71. Wood in the Star Wars galaxy during the High Republic
MAY. 03, 2023
Ryan goes into hyperdrive in this Star Wars special episode. Discovering the topic of wood in the Star Wars Galaxy during the High Republic, encounter evil vegetation, a surprisingly hairy Jedi, and hear from one of the talented artists bringing all these wonders to life.
In this very special episode of HHE, we are going on a mission to find wood in a galaxy far far away.
In the everything that is our Universe, there are many galaxies, clusters of planets, stars and material held together by gravity, of which our Milky Way, with its 100billion stars, is just one.
According to Star Wars creator George Lucas, there is another galaxy, far, far away from the Milky Way and it’s this unnamed galaxy where the events of Star Wars takes place a long time ago.
The Star Wars Galaxy is home to over 100 billion star systems, each one having their own planets, territories, colonies, people and creatures of all shapes and sizes.
The Star Wars galaxy is divided into four main regions:
o The Core Worlds, which is where most civilized species live
o The Mid-Rim, which is a mix of civilized and lawless worlds
o Then the most remote and unexplored regions of the galaxy which are called The Outer Rim and The Unknown Regions
The official flag in the time of the High Republic has a red background with a white centre circle displaying an eight-spoked cog known as the Emblem of the Galactic Republic.
The state anthem for the Galactic Republic has some controversy surrounding it, but one candidate is a song called “All Stars Burn as One" and has many similarities with the music of John Williams who scored all the music for the Star Wars movies.
Not quite a national drink, but a notable beverage of the Star Wars galaxy is Blue Milk, drunk by Luke Skywalker in the original movie Star Wars: A New Hope. Blue Milk is the blue-coloured secretion from the mammary glands of a female Bantha - a woolly-mammoth-looking four-ton herbivore with curved horns that are shown living on the desert planet of Tatooine - but actually are one of the most abundant species across the entire Star Wars galaxy and are found living on a vast number of planets.
Frequently domesticated, Banthas are harvested for their meat and fur as well as their milk, which is known for having an opaque blue colour, but being refreshing, sweet and fruity.
When Disney opened their Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction at Disneyland in May 2019 - they made sure that visitors could buy their very own glass of lovely blue Bantha Milk, made of a combination of rice milk, coconut milk, dragonfruit flavouring, pineapple juice, watermelon juice and other delicious goodness.
Pete and Ryan tried some on the show and… it was tasty!
History of the Star Wars Galaxy
Confusingly, there are many movies, games and books that developed the Star Wars Galaxy, but not all of them are considered canon. Up until 2014, the Star Wars timeline was famously complicated.
In 1977, George Lucas created the original trilogy of films that told Chapters 4, 5 and 6 of what was promised to be part of a larger nine-chapter saga.
The success of those three movies, led to a flood of novels, comics and video games, each adding to the Star Wars galaxy further, introducing lore and history for familiar and new characters over a period that covered 25,000 years.
But there wasn’t much in the way of any consistency between these stories.
So confusion and inconsistency proliferated and it became harder and harder to distinguish which versions of the characters and events across the various timelines were the true ones.
Until, in 2012, George Lucas sold the rights of Star Wars to Disney for $4bn. This deal removed Lucas from creative control and allowed Disney to create a new, single, cohesive timeline that discarded much of the expanded universe and simply followed the events of the movies and the tv shows – basically giving fans an official truth that they called the Star Wars ‘Canon’ timeline.
Everything else.. all the comics, books and video games.. rather than being trashed completely – they were simply rebranded as part of Star Wars ‘Legends’.
And so, from that point on, Disney have stayed true to their promise, making sure that all new Star Wars stories must be tied to the official canon timeline (apart from a few small exceptions).
In April 2023, during their annual Star Wars Celebration event, Disney made another announcement about the canon timeline, updating it with a revised structure that clearly separated all of the timeline’s most notable events into eight distinct eras, based on the Star Wars calendar.
Whilst on Earth, we separate our timeline according to dates either side of the Common Era, with dates being either BCE (Before the Common Era) or CE (the Common Era), in the Star Wars galaxy, their version of the Common Era is when the Galactic Empire’s super-weapon the Death Star was blown up by Luke Skywalker during the climactic Battle of Yavin.
So.. all dates in Star Wars are classified either:
o BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), or
o ABY (After the Battle of Yavin)
Dawn of the Jedi (? – 25,000 BBY)
The first era of the Star Wars timeline is called Dawn of the Jedi.
It begins many unknown thousands of years before the Battle of Yavin - possibly 25,000 years before – when an energy field known as the Force comes into being.
Early man appears on a mysterious planet known only as the Wellspring of Life, and is comprised of three beings - the Father, the Daughter, and the Son
o The Daughter embodying the light side of the Force
o The Son embodying the dark, and
o The Father keeping the sibling’s from killing each other
As time passes, sentient beings evolve and spread throughout the galaxy creating various trade routes.
Inter-species collaboration is exponentially increased with the development of a technology called Hyperspace, which ignores the normal laws of space and time and allows people to travel across vast distances of the galaxy incredibly quickly.
And it’s thanks to Hyperspace Technology ™ that large sections of the galaxy can be explored and new systems colonised.
But just as things are starting to get exciting, a number of dying stars explode sending huge plumes of planetary debris across the galaxy.
This triggers a further chain of supernovas to occur - and entire star systems are wiped out.
Because of this disaster, an inter-species decision is reached to ban any further hyperspace travel and progress slows.
It is also around this time that the first Jedi is born – we don’t know much about this person, but a new film, announced in April 2023, is said to be covering this very topic, so within the next few years we will know more about “the first Jedi to wield the Force”.
Regardless of their origin though, what we do know is that other Force-sensitive creatures gather around this person on a planet called Ach’too, and construct the first Temple of the Jedi, dedicating themselves to preserving peace and justice
The Old Republic (Around 25,000 BBY-1000 BBY)
We now enter The Old Republic era, and it begins with the Jedi order expanding their influence across various worlds until one of their own - a rogue Jedi creates a splinter Order called The Sith - and the two groups battle it out in a war of darkness that lasts 100 years.
Eventually the Sith are defeated, and they retreat to a planet called Moraband where they regroup and spread out to other planets, establishing an Empire which briefly controls the galaxy.
To commemorate their success, they build a shrine on the planet Coruscant – marking it out as the Galaxy’s capital, which it remains from then on.
A thousand years later, the Jedi join up with a republic of interplanetary species and drive the Sith away, building a new Jedi Temple on top of the old Sith shrine.
The Jedi’s success is short-lived however, because they soon discover that the Sith have developed a superweapon capable of destroying all life. Another Sith War is started and ends with the Sith being destroyed by one their own - a Sith named Darth Bane.
Bane had decided that the failure of their order was in being structured too much like the Jedi, so he institutes the Rule of Two, which states that: "One master and one apprentice can be the only Sith in the galaxy at a time".
Meanwhile, the Sith Wars have taken its toll on the galaxy, and the Old Republic reforms into the Galactic Republic - a democratic government consisting of elected officials from many of the different planets from across the galaxy .
And with the Sith gone, the Galactic Republic in charge, and the Jedi maintaining order – there are hundreds of years of peace
The High Republic (500 BBY-82 BBY)
Around 500 years before the Battle of Yavin, we are now in the era of the High Republic.
This is a golden age, with a period of prosperity for the republic showcased in the construction of a gigantic space station called Starlight Beacon on the frontier of the unexplored dark zones.
Their hope is the station will symbolise the ideals of the Republic - showing how diverse cultures from countless worlds can work together peacefully.
But not everyone is happy with the Republic’s expansion, and one group of marauders called The Nihil begin a campaign of terror and chaos.
The Jedi and the Republic work together to combat the Nihil threat, but things continue to escalate.
In the year 232 BBY the Nihil destroy a Republic ship while it is flying in Hyperspace. The resulting debris, still travelling within Hyperspace, now becomes a deadly galaxy wide threat – with large chunks of metal hitting the surface of planets at faster than light-speed.
The Jedi spring into action, doing their best to help prevent disaster, but entire civilisations fall and billions of lives are lost.
Confrontations continue between the Jedi and the Nihil but this only results in further devastation.
Eventually peace returns, but the Republic and the Jedi Order are changed forever
Fall of the Jedi (32 BBY-19 BBY)
So ends the events of the High Republic, and we enter a new era, one which is familiar to us from the Prequel movies.
Called Fall of the Jedi, this era begins about fifty years after the High Republic.
A group called the Confederacy of Independent Systems withdraws from the Republic and threatens the galaxy with an army of droids.
The Republic Chancellor - a man called Sheev Palpatine – commissions an army of clones to help fight the separatists, and The Clone Wars begin with the Jedi and the Clones working closely together to battle the Droid Army.
But secretly, Chancellor Palpatine is actually a Sith Lord called Darth Sidious and he has ambitions to rule the galaxy by using his clone army to destroy the Jedi.
Meanwhile, on a desert planet called Tatooine, a Jedi Master called Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi find a young slave boy called Anakin Skywalker who has a unique and powerful connection to the force.
Qui-Gon recognises him as ‘the Chosen One’, someone who can ‘bring balance to the force’, but before he can train the boy, Qui-Gon dies and Anakin’s training is left to Obi-Wan to complete.
But Darth Sidius has taken an interest in the boy too and successfully manipulates him into turning to the dark side.
Finally revealed as a Sith lord, Sidius ends the clone wars by using Anakin and his clones to betray the Jedi, nearly wiping them out completely – save for only a handful of Jedi which go into hiding.
The Fall of the Jedi ends with Anakin sustaining life-threatening injuries and becoming the Sith apprentice - Darth Vader!
Reign of the Empire (19 BBY-9 BBY)
Following the prequels, we enter the era known as Reign of the Empire 19 years BBY.
This part of the timeline is covered extensively by many of the recent tv shows, like the cartoon Rebels, and in live-action shows such as Andor and Kenobi showing us what life is like under the grip of Darth Sidius’ Galactic Empire,
During this period we see Darth Vader being tasked with hunting down any surviving Jedi – including Obi Wan Kenobi who himself is tasked with secretly protecting Anakin’s twin children.
A rebellion against the Empire grows and we come to learn that a moon-sized superweapon called the Death Star is being built which when fully operational will be capable of destroying an entire planet.
A group of rebels steal plans for the Death Star, and pass them onto a rebel Princess, called Leia Organa
Age of Rebellion (5 BBY-0 BBY)
That brings us to the Age of Rebellion – just five years before the Battle of Yavin.
And this is where most of us will be familiar with the story as presented in the original movie trilogy.
Leia Organa, who happens to be Darth Vader’s secret daughter, is captured with the plans to the Death Star.
A young farmboy named Luke Skywalker, who happens to be Darth Vader’s secret son discovers his connection to the force, rescues the Princess, joins a group of rebels, and helps to destroy the Death Star in an epic battle against Vader and the Galactic Empire.
Following this victory, the Rebellion gathers support and the Empire rebuilds.
Quite literally in fact, because they simply build another a Death Star.
Luke learns that Vader is his father and the Princess his sister. The Rebels battle against the Empire with the help of some furry teddy bears. Vader is redeemed by sacrificing himself to kill the Emperor. And the rebels blow up the second Death Star
The New Republic (9 ABY-?)
Nine years after the Battle of Yavin, we enter the next era: The New Republic.
In this period, the remnants of the Empire have retreated and the Rebels happily announce the formation of a new demilitarized Republic.
And so, the Empire is gone, but this leaves a lot of disarray across the galaxy and crime and lawlessness grows.
In this vacuum of law, people seek the services of bounty hunters as featured in the tv show, The Mandalorian, which introduces a masked warrior called Din Djarin who in the course of his job finds himself the protector of a Force-sensitive child called Grogu (aka ‘Baby Yoda’).
Luke Skywalker, now a Jedi, starts the construction of a new Jedi Order, which fails, and Luke, seeing himself and Jedis as the problem, steps away from a life and disappears to become a hermit on a remote planet.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the galaxy, somehow the emperor has returned, and he’s pulling strings and building a secret fleet of battleships ready to take over the galaxy (again).
There’s just no telling some people.
Rise of the First Order
Around 33 years ABY, we enter the era known as Rise of the First Order, and this is the time of the Sequel movies, ie chapters 7, 8 and 9.
This period starts with the remnants of the Empire gathering together under a new banner - The First Order - a group who are attempting to rebuild the Empire and control the galaxy through fear and intimidation thanks to their superweapon - a giant planet sized lazer cannon.
Meanwhile a force-sensitive woman called Rey Palpatine – the Emperor’s granddaughter - joins a group of Resistance against the First Order.
The First Order use Starkiller Base to destroy the New Republic Senate, after which, Rey and the Resistance work together to destroy the weapon.
After their success, Rey discovers the location of Luke Skywalker and seeks him out, hoping to be trained in the ways of the Jedi, but is rejected by him, so she takes some of his Jedi books to learn from instead.
Emperor Palpatine makes his big reveal and a huge battle takes place during which Rey resists turning to the dark side.
She kills her grandfather (which, on reflection, seems pretty dark anyway), then she rejects her heritage and takes the name, ‘Skywalker’.
This closes out this era and the 9-chapter Skywalker Saga
New Jedi Order (50 ABY-?)
The final era on the canon timeline is the New Jedi Order.
We don’t know much about this era because it has only recently been announced.
All we know is that this era will take place 50 years ABY and will focus on Rey Skywalker as she attempts to create a new Jedi Order by training force-sensitives like herself.
In April 2023 a new film was announced which is said to tell this story, so.. while that’s the Star Wars canon timeline as we know it so far - expect much more drama to come!
Wood in space!
The topic of this episode was particularly tricky because wood is not a hugely significant material in the Star Wars universe.
Metals and alloys, like Durasteel and Beskar play a much bigger role, with spaceships, droids, and weaponry being much more commonly used than anything made of wood.
Even in the history of The High Republic, hundreds of years before the events of the nine saga movies, technology rather than trees is still very much at the centre of things.
But that’s not to say wood plays no role at all.
Jedi Master Yoda retired to the swamp planet of Dagobah where he lived among plant-life of all types, used tree roots to make his home, and walked with the help of a wooden stick carved from the gimer bush.
In Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, the Ewoks lived on a forest moon called Endor, and built their villages and weapons out of wood.
In the Clone Wars cartoons we’re introduced to a species of 3m tall, bioluminescent, vegetal lifeforms called, The Kindalo. They are tree-like in appearance and move about on two lower outgrowths and have shoots for arms with four finger-like appendages.
And the Uneti is described as being an incredibly rare species of long-lived Force-sensitive trees which the Jedi grew in their temples because of their connection to the Force. We saw this tree in the movie The Last Jedi, where a hollowed-out Uneti tree was used by Luke Skywalker as a library to house the sacred texts of the Jedi.
Burryaga Agaburry and Kashyyk
In the southwestern quadrant of the galaxy, in the Mid-Rim is a temperate jungle planet called Kashyyyk which is covered in Wroshyr trees, a species of giant, long-lived, cone-bearing trees that could grow up to 400 meters in height - the same height as the Eiffel Tower.
The interconnected branches of the Wroshyr tree form the foundation for entire cities for the principle species on the planet – the Wookiee.
Wookiees were a species of tall, hairy humanoids that grew to nearly three meters tall and could live for up to 400 years. Covered from head-to-toe in a thick, shaggy coat of water-resistant hair, they also have extendable claws which they use for climbing, because using them for violence is against their honour code.
They weigh up to 150 kgs (330lbs) and maintain that by eating up to 6,000 calories a day through a diet of wild plants, berries and meat.
The Wookiees are notable for speaking a variety of native languages, including Shyriiwook, Thykarann and Xaczik – all of which consist of growling and howls.
In fact, Wookiees have over one-hundred-and-fifty words for the word ‘wood’.
Often regarded as intelligent, sophisticated, loyal and trusting, they are also known to descend into a beserker rage when angered.
And it’s then when you might find a wookie using one of a couple weapons made from Wroshyr wood which is incredibly strong and durable.
The bowcaster is a powerful crossbow-shaped weapon that combines wood with advanced technology, to fire powerful, high-velocity energy bolts that can penetrate armour and inflict tremendous damage on an enemy.
But close up, you might also encounter wooden staffs wielded by Wookies as melee weapons too, handcrafted from wroshyr wood and adorned with intricate carvings.
One notable Wookie from this time period was Burryaga Agaburry, a 7’4” brown-haired Wookiee who was unique amongst his species for being Force-sensitive and a member of the Jedi Order.
Appearing first in the 2021 novel Light of the Jedi, by Charles Soule, Burryaga is introduced as an apprentice whose experience as a Jedi is rooted in his Wookie culture - describing the force as being like leaves on a gigantic tree with sprawling limbs, and wielding a blue lightsaber crafted from Meryx - a rare fossilized wood from an extinct Wroshyr tree.
The wood was unique in that normally it had a white and clouded look, but could shine like gold when hit by light at a certain angle.
Known as ‘the gentle giant of the Jedi Order’, Burryaga is described as being unusually empathetic in nature, able to sense the emotions and feelings of those around him with a remarkable level of depth.
And it was this skill which helped him save the lives of countless people who were trapped but still alive in the debris of the ship which the Nihil blew up while in Hyperspace.
And if you’re keen to see more of this furry Jedi, recent set photos for the upcoming TV show The Acolyte (which will be the first to show the High Republic in live-action) were revealed which showed an actor in full Wookie costume looking remarkably similar to Burryaga Agaburry.
Watch this space.
The Dark Side… of wood!
In 232 BBY, the Galactic Republic built Starlight Beacon - a symbol of their commitment to peace and prosperity and a beacon of hope to those living in the remote Outer Rim territories.
Starlight Beacon was home to a large group of Jedi and Republic from all walks of life.
In the High Republic novel Into the Dark by Claudia Gray, we find two Jedi who are preparing to relocate from the capital world of Coruscant to go live aboard this new space-station.
However, on their journey there, they encounter a problem and have to drop out of hyperspace, where they are stranded far from civilization. To add to their problems, a dying star is threatening to go supernova in their proximity very soon.
Luckily, they discover an ancient space station in the system which can provide them with shelter, so they quickly get on board and find it abandoned.
Setting about exploring it, they discover an area in the centre which is overflowing with alien plant life - trees, bushes and shrubs all being managed by garden droids.
Surrounding the plants are some strange statues which give the Jedi some super sinister feelings that they realise is connected with the dark side of the Force.
Believing that the statues contain the dark side - they agree that the best course of action is to remove them from the station in case the darkness breaks free.
Returning to Coruscant with the statues, the Jedi attempt to exorcise the darkness from the statues but fail - realising that the statues were never meant to hold the dark side after all - they were actually keeping a protecting the Space Station from another evil presence.
And so, by removing the statues, the Jedi had freed the darkness instead!
Seeking to make amends for their mistake, the Jedi quickly take the idols back to the station – but when they arrive they discover the source of the darkness - a new and horrific species called the Drengir - a sentient plant said to be born of darkness, hatred, and pain.
The Drengir are grown from seeds, which take root and grow into towering masses over 5 metres tall within just a couple of days of being planted.
They are a nightmare vision of pure evil, having twisted tentacles made of poisonous vines, and a mouth filled with vicious-looking teeth that they use to eat the meat of all non-botanical species.
Their insatiable hunger for meat is their sole purpose and desire, moving from planet to planet in search of food that they prefer to eat alive by pushing their vines deep into the ears, nose, and mouth of the prey - before draining the life away painfully and slowly.
Created by comic book writer Cavan Scott, the Drengir were inspired by watching a scene from the original trilogy movie, The Empire Strikes Back - specifically the moment where Luke Skywalker is sent on a training mission into the depths of a swampy wood to face the apparition of Darth Vader.
This scene which made him think of how vegetable nature has both a light and dark side too.
And what a dark side. In the novel, Into the Dark, the Jedi discover to their horror that the Drengir’s wooden bodies are impervious to blasters and have the ability to regenerate quickly from lightsaber wounds.
Eventually, realising that they are ill-equipped to win the fight against their veggie foe, the Jedi simply open an airlock and blow the creatures out into space.
Which is a pretty decent plan B.
A new favourite villain among fans, you can expect to see much more of the Drengir in the High Republic stories in the future.
Introducing Jake M Wood
As part of this episode, Ryan also spoke with a comic-book artist and letterer for Star Wars comic books covering the period of the High Republic.
in 2020, Disney contracted the services of a publishing house called ‘IDW’ to begin working on a new 13-part comic book series called Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures.
Published in 2021 to great acclaim, the story, written by Daniel José Older, focuses on a group of Padawans traveling the galaxy and learning the ways of the Jedi under the tutelage of Master Yoda.
Jake M Wood shared his thoughts and experience on the craft of lettering in comics and some of the tricks he uses to evoke speech intensity and sound effects, and gave a fascinating insight into the world of comic book production.
If you want to see some of his work, check out the Star Wars High Republic Adventures comics, volumes 1 to 3, but also his other work for IDW, including Transformers: King Grimlock and the original series called Crashing, about a medical specialist who helps patients with powers in a hospital with a policy for no powered patients.
He’s also a gifted musician – you can find him under the name ‘Wireframe’ on Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp where you can listen to his stuff – including his latest EP, Decide to Stay.