The lightwhip is one of the deadliest weapons of the Expanded Universe – and it’s returning in Lucasfilm’s High Republic initiative.
Star Wars is bringing back a weapon seen only in the old Expanded Universe – the lightsaber whip. In January, Lucasfilm Publishing will begin the boldest transmedia initiative it has ever undertaken. A range of books and comics will begin to explore the High Republic Era, a time some 200 years before the events of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
Lucasfilm has already revealed the High Republic initiative will redefine our understanding of the Force. Speaking at the High Republic panel at New York Comic Con 2020, author Charles Soule revealed Master Yoda had shaped the understanding of the Force seen in the movies. But the High Republic was a time before Yoda’s teachings became so central to the Jedi when every individual Jedi was encouraged to experience the Force in their own way. The Jedi of the prequel era were just a shadow of the Order as it was.
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Nerdist has just released an excerpt from Justina Ireland’s High Republic novel A Test of Courage, scheduled for release on January 5. Its central character is 16-year-old Vernestra “Vern” Rwoh, a high achiever who is one of the youngest Jedi ever to pass the Trials and become a Knight. Vern’s first mission goes awry when her ship is knocked out of hyperspace, and she must protect a group of crash survivors from the harsh jungle environment. Fortunately, the Force appears to have prepared Vern for this catastrophe, because according to the excerpt, she was prompted to modify her lightsaber – and turn it into a lightwhip.
“Watch.” Vernestra twisted the front ring on her lightsaber, and the single blade fractured and split before falling in a sinuous strand of purple light. Vernestra swung the lightwhip so that the deadly beam cut through the growth in front of her, clearing the same path as she and Imri had been clearing in a fraction of the time.
“Wait, how did you ﬁgure out how to do that?” Imri asked. He didn’t sound judgmental about the unorthodox weapon, merely curious. “Did you study one of the light weapon archives?”
“No, the entire design came to me in the middle of the night a few weeks ago. I couldn’t sleep until I’d ﬁnished the modiﬁcation.” Vernestra swung the whip in a horizontal ﬁgure eight, letting the bright violet blade work from the residual momentum. She’d started training with the whip in secret, and even Douglas had not known of the modiﬁcations to her lightsaber. Imri was the ﬁrst to see.
The lightwhip appeared several times in the old Expanded Universe, but it was typically associated with the Force’s dark side, most notably used by a Sith named Lumiya. Role-playing books published in the Disney era have suggested it exists within the new canon, but this is the first time one has been seen. Interestingly, according to the expert, the Jedi are uncomfortable with the lightwhip in the Disney canon, too, associating it with the Nightsisters of Dathomir. “During the Sith Wars, the Jedi also used lightwhips,” Vern insists, defending herself. “Have you read the testimonies of Cervil the Uncanny? She states that the whip was sometimes used to defend against the Sith Lords who used the Forbidden Forms.“
The reference to the Forbidden Forms is intriguing. There are seven known lightsaber forms, and Vern is likely referring to the seventh form of Juyo, which encourages a Force-user to embrace their emotions, using them to fuel a relentless assault. No doubt the Force did not prompt Vern to develop this innovative lightsaber design purely to hack her way through a jungle more quickly. Meaning her lightwhip could prove an essential tool in defending herself and her group from the threat of the marauders known as the Nihil, the High Republic story’s villains.
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