And now, a Valentine’s Day special all about Star wars couples…
Couples have been a surprisingly difficult concept for the Star Wars universe to master over the years. From the budding romance of Luke and his sister Leia, to the strained abusive love story of Anakin and Padme, to the constant bickering of R2-D2 and C-3PO, in the old days it seemed like the only ones who got it right were Han and Leia with their simple flirtations that lead to a son who would turn evil and break up their marriage. That’s our best example.
Really though, I’m not cynical about this. It’s just fascinating to see relationships in Star Wars. I always got the impression that Star Wars was marketed to nerdy guys without girlfriends and most of the relationships depicted seemed to reflect that angle. And by that I mean only a few of them were very believable. Thank goodness times are changing.
Couples struggled and occasionally worked in the EU, only to end in tragedy. Luke went through a few flings before settling on the woman who previously had wanted to kill him, and that was indeed a believable relationship the way it progressed. Of course that relationship as all the good ones do ended in tragedy. And no, I don’t mean Mara being murdered by her nephew, I mean all of them being wiped from existence by Disney, leaving us with a few canon relationships to go off of.
Not that I’m discounting the EU and its many romantic escapades, I just have to say my favorite couple is actually a recent addition to the new canon. Anakin and Padme were supposed to be sort of “star-crossed lovers” but… well I won’t get into that. The Clone Wars made it okay. Not to dwell on the past, I just think having lovers on opposite sides of a war is a more believable obstacle to their love. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about rebel pilot Thane Kyrell and Imperial Officer Ciena Ree.
So yeah, if you haven’t read Lost Stars yet and don’t want it spoiled for you, read no further.
I was a little worried about Lost Stars being marketed as a young adult romance novel… because the word “Twilight” is forever burned in my brain as the staple of that genre, but given that it was also going to be about lovers on opposite sides of the Galactic Civil War gave me hope. As a result I got one of my favorite Star Wars novels ever about two characters so complex and well-developed I’m still eager to see their story continue.
Thane and Ciena both hailed from Jelucan, and at a young age they believed in the romanticized idealistic image the Empire put forward. Living on a backwater world suffering after the Clone Wars, in the wake of a former failed government the Empire promised bread on the tables and that’s what people needed. The two of them still came from different backgrounds however, whereas Thane was raised amongst the elite society Ciena came from the working class. They both share an impassioned love from piloting and that sparks their friendship, and thus their social differences are no hinderance to their strong friendship.
This is first and foremost what I like about them as a couple, they were friends first with a real bond over their mutual hopes and dreams. As friends they had a friendly rivalry too, which which just helped them to grow in their abilities, both hoping to one day become imperial officers and protect and serve the galaxy with pride. Oh if they only knew.
While they do have a lot in common they are still distinctly different people. Thane has a more cavalier attitude towards life and while he has a good heart he doesn’t take things as seriously as Ciena, who on the contrary was raised to believe in honor and loyalty above all else. These characteristics will be paramount in their life decisions.
Once they worked their way through the academy and had stuck their necks out for one another proving just how much they care about each other, that’s when finally the attraction starts. Refreshingly, their relationship isn’t love at first sight, in fact it takes them a while to realize they are attracted to one another because they’ve been friends for so long, but once they fall they fall hard for one another. Furthermore their relationship doesn’t start as love/hate either, which of course has been done to death in the Star Wars universe. Following their graduation the relationship grows more complicated.
They eventually reunite aboard the Death Star (can you think of a more romantic rendezvous?) and witness the obliteration of Alderaan. This is where their relationship starts to get understandably strained. Fortunately they both survive the Death Star’s destruction, whereas a number of their friends and classmates from the academy do not, which has a profound effect on both of them. This all leads to their first… intimate experience. After Thane deserts the Empire Ciena finds him. Thane has become completely disgusted with the Empire for its atrocities, and while Ciena also has her doubts she is unable to renounce her loyalty owing to her stubbornness and high sense of honor.
So what does an imperial officer do when she locates a deserter? Well, normally she’d execute him I assume, but she makes love to him. This consummation of their relationship feels rewarding and tragic all at once, as the two have such a real bond but realize they will likely never meet again. Ciena’s deep loyalty to the Empire doesn’t prevent her from protecting her lover, and thus she reports that he committed suicide.
Being the small galaxy that it is, they do of course meet again. This is my one small criticism of Lost Stars in that it tends to get a little “fan ficy” at times. By that I mean our main characters are always inexplicably lurking in the shadows just out of sight for all the major events of the original Star Wars films. Like I said, the characters are so wonderfully developed I don’t mind so much. Ciena ends up in a prominent position in Vader’s Death Squadron and Thane finally ends up joining the rebels so naturally they meet again at the Battle of Hoth, where Ciena recognizes Thane just by his flying. From this point on she is enraged by his apparent betrayal but she still cannot get over her feelings for him. Around this time Ciena has come to have serious doubts about the Empire, mostly having met Darth Vader and having felt the pure evil emanating from him.
The two will cross paths many more times as enemies, and yet still lovers. Ciena goes out of her way multiple times to spare Thane’s life despite her conflicting feelings, and Thane tries desperately to show Ciena the truth about the Empire. The real tragedy of their relationship is that Ciena fully understands the Empire is evil and knows Thane is right, but can’t overcome her stalwart loyalty. At the battle of Jakku Thane rescues her from her Star Destroyer crashing into the planet surface, and brings her into Republic custody. Even after the fall of the Empire Ciena isn’t fully able to renounce her loyalty, but Thane resolves to stand by her even if she doesn’t give them any intel in exchange for clemency. And with that ambiguous end, we’re not sure what happens to them.
I love how this relationship is able to transcend their loyalties on opposite sides of a war. The book fleshes them out as human beings beautifully and gives us a deep understanding of their emotional attachment to one another. I can only hope that their story will continuein this new canon. I would like to see them reconcile fully, but then again they may not and I want to see what happens to them regardless.
Also, if you want more great Star wars articles on couples, check out Star Wars Comlinks!