When Dorothy Gale entered the wonderful land of Oz, she only had to compete against two wicked witches. Imagine a planet where the female population consists of nothing but mysterious witches, powerful in esoteric dark Force powers. The planet you’re (not) looking for is called Dathomir and the witches are known as the Nightsisters. Before they had an important part to play in certain events during the Clone Wars, the Nightsisters already existed in non-canon Legends stories. In this article we’ll have a look at how the Dathomir witches evolved in Legends and who the illustrious Nightsisters are during the Clone Wars.
This article contains spoilers from the comic Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir.
Witches in Legends
The Courtship of Princess Leia (1994) by Dave Wolverton introduced two cultures that would achieve an important status in Legends: the Hapans and the Witches of Dathomir. In this novel the heroes of Yavin encounter two matriarchal societies on the wild planet Dathomir: the witches of the Singing Mountain Clan and the evil Nightsisters, led by Gethzerion. Both “good” and “evil” witches seem powerful in the Force, but they use it differently than Jedi and chant words to achieve the desired effect. Though Courtship was a standalone novel, the Hapans and the witches were rapidly welcomed by Expanded Universe fans.
Later in 1994 Kirana Ti joined Luke’s Jedi Praxeum in the Jedi Academy Trilogy by Kevin J. Anderson. He also wrote The Illustrated Star Wars Universe (1995) that describes Charal as a Nightsister from Dathomir. Charal is a witch who appears in the television movie Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985). Charal shares the looks and the strange powers of the Nightsisters and thus a retcon was established. Because of this decision, Charal was the first Nightsister fans technically met. Cracken’s Threat Dossier (1997) from West End Games expanded on the events that happened during The Courtship of Princess Leia.
Teneniel Djo, her daughter Tenel Ka and Nightsister Tamith Kai are three witches that have played an essential part in Legends. Through her marriage to Prince Isolder of Hapes, Teneniel Djo becomes Queen Mother of the Hapes Consortium. Since it’s a hereditary title, Tenel Ka eventually succeeds Djo as the Queen Mother. Djo and Ka can be encountered in several Legends series, such as Young Jedi Knights (1995 – 1998), the New Jedi Order series (1999 – 2003), the Dark Nest Trilogy (2005 – 2006), and Fate of the Jedi: Backlash (2010).
Artists imagined the early witches and Nightsisters from Legends somewhat differently throughout the decades. Their look ranged from medieval witches to native American shamans and finally amazon warriors. But a new design would herald the era of another kind of Nightsisters.
The Influence of Iain McCaig
An unused Sith Witch concept design of Iain McCaig for Episode I ignited a entire new look for the Nightsisters. The comic series Infinity’s End (2000) took this “second worst nightmare” concept and used it as an influence to create a Nightsister called Mother Zalem. In this story, Quinlan Vos travels to Dathomir after the Jedi Council discovers a disturbance in the Force. Star Wars: Darth Maul also appeared in 2000 and this series features Mighella, a Nightsister bodyguard on the payroll of Black Sun. Mighella is killed by a careless Darth Maul who’s been instructed by Darth Sidious to wipe out the leaders of Black Sun. This would be the first connection between Maul and the Nightsisters, but it would most certainly not be the last.
The Nightsisters Enter the Clone Wars
The Legends game Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance (2008) also used the “Sith Witch” McCaig concept as inspiration for the Nightsisters. The designs for the game caught the attention of George Lucas who decided to use them for the Nightsisters in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Due to their appearances in Legends, it was no surprise that fans were already familiar with the Nightsisters when they debuted in the series in 2011. The importance of these Nightsisters would, however, surpass that of their earlier relatives. Fundamental information from Legends was kept to create the Dathomirian Nightsisters of Mother Talzin. The Nightsisters still live on Dathomir and they still possess mysterious Force skills, now called magicks. Instead of other witches we also are introduced to the Nightbrothers, a clan of male Dathomirian Zabraks.
Asajj Ventress is one of the most significant adversaries during the Clone Wars, but her life takes a surprising turn in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. When Dooku is ordered by Darth Sidious to ditch his apprentice as a test of faith, a disappointed Ventress sets course for the planet where she was born, Dathomir. There she joins the ranks of her original kin and wants nothing more than to take revenge on her former Master. The matriarch and shaman Mother Talzin allows Ventress to join her clan. The powerful Talzin can speak to the Spirits and can conjure objects from another realm. She agrees to help Ventress take revenge on the Sith. Talzin sends Nightsisters Naa’leth and Karis with Ventress to Serenno where they hope to surprise Dooku. Karis and Naa’leth are two of the finest warriors of the clan. These tall Nightsisters are armed with a dagger and an energy bow, but Dooku doesn’t get tricked by Talzin’s magick that renders his assailants invisible.
Talia is another clan member with gray hair and who’s armed with a long dagger. She encounters a wounded Ventress in the woods on Dathomir, and later helps Talzin to heal Ventress’ wounds by preparing the Water of Life.
As the next step in her revenge against the Sith, Talzin transforms the Nightbrother Savage Opress into a brutish apprentice for Dooku. Dooku doesn’t take treachery lightly and when Savage betrays him, the Sith Lord plans to strike back. He sends General Grievous and an army to Dathomir where they confront the surprised Nightsisters. Mother Talzin calls in the help of Old Daka. She is the oldest and wisest of the Nightsisters and possesses knowledge of arcane magicks, such as the power to conjure up an army of undead Nightsisters. Meanwhile, Talzin focuses on Dooku and tortures him by using an enchanted charm.
Despite the presence of the undead, the Nightsisters are overwhelmed by Grievous’ forces. Karis, Naa’leth and Luce are just a few of many victims among the ranks of the Nightsisters who are nearly wiped out from existence. At the end of the battle Grievous manages to enter Daka’s lair by following the green telltale mist of the Nightsister magick. He kills Daka but Mother Talzin escapes into the realm of the Spirits.
Though Ventress has been welcomed as a full fledged Nightsister, she is once again left alone and needs to seek new and surprising paths in her life. A weakened Talzin still plans on having her revenge on the Sith. When Savage Opress returns with his long lost brother Maul, Talzin creates a new pair of magick legs for Maul and cures his insanity. After the brothers are eventually defeated by Darth Sidious on Mandalore Talzin reappears on Zardossa Stix. There she hopes to absorb the Force energy of Queen Julia and the Dagoyan Masters so she can return to the physical realm. The ceremony is disrupted by Mace Windu and Jar Jar Binks, so Talzin once again has to disappear into a veil of green mist.
Talzin gets one final chance. After Maul is freed from Sidious’ prison, Talzin reveals that decades ago Sidious promised her power, but instead he stole her son, a Dathomirian Zabrak called Maul. Talzin sets a plan in motion to defeat both Dooku and Darth Sidious once and for all. Though the weakened Talzin is able to save her son, the Sith are too strong and she is killed by Grievous. Talzin’s death marks the end of her Nightsisters.
The Nightsisters have been a presence in the Star Wars universe since 1994 and they have played an important part in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Their story seems far from finished, as shown in Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir and in Star Wars: Dark Disciple, a novel in 2015 that will focus on Asajj Ventress’ adventures that would have been seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
– Book of Sith
– Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir
– Cracken’s Threat Dossier
– Infinity’s End
– Star Wars: Darth Maul
– Star Wars Insider 122
– The Clone Wars Episode Guide
– The Essential Reader’s Companion
– The Illustrated Star Wars Universe
Special thanks to Stefan Pfister from StarWars Sourcebooks and his knowledge of the Legends Nightsisters.
Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium is president and co founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars Fanclub. He has contributed to Star Wars Insider (Rogues Gallery), is an administrator for Yodapedia and has written four character back stories in ‘What’s the Story?’.