- "I think it's occasionally good for us to remember that being a smuggler doesn't necessarily require one to be a barbarian, too."
- ―Talon Karrde
Talon Karrde was a Human smuggler and information broker, and founder of the Smuggler's Alliance. Karrde created his organization from the remains of Jorj Car'das's group and also absorbed some of Booster Terrik's organization while Terrik was on Kessel. His organization eventually grew enough that Karrde often knew more Imperial and New Republic secrets than either party knew about or would have wanted him to know. Karrde was determined to remain neutral in the Galactic Civil War, but circumstances and his own sense of honor eventually pushed him into the New Republic camp. Karrde had a deep trust in his employees and tried to personally know as many of them as he could. Some of his associates included Mara Jade, Zakarisz Ghent, and Moranda Savich. He was friends with Booster Terrik and his daughter Mirax Terrik. Karrde's flagship was the freighter Wild Karrde. Karrde's group would greatly aid both the New Republic and the New Jedi Order during the Yuuzhan Vong War.
Karrde got his start working under Jorj Car'das, a major smuggler. In 6 BBY, while serving on one of Car'das's vessels under Captain Hoffner, Karrde fled a pair of Carrack-class Cruisers by making a blind hyperspace jump. By sheer coincidence, the jump landed them in the midst of the legendary Katana fleet. Karrde and Hoffner both filed away the navigation coordinates of the fleet.
Just before the Battle of Yavin, Car'das vanished. Karrde saw that Car'das's organization was likely to be torn apart by a power struggle among its members, so he deftly maneuvered into control of the organization. Not giving any of the other lieutenants time to make their moves, Karrde simple announced that he was taking over. Two coup attempts by his rivals followed, but both were quickly thwarted. Following the death of Jabba the Hutt, Karrde capitalized on the plethora of new business opportunities that emerged, making him one of the most influential smuggling outfits in the Outer Rim. Some time later, Karrde came to the aid of fellow smuggler Quelev Tapper's organization, saving it from an Imperial assault force that had been sent by the local governor to crush its headquarters. Even with Karrde's help, Tapper's organization was reduced by 75%, so Tapper agreed to a merger with Karrde, becoming his second in command.
Karrde always had a passion for information, and only the best government intelligence institutions rivaled the quality of his network. As a result, Karrde was one of the few people to know that one of the Emperor's shuttles, one that may have had a cloaking device, had crashed on the planet Kaal. Thus, when bidding for certain aquaculture rights on Kaal was opened, Karrde adopted an assumed identity in an attempt to acquire the rights, which would allow him to surreptitiously recover the shuttle. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case, and the shuttle had to be destroyed before it fell into Imperial hands.
- "When a pack of vornskr's comes for you, always kick the biggest and meanest in the teeth"
- ―Talon Karrde
The Empire was not Karrde's only problem. In the early years of the New Republic, the fledgling government placed a 20,000 credit bounty on his head for his smuggling operations. Karrde set up base on the planet Myrkr. There, he discovered that the dangerous, poison-tailed, Force-sensing vornskr could be domesticated by bobbing their tails, which also mellowed the creatures. Karrde was soon raising two such vornskrs, Sturm and Drang, as loyal and affectionate pets.
Six months before the Thrawn campaign, Karrde and Tapper investigated a Morodin-hunting safari outfit on Varonat, which was actually a cover for an operation that used the nutrient slime secreted by the sentient Morodins to turn aleudrupe berry pits into a source of blaster gas rivaling spin-sealed tibanna gas. The investigation went sour, and in an ensuing shootout, Quelev Tapper was killed. However, Karrde was rescued by what he thought was a local hyperdrive mechanic who went by the name of Celina Marniss. In exchange, she wanted a job, something Karrde was happy to provide to the competent young woman whose real name, he soon learned, was Mara Jade.
Within six months, Jade had proven her worthiness to Karrde, who approached her to become his second in command. Before they could even finish the business meal he'd prepared for the offer, however, the Star Destroyer Chimaera appeared in orbit above Myrkr. Karrde "neighborly" offered to assist Grand Admiral Thrawn in collecting ysalamiri (which allowed his people to observe Imperial activities on the planet).
Not long after, Karrde came across Luke Skywalker's X-wing adrift in space. He considered turning the young Jedi over to Thrawn, but his own ethics regarding hospitality made him decide to aid Skywalker instead, at the cost of his base on Myrkr.
Karrde moved his operation to Rishi. Thrawn double-crossed Mara Jade and managed to capture Karrde, placing him in a holding cell aboard the Chimaera. Jade called upon Skywalker to help her rescue her boss, and they succeeded; a grateful Karrde provided the location of the Katana fleet to the New Republic. Despite his efforts to aid the New Republic, the Empire chased down Captain Hoffner and beat the New Republic to acquiring the majority of the ships in the fleet.
Karrde was now firmly sided with the New Republic in the war, and pulled together several smugglers together, including Mazzic, Brasck, Par'tah, Samuel Tomas Gillespie, Ellor, Clyngunn the ZeHethbra, and the starship thief Niles Ferrier (who was actually working for Thrawn). After ferreting out Ferrier in an attempt to frame Karrde, the smugglers worked together, ultimately playing a major role in the Battle of Bilbringi. Meanwhile, Karrde himself had journeyed to Wayland with Leia Organa Solo, where Sturm and Drang helped them locate Skywalker, Jade, and the rest of a team sent to destroy Thrawn's cloning operation on the planet. Karrde eventually found his way into the Emperor's old throne room, where the mad Dark Jedi Joruus C'baoth was tormenting Skywalker and Jade. One of Karrde's vornskrs distracted C'baoth at the right moment, allowing Jade to kill him.
Karrde had always been curious about the disappearance of his old boss, Car'das, and also feared that Car'das disapproved of his takeover and would someday seek revenge. His curiosity was further piqued when he was approached by Lando Calrissian, who was in possession of Car'das's old beckon call, which Skywalker had found on Dagobah. Karrde gave Jade an ongoing mission to determine Car'das's whereabouts, a mission that Calrissian felt compelled to join. After several years, they were finally able to pinpoint his location: Exocron, in the Kathol sector.
Finally, during the crisis caused by the discovery of the partial Caamas Document at Wayland and the alleged return of Thrawn, Karrde overcame his fears of confronting Car'das and departed for Exocron, along with Shada D'ukal, Mazzic's former bodyguard and a member of the mysterious Mistryl Shadow Guards. Karrde suspected that Car'das, also a lover of information, might have had a copy of the document. The journey to Exocron was perilous, but they finally arrived to find Car'das a bedridden, senile old man. Before they could leave the planet, the forces of the Rodian slaver Rei'kas moved to attack Exocron. Karrde prepared for an unwinnable battle, only to find, once the Rodian's fleet had entered Exocron's gravity well, that a fleet of bizarre ships owned by the Aing-Tii Monks appeared and destroyed each of Rei'kas's ships. Karrde returned to Car'das to find that his decrepit state was a ruse. Car'das thanked Karrde for treating his former employees with the respect he never gave them himself. He then later noted he did not have a copy of the Caamas Document, but offered Shada a choice between two datacards: one containing information about those who devastated her homeworld of Emberlene, another with information he promised would be useful. Shada chose the mysterious second packet, and with Karrde, examined its contents.
The datacard contained proof that the individual masquerading as Thrawn was actually the con artist Flim, and that Moff Disra's aide, Grodin Tierce, was a clone. Karrde took this information to Gilad Pellaeon, who used it to put a stop to the con. Karrde then proposed to Pellaeon, who was attempting to negotiate a peace treaty with the New Republic, that his organization serve as a joint intelligence service that would provide impartial information to both the New Republic and Imperial Remnant. Mara Jade, who had just been rescued from the Hand of Thrawn by Luke Skywalker, decided to leave the organization to marry Luke and pursue the path of the Jedi. Fortunately, Shada decided to sign on with Karrde permanently, becoming his new lieutenant. Karrde served as "father of the bride" at Mara's wedding.
Unfortunately, the joint organization was not fully respected by either government. When the Yuuzhan Vong invaded the galaxy, Karrde studied the spice shipments of the Vong-allied Hutts and determined that shipments to the planets Corellia, Bothawui, and Tynna had mostly dried up, implying they were the next targets. However, the Yuuzhan Vong had lied to the Hutts about their planned targets, and instead the fleet attacked Fondor, further discrediting Karrde's organization.
- "One can never have too much good wine, beautiful women or to much attention"
- ―Talon Karrde
Karrde's next role in the war with the Yuuzhan Vong was the rescue of Jedi children from the Jedi Praxeum on Yavin IV. Again, though, misfortune arose; though the children were saved, the Peace Brigade learned of the vornskrs of Myrkr, information which they revealed to the Yuuzhan Vong, who then created the Jedi-hunting voxyn.
Following the fall of Coruscant, Karrde played a role in ensuring the election of Cal Omas as Chief of State. During the Liberation of Coruscant, he piloted the Wild Karrde and acted as bodyguard for the lesser-armed Lady Luck. At the end of the war, Karrde claimed he was going straight, but that was hardly the first time Karrde, consummate fringer, had claimed to retire from the business.
Talon Karrde was known for being a genteel, sophisticated sentient, with a passion for intelligence and information. In fact, Karrde often possessed as much or more information than New Republic or Imperial Intelligence knew. Karrde was also unique in that he trusted many of his operatives and tried, early in his history, to personally know as many of them as possible. For much of the Galactic Civil War, Karrde tried to remain neutral, despite aiding Wedge Antilles, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo. Karrde also took great pride in his honor, as well as his shrewdness in business deals.
Behind the scenes
- All of Talon Karrde's spaceships have names that, in English and Basic, are puns: Wild Karrde, Starry Ice, Etherway, Uwana Buyer, Dawn Beat, Amanda Fallow, and Lastri's Ort.
- Timothy Zahn, the author who created Talon Karrde, posed as him for the Star Wars Customizable Card Game. Although hair extensions were needed, Zahn bore a passable resemblance to the character.
- Timothy Zahn has stated that the concept of Talon Karrde's character is essentially Han Solo if he never would have met Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi at the Mos Eisley Cantina.
- Star Wars Galaxies
- X-wing: The Bacta War
- First Contact
- Heir to the Empire (First appearance)
- Dark Force Rising
- The Last Command
- Jade Solitaire
- Specter of the Past
- Vision of the Future
- Survivor's Quest
- Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse
- Edge of Victory I: Conquest
- Destiny's Way
- The Unifying Force