes a powerful force in the Jedi's favor against the Nihil.
How the Sanvals Become the Jedis' Allies
Ty Yorrick Star Wars High Republic
In The High Republic: The Rising Storm
, Elzar Mann and Ty Yorrick
develop an uneasy bond as they work together to stop the Nihil’s attack on Valo and the Republic Fair. They first meet when Ty is arrested after her clients bring a highly illegal invention to the Fair. However, the two inadvertently develop a rapport. Ty is also Force-sensitive, but she left the Jedi Order under mysterious circumstances years prior. Ty and Elzar meet again at the Lonisa City Zoo, and they quickly realize that the sanvals could cause even more chaos and death.
Elzar and Ty work together to use the Force to soothe the sanvals, despite Ty's misgivings. In the process, they have to open up their minds to each other. Ty learns about Elzar's love for his friends and his romantic love for Avar Kriss
. Elzar sees glimpses of Ty's time at the academy and hints that the loss of a friend caused her to leave the order. Using this newly forged bond, Elzar and Ty calm the sanvals, gaining their trust. The duo then ride the sanvals into battle and later find their mother. After the main battle, Elzar tries to convince Ty to rejoin the Jedi, but she declines. However, the road has been paved for Ty to ally with the Jedi more in the future.
How a Sanval Helps Lula Talisola Save the Day
Lula Talisola Ram Jomaram V-18 and the Bonbraks from Star Wars: The High Republic
In The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower
, Ty Yorrick also serves as a key Jedi ally despite her misgivings about the Order. First, she helps Ram Jomaram escape security after they mistake him for a criminal. However, Ty reappears in a truly dramatic fashion riding one of the baby sanvals. Zeen Mrala rides into the scene on one of the sanval's mothers, who becomes the main sanval ally for the young Jedi Padawans. First, the sanval helps Lula, Ram Jomaram and Zeen Mrala reach Crashpoint Tower
, the planet's main communications tower, much faster than they would have on their own.
The sanval's main role is to assist Lula as she fights the Nihil while her friends work to repair Crashpoint Tower. Throughout the text, Lula has been struggling to understand her role in the Force and her own desire to be the best Jedi ever. While, for the most part, Lula has worked with other Jedi in groups throughout the subseries, she mainly stands on her own during the attack. Even though the subseries as a whole ultimately highlights the importance of the Jedi working together to protect the galaxy, Lula's flight with the sanval also shows her growth within the Force and as a Jedi.
Therefore, the sanvals are basically aiding the Jedi in both texts, but Scott and Older use them to reveal different aspects of their riders. The High Republic: The Rising Storm's encounter spotlights the growing bond between Elzar and Ty despite their different philosophies and allegiances and shows both characters' penchant for the dramatic. In The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower, Lula’s ride on the sanval shows her growing ability to work on her own as she continues her training. In both cases, the sanvals are important allies and help turn the tide in the Jedi’s favor in the battle against the Nihil.