|“||I was his hand, Skywalker. That's how I was known to his inner court: as the Emperor's Hand. I served him all over the galaxy, doing jobs the Imperial Fleet and stormtroopers couldn't handle. That was my one great talent, you see ― I could hear his call from anywhere in the Empire, and report back to him the same way. I exposed traitors for him, brought down his enemies, helped him keep the kind of control over the mindless bureaucracies that he needed. I had prestige, and power, and respect.||„|
|~ Mara Jade|
Mara Jade is a character from Star Wars who during different points in her life was a minor antagonist, an antihero, and a main protagonist in the novels.
Mara Jade began her life as a Dark Jedi apprentice of Emperor Palpatine, the alter ego of the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. Her early years are unknown, but it is known that Palpatine kidnapped from her parents due to the fact that she was strong in the Force. Mara spent her adolescent years training to become Palpatine's personal assassin, one amongst his number of Emperor's Hands (though she would believe she was the only one.) While she was one of Palpatine's most dangerous servants, alongside Darth Vader and Grand Admiral Thrawn, many in the Empire just viewed Mara as one of the Emperor's many dancers. Vader and Thrawn were among the few who knew her true nature, the latter of whom took instant dislike to another, possibly seeing her as a potential rival to his position as Sith apprentice. Despite this, both Dark Jedi shared the same negative views on the Imperial Security Bureau and Admiral Kendal Ozzel, the latter of whom Mara saw as a fool at best—at worst, a traitor. It was she who suggested that Vader keep a closer eye on him.
By the age of seventeen, Mara was serving as an extension of Palpatine's will. Under the Emperor's orders, she would carry out Imperial justice, serving as judge, jury, and execution. Under Sidious's control, Mara executed many people in his name. The number of assassinations Mara carried out on Palpatine's are unknown, but it is known that one of her targets was at one point, Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. During the events of Return of the Jedi, Mara disguised herself as a dancer in Jabba's palace, taking on the name of Arica. She remained standing guard, alongside such figures as Lando Calrissian and Boba Fett until Skywalker arrived to rescue his friend Han Solo. Unfortunately, her mission came to a swift end when Jabba proved to be a formidable obstacle. The Emperor's Hand was not allowed aboard the Hutt's sail barge, and as such was forced to confess failure to her Master.
Due to Mara's failure to kill Skywalker, the Jedi was present aboard the Death Star during the epic Battle of Endor. Though Mara was not present, she later learned that Skywalker's actions soon led to the redemption of Anakin Skywalker and the first death of Palpatine, who Mara viewed as a kindly uncle figure. Following the Emperor's death, Mara was stripped of the Force and vowed to fulfill Palpatine's last command and kill Luke Skywalker. By the time, she is introduced in The Thrawn Trilogy, she is consumed with bitterness and thoughts of vengeance.
The Thrawn Trilogy
|“||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's wedding vows|
Approximately four years after the Battle of Endor, Mara found a second home as a smuggler in Talon Karrde's criminal organization. In the short time she was there, Mara escalated to the position of Karrde's right hand being. She was largely responsible for Karrde's capture of the elusive Skywalker. Due to the presence of ysalamiri, Skywalker was stripped of the Force, a prospect Mara took delight in, believing her nemesis finally knew how she'd felt over the last five years. Throughout the trilogy, she serves as the main antiheroine, continuously insisting she would kill Skywalker despite having so many chances and not doing so. Her rationalization is that, while Thrawn exists as her more pertinent adversary, she still needs Skywalker alive.
However, by the climax of The Last Command, Skywalker manages to redeem his former adversary, much like he had done to his father five years later. She comes to the shocking realization that Palpatine was not who she thought he was, a kindly dictator. Rather, she was forced to except the fact that the Emperor was a ruthless Sith Lord who used and manipulated her throughout her entire life. In time, she began to view Vader's treason as a lawful execution of a despicable tyrant. This knowledge would fill Mara with rage, both at Palpatine for his ruse and herself for not catching on sooner. Finally, she allied with Skywalker officially and stood with him against the Dark Jedi clones Joruus C'Baoth and Luuke Skywalker. In destroying both C'Baoth and Skywalker's evil clone, Mara technically fulfilled Palpatine's last wish—she killed "Luke Skywalker."
|“||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.||„|
|~ Jedi Master Saba Sebatyne, on Mara Jade|
In later years, Mara became not only a highly respected Jedi Master and member of the Jedi Council, but also the wife of her onetime sworn enemy Luke Skywalker and the mother of his child, Ben. She worked alongside Skywalker against many hostile foes, including the Empire of the Hand, the Yuuzhan Vong, The Colony, fallen Jedi Alema Rar, and her fellow Emperor's Hand Lumiya.
It was perhaps out of guilt for not realizing Palpatine's deception that Mara eventually turned on nephew, a former Padawan of Skywalker, the Sith Lord Darth Caedus. This noble act cost Mara her life but possibly saved her son from forever serving the dark side, as Caedus attempted to do to her son what Sidious had done to her years earlier. In her final words, Mara condemned Caedus as a megalomaniac on the level of her late Master and declared that Skywalker would crush him and that she would never allow him to corrupt her son as Palpatine had her father-in-law.