Few characters have had as much of an impact on Star Wars canon as Imperial officer Rae Sloane. With a career spanning the original trilogy and beyond, she’s one of the pins that hold the story together. After first appearing in the novel A New Dawn, Sloane has proved a formidable opponent for Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus and impacted the lives of a score of other characters. Now, Sloane is one of the few Imperials to gain the prestigious rank of Grand Admiral. Along with the mysterious fleet admiral, she’ll be working to hold a bickering Empire together in Aftermath: Life Debt. Here are five moments that define her.
1. Hold the Course
Early on in her career as an Imperial soldier, Rae Sloane was a cadet aboard a Star Destroyer in the Denon system. On board, the Emperor and Darth Vader ready themselves for a mission to quell the Twi’lek insurgency. Although she hasn’t even finished her training, Sloane notices that something isn’t right about the course which the ship’s captain has set. She’s brave enough to approach Darth Vader and tell him that she thinks something isn’t right. Vader deals with the captain himself, in true Vader fashion. As for her, Sloane has begun her career by making the right call in front of one of the most powerful people in the galaxy.
Not knowing what’s next for Sloane, the warship’s captain mocks her with some ironic words: “Now we know who our next admiral will be.”
2. A New Command
In A New Dawn, Sloane is tasked with commanding the Star Destroyer Ultimatum during the conflict on the planet Gorse. On previous missions, she had seen firsthand the cutting way in which Grand Moff Tarkin handled Imperial production problems. Following his advice, she deals with things on Gorse with frightening, cruel efficiency — and learns that “her mission was, in large part, about the basic business of the Empire: to keep going.”
Although the cyborg Count Denetrius Vidian wanted to take the lead on Gorse, Sloane takes matters into her own hands when it comes to doing what was best for the Empire. She outsmarts her manipulative fellow Imperial — and becomes Kanan’s sworn enemy.
3. Hunting a Jedi
That enmity continues as Sloane climbs through the ranks. By the time she is promoted to Vice Admiral, she is determined to find Kanan, to the extent that she calls him “her hobby.” She almost succeeds in capturing him on the planet Moraga, but all of her plans aren’t a match for a Force push. Sloane still has a job to do, though: she works with the Grand Inquisitor to help him hunt Kanan down.
4. Death Star Defender
During the Battle of Endor, Sloane, now an admiral, commands the Star Destroyer Vigilance. She gathers what remained of the Imperial fleet in the aftermath of the Rebellion’s decisive victory against the second Death Star, and is the highest-ranking Imperial survivor after the destruction of the battle station. She learned the power of observation and intelligence from Count Vidian, even if she didn’t trust him — and puts it to good use at Endor. Despite countermanding orders from the Imperial loyalty officer assigned to her, her decision to recall her ship’s TIE fighters and form up on the doomed Star Destroyer Executor kept what was left of the Imperial fleet organized.
5. Living the Empire’s Legacy
In Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath novel, Sloane continued to believe in the Empire’s sense of justice and order even after the galactic regime fell. From her perspective, many of the personnel who were left were just shadows of the kind of leadership the Empire had had before, but the idea of the regime was worth saving. On the planet Akiva, squabbling Imperials convene to try to regroup. Sloane captures famed Rebel pilot Wedge Antilles with the goal of interrogating him, but becomes disillusioned with the idea of the Empire re-forming under what is left of its leadership.
Angry but determined to restore the cruel order she thought the galaxy needed, she meets up with the mysterious fleet admiral, who reveals that some of the events were an elaborate test to show whether she was the best that the remnants of the Empire could offer.
By learning from some of the most powerful people in the Empire but never compromising her own perspective (or never letting go of her own ambition), Sloane holds her own and sees the entirety of the Galactic Civil War and beyond. For Star Wars fans who read the books and short stories, she’s a familiar face who grows and changes along with the galaxy far, far away.
Megan Crouse’s work has appeared in Den of Geek, FangirlBlog, and Star Wars Insider. She podcasts on Western Reaches and Blaster Canon and can be found on Twitter at @blogfullofwords.