- "Disaster. We have abandoned Ord Radama. Venemal is dead and so is the legion of troops under my command. My resupplies never arrived. No doubt Minister Shareis felt Lord Adraas, or some other dilettante, should be well armed for another needless inspection tour. Through his incompetence, the Empire is losing its hold on the systems we have only just secured. Imbeciles, all of them."
- ―An entry from Darth Malgus's war journal
The Battle of Ord Radama, later known as the Harrower Disaster, was a major engagement of the Great Galactic War between the belligerent powers of the reconstituted Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic. Ord Radama had previously been a holding of an old Sith Empire, but had fallen under the rule of the Republic since the conclusion of the Jedi Civil War. Although it was situated within the Esstran sector in the Seat of The Empire, the planet had resisted Sith conquest in the Great Galactic War until 3660 BBY, during the Rim Campaign led by the Sith Lords Darth Malgus and Darth Venemal. That year, the two led a detachment of the Imperial naval armada to the world and began an eighty-six-day–long campaign to secure it for the Empire.
The battle began with an assault on a mountaintop Republic stronghold while Imperial dreadnaughts set up a defensive perimeter in orbit above the planet. Malgus and Venemal led the successful incursion on foot and established a beachhead on the planet to plan for an advance on the capital city of Livien Magnus, which was heavily fortified against attack by Republic soldiers and artillery, as well as an all-enveloping ray shield. Fourteen days after their touchdown on the planet, the Imperials launched their siege of the capital, with Malgus planning on winning though attrition. A week into the onslaught, he and Venemal were joined by Lord Adraas, who traveled to the planet with platoons of battle droids under the orders of the Empire's ruling Dark Council. Although Republic infantry quickly destroyed Adraas's droids, the distraction allowed Malgus and Venemal to lead troops into the city and destroy the shield generator.
After using air strikes to quash native resistance, the Sith Lords occupied the capital as a headquarters while they waited to be resupplied. The situation quickly turned to crisis for the Imperials: as they ran low on war matériel, the Republic retaliated by sending a sizable fleet of corvettes and cruisers to retake the system and uproot the entrenched Imperial ground forces. Although Malgus attempted to take command of the situation in space, he quickly lost most of his fleet, and the battle became untenable. After one of the Empire's damaged Harrower-class dreadnaughts fell to the surface of Ord Radama and obliterated Livien Magnus and all of the Imperial forces stationed within—including Darth Venemal—Lord Malgus was forced to retreat from the planet aboard the dreadnaught Lindworm.
- "I will not allow the Jedi to eliminate us by assaulting a secure fortification in overwhelming numbers. The Sith will not repeat the mistakes of Bothawui."
- ―Darth Malgus's final journal entry before the invasion of Ord Radama
Ord Radama was a planet in the Esstran sector of the Outer Rim Territories that the Galactic Republic had established as an Ordnance/Regional Depot for the Republic Military. During the Jedi Civil War, the world was allied with the Sith forces of Darth Revan and Darth Malak's Empire, but fell back into Republic control following the conclusion of the conflict. However, in 3681 BBY, the revived Sith Empire spilled out of its hidden enclave in the nearby Stygian Caldera and began a campaign of conquest across the Outer Rim. In the early days of this Great Galactic War, the Empire focused on securing outlying Republic worlds and reconquering planets that had previously been holdings of older Sith regimes. These efforts were widely successful until the Battle of Bothawui in 3671 BBY, at which point the Empire was forced to reevaluate its efforts and postpone its plans to advance on the Republic's Core Worlds.
In response, the Empire's ruling Dark Council put into motion several new initiatives. The first was the manipulation of the Mandalorian warrior clans to engage in the Blockade of the Hydian Way, meant to prevent the movement of foodstuffs to the Core Worlds and the transportation of military wares to embattled Republic armies in the Outer Rim. The blockade was highly successful and held for a year, allowing for the Empire to launch another highly successful offensive by 3660 BBY: the Rim Campaign. Overseen by the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Angral, the Rim Campaign was focused on securing holdings in the Outer Rim, such as the worlds of the Esstran sector that had not yet fallen to the Empire. Two ascendant Sith Lords, Darth Malgus and Darth Venemal, were placed in command of one of Angral's legions of Imperial soldiers as well as a small fleet of Imperial Navy warships with orders to reconquer Ord Radama—one of the campaign's primary targets.
Early invasion and the conquest of Livien Magnus
- "Standing atop a siege tank, my mighty call echoed for kilometers: 'YOU ARE THE SERVANTS OF THE EMPEROR AND OF THE EMPIRE! YOU ARE THE ENGINE OF CONFLICT. YOU ARE TRANSFORMING THE GALAXY!' The soldiers raised their weapons and their voices in agreement. Our progress has been swift. We will soon take the capital city of Livien Magnus."
- ―Darth Malgus, in the aftermath of the initial invasion
Despite a minor tactical setback for Malgus's and Venemal's forces during a previous engagement in the war, the two Sith moved forward with the offensive. The Sith Empire invaded Ord Radama on the one hundred and twenty-ninth day of the Rim Campaign, carried there by two Harrower-class dreadnaughts and Darth Malgus's flagship, the dreadnaught Lindworm. While their capital ships secured orbital positions, Malgus and Venemal led the advance forces of their legion to the surface aboard dropships and Fury-class interceptors. Their first target was a Republic stronghold positioned atop a mountain and defended by mines, artillery, and Merr-Sonn Bellower turret emplacements. The landing craft touched down amid heavy fire, and managed to safely unload the first waves of Imperial commandos and the Sith Lords leading them. Malgus and Venemal led the charge, using their lightsabers to defend the single-file lines of infantrymen behind them from blaster fire. The Merr-Sonn turrets on the cliff face above them targeted the invading forces' dropships instead of the advancing soldiers; while the gunners successfully destroyed two of the landing craft—the Empire's only losses of the day—the troops on the ground were able to make their way to a rock formation at the cliff's base for cover. While their soldiers remained protected, Malgus ordered Venemal to jump up to the gun emplacements and take out the operators. The Sith was successful, and his commandos shortly joined him on the ledge via ascension cables.
Darth Malgus, meanwhile, remained at the foot of the mountain and led his remaining soldiers in a march up a narrow incline path to the stronghold. However, before he made progress up the mountain, Malgus sensed that the path was blocked by mines that Republic forces had placed. To protect his men, the Sith Lord used the Force to lift a boulder from the mountainside and roll it along the path twenty paces before them. The tactic worked to detonate the mines prematurely, allowing the Imperials to proceed uninhibited. A hidden group of Republic ambushers were scattered by the explosions, and Imperial fire troopers promptly killed them with their flamethrowers. At the crest of the mountain, Venemal's commandos moved through the stronghold, eliminating the Republic defenders and leaving no survivors. Malgus's men soon joined the team, and together, they secured the area. The Empire's communications officer signaled the success to the Lindworm, which began landing the remainder of the Imperial legion in the fields at the base of the mountain. For the four days following their landfall, the invaders established a bivouac as they prepared for a march on the capital city of Livien Magnus. When their temporary staging area was finally established, Malgus addressed his forces from atop a crawler tank while they prepared their equipment for further battle, reminding them of their purpose and reenergizing them for the fight ahead.
Ten days after Malgus's speech, the Empire began its siege of Livien Magnus. The city was heavily fortified by Republic soldiers and artillery, and an all-enveloping ray shield protected the city from attack, with the deflector shield generator located within the city itself. The Sith led the attack on the city, intending to assault the capital and starve its people until the Republic was forced to surrender. This war of attrition continued for a week, but was brought to a premature end by the arrival of Lord Adraas, a political rival of Malgus's. The Dark Council, having grown impatient with the progress of the Ord Radama conquest, sent Adraas on a battlefield inspection tour with a compliment of five platoons of Mk. I Sith war droids and five platoons of Mk. II Sith war droids under orders to end the siege of Livien Magnus and bring the battle to a conclusion. Malgus and Venemal both scoffed at his presence and doubted the effectiveness of the war droids, but silently concurred during a strategy meeting that the droids could serve as a useful distraction.
Thus, the two Darths allowed Lord Adraas to go ahead with his haphazard plan to charge the city's south gate. As they predicted, the entrenched Republic soldiers guarding the entrance to Livien Magnus obliterated the droids with blaster fire. In spite of the significant losses, Malgus and Venemal managed to salvage a victory by staging a secondary and simultaneous attack on the city's western wall. While the Republic defenders were focused on the incoming droids, Venemal led his commandos over the wall and blew a hole in it from the inside. This allowed Malgus and his legion to enter Livien Magnus, and within an hour the shield generator had been disabled. As a final measure to secure victory, Malgus ordered air strikes to destroy insurgent enclaves within the city.
- "Nothing could be gained by remaining in the star system. I ordered the dazed navigator to maneuver the Lindworm behind the ion minefield and to make the jump into the heart of Sith Space."
- ―From Darth Malgus's war journal
In the aftermath of the siege, the Imperials occupied Livien Magnus as a base of operations while they claimed the rest of the planet. Although his droids had been a failure on the battlefield, Lord Adraas took credit for the victory in his report to Darth Angral before departing the world and leaving Malgus and Venemal to manage the remainder of the campaign. The two Sith held the city and its central palace for nearly thirty days after the battle, defending it from insurgent forces with cacophanizer shells and the force of their legion. Although their initial victory had been relatively swift, the occupation began to drag on, resulting in a mounting death toll for the Imperials and a crisis of dwindling supplies. Resupplying procedure was typically managed through the Ministry of Logistics, but because Malgus had a poor relationship with Minister of Logistics Shullis Khamarr, he instead submitted requests for equipment and supplies to Shareis, the head of the Ministry of War.
To the detriment of the Imperial occupation force, resupplies and reinforcements never arrived at Ord Radama. Sixty-five days after the end of the siege of Livien Magnus, a Republic fleet consisting of four Hammerhead-class cruisers and ten Thranta-class corvettes arrived in the Ord Radama system and assaulted the Empire's fleet in orbit. Vastly outgunned and taken by surprise, the Imperials were given little time to react. The Lindworm was pummeled with turbolaser fire before it or either of the Harrower-class dreadnaughts were even able to launch their starfighter complements, allowing the Republic vessels to gain an early advantage. Although at least one Mark VI Supremacy-class starfighter was able to enter the fray, it and the Imperial capital ships were overwhelmed by the Republic's cruisers, corvettes, and Aurek-class tactical strikefighters. One of the Harrower-class dreadnaughts was heavily damaged in the fighting, forcing its crew to evacuate via escape pods; the other battle cruiser was detrimentally compromised, its hull having been ripped open by proton torpedos.
Having witnessed the beginning of the battle from the balcony of Livien Magnus's palace, Darth Malgus summoned his shuttle pilot, Captain Karm, to ferry him up to the Lindworm so he could take control of the engagement in orbit. By the time he reached the Lindworm's bridge however, the situation had become untenable. One of his ships had already been abandoned and the Harrower-class dreadnaught that had been battered by torpedoes began to fall into Ord Radama's gravity well. Unable to maintain orbit, the massive vessel fell to the surface of the planet and impacted in the middle of Livien Magnus, obliterating the city and instantly killing Darth Venemal, the Imperial legion that had been stationed within, and approximately one hundred thousand citizens. The loss enraged Malgus, who let loose a powerful Force scream that injured many of the Lindworm's crewmen and destroyed a full wave of Aurek-class strikefighters. Recognizing that the battle was lost, Malgus ordered the Lindworm to retreat back to Sith space.
- "The Republic pursued us. The Mandalorian Blockade has now fully crumbled. The enemy fleet has penetrated Imperial space."
- ―Darth Malgus's journal entry in the aftermath of Ord Radama
The defeat at Ord Radama was costly for the Empire. From beginning to end, the fight for the planet lasted approximately eighty-six days and claimed over one hundred thousand lives from the Republic, Empire, and Ord Radama's native people. The end of the battle also marked a turning point in both the Rim Campaign and the entirety of the war, as it coincided with the collapse of the Mandalorian's blockade on the Hydian Way. This development allowed for the free flow of Republic forces to the Outer Rim Territories, where Jedi commanders rallied their forces to strike back against the Empire. As such, the Lindworm was pursued from Ord Radama all the way into the Stygian Caldera and the Seat of The Empire, where the Jedi Master Ven Zallow initiated a feint against the Sith's holy mausoleum world of Korriban before striking against Ziost, the original capital of the Sith Empire. On Ord Radama, the natives struggled to survive after the destruction of Livien Magnus. The capital was soon relocated to the city of New Raido, which gained protection from Jedi defenders who disguised themselves as commoners. This deception fooled Imperial Intelligence, which issued reports indicating that the Republic had invested little effort in securing Ord Radama against future offensives.
Although Darth Malgus had seen success in beating back the Jedi advances into Sith space, the loss of Ord Radama cost him much political clout with the Dark Council and Darth Angral. In spite of this and rumors that he was responsible for the military defeat and the loss of Darth Venemal, he was later charged with leading the Reconquest of Ord Radama. Malgus recorded the events of both the reconquest and the original Battle of Ord Radama in his personal war journal throughout the Rim Campaign. After successfully conquering the planet, the Empire rebuilt Livien Magnus and expanded it to almost four times its original size. A towering statue of Darth Malgus was also constructed in the center of the city, though it was not maintained for the last five centuries of the Republic's existence. The crash of the Harrower-class dreadnaught, an event that later became known as the Harrower Disaster, left the ground around the crashsite contaminated with health hazards, an issue that persisted almost four thousand years later, around the time of the rise of the Galactic Empire. Around that time, the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious discovered the volume and provided it to his apprentice, Darth Vader, as a teaching device. Sidious and Vader both heavily annotated Malgus's account of the Battle of Ord Radama before Sidious added the piece to his religious compendium, the Book of Sith, which later fell into the hands of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker of the New Jedi Order.
Behind the scenes
- "In the description of the ill-fated Battle of Ord Radama there's some name dropping of Harrower battle cruisers, Hammerhead-class cruisers, Aurek fighters, and Thranta-class corvettes. These are all in-game starships that were mentioned in the background info I received from LucasArts."
- ―Daniel Wallace
The Battle of Ord Radama was introduced into Star Wars canon with the release of Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side, an in-universe reference book penned by Daniel Wallace. Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side is presented as a series of first-person historical texts from Sith Lords and other darksiders; the section detailing the Battle of Ord Ramada is written by Darth Malgus as part of his war journal kept during the Rim Campaign of the Great Galactic War. Included in the description of the battle are notes added by Darth Sidious, Darth Vader, and Luke Skywalker, all of whom offer their insights and opinions on Malgus's words. All visual renderings of the battle within the book are also depicted as being provided by Malgus himself; Star Wars artist Jeffery Carlisle drew the images to appear as if they had been sketched "in the field." Book of Sith was released on February 10, 2012.
The capital city of Livien Magnus was a creation of Wallace's specifically for the project and, according to the author's endnotes for Book of Sith, was a reference to the Livien League of the Pre-Republic era. Other creations that have thus far only been seen in the context of the battle are the Merr-Sonn Bellower and Darth Venemal. Other elements of the battle, like the Harrower-class battle cruiser and the Thranta-class corvette, were provided by LucasArts as background information from the then–recently released video game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Darth Malgus and the Great Galactic War were both created by LucasArts and BioWare for the game, which was released in 2011. Wallace intended for the Malgus section to be dated to 3655 BBY, though it was never specified in the text itself, and the Fantasy Flight Games adventure Onslaught at Arda I later placed the battle in 3660 BBY.
- Onslaught at Arda I (Mentioned only) (First identified as Harrower Disaster)
- Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side (First mentioned)