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Star Wars is full of stories that center around adventure and mystery, intrigue, and action. The entire galaxy far, far away is chock-full of tales about heroes and heroines conquering evil, saving the day, and standing up to injustice.
No one throughout all of Star Wars save Luke Skywalker has been on more adventures, seen more action, or conquered more evil than Jacen Solo. Alas, all those adventures take a toll on a person. And Jacen Solo eventually changed his name to Darth Caedus.
Darth Caedus’ rise is a story of descending into darkness that we’ve come across dozens of times before in the Star Wars universe, but no character did it with such power or indifference as Darth Caedus did. Palpatine, Vader, and even Exar Kun all lack what Darth Caedus had in surplus.
Also, copious amounts of magical Force abilities, which essentially made him a space Voldemort with even more mental illness.
Darth Caedus was long in the making. Jacen Solo went on countless adventures with his parents or the Jedi Order before he was even 16. To unwind and explain the tragedy of the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa is a serious undertaking.
Jacen turning into a Sith isn’t something that happened overnight or even over a year. It was a slow, methodical ruin, like water eroding rock over countless generations.
So, unfortunately, this is not going to be a quick explanation.
That said, Darth Caedus’s plans, motivations, and pursuits boil down to one objective: the greater good.
Much like Anakin’s descent into darkness was led by his desire to protect those he loved, Darth Caedus let his pursuit of the greater good twist him into a legendary antagonist.
Now buckle up, kids. Today we’re unpacking the man, the myth, the monster, Darth Caedus.
Key Info Up Front
Do you want the bullet points for who/what/when/where/why on Darth Caedus? I understand, but please be aware that you’re missing out on who the man really is.
That said, here are some highlights:
- Father to the heir to the Hapan Empire throne
- Twin brother to Jaina Solo
- Apprentice to the Dark Lady of The Sith, Lumiya
- First Force-user to demonstrate several abilities
- Only Force-user to ever merge with the Force
- Tortured by Yuuzhan Vong until he embraced hatred
- Led the Courscant secret police
- Launched a successful coup against the Galactic Government
- Was Head of State/Emperor of the Galactic Republic
And we’re barely scratching the surface here.
The Apple Doesn’t Fall far from the Tree
When Leia was stressed and knew her children were stressed – because they were kicking her relentlessly–she’d soothe them with feelings in the Force. And they’d send feelings back to her.
Jacen and Jaina were inseparable. They forged a link with each other in the Force that allowed them to share thoughts and emotions. This connection gave them an edge when they eventually joined the Jedi Academy and trained with other students.
Jacen was thrown into the same life as his parents almost immediately. Since he was the child of some of the most famous people in the galaxy, he was the subject of some attention. Bad attention.
Many people wanted revenge on Han Solo or to take down the poster child of the Rebellion, Leia. And what better way to hurt Han and Leia than by hurting their kids?
Cue countless kidnapping attempts.
Jacen and Jaina grew up running from bad guys, fighting off Imperials, and solving deadly puzzles just like their old folks. And that groomed them both for the life ahead of them: the life of a Jedi Knight.
The Man who would be Dark Lord
Let me take a moment to give you a glimpse at how prolific Jacen Solo was.
Before Disney bought Star Wars and George Lucas decided he wanted to make prequels, books and comics were the only things keeping the Star Wars universe going.
That’s where Star Wars fans lived, in novels and graphic novels that continued the stories of their favorite characters. If there had been TV shows or movies at this time, we’d definitely have movies about Jacen and Darth Caedus.
Instead, we have books.
So many books.
Behold all the books.
- Prophets of the Dark Side
- Heir to the Empire
- Dark Force Rising
- The Last Command
- Star Wars: Dark Empire
- Star Wars: Dark Empire II
- Star Wars: Empire’s End
- I, Jedi
- Jedi Search
- Dark Apprentice
- Champions of the Force
- “The Other”
- Children of the Jedi
- Planet of Twilight
- Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 1
- Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 2
- Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 3
- The Crystal Star
- Before the Storm
- Shield of Lies
- Tyrant’s Test
- The New Rebellion
- Ambush at Corellia
- Assault at Selonia
- Showdown at Centerpoint
- Specter of the Past
- Vision of the Future
- Star Wars: Union
- Junior Jedi Knights: The Golden Globe
- Junior Jedi Knights: Lyric’s World
- Junior Jedi Knights: Promises
- Junior Jedi Knights: Anakin’s Quest
- Junior Jedi Knights: Vader’s Fortress
- Junior Jedi Knights: Kenobi’s Blade
- Young Jedi Knights: Heirs of the Force
- Young Jedi Knights: Shadow Academy
- Young Jedi Knights: The Lost Ones
- Young Jedi Knights: Lightsabers
- Young Jedi Knights: Darkest Knight
- Young Jedi Knights: Jedi Under Siege
- Young Jedi Knights: Shards of Alderaan
- Young Jedi Knights: Diversity Alliance
- Young Jedi Knights: Delusions of Grandeur
- Young Jedi Knights: Jedi Bounty
- Young Jedi Knights: The Emperor’s Plague
- Young Jedi Knights: Return to Ord Mantell
- Young Jedi Knights: Trouble on Cloud City
- Young Jedi Knights: Crisis at Crystal Reef
- The Crystal
- The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime
- Star Wars: Chewbacca
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide I: Onslaught
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin
- Star Wars: Invasion 0
- Invasion 2
- Invasion 4
- Invasion 5
- Invasion: Rescues 1
- Invasion: Rescues 2
- Invasion: Rescues 3
- Invasion: Rescues 4
- Invasion: Rescues 5
- Invasion: Rescues 6
- The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos I: Hero’s Trial
- The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse
- The New Jedi Order: Balance Point
- The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory I: Conquest
- The New Jedi Order: Recovery
- The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
- The New Jedi Order: Star by Star
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Journey
- The New Jedi Order: Traitor
- The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
- The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand
- The New Jedi Order: Destiny’s Way
- The New Jedi Order: Ylesia
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic I: Remnant
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic II: Refugee
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic III: Reunion
- The New Jedi Order: The Final Prophecy
- The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force
- Dark Nest I: The Joiner King
- Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen
- Dark Nest III: The Swarm War
- Legacy of the Force: Betrayal
- Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines
- Legacy of the Force: Tempest
- Legacy of the Force: Exile
- Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice
- Legacy of the Force: Inferno
- Legacy of the Force: Fury
- Legacy of the Force: Revelation
- Legacy of the Force: Invincible
- Millennium Falcon
- Fate of the Jedi: Outcast
- Fate of the Jedi: Omen
- Fate of the Jedi: Abyss
- Fate of the Jedi: Backlash
- Fate of the Jedi: Allies
- Fate of the Jedi: Vortex
- Fate of the Jedi: Conviction
- Fate of the Jedi: Ascension
- Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse
- X-Wing: Mercy Kill
109! Jacen Solo or Darth Caedus appear in at least 109 Star Wars novels!
I bet you didn’t even know that many novels existed before Disney stepped into the picture. And this focuses on a single character!
Okay, I’ll be lenient here. Darth Caedus is only a Force ghost in the Fate of the Jedi series, and he’s still a baby until Jedi Search. Darth Caedus doesn’t officially show up until Legacy of The Force: Sacrifice, though Jacen is a secret Sith for seven books before that.
That means Jacen Solo went on about 70 different adventures before Darth Caedus was even conceived. And while I could go through some of those adventures to give you a picture of the man who would turn into Darth Caedus, I can sum up most of them quickly enough.
Jacen was a better Anakin Skywalker. Or worse, depending on how you look at it.
Anakin was the chosen one. So many Force abilities came to him so easily that it was almost insulting to others at the Academy. Anakin starts his training later than any known Jedi at the time, yet quickly exceeds all his peers.
He’s powerful in the Force, quick with reflexes, and clearly a leader. He had such potential. Masters in the Jedi Order were happy to work with Anakin, commenting on what a fine man he’d make one day.
Then he turned into a ruthless, child-murdering douchebag.
Jacen Solo is a similar story but with more impact. He was an even better chosen one, with even stronger Force abilities and even more potential for leadership, which made his fall into a genocidal maniac all the more painful to watch.
Life Before the Dark Side
Jacen Solo was a notable figure in the Jedi Order. Not just because of his parentage but because he was notably skilled. And he rarely went or did anything without the company of his twin sister, Jaina.
Jacen was a nearly perfect student, but what he couldn’t master, Jaina did. And whatever Jaina struggled with, Jacen was a professional. Jacen was a natural with aspects of the Force that were, shall we say, magical.
Reading the future, sensing thoughts and emotions, communicating with animals, sensing an object’s past and connections it holds, walking through time, melding minds with others, etc. Esoteric kind of stuff. On the other hand, Jaina was a warrior, excelling at piloting, stealth, combat, infiltration, and battle meditation.
Together, there were few obstacles the two couldn’t overtake.
But Jacen wasn’t the perfect little Jedi he wanted everyone to think he was. On the outside, he did as he was told, followed the teachings and traditions of the Jedi Order, and trusted in the Force. But he often conflicted with other Jedi about philosophy.
What qualifies a good Jedi in times of peace? What makes a Jedi different from any other warrior in a battle? What separates Jedi from Mandalorians? Just the ability to use the Force? Is the Force merely a tool to be used by the Jedi? Is it only a weapon?
These were questions that Jacen grappled with at a young age, not satisfied with the answers given to him by the current Jedi Order.
Jacen was apprenticed to Luke Skywalker, and the two searched through these feelings often.
Eventually, Jacen realized he disagreed with the fundamentals of the Jedi Way. He decided to leave the Jedi Order.
And that, kids, is when the entire Star Wars galaxy was attacked.
Two words: Yuuzhan Vong.
The Dominoes and where they Fell
A few key moments pushed Jacen towards adopting the motto “for the greater good.” Some were out of his control, like the torture he endured at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong. Some were entirely in his control, like how he handled being a father to his daughter, Allana.
Let’s explore a few of the factors that led to Jacen’s downfall and the rise of Darth Caedus.
The Yuuzhan Vong
The Yuuzhan Vong are bad, mmkay? Like, really bad.
They’re extra-galactic, meaning they’re from beyond the Star Wars galaxy. They travel from galaxy to galaxy, reaping resources and destroying planets.
They are religious about their abhorrence of synthetic technology and only use organic technology. Most Yuuzhan Vong are forms of organic technology, practicing organ grafting, a ritual where they cut off a part of their body and replace it with a living machine.
They’re the most metal thing Star Wars has ever conceived.
And they captured Jacen Solo. Knowing he was a prized fighter of the Jedi Order, the Yuuzhan Vong reveled in breaking Jacen and turning him into a fierce, anger-filled warrior of the Yuuzhan Vong.
And to a degree, they succeeded; Jacen adopted their living technology for a time. But only to escape. While imprisoned, he was tortured outright and thrown into fighting pits.
While imprisoned, Jacen was thrown in with a former Sith, Vergere. Vergere was a Sith in name only, choosing to keep his sanity rather than succumb to rage. Jacen had never heard of such a thing. He’d heard of Dark Jedi and Sith but never a Sith that wasn’t really a Sith.
This was the first seed planted in Jacen that maybe the Jedi teachings weren’t as complete as he’d thought.
After the war, Jacen goes on a five-year self-imposed exile. He spends time traveling the universe and learning different Force techniques from other Force-sensitive beings. During this time, people believe Jacen let himself move closer to the darkness.
Tenel Ka Djo
Jacen’s baby momma, Tenel Ka Djo. Djo and the man who would be Dark Lord go way back. They met as younglings in the Academy. Jacen took a liking to the girl at once but never acted on any of his emotions. Prospects for romance went out the window when Jacen cut off Djo’s arm at the elbow.
Calm down; it was by accident.
During a lightsaber training drill, Djo’s lightsaber malfunctioned. Jacen went right through the weak blade and severed Djo’s arm. Her future as a Jedi was cut short, but thankfully she was a princess, so she had royalty to fall back on.
Did I not mention she was also a princess? Huh. My bad.
The Hapan Royal Throne has many enemies, so training the would-be heir to be a Jedi seemed wise. Her Force-sensitivity could alert her to assassins and plots against her throne.
After the royal mishap, Djo focused on her royal duties, and Jacen concentrated on being a badass Jedi Knight. The two didn’t interact again for years. But when they did finally meet, you want to guess what they did?
They bumped uglies.
Hoped on the good foot and did the bad thing. Put the plug into the socket. Did the devil’s dance. Did squat thrusts in a space cucumber patch. Put the wand in the Chamber of Secrets. Pulled a Chesterfield Rugby.
You get the point.
They had sex. Heyoo!
Jacen and Tenel develop strong, galaxy-spanning feelings for each other, and Tenel gives birth to Jacen’s daughter, Allana.
But as Jacen grew stronger as a Sith, he did morally reprehensible things. He may have been able to argue most of the people’s misgivings away and claim he was doing Jedi business, but some people saw through his lies.
One person who cut ties with Jacen early on was Tenel Ka Djo. She saw the man she once loved become a power-hungry, selfish dictator. She doesn’t just cut ties with him; she cuts off support from her family and refuses to let Jacen see his daughter.
Dark Lady of the Sith, Lumiya
So Jacen is no longer a Jedi, he’s left the order.
And he’s just returned from his self-imposed exile with more Force powers than Luke Skywalker.
Jacen returns to civilized space at a time of galactic upheaval. Terrorist attacks at dotting the map on every major Republic planet, and the Jedi Order fears a new galactic civil war could be in the works.
It’s a time of mystery and investigation for the Jedi. And though Jacen isn’t technically a Jedi, he is skilled enough to help in the defense and investigation efforts.
After several bombings and attacks, Jacen and his partner in crime, Dinn, get a lead on a mysterious woman named Syo, whose ship was implicated in one of the bombings. Upon meeting Syo, Jacen immediately senses something different about her.
Rather than arresting and processing her like any other criminal, he lets her loose and allows her to tell her story. Syo says she hails from a nearby planet and needs a Jedi’s help.
Jacen and Dinn travel with Syo to her homeworld, only to find out that she lied every step of the way. Upon getting Jacen right where she wanted him, Syo revealed that she was actually Lumiya, The Dark Lady of the Sith, who’d done battle with Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker countless times.
She sensed a dominating will within Jacen, felt his conflict with the traditional Jedi teachings. She told him she could teach him the ways of the Sith without him surrendering to his anger. He could be just like Vergere. He was strong enough, she said, to hold back the polluting rage.
And Jacen believed her.
Lumiya said Jacen’s path to Dark Lord of the Sith would be fraught with sacrifices. Then she looked meaningfully at Dinn.
Jacen dutifully killed his friend–the first of many murders–and started his official journey as a Sith.
Galactic Alliance Guard
Though Jacen had apprenticed himself to a Sith master, he was far from a Sith himself. And if he thought he had doubts before he met Lumiya, he was in for a surprise.
Every day he doubted himself more and more – did he do the right thing kneeling to Lumiya? Would she really keep her promises? How could he prevent himself from becoming like the other Sith Lords?
At this time in the galaxy, terrorism was everywhere. Fringe species of aliens who felt humans were getting preferential treatment had their knives and blasters out across the universe.
It was a time when the Jedi and planetary security forces had their hands full. The Head of State for the Galactic Republic asked Mara Jade Skywalker to lead a counterterrorism unit on Courscant and champion efforts to top the violence. Mara Jade declined, saying she felt the team would turn into the secret police.
And when Jacen heard that, he was like, “Did someone say secret police?”
He volunteered for the job, was immediately hired, and turned the unit into Gestapo. He used the group to investigate his enemies and brand anyone he didn’t like as a terrorist. Under his command, the department did almost no counterterrorism. Instead, they helped lay the groundwork for Jacen’s next bid for power.
The desire to protect his daughter- more than anything else- drove Jacen towards the Sith. Just as Palpatine manipulated Anakin into thinking the only way to save Padme was to be a Sith, Lumiya tricked Jacen into thinking the only way to protect Allana was to become a Dark Lord.
Allana was a powerful Force empath, able to pick up others’ emotions and thoughts without effort. This made family relations with her father difficult, as no matter how much he lied, Allana could always sense his rage, fury, and hatred.
Becoming a Dark Lord
Two things characterized Darth Caedus:
- A need for sacrifice
- Pursuit of the greater good
Caedus knew that his path to power came with sacrifices in an almost prophetic way. When he sacrificed something close to him, he gained more power. So he was keen to make plenty of sacrifices.
He killed his aunt, Mara Jade, and saw that as a sacrifice. But after seeing the disappointment and rejection from his family, he saw the loss of love and respect as a sacrifice. He sacrificed his friends, his subordinates, his fellow Jedi, his fellow Sith, and anything that didn’t compromise the greater good.
And whenever he struck down a friend, Jedi, or good politician (there are some out there), he always told them and himself that it was for the greater good.
“For the greater good… I have to kill you,” Jacen says to one of his victims.
The Reign of Darth Caedus
The actual time Darth Caedus was active is incredibly short. He was only around for a year or two at most. But Jacen Solo, before changing his name to Darth Caedus, was acting as a Sith for almost a decade.
When Jacen apprenticed himself to Lumiya, he was head of the Galactic Alliance Guard–his secret police–and he had friends in high places in the Republic.
Jacen, and therefore Darth Caedus, wanted galactic peace. A noble desire for a Lord of Darkness. But like most dictators, the road to peace is littered with the bodies of innocents.
For Jacen to bring peace to the galaxy, he had to control the galaxy. And taking control of the Galactic Senate by vote was not an option. So taking it by force was the only choice he had.
Working with a few allies he’d seeded over the years, Jacen led a successful coup on Courscant and took over as Head of State for the Galactic Alliance.
And even then, with rumors of murder swirling around him and coming fresh off a military coup, no one thought Jacen was bad. He’s Jacen Freaking Solo, for crying out loud. He can’t be a bad guy. He helped end the Yuuzhan Vong war.
Jacen continued to feed off people’s misconceptions of him for years, letting his past as a Jedi and his family ties open doors for him that would otherwise be shut.
Even after murdering his aunt, torturing his cousin, and dueling his twin sister, people thought Jacen was merely misguided. Definitely not a Sith.
It wasn’t until Jacen kicked off the second Galactic Civil War that he finally dropped his old name and adopted Darth Caedus. And after all the death and suffering he’d caused, the change made perfect sense to everyone.
The Fall of Darth Caedus
Darth Caedus, Head of State for the Galactic Alliance, Dark Lord of the Sith, and Captain of the Star Destroyer Anakin Solo, is an all-around bad guy.
To inspect Darth Caedus’ failed rule would be to inspect any dictator’s failed rule. Too much power consolidated in the hands of too few leads to a catastrophic imbalance that yearns for correction. Unknowingly, Darth Caedus did invoke a semi-peace across the galaxy by uniting every faction, group, and species against him.
There are few villains in the Star Wars universe who so thoroughly pissed off every life form in existence as Darth Caedus did. He was just such a dick.
Let’s break down some of his dickiest dick moves, shall we?
- Kidnapped his own daughter
- Attacked his wife’s fleet in space
- Labeled his parents terrorists, criminals, and murders–kill on sight
- Tried to kill his twin sister multiple times
- Betrayed every person he’d ever called a friend
- Took his cousin as an apprentice, then tortured him for two days straight
- Let three people commit suicide because it was too much work to save them
- Killed his father-in-law with his bare hands
- Sacrificed his Sith master for the greater good
- Instigated three wars (Swarm Wars, Corellian Uprising, Galactic Civil War)
- Thought Anakin killing younglings in the Jedi Temple was “pretty cool”
Okay, I may have added that last one. But the point remains: he was a bad guy.
Taking down someone who is a younger, meaner, angrier Palpatine is a challenging task. Ultimately, it took at least four different distractions and constant Force-illusions projected by Luke Skywalker to kill Darth Caedus, and it was Jaina Solo who delivered the final blow.
Near the escape hatches on his Star Destroyer, Anakin Solo, Darth Caedus fought Jaina Solo while Luke Skywalker flew around in space and cast several Force-illusions. Jaina cut off Caedus’ arm, stabbed him in the gut, and broke his ankle. Luke sent so many apparitions, Caedus didn’t know what was real or fake.
Caedus was not focused on dueling his sister, however, as he’d recently learned of a plot to murder Tenel Ka Djo and Allana, destroying the Hapan Royal family.
In his last moments, Darth Caedus decided not to push through the pain and kill his sister in revenge. Instead, he reached out in the Force to warn Djo and Allana of the danger they were in.
That choice pushed Darth Caedus down and let Jacen Solo rise to the top. It allowed Jacen to die without carrying his Sith hatred with him, thus allowing him to die in peace.
The Legacy of Darth Caedus
Luke Skywalker and his son, Ben, go on a journey to retrace Jacen Solo’s steps and figure out what led him towards the Sith. It was more than just Lumiya; it was all the dominoes that fell before she arrived that made Jacen ripe for her manipulation.
Luke and Ben were determined to figure out what. Throughout their adventures, they met Force-ghost Jacen Solo many times, and he was able to show them he wasn’t Darth Caedus anymore.
In the aftermath of the war and the genocide and violence, Han and Leia adopt Allana as their daughter, giving Djo the ability to focus on ruling her people. They changed Allana’s name to Amalia and said she was a war orphan. Her intense Force abilities always reminded the Solos of their son and his unique gifts.
Question: One Hundred Nine Books just for Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus? How many Star Wars Books are there in Total?
Answer: Before Disney got involved, there were 156 adult Star Wars novels. Not counting kids’ books or comics. Since Disney got involved, there have been 117 novels in total.
That’s a lot of reading, kids.
Question: Can Someone Truly be a Sith without Letting Anger Corrupt them? Isn’t that the Whole Point?
Answer: At this time in Star Wars, yes. There were Dark Jedi and Gray Jedi, and the Force was taught as a spectrum, a rainbow, not merely light and dark. So it was conceivable that one could tap into the power, foresight, and manipulation of the Dark Side without letting uncontrollable anger take the wheel and steer.
Question: So, Darth Caedus was the Original Kylo Ren?
Answer: Yes. And might I say, he pulled it off so much better.
Putting Darth Caedus to Bed
Darth Caedus was a tragedy, as Sith Lords tend to be. He started off as a son to one of the most powerful couples in the galaxy, apprentice to the wisest Jedi Master to ever live.
Yet his philosophies led him to search for his own path, which led him toward dangerous knowledge, which made him pliable for manipulation. He follows in the same footsteps as Anakin Skywalker, looking for a way to protect those he loves, blinded by the lies of others.
But at least he lived a full life, saving the galaxy multiple times before he turned evil.
Small consolation, but that’s all I got.
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