- "I'm a fighter, not a leader, not a planner. That's you, and that's why I don't want to hear any more talk about letting someone else carry the fight. After today we fight on different ground, and we maybe aren't the Free Ryloth movement, but we still fight."
- ―Isval, to Cham Syndulla, on the fate of their rebellion
Isval was a Rutian Twi'lek female ex-slave who was a member of the Free Ryloth Movement during the reign of the Galactic Empire. She was a lieutenant of Cham Syndulla, the movement's leader and military commander. Isval had a deep hatred for the Galactic Empire and took part in Cham's plot to assassinate Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. Following an arduous hunt, Isval and her fellow Free Ryloth fighters closed in on the Emperor and Lord Vader at a remote village. However, the Free Ryloth forces were routed by Imperial reinforcements led by Moff Delian Mors. Isval allowed herself to be captured so that Cham could escape. Following the battle, Isval was beheaded by Darth Vader after a brief exchange with the Emperor.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Personality and traits
- 3 Skills and abilities
- 4 Behind the scenes
- 5 Appearances
- 6 Sources
- 7 Notes and references
- "No more half measures. We stay smart, but we think bigger."
"No more half measures. Aye that, sir"
- ―Cham and Isval vowing to avenge Pok's death
Isval was a young Twi'lek woman who grew up during the Age of the Empire. Before joining Cham Syndulla's Free Ryloth Movement, Isval worked as an escort. As a member of the Free Ryloth movement, Isval learned how to steer an armed freighter. Under Cham's leadership, the Free Ryloth movement opposed the Imperial occupation of Ryloth and launched raids on Imperial personnel and operations on Ryloth, killing dozens and disrupting the planet's spice trade. Over the years, the Free Ryloth movement cultivated a network of informants, safe-houses, and Clone Wars-era war materiel including vulture droids, droid tri-fighters, and space mines.
In 14 BBY, Isval was aboard Cham's freighter in an uncharted system. Cham had planned to rendezvous with Pok, another fighter whose team had just taken part in a mission to hijack an Imperial weapons shipment. Per Cham's orders, Isval had taken the freighter into the rings of one of the system's gas giants. After bidding her time monitoring the scanners, Isval sighted Pok's freighter exiting hyperspace. Before they could dock with Pok's freighter and offload the weapons, Pok informed that that his ship was being pursued by a squadron of V-wing starfighters led by Darth Vader, the Emperor's second-in-command.
During the incident, Isval, Cham, and the other crew could only listen to Darth Vader's murderous rampage aboard the freighter via comm. She and her comrades also heard Vader Force choke Pok. Cham's ship was able to evade discovery by fleeing deeper into the gas giant's ring and maintaining comm silence. Following the deaths of Pok and his team, Isval and Cham took their freighter back to Ryloth. During the return journey, Isval voiced her agreement with Cham's remark that it was time to move from half measures to something bigger.
Seizing the opportunity
- "I need you to be the voice of reason here, Isval. I'm leaning too heavy in one direction."
"Yeah, but maybe you're right to do that. Maybe you're overthinking this, Cham. When has our intelligence been wrong? There could be a dozen reasons we can't see, and if we spend all our time trying to find them an opportunity could slip past us."
- ―Cham and Isval discussing the Emperor and Lord Vader's surprise visit to Ryloth
After Cham received intelligence from one of his spies that the Imperial puppet Senator Orn Free Taa would be visiting Ryloth with Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader aboard the Imperial Star Destroyer Perilous within ten days, Cham contacted Isval via comlink to discuss whether it was a trap. While Isval suspected it was a threat, Cham believed they should seize the opportunity to assassinate the Emperor and Vader in order to topple the Empire. The two also discussed their speculations over whether the Emperor had come to replace the corrupt Moff Delian Mors, the governor of Ryloth. Following the discussion, the two decided to contact their Imperial spy Colonel Belkor Dray to verify that Senator Taa's visit was not an Imperial trap.
Later that night, Isval waited for Belkor outside one of Cham's mountain bases on the outskirts of Lessu, the capital city of Ryloth. While Cham and Belkor held their meeting, Isval stayed guard at the mouth of the cave. Belkor had become a spy for Cham in an effort to boost his own political ambitions at the expense of his superior, Moff Mors. During the meeting, Belkor tried to break his relationship as Cham's spy by threatening to release a data disk in the event of his death revealing the location of many of the Free Ryloth movement's bases and people. However, Cham outfoxed him by threatening to leak recordings of all their previous meetings, thus confirming Belkor's treason to his Imperial comrades.
Cham managed to convince Belkor to continue working for him in return for using Senator Taa's assassination to boost Belkor's career. During the meeting, Belkor confirmed that Senator Taa was indeed planning to visit Ryloth but expressed ignorance about the Emperor and Lord Vader's presence aboard the Perilous. After Belkor had left, Isval and Cham concluded that Belkor was indeed unaware that the Emperor and Lord Vader would be visiting Ryloth. Isval believed that this proved that their intelligence was good. Cham still suspected that it was a trap and that Belkor had not been privy to the details. Isval speculated that the Emperor and Vader were paying Moff Mors a surprise visit to make a show of replacing her.
Cham agreed with Isval's judgement and decided to launch their operation. Isval regarded Belkor as an Imperial filth and told Cham not to be sentimental about harming him. Cham ordered Isval to begin mobilizing the Free Ryloth movement and to get all their weapons and ships ready for use. Isval agreed but told Cham that she would be visiting Lessu for a day or two to attend to personal matters.
- "I don't understand this, or you. What are you? Why are you doing this?"
"I told you. I used to be what you are. What you were. I just ... want to help. I wish someone had helped me."
- ―Isval's experiences as an escort led her to rescue Twi'lek women in similar straits
Shortly before the mission to Ryloth, Isval traveled to the Octagon, a district in the heart of the city of Lessu. There, she encountered a Twi'lek escort named Ryiin and a drunk Imperial officer. After assaulting the Imperial officer, she spirited Ryiin away into her garret where she would be safe from slavers and Twi'lek traffickers. As a former escort, Isval wanted to save other Twi'lek girls from suffering what she had experienced as a result of such shady business. While grateful to Isval, Ryiin was shocked by Isval's aggressive methods and convinced her not to kill the Imperial officer. After settling Ryiin into her safe house, Isval returned and beat up the Imperial officer a second time but spared his life per Ryiin's request. She then returned to Cham and the Free Ryloth movement. They then spent the next nine days preparing for the Emperor and Lord Vader's arrival in the Ryloth system.
Raiding the Perilous
- "All's ready down here. All there teams are briefed."
"You're on a decoy team, yes?"
"No, I'm leading the primary. I have to."
"There's no discussion here, Cham. I'm the best chance we have. Beside... I have to. For Pok."
- ―Isval and Cham debating her role in the strike on the Perilous
During the Free Ryloth movement's attack on the Perilous, Isval led three teams of boarders disguised as rescue crew. Her team was tasked with blowing up the Perilous as part of the attempt on the Emperor and Lord Vader. Isval's team consisted of her fellow Twi'leks Eshgo, Drim, Crost, and the human Faylin. The other two teams were decoy teams meant to confuse the Imperials. As part of the first phase of the attack, the Ryloth rebels planted space mines in the margins of the Ryloth system. These mines included special mines which drained the Star Destroyer's deflector shield. Cham then deployed hundreds of Vulture droids and buzz droids which ravaged the Perilous and its starfighter defenses.
During the assault, Isval and her team waited aboard their repair ship Repair Eighty-Three at an underground landing pad on Ryloth. After Lord Vader's V-wing starfighters had eliminated the vulture droids, Cham directed Colonel Belkor to issue a call for repair ships to assist the Perilous. Isval's repair ship joined a fleet of Rylothian and Imperial repair ships that approached the Perilous. By that time, the Star Destroyer's landing bay had been damaged and a dozen fires were burning aboard the Perilous. Posing as an engine repair team, Isval and her strike team landed at Port 266R, which was near the Star Destroyer's hyperdrive chamber.
After docking with the Perilous, Isval and her team were escorted by Lieutenant Grolt to the engine level. The team carried an antigrav pallet containing weapons and explosives. As they made their way down to the engine level, Isval drew her blaster and shot Grolt dead. Eshgo and Drim then hid Grolt's body inside the pallet. The disguised rebels then pushed their pallet through the corridors which led to the hyperdrive chamber. The entrance to the hyperdrive chamber was guarded by four stormtroopers. While trying to bluff their way in, Grolt's comlink rang and Isval and her team were forced to shoot the stormtroopers as well.
Having reached the hyperdrive chamber, Isval gave the signal for the decoy teams to set up explosives and firefights in order to distract the Imperials. After Drim overrode the security protocol on the hyperdrive hatch, Isval and her team stormed the chamber and killed the engineers and tech officers inside the chamber. They also stole their uniforms. Isval and her team then planted explosives inside the hyperspace chamber. Their plan was to start a series of detonations that would cause the Perilous's engines to blow up the Star Destroyer. Their human team member Faylin also disguised herself as an Imperial officer. Isval and the others also donned Imperial uniforms.
As Lord Vader forced his way into the hyperdrive chamber with his lightsaber, Eshgo, Drim, and Crost hid inside the pallet while Isval lay on top with Grolt's body covering her. Under Isval's direction, Faylin steered the pallet into the network of halls that connected the hyperdrive chamber to one of the Star Destroyer's main corridors. Faylin pretended to be transporting an Imperial casualty. With the explosives set to go off in thirty minutes, Isval and her team searched for a starship to escape on. They headed to Bay 137 where one of the decoy teams' ships was waiting. While navigating through the hallways, Faylin encountered an officer who asked her what unit she was. Faylin killed the officer and tossed his body on top of Grolt and Isval.
After another eight minutes of searching, Isval and her team found an escort boat. Faylin removed the second dead Imperial while Isval pushed Grolt off her. Eshgo, Drim, and Crost climbed out of their compartments. However, Darth Vader spotted Isval's team making their escape. While crawling through the narrow hatch that led to the docked boat, Isval spotted Vader leaping from a walkway ten meters above. After directing Faylin to fly the ship, Isval went to confront him, intending to avenge Pok's death. The Sith Lord deflected her blaster bolts with his lightsaber. Eshgo then intervened and pushed her into the docking port door. The two then escaped aboard the ship before Vader could force his way aboard. Eshgo then disengaged the docking clamp and Isval's stolen escort boat joined the traffic above Ryloth.
- "It's not over! It can't be. The whole thing is pointless if we don't kill Vader and the Emperor. You wanted to start a fire and spread the Empire thin trying to put it out. This won't do it. They'll just lie, say something went wrong with the ship and it went down, but that the Emperor and Vader got off without harm. You want to kindle a blaze? Show the Empire to be vulnerable? Then we have to kill Vader and the Emperor."
- ―Isval urged Cham to continue hunting down the Emperor and Vader
After detaching from the Perilous, Isval contacted Cham and informed him she had planted the explosives. She also reported that the decoy teams were lost and that the Imperials had learned about the explosives and ordered an evacuation. While Cham was satisfied with taking down a Star Destroyer and killing hundreds of Imperials, Isval countered that their operation would be pointless if they failed to assassinate the Emperor and Lord Vader. Since Cham's forces had been depleted and reduced to 24 droid tri-fighters, Isval convinced Cham to get Belkor to tell them the ship ID of the Emperor and Vader. Cham agreed to launch the tri-fighter to wreak havoc among the Imperial ships while Eshgo prepared the escort boat's weapons for the hunt.
Isval and her team's escort boat were caught in the shock wave created by the explosion which destroyed the Perilous. The shock wave cost the ship to spiral out of control. Isval and Eshgo managed to remain at the help since they were strapped to their seats but Crost, Drim, and Faylin were flung into the rear area of the ship. Seeking an opportunity to kill his rival Moff Mors, Belkor transmitted the ship IDs for both Vader's shuttle and Mors' shuttle under the pretext that he could not identify which ship the Emperor and Vader were on. Using Belkor's information, Isval bombarded Moff Mors' shuttle, killing her pilot Breehld.
However, Isval's escort boat narrowly avoided crashing into an escape pod and her team lost sight of Mors' shuttle. With Mors' shuttle damaged, Isval and Eshgo decided to target the second shuttle which was heading toward Ryloth. Vader and the Emperor were aboard the second shuttle. The Emperor and Vader however sensed their hostile intentions through the Force. Using his Force powers and flying skills, Vader turned his shuttle around and flew it upside down. He used the dark side of the Force to Force choke Isval and Eshgo. Isval managed to escape death by grabbing the shuttle's throttle and sending it into a nose-up.
Isval lost consciousness and her escort boat collided with Vader's shuttle. Both Isval and Vader's shuttle crash-landed on Ryloth's surface. As the escort boat descended into Ryloth's atmosphere, Faylin managed to rouse Isval. The two discovered that her co-pilot Eshgo had died. During re-entry, the escort boat caught fire and the remaining team members Drim and Crost were killed when the rear compartment exploded. With much difficulty, Isval managed to land the stricken escort boat on Ryloth. Despite losing Vader's shuttle, she was able to track the trajectory of the Emperor and Vader's ship. Isval transmitted the coordinates to Cham and asked him to search the crash area.
Continuing the hunt
- "I'm a fighter, not a leader, not a planner. That's you [Cham], and that's why I don't want to hear any more talk about letting someone else carry the fight. After today we fight on different ground, and we maybe aren't the Free Ryloth movement, but we still fight."
- ―Isval urging Cham not to give up
After some discussion, the Free Ryloth rebels agreed take out the Imperial Equatorial Communications Hub so that they could create a communications black out that would disrupt Imperial rescue efforts and aid their hunt for the Sith Lords. Cham then dispatched Isval and Faylin's escort boat to bomb the Equatorial Communications Center. Cham had contacted Belkor and told him to order the station's commander Major Steen Borkas to lower the shield and to receive Isval's escort boat, which was supposedly carrying wounded VIPs from the Perilous. Without informing Isval, Cham also sent four ships including one led by Nordon to search the grid Isval had pinpointed for the downed Imperial shuttle.
While flying to the Equatorial Communications Hub, Isval was contacted by Nordon, who informed her that had found a wrecked ship at those coordinates in the planet's equatorial forest. Due to her experience with Vader, Isval warned Nordon not to engage him on the ground but to bomb the Sith Lords from the air. Continuing with her mission, Isval and Faylin bombed the Equatorial hub's communication satellites, creating a communications black-out. Following the mission, they rendezvoused with Cham's ships in Ryloth's equatorial forest. After disembarking, the Free Ryloth rebels buried Crost, Drim, Eshgo, and other comrades who had perished during the attack on the Perilous.
After burying the dead, Isval and Cham boarded their respective ships and flew over the equatorial forest. To avoid Imperial detection, they ran dark with no lights. Isval and Faylin's escort boat's scanner picked up wreckage nearby as they closed in on the coordinates. After landing, Isval and her comrades explored the crashed site and discovered Nordon's wrecked ship. The rebels quickly deduced that Vader has used his Force powers to bring Nordon's ship down. While searching the wreckage, they discovered that a pack of insectoid gutkurrs were devouring the fallen crew. The Ryloth rebels were pursued by the gutkurr pack. They managed to flee back to their ships but lost four of their comrades to the dangerous predators.
The rebels then resumed their hunt for the Sith Lords. While traveling aboard Isval's boat, Cham confided to Isval that he had thrown the Free Ryloth movement's entire resources against the Perilous. Isval countered that they had lost less than thirty of their people in bringing down a Star Destroyer. Syndulla disagreed and pointed out that they had lost every ship. He feared that the Empire would launch a crackdown on Ryloth and bring more troops to track down their bases. Cham told her about his plans to disperse the movement into hiding and confided that was looking for a successor.
As they continued the hunt, Isval and Cham learned that Kallon's team had located Darth Vader's crashed shuttle but found that the Emperor and Vader had already fled. Isval discussed this news with her comrade Goll. She opined that the Free Ryloth movement was more than an idea and revolved around Cham. She reassured Goll that they would rebuild the movement after today. Later, they landed the escort boat at the crash site of Vader's shuttle. After examining the bodies of the pilots and a Royal Guard, Goll used a res light to search the ground for footprints. He deduced that the Emperor, Vader, and two others had survived the crash. Isval was also present when Cham was contacted by their spy Belkor.
Isval listened as Cham ordered Colonel Belkor to use his V-wings to locate the Emperor and Lord Vader and bomb their location from the air. Isval, Goll, Cham, and the rebels continued on foot while Faylin and Kallon trailed behind in their transport. While traveling through the equatorial forest, Isval and her comrades discovered that Vader and the Emperor had fought and killed a horde of lyleks, fearsome insectoid predators that lived in packs. The rebels followed the trail that the lyleks had left behind. As they continued their journey, Isval and her comrades deduced that Vader and his group had ventured into the lylek nest. Believing that the Emperor and Vader would eventually emerge from the lylek nest, Cham directed Kallon and Faylin to scan the surrounding area for any openings. Isval realized that the Emperor and Vader were apex predators.
Continuing their hunt, Goll led Isval and the others from the ravine into the forest in order to avoid the predators that would come feasting on the lylek carcasses. The rebels continued their travels amidst the rain. Cham decided to rendezvous with Kallon's ship, which had landed five kilometers away. On the way, they heard an explosion nearby. During their journey, Cham apologized for his remarks about looking for a new leader for the Free Ryloth movement and vowed to rebuild the movement. When Cham sought to recruit more leaders, Isval admitted that she was more of a fighter than a leader. She urged him not to give up his leadership of the Free Ryloth movement and stressed that they needed him as a leader and planner. Isval and Cham also learnt from Goll that the explosion had been caused by the Emperor and Vader using the Force to blow their way out of the lylek nest. Goll later returned from a scouting mission and informed Cham and Isval that the Emperor, Vader, and a surviving Royal Guard were traveling ahead with a local Twi'lek girl, who lived in a nearby village.
Last stand on Ryloth
- "What are you doing? Get down, Isval!"
"I'm thinking through an exit. I love you, Cham. Now get out of here!"
- ―Isval sacrificed her own life so that Cham could escape
Isval and her Free Ryloth comrades later learned from Goll that the Emperor and Lord Vader had reached an isolated Twi'lek village that was home to rustics who had been former slaves. Goll led Cham and Isval to the margins of the village. Using a set of macrobinoculars, Isval saw that the the Imperials were seated in the village center surrounded by a circle of locals, who where unaware of their true identity and were treating them as honored guests. After some discussion, Cham ordered Isval and Goll's forces to assume position in anticipation of Belkor's air strike on the village. Isval also monitored the village and reported that Vader had rebuilt an old communicator. Despite their confidence that Vader's communicator would not breach the black-out, the Imperials managed to establish contact with Moff Mors, who had reasserted control over Belkor's V-wing pilots.
As Isval and her comrades waited for the air strike, she urged Cham to send Gallon's forces to attack the Emperor, Vader, and their Royal Guard protector. However, Cham was reluctant to endanger the local villagers and refused. After some discussion, Cham ordered his forces to fire warning shots in order to warn the villagers to flee into a nearby mine shaft. Unaware that Mors had reasserted control over Belkor's pilots, Cham wanted to use the V-wings to bomb the village and the Imperial leaders. When Isval suggested walking away, Cham reminded her that they needed to avenge the comrades they had lost and that there was now no turning back.
After some debate, Cham ordered Belkor to send his V-wings to bomb the village. However, Belkor tried to order his pilots to bomb both the village and the Free Ryloth rebels. With their plan unraveling, Cham ordered Goll to fire the warning shots. Meanwhile, Moff Mors' ships and the V-wings confronted Belkor. After exposing him as a traitor, she ordered her V-wing pilots to destroy his recon craft, killing the renegade colonel and depriving the Free Ryloth rebels of their Imperial spy. Meanwhile, the Twi'lek civilians fled into the cave, leaving Vader, the Emperor and their Royal Guard at the heart of the village. Unaware that Belkor had been neutralized, Isval told Cham to order the V-wing airstrike.
After witnessing Belkor's craft explode, Cham realized their plan was falling apart and ordered Goll's forces to storm the village. However, the Free Ryloth rebels were outflanked by Moff Mors' transport and shuttle, who landed stormtroopers on either side of the quarry. As Vader charged into the quarry to attack the rebels, Isval and her comrades fired at the Sith Lord but failed to take him down. Unable to stop Vader, Isval told Cham and Goll to leave while she stayed behind to hold back the Sith Lord. Cham was initially reluctantly to leave but Goll forcibly carried his commander back to their ship.
Following a brief verbal confrontation with Lord Vader, the Sith Lord Force choked her into unconsciousness. Meanwhile, Moff Mors' V-wings strafed the remaining Free Ryloth rebels, killing many of them and turning the tide of the battle in the Empire's favor. After the battle, Isval was brought before the Emperor. Still defiant, Isval taunted the Emperor about the loss of the Perilous and hundreds of troops. The Emperor retorted that her movement had struck too early and had exhausted itself. He also taunted her about the futility of the rebellion. The Emperor then gestured for Vader to execute her. Facing the Sith Lord, she told him that she hated everything he stood for and that she murdered for love. Isval's words reminded Vader of his own fall to the dark side. Vader then decapitated her with his lightsaber before proceeding to slay the Twi'lek villagers.
Despite Isval's death and the failure of their attempt to kill the Emperor and Lord Vader, Cham Syndulla was able to keep his rebel movement alive because of her sacrifice. The Free Ryloth movement would continue to pose a threat to the Empire in the years leading up to the Battle of Endor, which saw the deaths of the Emperor and Lord Vader and the rise of the New Republic. During that time, Cham and his daughter Hera Syndulla would become involve in a galaxy-wide rebellion against the Empire, which ultimately grew into the Alliance to Restore the Republic. In 5 ABY, Cham's dream of a Free Ryloth would be finally realized when the Empire abandoned Ryloth in the months leading up to the climatic Battle of Jakku.
Personality and traits
- "I hate you and everything you stand for. But when I murdered, I murdered out of love."
"I know precisely what you mean."
- ―Isval, to Darth Vader, moments before her execution
Isval was beautiful Twi'lek female and with pale blue skin. She was rash, but still practical; the exact opposite of the deliberate and principled Cham Syndulla. Isval sharpened her teeth to points, an aesthetic decision usually only performed by males of her species. Isval had a deep hatred for Imperial officers due to her experiences as an escort and resented the fact that nobody had rescued her. Due to her experiences as an escort, Isval spent her free time rescuing Twi'lek escorts from a life of exploitation. On one occasion, Isval viciously assaulted an Imperial officer who was fraternizing a Twi'lek escort named Ryiin.
She was close to Cham and even had feelings for him, feelings he returned. However, they both silently agreed that a relationship was not in the best interests of the movement they fought for. However, they didn't confess this again, until moments before Isval's death, at the hands of the Sith Lord, Darth Vader. During the Free Ryloth movement's attempt to assassinate the Emperor and Lord Vader, Isval displayed courage, fortitude and resilience as a rebel fighter and leader. When Cham doubted himself, she urged her leader not to give up hope and to rebuild the Free Ryloth movement.
Isval regarded Cham as central to the survival of the Free Ryloth movement and sacrificed her own life by holding back Darth Vader. Even in captivity, Isval displayed defiance and fortitude towards the Emperor and Lord Vader. She refused to believe that her rebel movement was a failure. Isval did not show fear even as Vader proceeded to execute her.
Skills and abilities
Isval was a fierce fighter who was good at physical combat and knew how to operate blasters. She also knew how to pilot various different starships. Isval admitted that she did not regard herself as a leader and planner but saw herself as a fighter foremost.
Behind the scenes
- Lords of the Sith (First appearance, simultaneous with Lords of the Sith audiobook)
- Lords of the Sith audiobook
- "Blaster"—Star Wars Insider 156 (First mentioned)
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 27 (Databank A-Z: InterGalactic Banking Clan–Jakku)