Recommended Reading: Star Wars Republic Commando Series

Before the world is hit with a new Star Wars movie, the Talaria Press Founders have decided to share some of their favorite pieces of Star Wars lore outside of the films. 

First up, H.L. Reasby presents us with a few thoughts on her Recommended Reading pick: The Republic Commando series.

 

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Throughout history, brave men have answered the call to serve in the military to protect their homelands, friends, and loved ones. But during the Clone Wars of the Star Wars universe, these men aren’t asked to volunteer; they were created with no other purpose in mind. Created from the genetic heritage of the Mandalorian mercenary Jango Fett, the Republic’s clone army is one of the greatest forces in the universe, but it’s by no means invincible.

The Republic Commando series by Karen Traviss gets us into the heads of these men, taking us beyond the faceless army, behind the identical faces, and into the hearts and minds of child soldiers forced into the bodies of grown men due to accelerated aging. Omega Squad is among the elite commando units, closest to the source genetic material. Considered dangerously disobedient at best, and borderline psychopaths at worst, they go where few dare and do jobs that no one else can, operating with little to no guidance.

Traviss puts true flesh on the clone bones, breathing life into them by giving each a unique personality, elevating what to a whole new level what was only hinted at in Revenge of the Sith with clone commanders having names. Additionally, by crafting a fascinating and intricate Mandalorian culture that the clones have glommed onto thanks to the warriors that Jango recruited to train them. Complete with language, cultural mores, and spiritual beliefs, Traviss’ Mando’ade are a fully realized, fascinating people that could believably produce both Jango and Boba Fett.

The Jedi also get a new perspective in the series, through the eyes of Etain Tur-Murkan, a padawan who has, in the midst of a dangerous mission, found herself bereft of her master and thrust into an unexpected and unwanted leadership role. Lacking the inherent confidence needed to be a truly competent Jedi on her own, Etain learns that by focusing on the squad’s need for a leader’s guidance, she can find within herself an untapped reservoir of power and resolve she never imagined she might have.

In later books, we’re introduced to the man who looms large over the initial volume: Omega Squad’s training sergeant, Kal Skirata. By turns inveterate “hard man” capable of facing down Hutt crime bosses without blinking an eye and doting father figure to the commandos he trained, Kal is a man driven to forge some kind of future for his adoptive sons.

There are five novels in the Republic Commando series and they are by turns funny, exciting, and heartrending. Traviss’ time as a military correspondent serves her well in presenting us with a realistic depiction of how military men think and react to combat while also showing them wrestling with how to cope with life outside of the carefully controlled training barracks of their childhoods. These soldiers evolve from being so naïve that Etain’s sense of them in the Force initially leads her to believe them young children, to men who learn to question the rightness of their mission and the capabilities of their leader.

This is a fantastic read for people craving something a little more psychological and with a military bent.

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