The goal of a great conqueror throughout history was to rule with a fist, and to live long enough to see his or her empire rise to the occasion. To do so, said ruler would need the best of the best to guards against all threats, whether in the forefront of war or lurking in the shadows of political mutiny.
During the period of early Roman history, specifically the era of Ambassador Legatus, the Praetorian Guards began their honorable journey towards service and power. Those who served the Roman military under the position of General or honorable reserves (veteran years in the military) were granted the position of Praetorian Guard to the Emperor himself. Their goal was to serve the Emperor, and on the battlefield, protect the emperor from death (no matter the situation). When called upon, the Praetorian Guards would be seen as the ‘elites’ and be at the forefront of conflicts both internally and externally. These guards would serve until they died, most of the time because of their age or serious injuries from conflicts. Simply, the only honor was to die in service of the Roman Emperor.
Alright, enough of the history lesson! Let’s get into the Star Wars.
In recent news, Star Wars fans have been introduced to the newest member of Supreme Leader Snoke’s ‘First Order’. These latest additions just so happened to be named Praetorian Guards, after their role in the First Order became the focus of toy leaks and conversations within the community. These new Praetorian Guards resemble the traditional tone of the Imperial Guards from the original trilogy, however, sport a newer look that resembles the early Japanese Samurai Warriors or Bushi 武士 of the Kamakura Period 鎌倉時代 (est. 1192).
A fresh, new and unique look for Star Wars.
Yet, I feel a great disturbance in the force, as if a million voices cried out “there is more to this than the red armor”
The recent conclusion to Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath Trilogy Empire’s End introduced Star Wars fans to not only the story of Jakku, but to the extensive reach of the dark side after Palpatine was killed.
THIS SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR STAR WARS AFTERMATH: EMPIRE’S END
In the novel, we are introduced to the Acolytes of the Beyond, specifically young children who are stripped of their traditional life to explore the depths of anger and the powers it entails. Simply, everything that composes the dark side of the force and makes it prosper.
The Acolytes are led by Yupe Tashu, an advisor to Emperor Palpatine and creator of Acolytes of the Beyond, who built the group to seek out the knowledge of Sith lords who had passed on. These children, as we learn in Aftermath: Empires End, are ruthless and are trained not to use the force, but brute power obtained through the use of their anger and rage.
As Kiza, a young Pantoran member of the Acolytes, said in the novel, “Vader lives. And so do you. Tell everyone the Acolytes are coming, doll.” She wore the mask of Exim Panshard, a Sith lord who had ruled during the time of the Jedi-Sith War. Through this mask, she did not obtain the force, but the darkness of its past user. They worship the leading of Darth Vader, and everything he stood for. Being non-force users, it would the presence of the dark side that they believed would lead them to victory and power. This was instilled in these children, as they became more experienced, would find themselves in a much more powerful position within this “First Order”.
Yes, I believe that a good majority of these Acolytes may have taken on the role of Supreme Leader Snoke’s personal guards, the Praetorian Guards to be exact.
Many have speculated that the Acolytes may have also become members of the Knights of Ren, which makes sense. If Supreme Leader Snoke was to give Kylo Ren a group of Acolytes who worshiped his own grandfather, he could easily motivate and teach them the ways of the force. Not just the power of the dark side, but the light as well.
Not every Acolyte could be in the Knights of Ren, so a select few would be chosen by Snoke, based on experience and mastery of skills, to represent his personal acolytes as Praetorian Guards. In doing so, the Acolytes would always have a higher power to answer to, and continue to grow a stronger sense of how the dark side truly works. These Praetorian Guards chosen to represent and protect the life of Supreme Leader Snoke are just as crucial to the storyline, if this proves to be the case, as the Knights of Ren. Not only would this add an extra level to the new storyline, but give fans the opportunity to explore the Acolytes of the Beyond and what they represent across the canonized universe.
The truths will rise!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters on December 15th, 2017
For more information about Aftermath: Empire’s End, listen to the Talkin’ Far Far Away’s review of the novel, and Subscribe on iTunes to the Podcast Network
Thanks for reading, and May the Force be with you