Clone Wars Deep Dive
Yoda: Dark Rendezvous
By: Mike Downs
The First of Many
In eager anticipation of the return of the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, we here at Youtini thought it would be fun and helpful to look back at how the Clone Wars has been portrayed and expanded upon in the books and novels, both Canon and Legends.
This is the first in an ongoing series of commentary and analysis of Clone Wars themed books and novels. Since this is the first, why not start at the end? This essay discusses the Clone Wars novel, Yoda: Dark Rendezvous by Sean Stewart.
In order to be able to comment upon the novel, SPOILERS will be discussed. If you want to read ahead the next book in the series, read to the end of the essay.
“Do or Do Not. There is no Try.”
“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."
“Wars not make one Great.”
"The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters."
“You think Yoda stops teaching, just because his student does not want to hear? A teacher Yoda is. Yoda teaches like drunkards drink, like killers kill.”
These are familiar words to Star Wars fans as they were spoken by one of the most beloved characters ever from a galaxy far far away, Yoda. As Master of the Jedi Order, Yoda, always teaching, dispenses such wisdom, even in the most casual conversations, that his comments and observations about the Force and the Jedi must be understood in current parlance as “canon.”
That is, Yoda is how we the audience learn about the Force, what it is, how it works, and the choices we all have to make.
This last quote by Yoda may be less familiar to some as it comes from the Clone Wars novel, Yoda: Dark Rendezvous by Sean Stewart. Yoda is a character that Star Wars authors usually have to dance around and use sparingly.
We do not know his origin story other than it is over 800 years in the making. We do not know his species. And Yoda is one of a kind. (admittedly, the character Yaddle exists in the comics and Episode 1, but if we are honest, characters like Yaddle is why Disney had to wipe the slate clean and create Canon books in the first place). Non-Attachment of the Jedi, the Balance of the Force and the Choices we ultimately must make are the major themes that surround the Star Wars universe and binds it together.
Throughout this novel, Yoda dispenses wisdom and insight, filled with humility and glaring honesty, as profound as any he has ever uttered. For fans of Yoda and the more spiritual/internal path we all must face themes of Star Wars, Yoda: Dark Rendezvous is a must read and a rare treasure full of Yoda awesomeness.
Clouding the Force
Early in the book, we meet Yoda in the gardens of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, in a contemplative mood. Yoda, pondering the larger questions of existence, wonders aloud to a fellow Jedi:
“A place of great beauty, this is. And yet… we made it. Tired I am of all this … making. Where is the time for being, master Leem?” Answer: Dagobah.
Almost in anticipation of his exile to Dagobah, Yoda observes that the hyper-developed city planet, so mechanical and mechanized, so void of nature, has blinded the Jedi. Yoda says, “Only in a planet such as Coruscant, with no forests left, no mountains unleveled, no streams left to run their own course, could the Force have become to clouded.” The very Life that creates the Force was greatly diminished on Coruscant, especially when compared to the nature planet of Dagobah that was teeming with Life and thus so strong in the Force.
Perhaps the Force never was or is out of balance. How could it be? Perhaps it was the Jedi who were out of balance all along, partly due to their being cut off from the natural world and thus their ideals began to evolve into a thing one clings to rather than grow from.
The Sin of Attachment
The principle of non-attachment is an integral Jedi ideal.
It is also a lofty goal that frankly is unattainable. But it is in the striving that mindfulness and awareness originate. It allows one to keep their mind on where they are and what they are doing.
Obi-Wan and Anakin seem to pop in to this story mostly to make an observation and then exit stage left. Obi-Wan says to Anakin “Non-attachment is a fundamental precept of the Order, Padawan. You knew that when you signed up.” When he signed up? Anakin could have replied something like “You mean when I was a little boy recently separated from my mother whom you left in slavery and when I said that I was cold, afraid and missed her this green gnome creature told me that would lead me to the dark side? Is that what you mean Master?
But he did not.
Anakin mumbled something about the fine print and said “the principle of non-attachment…? That’s an awfully abstract thing to pledge loyalty to.” Obi-Wan acknowledged Anakin’s observation commenting that if the Jedi “were made up only of those invulnerable to love, it would be a sad group altogether.”
Yoda even admits his own attachments. “Think you the relationship between Master and Padawan is only to help them? Oh, this is what we let them believe, yes! But when the day comes that old Yoda does not learn something from his students then truly, he shall be a teacher no more.” Non-attachment is a lofty, if unattainable, goal. Obi-Wan reminds us that “to follow your heart, to either love or hate, in the long run is the same mistake. Your judgement becomes clouded. Your motives confused.” Not everyone sees attachments as an impediment to one’s focus or motives.
The Light in the Darkness
Asajj Ventress, dark warrior extraordinaire and Dooku’s enforcer, has to be in the running for most complex Star Wars character. Her story runs the gamut of brutal assassin to crucial companion, merciless villain to compassionate ally.
Dooku says of Asajj that she “was the rose and the thorn together; the sound of a long knife driving home; the taste of blood on one’s lips.” Dooku regarded her. ‘What a little cannibal you have become.’ She said, ‘I become what you make me.’
Ventress offers a retort to Obi-Wan’s defense of non-attachment. She says to Whie, a Jedi Padawan, “Do you want to not care that I killed your master? Do you want to be the person who wouldn’t care? The truth is you do care that this one is dead. You should. The truth is, you would be less than alive if you didn’t; to crawl into your monastery and teach yourself not to feel. What a waste. What a . . . blasphemy.”
The truth is the Jedi do feel. They do become attached. Yet they strive not to be led by emotion and impulse. They strive to consider others before themselves.
And they make mistakes.
Yoda asks “know you what a soul so great as Yoda can make, in eight hundred years? Many mistakes!” Yoda feels. He feels deeply for a young Dooku who all those many years ago, as a boy, observed that “every Jedi is a child his parents decided they could live without.” Young Dooku wonders “if that is what drives us, that first abandonment.” We see Dooku as a boy afraid to the leave the temple, a good boy before his turn to the Dark Side, just as we met a young Anakin before Vader.
Neither born evil but both ended up there. Why?
Yoda tells Whie and us “If no plan there is, no fate, no destiny, no providence, no Force: then what is left? Nothing but our choices, hmmm. To be Jedi is to face the truth and choose. Give off light, not darkness, Padawan.” We met all too briefly Jedi Master Jai Maruk who observed that “dark or light is not a feeling, but a choice.” When he realized Asajj was superior to him with a lightsaber and going to kill him, he could have chosen the dark to follow, but he chose the light and therefore...
He died a Jedi.
Jedi Master Jai Maruk was accompanied by Maks Leem, a Gran Jedi Master (not grand but three eyes). She, along with Jai and their Padawans, Whie and Scout, and Yoda are on a mission to meet with Count Dooku and possibly end the war. Whie has the power to dream the future and thus knows he will die at the hands of a Jedi, and Scout reminds us that there are many different types of Jedi.
She is not particularly strong in the Force, but she is at the top of her class in combat. However, Yoda reminds us that just because one is powerful in the Force does not make them a great Jedi.
“Best of all would be the strongest student yes? Wisest? Most learned in the ways of the Force? Best of all, Dooku would be! Our great student! Our great failure.”
The Beauty of a Rose
Ultimately, Yoda and Dooku confront one another in a climactic showdown that, surprisingly, was somewhat intimate at first.
Yoda gets close enough to touch Dooku and even give him a poke with his stick. Yoda does a lot of poking with his stick in this story. This time Yoda will be the student and Dooku will instruct him in the ways of the dark. Yoda wants Dooku to sell him on the dark; make a pitch for the dark side so to speak. For all the promises of power and wealth beyond imagination throughout the galaxy, and Dooku’s deriding the light as mere trickery, Yoda replies, “But like this trick, do I! The trick that brings the flower from the ground.” Yoda goes on to demand that the dark side create a flower.
Yoda, embracing the dark and calling from the shadows, “Disappointment like I not, apprentice,” he snarled, in a wicked, wicked voice. “Give me my rose!” Golem screaming for his precious comes to mind. In that moment, Dooku made a startling realization that “if Yoda ever turned that way, Sidious himself would be annihilated. The universe had yet to comprehend the kind of evil that a Jedi Knight of nearly nine hundred years could wield.”
Yoda made a choice. Yoda saved those he loved rather than killing Dooku.
Yoda made a choice. Yoda chose the beauty of a rose. That’s why he is the Master.
Next time we will be reviewing the Clone Wars Canon Novel, Dark Disciple, by Christie Golden.
Want to join us for the next deep dive or follow up on this one? Order Yoda: Dark Rendezvous and Dark Disciple with the links below.
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About Mike Downs
Mike grew up Star Wars and Star Wars grew up with Mike. In his part time he teaches history and tries to show his students the importance of critical thought and ceaseless questions (until it becomes nagging--then it should cease). His main focus in life is Star Wars and all that it implies. The world of Star Wars Literature is endless, amazing and often profound. Whether it’s Canon or Legend, books or graphic novels, it’s all Star Wars! If ever you have trouble contacting him, he is probably in the great outdoors with his drum, staring contemplatively into a campfire or up at the stars. Mike joined Youtini because he couldn’t stop talking Star Wars. Find more of Mike's work throughout our blog!