We may not visit the Black Spire at Galaxy’s Edge for a while, but we can read about it in an intriguing way — through a story the denizens of Battu tell of a brave young girl who fooled a terrible slaver. The only reliable witness being, of course, the mute petrified tree that sits on the edge of a fabled land in a galaxy far, far away.
That’s only one of the stories in last summer’s Star Wars Myths and Fables, written by George Mann with lush paintings by Grant Griffin. The tales vary in tone, and don’t always focus on the brave and the good. But they’re all fascinating pieces of world-building, and often downright charming.
Mann unlocks the potential of the Star Wars universe, which most people still see as tightly interconnected. Though the opening tale “The Knight and the Dragon” sees an unnamed Obi-Wan Kenobi through the eyes of the Tusken Raiders of Tatooine, Mann also writes a cautionary tale of an alien race’s hubris that has nothing to do with the Skywalker saga.
Obviously, Jedi are there, and Sith, too, but properly placed in a fairy tale context. These are the stories they tell within that universe, and the Force is not a force in the magic used by a witch with a Wookie familiar.
Perhaps it’s that Star Wars seems like a limiting name for limiting storytelling possibilities, that some people are fatigued by it. But we are saddled with it. It’s creators like Mann and his peers working on “The High Republic” that can keep pushing the boundaries of the concept. (They’re not the first, but in the Disney era, they’re the highest profile.)
It’s not a graphic novel, thus I’m stretching the boundaries of what the Isolation Stack is supposed to be. But I bought this last summer at SDCC 2020, just before interviewing Mann for the podcast. I pulled it from my stack last week, and I’ve found the stories charming and distracting in between bouts with life. Most of the stories are family appropriate for bedtime stories, though as in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Mann doesn’t shy away from darker moral lessons. It’s nice to get a little honesty in with my fantasy.
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