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Exar Kun has always been one of my favorite Sith Lords from the Star Wars Old Republic Era. I remember learning about him when exploring the Sith Tombs on Korriban while playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
To learn about him is to learn about how too much knowledge can lead to the downfall of a Jedi. He has a great story, and he’s known as one of the greatest lightsaber duelists in the Star Wars universe.
Bottom Line Up Front: Exar Kun was a fallen Jedi who became Lord of the Sith in the Old Republic Era. He joined with another fallen Jedi, Ulic Qel-Droma, to create the Brotherhood of the Sith, a brutal faction that waged war on the Republic and Jedi.
This war is known as the Great Sith War in Star Wars Legends continuity. The Brotherhood was defeated, and Exar Kun became a spirit that lived another 4000 years.
Exar Kun started his journey off as a Jedi training at the Jedi Enclave on the planet, Dantooine. He was incredibly gifted, and he was the clear superior student compared to the peers around him.
His Jedi Master was named, Vodo-Siosk Baas. Baas was an excellent teacher who trained several Jedi that thrived in the Order. However, Exar Kun was perhaps his biggest failure.
Exar was arrogant in his abilities and wanted to learn as much as he could so that no one could ever beat him. This led him to enquire about the Dark Side and the Sith. He wanted to learn about them so that he would know how to fight them. Naturally, Baas and the Jedi highly disapproved of this. So, Exar started seeking this knowledge in secret.
On one occasion, Exar snuck into his master’s living area and found a Holocron from the ancient Sith Lord, Freedon Nadd. He found out about Freedon Nadd’s reign on the planet, Onderon. This intrigued Exar and he wanted to learn more.
Exar’s growing frustrations with the Jedi culminated in an altercation with two of his fellow Jedi and Master Baas. Exar almost killed one of the Jedi in a fit of rage, but Master Baas jumped in to intervene.
The two of them dueled, and Exar ended with the upper edge over his Master by slicing his staff in half. Exar left the Jedi Order after this and traveled to Onderon to find out more about Freedon Nadd.
Exar searched the capital city of the planet for Sith artifacts. He came across a few Jedi, which he lied to by saying that he was a Jedi archaeologist.
They found out and attempted to send him off the planet, but he persisted and carried his search on without them. Eventually, he came across two Freedon Nadd loyalists who led him to the Tomb of Freedon Nadd on Dxun, one of the moons above Onderon.
Inside the tomb, Exar was met by the spirit of Freedon Nadd. Freedon became Exar Kun’s Sith Master and started teaching him the ways of the Dark Side. However, Exar was convinced that he wouldn’t fall to the Dark Side, again being arrogant in his abilities.
Freedon Nadd convinced Exar to seek knowledge in the Ancient Sith Tombs on Korriban. So, he traveled there and passed a series of tests. In one of the tombs, Freedon Nadd caused the walls to cave in, crushing Exar’s bones.
He then gave Exar an ultimatum that turning giving in to the Dark Side was the only way that he would survive. Exar Kun did as he was instructed, becoming a stronger Dark Side user, and surviving the ordeal.
Freedon Nadd then sent Exar to Yavin 4, a moon where Naga Sadow, another ancient Sith Lord, had been before. Upon entering the planet, Exar encountered the Massassi people. They were a sub-species of the Ancient Sith race.
They captured Exar and planned to sacrifice him. As this was happening Freedon Nadd encouraged Exar to give in fully to the Dark Side. He did so and killed everyone around him in a fit of rage.
He also destroyed the spirit of Freedon Nadd that had been guiding him thus far. The Massassi that survived bowed to him, and in this moment, Exar Kun became a Sith Lord.
Exar spent several years on Yavin 4 learning about Dark Side alchemy. He managed to create several new species of beings, with some of the most infamous creatures being the terentateks. He recovered Naga Sadow’s old warship and used it to travel and discover new secrets aboard.
A turning point in Exar Kun’s journey was when he met Ulic Qel-Droma. He was another fallen Jedi who became part of a Sith cult known as the Krath. Exar originally wanted to kill Ulic as he saw him as a rival. However, while the two were fighting they both received a vision.
In this vision, they saw another ancient Sith Lord, Marka Ragnos, explain that the two of them were the future of the Sith. He gave Exar Kun the title of Dark Lord of the Sith, and he stated that Ulic Qel-Droma would be his apprentice.
Exar and Ulic joined their forces together to create the Brotherhood of the Sith. They declared war on the Republic and the Jedi, and the Great Sith War began.
One of the most memorable scenarios in this war was when Ulic Qel-Droma was captured and stood trial in front of the Senate on Coruscant. Exar interrupted the trial, announced the arrival of the Sith, and murdered the Supreme Chancellor in front of everyone. As he was about to depart, his old Jedi Master entered and attempted to sway him from the Dark Side.
The two of them battled and Exar Kun revealed that he was wielding the first-ever double-bladed lightsaber. Exar then killed his old master and left with his allies.
Exar had previously recruited Jedi and converted them to the Dark Side. Once he had done this, he sent them back to where they came from to remain dormant until he was ready to strike. After the ordeal on Courscant, Exar ordered his fallen Jedi followers to strike. This led to the massacre of hundreds of Jedi in a single day.
While the Republic and the Jedi were at their breaking point, Ulic Qel-Droma repented and turned back to the Light Side of the Force. With his help, the Republic launched a counterattack and defeated many of the Sith forces that opposed them. Exar was forced to retreat to his temple on Yavin 4.
In his last act of life, Exar Kun performed a ritual that sacrificed all his Massassi followers to immortalize his spirit. He was presumed dead, but his spirit lived on for thousands of years. He met his eventual end when followers of Luke Skywalker banished his spirit in 11 ABY.
- Exar Kun shows incredible promise as a Jedi Padawan on Dantooine, and he discovers a thirst for knowledge, even if it’s forbidden.
- Exar Kun leaves the Jedi and meets Freedon Nadd in his tomb on Dxun.
- Freedon Nadd almost kills Exar on Korriban and convinces him to use the Dark Side to save himself.
- Exar Kun murders several of the Massassi people on Yavin 4 as well as the spirit of Freedon Nadd. He immerses himself fully in the Dark Side and becomes a Sith Lord.
- Ulic Qel-Droma and Exar Kun meet. They get instructed by Marka Ragnos to become the new Dark Lords of the Sith and they form the Brotherhood of the Sith. They then start the Great Sith War.
- Exar Kun fights his old Jedi Master to the death. In the fight, he reveals that he’s using a double-bladed lightsaber, which was the first one to exist in the Star Wars universe.
- Ulic Qel-Droma turns back to the Light Side and helps the Republic and Jedi defeat Exar Kun.
- Exar immortalizes himself by performing a ritual to keep his spirit on Yavin 4.
Exar Kun Themes
Fall to the Dark Side
While most fallen Jedi have their own unique stories of how they were lured to the Dark Side, I’ve always found Exar Kun’s fall as fairly standard. Throughout any Star Wars story, it’s always been said that dabbling in the Dark Side is the fastest way of giving in to it, and Exar Kun dabbled plenty.
It’s natural to look to the Master of a fallen Jedi and ask whether it was their fault. Exar wanted to learn about the Sith, and Vodo-Siosk Baas didn’t allow him to. However, the older and wiser Jedi have seen a lot more in their days and know exactly what happens.
So, Baas knew what Exar’s path of knowledge would lead to, and it ultimately led to Baas’ death at Exar’s hand as well.
After learning about Exar and reading about his time in the Jedi Order, I think he tapped out much sooner than when he officially left. He was so adamant to learn about the Sith, and there were several teachings on them readily available in the Jedi archives.
Remember that the Sith weren’t around at this time, so I can understand why his curiosity was so intense. Once he had gotten all he needed to from the Jedi, that’s when he left for Onderon.
Partnership with Ulic Qel-Droma
The famous story of Exar Kun doesn’t exist without Ulic Qel-Droma. While Exar was the more talented and powerful of the two, it was Ulic that started and ended Exar’s reign as Dark Lord of the Sith.
Ulic was a Jedi who fell to the Dark Side after he infiltrated a Dark Side cult called the Krath. While he was undercover, he was overtaken by the Dark Side forces within the cult and officially became a Dark Jedi.
After Ulic and Exar were spoken to by Marka Ragnos, it was Ulic that recruited the Mandalorians to grow the Brotherhood of the Sith army. So, Ulic was heavily responsible for the victories that Exar Kun achieved.
He would also be responsible for taking Exar Kun down. When they assaulted the Jedi planet of Ossus, Ulic Qel-Droma ended up killing his brother. This broke him as a person and one of the Jedi that he previously knew severed his connection to the Force. It was after that incident that Ulic renounced his allegiance to the Sith.
He then helped the Republic launch their ultimate attack on Yavin 4 where he knew Exar Kun would be. Without Ulic Qel-Droma, there wouldn’t be the rise and fall of Exar Kun.
Perhaps the most notable thing about Exar Kun was his use of a double-bladed lightsaber. In the Star Wars timeline, he was the first person to use one. However, he was also the first Star Wars character to use one in the real-world timeline.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, and Darth Maul’s iconic double-lightsaber scene shocked the Star Wars world. However, Exar appeared using his famous double-bladed saber in a novel that was released in 1994 called Dark Apprentice.
As a fighting Sith warrior, not many could match Exar Kun and his lightsaber. Since no one had encountered a dual saber before, they were always caught off guard and were unsure of how best to approach fighting him. This was his big advantage.
However, Exar Kun was noted as one of the best lightsaber duelists of his time long before he was using a double-bladed saber. He worked incredibly hard at perfecting the art of dueling. Even as a Jedi, he was so confident in his fighting abilities that he adamantly believed no one could beat him.
Nowadays, you can see many Sith and Jedi wielding double-bladed sabers in the Star Wars universe, but I often think of how they’re doing that after Exar Kun did it first.
Ancient Sith Lords
You would have noticed that many ancient Sith Lords come up in Exar Kun’s story. These ancient beings are incredibly interesting, and most of them have had a lasting effect on the galaxy thanks to their exploits when they were alive.
Here’s a quick summary of the old Sith Lords that you should know about that relate to Exar Kun’s story:
- Marka Ragnos – One of the first Dark Lords of the Sith Empire.
- Naga Sadow – A Sith Alchemist who became the Dark Lord of the Sith after Marka Ragnos.
- Freedon Nadd – The successor to Naga Sadow as Dark Lord of the Sith.
Something incredibly interesting to note is that the Sith Emperor Vitiate was around at this time. However, he was hiding in the Outer Rim. Since these ancient Sith Lords spoke to Exar Kun and not Vitiate, it’s assumed that they didn’t approve of Vitiate.
They saw Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma as the people who would build up the Sith Empire and make them dominant again.
Canon vs Legends
When Disney bought the Star Wars license, all the Expanded Universe stories became known as Legends. Legends stories are not seen as being real in the current Star Wars timeline. Everything that solidly exists is referred to as Canon.
So, all the comic books, novels, and video games that mention Exar Kun are not considered Canon in the current Star Wars universe. However, Exar Kun is referred to in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
It’s mentioned in a visual guide for the movie that the desk of Dryden Vos was plundered from the Tomb of Exar Kun on Yavin 4. While this brings him into canon, it doesn’t confirm that he has the same story as in the Legends continuity. We’ll have to just patiently wait and see if he gets brought into more Star Wars stories. Holding thumbs!
Exar Kun’s first and greatest strength was his lightsaber fighting ability. I’ve already mentioned it above, but I’ll say it again to drive the point through that he was one of the best lightsaber duelists ever.
Other than that, he was also a strong Force user. At first, he was able to use the Light Side of the Force to perform feats that were much easier for him than they were for other training Jedi.
However, Exar Kun lost his ability to draw from the Light Side when he succumbed to the Dark Side of the Force. The Dark Side made him much more powerful, though.
His use of Sith Alchemy was another great strength of his. His years on Yavin 4 saw him create several abominations that served him and aided him in his fight against the Republic and Jedi. He was also an exceptional user of telekinesis and Force stasis.
When he saved Ulic Qel-Droma from the Senate, he froze every person in the building in place as he approached the Supreme Chancellor. If you’ve watched any of the Star Wars movies, you’ll know just how many people that is!
- “Yes…the Force…but I will never belong to the Dark Side!” – Exar Kun speaking to Freedon Nadd on Korriban.
- “The Massassi can believe whatever they like…as long as they obey me.” – The Massassi people believed that Exar Kun would bring back the Sith Empire. It was a prophecy amongst their people.
- “I know him. I’ve seen his mummified remain on Korriban.” – Exar Kun tells Ulic Qel-Droma about Marka Ragnos in their shared vision.
- “Excuse me, might I join the discussion? I’ve got something I’m sure you’ll find interesting.” – Exar Kun gatecrashing the Senate trial of Ulic Qel-Droma. This quote perfectly shows how arrogant he was.
- “My spirit will live forever!” – Exar Kun’s last living words.
Question: Why Didn’t Exar Kun Wield a Red Lightsaber?
Answer: It’s never stated anywhere why Exar Kun decided to keep his blue lightsaber color after falling to the Dark Side. However, most people believe that it’s because he never knew that Sith used red lightsabers.
At that time, the Sith hadn’t been around for countless years, and Exar only received information about the Sith through artifacts and Holocrons.
Question: How Long Did Exar Kun Live?
Answer: There’s no definite information about what year he was born, but his physical body died in 3996 BBY. We can safely assume that he was an adult here.
Considering the fact that Jedi are trained at a very young age and Exar never fully completed his Jedi training, he would have become the Dark Lord of the Sith at a fairly young age compared to many other Dark Lords.
His spirit lived for another 4000 years trapped on Yavin 4. This is what I love about Exar Kun. He has interactions with both the Old Republic characters and the Jedi underneath Luke Skywalker.
Question: Did Exar Kun Have a Tomb on Korriban?
Answer: No. His temple was on Yavin 4. He had it created by the Massassi people that he enslaved using the Dark Side of the Force. The tombs of Korriban are in the Valley of the Dark Lords, and those are tombs of ancient Sith Lords that were alive long before Exar Kun.
Question: Who Became Dark Lord of the Sith After Exar Kun?
Answer: The next person who took on the title of being the Dark Lord of the Sith after Exar Kun was Darth Revan. He was a Jedi who fought in the Mandalorian Wars. After defeating Mandalore the Ultimate, he traveled to the Unknown Regions with his apprentice, Malak, and they came back as Sith Lords.
If you want to read more about Revan, you can check out a full bio of him here.
While Exar Kun was one of the best fighters to exist, he was possibly one of the most arrogant Sith Lords as well. The way that he nonchalantly barged into the Senate building, announced the return of the Sith, killed the Supreme Chancellor, revealed a double-bladed lightsaber, and killed his old master is astounding.
He’s an incredibly interesting character to learn about. While there are small bits of information on him in the Old Republic video games, you can the most detailed information and stories in novels and comic books about him.
If you’re interested in reading more about Old Republic Star Wars lore, check out the following articles: