What if you uncovered a conspiracy that reached to every corner of the Galactic Empire—and you were the only one who knew about it? This action-packed conclusion to the Servants of the Empire tells an original story of intrigue, espionage, and coming of age, all set in the world of Star Wars Rebels.
Zare Leonis, an Imperial cadet who is secretly seeking to free his kidnapped sister, the Force-sensitive Dhara Leonis, from Imperial custody, has achieved his goal of entering the Arkanis Academy, having received a transfer from Lothal. He knows that somewhere here, the Empire is holding his sister. However, he remains in great danger, as the Grand Inquisitor, the powerful being who kidnapped his sister, suspects him of being a traitor to the Empire. As Leonis begins his training at the Arkanis Academy, he learns that failure to perform academically can have real and deadly consequences for students there. Shortly after his arrival, he learns from Lieutenant Chiron, who has also been transferred from Lothal's Academy for Young Imperials, that the Inquisitor is dead, killed by a group of rebels. Chiron wants Leonis to investigate a secretive group at the Arkanis Academy known as the Commandant's Cadets, created by the academy's leader, Commandant Brendol Hux. Doing so turns out to be key in getting the access he needs to get to his sister. But just when finally gets in, an old friend who has been captured by the Empire reveals him as a traitor.
Meanwhile, Leonis's girlfriend on Lothal, Merei Spanjaf, is feeling the tightening grip of the Empire. Having escaped the influence of the Gray Syndicate, whose leader was killed in an Imperial assault, she still wants to rescue the poet Holshef. She decides that the only way to save him is to get him off-world and seeks the help of Old Jho, a shop merchant with anti-Imperial sympathies that she's come to know through her activities with the Gray Syndicate. He agrees to help, but Spanjaf soon learns that the situation is much more dire. The Empire is coming closer to discovering her illegal activities by the minute and she also learns that on Arkanis, Leonis has been scheduled for execution. Evading a bounty hunter and Imperial forces, she, Holshef, Jho, her parents and Leonis's parents flee the planet.
On Arkanis, Leonis is condemned to death by firing squad and offered a last meal, delivered by the individual of his choice. He chooses the old friend who betrayed him, Beck Ollet, certain that he can break through the Empire's conditioning inflicting on him via its Project Unity operation. When Ollet smells the jogan fruits that Leonis chose as his last meal, he recalls how the Empire destroyed his family's orchards and called those who resisted them traitors. He and Leonis escape and set out to rescue Dhara. They are soon joined by Spanjaf and a group of rebels known to them as "the Spectres." Together, the group infiltrates the secret Area Null and frees Dhara Leonis, escaping thanks in part to Dhara's own Force powers. The group then escapes to Garel, where Dhara wraps her parents in an embrace, asking them to never let go.
Author Jason Fry considered his work on The Secret Academy "fun" in comparison with that of Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice, which he considered "torture to write." The book uses the narrative idea of beginning with a section of the story featuring Zare Leonis, then switching to Merei Spanjaf before bringing the two characters together. Fry had considered the idea for Imperial Justice, but rejected it. For The Secret Academy, however, Fry felt these intercuts allowed the reader to feel the separation and anxiety between Leonis and Spanjaf.
During the creation of the story, Fry received a note from the Lucasfilm Story Group regarding the death of the Grand Inquisitor, which presented a challenge, but also allowed Fry to play the aspect that some of what helped Leonis succeed was luck. One aspect of the story that was a lucky break for Fry himself was the character of Brendol Hux. Fry was presented in 2014 with a synopsis of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens in preparation for the reference title Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Incredible Cross-Sections. He was struck by how young the character of Armitage Hux was and saw an opportunity to introduce his origins. He ran the idea up the chain, expecting a "no" response, but wrote as fast as he could after receiving a "yes." He felt the idea succeeded on two fronts as it spurred interest in the book prior to the release of the film and knew that after the film's release, new readers would see the Commandant's Cadets as a real threat.
Fry intended the planet of Arkanis as something new for Star Wars, a water-logged world like something out of a Gothic tale. Colonel Julyan's lessons that reference Star Wars Legends material were pulled largely from The Essential Guide to Warfare and supplementary material.
The book includes what is described as a short journey from Lothal to Arkanis. However, the journey is not short, and author Jason Fry made this mistake due to incorrectly remembering Lothal being near Kessel.
Fry has stated that he intended for the planet of Gesaral Beta to be where it rains razors of glass on Ania Solo in Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: Legacy Volume 2 series. However, he never explicitly said so within The Secret Academy. He further stated that he would "leave it to Wookieepedia to work out the canonicity." As the information does not appear within the novel itself and is not approved by the Lucasfilm Story Group, it cannot be considered canon.
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Notes and references
- Servants of the Empire: The Secret Academy takes place after Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice, which occurs around the same time as the events of "Vision of Hope," as Zare Leonis's meeting with Ezra Bridger, in which Leonis reveals to Bridger that he is transferring to the Arkanis Academy, is depicted in both stories. "Vision of Hope" takes place after the Star Wars Rebels episode "Empire Day," which is set in 4 BBY, according to Star Wars: Galactic Atlas, but before Star Wars Rebels: The Siege of Lothal, given that Bridger and the Spectres are still operating freely on Lothal during the events of Imperial Justice and "Vision of Hope" and have not yet encountered Phoenix Cell, which changes in The Siege of Lothal. Given that Galactic Atlas dates The Siege of Lothal to 4 BBY as well, and the events of The Secret Academy also take place before that episode, it must take place in that same year.
- Servants of the Empire: The Secret Academy
- When Dhara Leonis summons the power of the Force, she shrieks in rage and pain, and Merei Spanjaf believes she sees her eyes "burning like fire."