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When I first met Luke, I was under a compulsion to kill him. Generally not a good sign for a lasting relationship. Such was his courage that he did not run, and did not strike me. He accepted me, as no one else had done before.
~ Mara Jade Skywalker, to Luke Skywalker

Mara Jade Skywalker has been a major protagonist in several Star Wars novels since her introduction in Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire. A former assassin of Emperor Palpatine, Mara originally planned on killing Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker, fulfilling her Master's last wish. However, upon learning that the Emperor was not the benevolent dictator she thought he was, she allied with Skywalker and eventually became a Jedi Master.

In Vision of the Future, she agreed to marry her former enemy Skywalker. From this point, she was a main character in almost every book until her death at the hands of Darth Caedus.

Emperor's Hand

Service to evil is still evil.
~ Mara Jade
Born two years after her future husband, Mara Jade was taken from her family at an early age by the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who by this point ruled the galaxy as Emperor Palpatine. On Coruscant, Palpatine trained Jade to be one of the Emperor's Hands, virtually an extension of his will, who would go anywhere in the galaxy to carry out his orders, including murder. Her mission was so secret that not even the Emperor's closest aides knew of her. The few who did knew to fear her.
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Mara Jade, Emperor's Hand

Though Jade's interactions with many of Palpatine's servants were remote, there have been noted accounts when she met with them. Darth Vader, one of the few who knew Jade's true identity, often worked alongside her on the few times when their missions coincided. Though outwardly they remained cordial, Jade could sense that Vader did not like her. It is unknown whether or not Vader saw her as a rival as Palpatine's apprentice. Jade considered this, but found it ludicrous. However, Jade and Vader did share something in common: a disdain for the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) and a loathing of incompetent Imperials, such as Kendal Ozzel.

Another high-ranking Imperial who knew Jade's true identity was Thrawn, the only alien among the thirteen Grand Admirals. Jade met the Chiss commander on the day he was promoted to Grand Admiral, in which Palpatine informed Thrawn of her position within his court. Earlier, she and Thrawn had unknowingly worked together against the warlord Nuso Esva, the one villain who could unite Palpatine's Empire with the Rebel Alliance.

Even as a calculating Imperial assassin, Jade was not a villain, per se. She acted out the Emperor's will, because she believed what she was doing was right. She was not an emotionless killer. She once spared an Imperial governor targeted for assassination because she realized he was being blackmailed by the Rebel Alliance. Also, she pardoned an illicit battalion of stormtroopers called the Hand of Judgment after she deemed that they were trying to do the right thing. When questioned by Vader, she pointe out that if the Sith Lord could have the entire 501st Legion, she could have a few stormtroopers to herself.

Following Vader's duel with Luke Skywalker on Cloud City - and his revelation to his son and the invitation to join him in ruling the Empire - Palpatine secretly ordered Jade to kill Skywalker. She beat him to Jabba's palace and went undercover as Arica, but she failed in her mission, and Skywalker went on to help destroy the Emperor along with his second Death Star battle station. Jade was filled with guilt and vowed to still kill Skywalker, for that was the Emperor's final command.

Smuggler

Mara once told this one that all it took to lift the Emperor'z veil from her eyes was a long walk in the forest with this man. That after she had come to know Luke Skywalker, it was easy to step into the light.
~ Saba Sebatyne, on Mara Jade
After the Emperor's death, Jade's Force powers diminished and she became an outcast who had to find a new job. She ended up working for smuggler Talon Karrde, after saving his life under the alias Celina Marniss. After identifying herself, Karrde hired her and began grooming her as his second-in-command. But in a strange twist of fate, Jade did encounter Skywalker - and saved his life, a favor he was to trade with her several times. Due to the ysalamiri at Karrde's Myrkr base, Skywalker was cut off from Force, a prospect Jade took delight in.
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Mara Jade, when she met Luke Skywalker

However, following Skywalker's escape into the Myrkr forest, Jade ended up being forced to work alongside him to survive. On their way out of the forest, Jade finally confessed why she hated him - she believed he was the one who had killed Emperor Palpatine. Because of this, she said, Skywalker deserved to die. Unfortunately, rather than kill him, Jade ended up saving the Jedi from the forces of Grand Admiral Thrawn, the new leader of the Empire. Despite Jade's confession, Skywalker began to feel sympathy for her, for he sensed she was a good person who had been greatly misled by her late Master.

Following Skywalker's escape from Myrkr, Jade's Force powers miraculously returned - and with them, the telepathic voice of the long-dead Emperor. Despite this, each time Jade confronted Skywalker, she would end up saving his life. Her rationalization for this was that while Thrawn existed as a greater threat, she needed Skywalker alive. After she was brought before Thrawn, Jade tried to retake her place in the Imperial hierarchy, but with Palpatine's death, so died the prestige of the Emperor's Hands. In a conversation with Thrawn, Jade learned that she may not have been Palpatine's only Hand.

Jade eventually escaped from Thrawn, but learned that this was merely part of the Grand Admiral's plan. Jade unknowingly led the Chimaera right to Karrde. With Karrde now being held in Imperial captivity, Jade sought out Skywalker and saved him from the mad Jedi clone Joruus C'Baoth. Working together, Jade and Skywalker freed Karrde from Thrawn. In gratitude, Karrde agreed to let the New Republic have the enigmatic Dark Force. If it weren't for Senator Borsk Fey'lya's error, this might have succeeded.

After being wounded in combat, Jade was taken in by the New Republic and cared for. To her dismay, one of her smuggler allies, Zakarisz Ghent, was helping the Republic fight off the Empire. While on Coruscant, Jade saved the newborn Jacen and Jaina Solo from Imperial agents. Though Han and Leia Solo saw Jade as a hero, Jade was taken into custody, after Thrawn leaked it out that she was once the Emperor's Hand. While in captivity, Jade admitted to Organa Solo that she wanted to kill her brother. Though Organa Solo tried to convince Jade that Palpatine needed to die, it did little to help. All she said was that she would work with the New Republic only to prevent Thrawn from starting another bout of Clone Wars.

As it turned out, Jade's status as a former Imperial agent proved fruitful, for she had been to the Enperor's secret storehouse on Wayland. As the destruction of Mount Tantiss would be key to Thrawn's defeat, Skywalker, Solo, and Lando Calrissian freed Jade from captivity, and she escorted them to Wayland. While in the Wayland jungle (escorted by Noghri), Jade learned that Skywalker had not killed Palpatine at all - the Emperor had been betrayed by his servant, the redeemed Anakin Skywalker, who she had not previously realized was Darth Vader's alter ego. Upon realizing this, Jade began to realize Palpatine was not looking for justice, but vengeance. This would help Skywalker in his efforts to redeem the former Emperor's Hand.

In the battle at Mount Tantiss, Jade fulfilled the Emperor's last command in an unusual way. When she and Skywalker apprehended C'Baoth on Wayland, the insane Dark Jedi introduced his new apprentice - Skywalker's clone, Luuke. C'Baoth hoped that Skywalker's essentially killing himself would drive the Jedi mad. However, his plan was foiled by Jade, who struck down Luuke, and subsequently killed C'Baoth himself, with the help of Skywalker and Organa Solo. She was finally free of the Emperor's will.

Self-Employed

When I entered the atmosphere I could feel you and Kun tangling. The Force was boiling.
~ Mara Jade, to Corran Horn
Over the next few years, Jade helped Karrde form a guild, the Smugglers' Alliance, and threw its support to the New Republic. Then Karrde turned his operations over to Jade completely for a while. After Skywalker started his Jedi Praxeum, Jade became a pupil briefly, forming a friendship with fellow Jedi trainee Corran Horn and helped him in the fight against long-dead Sith Lord Exar Kun. However, she soon departed from the Praxeum to continue running the Smugglers' Alliance and help challenge the hit-and-run attacks of Imperial Admiral Natasi Daala.
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Mara Jade with Talon Karrde and Corran Horn.

As Jade worked close with Solo and Calrissian, Jade grew closer with the latter and helped him form a legitimate business on the spice mines of Kessel. At Karrde's bequest, Jade and Calrissian worked together to locate former cutthroat smuggler Jorj Car'das. As they worked close, Jade and Calrissian used the rumor that they were in a relationship to their advantage. This would unknowingly spark jealousy in Skywalker, who by this point was pursuing a relationship with Jedi heretic Callista Ming. However, when Jade met Ming, she denied any romantic interest in Skywalker.

Eventually, after Jade and Calrissian's quest bore no fruit, the two onetime smugglers broke it off, and a bored Karrde returned to playing an active role in his organization. Later, at Solo's request, Jade and Karrde brought to the planet Almania several ysalamiri, which Solo used to help Skywalker and Organa Solo defeat the Dark Jedi Kueller, a fallen student of Skywalker's.

Shortly after this, Jade became involved in the kidnapping of industrialist Ja Bardrin's daughter Sansia. When Bardrin held Karrde's people captive, Jade slipped into Chay Praysh's base and freed Sansia and her father's ship, the Winning Gamble. When Karrde discovered what was happening, he grew angry and chased off Bardrin, who cared more about the Winning Gamble than his daughter. In the end, Jade took Bardrin's ship as her own, and renamed it Jade's Fire. As captain of Jade's Fire, Jade left Karrde's employ and started out on her own as the head of a trading company.

One year after the fall of Kueller, Jade got involved in the first Corellian insurrection, in which the Sacorrian Triad used the ambitious Thrackan Sal-Solo as a pawn in their plan to conquer the galaxy. The key to this plan was whoever controlled Centerpoint Station. Jade worked closely with the Solo family against their evil cousin. Due to her past as an Imperial agent, neither Solo nor Organa Solo trusted Jade much, but she proved helpful in thwarting the Triad's plot. During the conflict, Jade had little interaction with Skywalker, who was busy mourning his lost love, Gaeriel Captison.

By the time of the Caamas incident, Jade's trading company had collapsed, and she was back in Karrde's employ. After Moff Vilim Disra, who Jade had encountered in her past, made a desperate ploy to resurrect the Empire, Jade took a group of Karrde's people to Nirauan to search out the strange ships that attacked them in the Kauron asteroid field. She was stranded on the planet, and was eventually rescued by Skywalker. While on Nirauan, Jade and Skywalker realized they worked well together and began to discuss their feelings for each other.

This was interrupted by a meeting with the Empire of the Hand, a mix of Imperial and Chiss forces who followed the late Grand Admiral Thrawn. In a conversation with Baron Soontir Fel and Admiral Voss Parck, Jade learned that Thrawn had been motivated by his belief that a dangerous threat existed out in the Unknown Regions - something so dangerous the New Republic would be unprepared to prevent them from conquering the galaxy.

Though Jade believed that Fel and Parck believed there was a pertinent threat out there, she felt that currently the Empire of the Hand was a threat to an established peace between the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant. As such, she and Skywalker destroyed Thrawn's clone which was to be activated ten years after his death. In the ensuing fight, Jade and Skywalker's relationship grew stronger than ever, and the Jedi Master proposed; Jade accepted, if and when they escaped. Following their escape, Jade sacrificed Jade's Fire in order to stall the Empire of the Hand.

Following the signing of the Gavrisom-Pellaeon treaty, Jade and Skywalker were wed, once in a Jedi ceremony officiated by Kam Solusar, and again in a public ceremony on Coruscant, officiated by Gial Ackbar. The newly wed Skywalkers subsequently agreed that they should travel the galaxy as Jedi instructors, leaving the Jedi Praxeum on Yavin IV to grow beyond Skywalker's vision. As a wedding gift, Skywalker would replace Jade's Fire with a yacht named the Jade Sabre.

Jedi Master

You didn't know, but after that pirate base thing, Faughn told me you and I made a good team. She was right. We really did.
~ Mara Jade, to Luke Skywalker
Three years after the end of the Galactic Civil War, the Skywalkers were contacted by Karrde and Booster Terrik, who had received a message from the Empire of the Hand. Unfortunately, the message was intercepted by Dean Jinzler. When the Skywalkers contacted Admiral Parck, they realized the Chiss had discovered the remains of Outbound Flight and wished to return it to the Jedi Order. Out of curiosity, the Skywalkers joined on a mission with the Chiss and the Empire of the Hand to discover the long-destroyed expedition.
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Mara Jade Skywalker with her husband Luke

As it turned out, the quest was just a ruse pulled off by Aristocra Formbi to pull out the savage Vagaari race into the open. In the ensuing fight, the Skywalkers ended up fighting the Vagaari, as well as an archaic Trade Federation droideka. Eventually, the Jedi Masters prevented the Vagaari from escaping with an Old Republic Dreadnaught, and the Chiss were able to launch a war against the Vagaari, which Thrawn had tried to instigate fifty years before. A few years after this, Jade Skywalker would accept as her Padawan apprentice her niece Jaina Solo.

Yuuzhan Vong War

I'm a fighter. I've always been a fighter. The few times when I have been at leisure, I've been miserable. I want challenges, I crave them.
~ Mara Jade Skywalker, during the Yuuzhan Vong War
Six years after the end of the Galactic Civil War, Jade Skywalker suddenly became ill. Through the sheer will of the Force she remained active. Little did she know that her illness had actually been engineered by Yuuzhan Vong Executor Nom Anor. She resisted the disease he had created long after other victims were dead and buried. After the former Jedi Knight Vergere escaped from the Millennium Falcon and her servitude to the Yuuzhan Vong priestess Elan, Han Solo returned to Coruscant with a sample of Vergere's tears that temporarily drove off the disease.

Shortly before the Battle of Duro, Jade Skywalker discovered she was pregnant with Skywalker's son. This coincided with the destruction of the Jade Sabre. It would shortly be replaced by the yacht, the Jade Shadow, which Jade Skywalker would use until her death. Like her brother-in-law, Jade Skywalker modified the simple yacht until it had become one of the fastest ships in the galaxy. By the time she was finished, the Jade Shadow would rival the Falcon in its speed. She was essentially the Han Solo of her and Skywalker's relationship.

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Mara Jade Skywalker duels Yuuzhan Vong agent Yomin Carr.

Though she refused to stop fighting the Yuuzhan Vong, Jade Skywalker realized that she could no longer be in the forefront of the fight. When the Senate ordered Skywalker's arrest, the couple set out on the Errant Venture, where Jade Skywalker struggled with her pregnancy. With Skywalker's devotion to her and his connection with the Force, he drove out the Yuuzhan Vong disease and helped Jade Skywalker give birth to a son, Ben. The Skywalkers spent less time with Ben than they hoped to. With the fall of Coruscant, Ben was separated from them but kept safe by Han and Leia Solo.

Shortly after the death of her brief Padawan Anakin Solo, Jade Skywalker journeyed with her husband and the Jedi Padawan Tahiri Veila to investigate Yuuzhan Vong-controlled Coruscant (Yuuzhan'tar). While there, Skywalker and Veila rounded on Lord Nyax (the son of one of Jade Skywalker's fellow Emperor's Hands) and defeated him. Around the same time, Jade Skywalker apprehended the treacherous Senator Viqi Shesh, who had used an Anakin Solo lookalike in an attempt to kidnap her son. Before Jade Skywalker could kill Shesh, the Senator committed suicide. During this same time, the grieving Jaina Solo left Jade Skywalker's side and became the brief apprentice of Kyp Durron.

Following her nephew Jacen's miraculous return from Yuuzhan Vong captivity, Jade Skywalker was with her husband when they interrogated Solo's torturer Vergere, the same woman who saved Jade Skywalker's life a few years before. The Skywalkers were both enraged by Vergere's treatment of Solo and fearful of the influence she had on the boy. During this time, the Skywalkers supported Cal Omas when he ran for New Republic Chief of State and became one of the six Jedi Masters on his Council. They were ostracized by some of the non-Jedi members after they protested the use of Alpha Red against the Yuuzhan Vong.

Following Vergere's sacrifice at Ebaq 9, the Skywalkers, Solo, Jedi Knights Saba Sebatyne and Tekli, and astrophysicist Danni Quee boarded the Jade Shadow on a quest to find a peaceful resolution to the war. Their mission was to follow Vergere's advice and locate the legendary Zonama Sekot. On the way, Jade Skywalker's team had an encounter with the Imperial Remnant, where they both saved them from the Yuuzhan Vong and helped Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon convince the Moffs to ally with the newborn Galactic Alliance against the Vong.

Shortly after this, the Skywalkers convinced the Chiss, who had by this point merged with the Empire of the Hand, to join the fight, saving the Fel family from an assassination attempt. With the help of the Chiss, Solo located Zonama Sekot. While on the surface of the living world, the Skywalkers met the planetary consciousness Sekot, who appeared to them in the form of a twelve-year-old Anakin Skywalker. In the conversation, they helped convince Sekot to return to the Galactic Alliance space with them.

During the recapture of Yuuzhan'tar, Jade Skywalker took part in a mission to pacify the World Brain, while her husband, niece, and nephew confronted Onimi and his puppet Supreme Overlord Shimrra. During the fight, Jade Skywalker captured Nom Anor and forced him to help them neutralize the World Brain. Fortunately, Jacen was able to convince dhuryam to defect to the Galactic Alliance. During the fight, Skywalker suffered an amphistaff wound, but through Force healing he survived.

Mother

In the wake of the Yuuzhan Vong War, the Skywalkers both worried about their son's decision to cut himself off from the Force, and were glad when Jacen Solo agreed to work with Ben. At the height of the Swarm War, Jade Skywalker took a shattergun pellet in the gut on a failed mission to capture Lomi Plo, the Unseen Queen of the Dark Nest. After a brief rehabilitation, Jade Skywalker was back in action.

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Mara Jade Skywalker with her husband Luke and son Ben

During this time, the Gorog hive tried to imply that Jade Skywalker was responsible for the death of Padmé Amidala during her time as an Imperial assassin. This was proven false after she and Skywalker watched a holographic recording of Amidala's death at the hands of Darth Vader. Subsequently, Skywalker apprehended Plo and UnuThul and brought down the Dark Nest.

Death

You think you've won, but Luke will crush you. And I refuse to let you destroy the future for my Ben.
~ Mara Jade Skywalker's last words
Both Skywalkers tried to concentrate on their son's continuing education, working with Solo to help Ben grow in the Force. However, Ben began to grow distant and Solo veered toward the dark side. Skywalker realized that the Dark Jedi Lumiya, a former Emperor's Hand and rival of Jade Skywalker's, had returned. Believing Lumiya to be responsible for her nephew's growing darker, Jade Skywalker grew determined to hunt down the Dark Lady of the Sith. Both Skywalkers believed with Lumiya out of the way, Solo could be brought back to the light side.

However, during this time, Solo managed to oust Chief Omas from power and became joint Chiefs of State with Admiral Cha Niathal. Even before this, Jade Skywalker was beginning to fear that her nephew was making the same choices her old Master had, and she was watching the rise of another Emperor. This was especially personal for Jade Skywalker, who had once respected Palpatine. She felt that she was in the best position to assassinate Sidious during his reign, and she had done nothing. Feeling angry with herself, Jade Skywalker swore that she would not make the same error with Solo, especially after she learned he coerced her son into assassinating Dur Gejjen.

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Mara Jade Skywalker's funeral

On Kavan, Jade Skywalker tracked down Solo and dueled him. Jade Skywalker and Solo grappled with each other for several minutes before Solo extracted a poisoned dart and jammed it into her leg. As she died, Jade Skywalker railed against Solo, claiming that he was as much of a megalomaniac as her Sith Master had once been. When Solo tried to defend his actions, Jade Skywalker swore with her last breath that Skywalker would crush him and she would not let him to destroy the future for her Ben.

Jade Skywalker's funeral took place in the Jedi Temple, with a strong eulogy from Sebatyne. Just as Solo turned up, Jade Skywalker's body disappeared, becoming one with the Force - a sure sign to Ben Skywalker that his mother was revealing her killer. Skywalker, however, at first believed Lumiya was the murderer and killed her. Later, he came to believe that the Dark Jedi Alema Rar was behind Jade Skywalker's death.

Post-Mortem

Solo's turn to the dark side and emergence as Darth Caedus accompanied a new civil war between the Galactic Alliance and the Confederation. Opposed to Caedus's draconian methods as Chief of State, Skywalker withdrew the Jedi Order from the Galactic Alliance and established a hidden base on Endor's forest moon.

Still anguished over the loss of his wife, Skywalker was shaken from his depression by bonding with his son. Ben was determined to prove that Caedus had killed his mother, but he sought justice, not vengeance. He used his GAG training to methodically piece together the evidence that ultimately pointed to Caedus. Finally, Caedus confessed in a recorded conversation with Lon Shevu, who the Sith Lord mistakenly believed was his most trusted servant.

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Mara Jade Skywalker as a Force ghost

With new resolve, Skywalker developed plans to finally confront and defeat Caedus. He made secret entreaties to Niathal, who had grown wary of Caedus. Niathal gave Skywalker information vital to upending Caedus's plans to take the starship yards of Fondor. During the Second Battle of Fondor, Niathal defected to the Jedi Coalition, and Caedus's new apprentice Veila murdered Pellaeon when he refused to aid Caedus.

Eventually, Jade Skywalker's murder was avenged by her former Padawan Jaina Solo, who trained with Boba Fett to fulfill her destiny as Sword of the Jedi. In a final duel, Caedus was struck down by his sister. During this time, Jade Skywalker appeared twice as a ghost - first to her son, then to her husband.

Three years after her death, Jade Skywalker was among the spirits her husband and son came across on their odyssey to prove Caedus's downfall was not Skywalker's fault. Several decades later, Jade Skywalker appeared to her descendant Cade Skywalker, as one of several spirits who guided him in his fight against Darth Krayt.

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