In the first look inside the book, complete with the exclusive reveal of a limited-edition poster, Iskat Akaris finds herself on the brink of war as she arrives on Geonosis before the battle breaks out.
Iskat Akaris, a Padawn of the Republic, has only ever known peace.
But in the upcoming novel, Star Wars: Inquisitor: Rise of the Red Blade by Delilah S. Dawson, as she and the rest of the Jedi Order are called in to aid Obi-Wan Kenobi before he is executed on Geonosis, she finds herself preparing for battle.
Today, This Week! In Star Wars and StarWars.com are thrilled to reveal poster art of Iskat by VooDoo Val, which can only be found in the Barnes & Noble exclusive edition of the book.
And in StarWars.com's exclusive excerpt of the book, a first look at the text which arrives July 18, Padawan Akaris and her Master set down on sandy Geonosis to find the situation is far more complex and political than they had imagined…
Iskat Akaris has spent much of her time as a Padawan traveling the galaxy with her Master Sember Vey, collecting artifacts and lost knowledge for the Jedi Archives. But after being recalled to the Jedi Temple, Iskat and her master are sent on a rescue mission. One that will change the futures of the Jedi Order, the Republic, and Iskat herself.
As the shuttle thundered through the atmosphere of the arid planet Geonosis, Iskat struggled to shut out the staggering cacophony of sensory input and focus on finding her center amid the chaos. This wasn’t just a rescue mission — it was a military operation. The Jedi were soldiers now, but they weren’t fighting alone. Thousands of clone troopers had appeared, seemingly overnight, to join them in supporting the Republic; there was even a clone flying their ship. After years of relative peace throughout the galaxy, the Jedi had swiftly mobilized to do their part as protectors of democracy, justice, and freedom.
Iskat was thrilled . . . and also overwhelmed.
She steadied her breathing and closed her eyes, one hand wrapped around her amulet, and the rest of the Jedi around her faded away to stillness.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
Master Klefan had urged her to turn to this mantra in the early days after the accident, and Master Sember had repeated it with her many times. The words were stamped on her brain, on her hearts. They transported her to the quiet within, made her feel as if she were the Jedi she was meant to be: calm, cool, collected, peaceful.
Reflecting on the Jedi Code almost made her forget Tika, but did she want to forget—?
No. She couldn’t think about that now.
That was years ago.
It hadn’t happened again.
Her teachers had seen to that, as had Iskat.
She’d studied. She’d practiced. She’d gained the control demanded of her. And now she was on a rescue mission, surrounded by Jedi Masters, Knights, and Padawans. She’d never drawn her lightsaber in real combat before, but it wasn’t her courage or proficiency that worried her, that made her two hearts beat so loud she was certain Tualon could hear them from beside her. She risked a glance at her fellow Padawan, with his glossy black lekku and look of determination.
“You ready?” he asked with an encouraging smile.
“As ready as anyone,” she answered.
Which wasn’t entirely honest. She felt more than ready. But Jedi were supposed to be humble and modest, and she knew that Tualon was a stickler for that sort of thing and didn’t want to appear too cocky. She admired him for his humility — as well as for his outgoing nature and genuine altruism. Tualon was the sort of Jedi she wished to be, the sort of Jedi she admired.
If she was truly honest with herself, Iskat had to admit that while she had no doubts about her dexterity, skill, or bravery, after yesterday’s duels with Charlin and Onielle, she had new doubts about her ability to handle herself when the stakes were high and a weapon was in her hand. She’d expected better of herself. And although no one had mentioned the incident with Onielle, she could feel the stares of her fellow Padawans as they sat beside their masters, buckled into place while they hurtled toward the desert sands of Geonosis. She could feel their eyes on her, sense their uncertainty.
Seated across the ship, Master Klefan Opus caught her eye and offered a nod and an encouraging smile. Iskat returned it, grateful to know that one master, at least, had faith in her.
She hoped that faith would not prove misplaced.
“Have you seen combat before?” she asked Tualon quietly. “On missions, I mean?”
He turned toward her to whisper. “A little. Master Ansho usually handles that sort of thing himself, but I helped fight off some bandits when we were escorting a senator on a diplomatic mission. Thankfully all our training — it just falls into place. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, but we had to protect the senator. How about you?”
“We’ve never even drawn our lightsabers,” she admitted. “Usually, Master Vey and I either stand over a counter to haggle like normal customers, or some old adventurer invites us into his tent for tea. It’s all been very peaceful.”
She looked around the ship, which juddered and shook as it plummeted toward the planet’s surface. The air was thick and still, reeking of fuel and sweat. There were nearly twenty Jedi altogether. She wondered what sorts of adventures the other Padawans had experienced, if it was unusual for a Jedi of her age to be this inexperienced with actual combat.
“Do you think—” she began.
“That’s enough chatter,” Master Vey murmured from her other side. “It’s almost time. Remember your mantra. Concentrate on your breathing exercises, my Padawan. Don’t let the chaos in again.”
Iskat’s skin didn’t show a blush, but she felt the heat of shame at being reprimanded in front of Tualon and the others. Considering what they were about to face on the planet below, a rousing speech would’ve been more appropriate than public censure, or even some whispered reassurance. Tualon went silent and looked politely away so as not to entice her with further conversation.
Iskat’s long, red fingers wrapped around the cold metal bench as she closed her eyes and silently recited the Jedi Code again.
There is no emotion, there is peace . . .
The words became a comforting rhythm in counterpoint to the ship’s engines, a focal point that brought her consciousness into a state of calm where she was beyond shame, beyond worry, beyond fear.
“Landing in T minus three minutes,” the clone pilot announced.
Although she knew there were thousands of clones just like him headed to Geonosis, the pilot was the first of the Republic’s new troopers that Iskat had encountered. She had no idea what he looked like under his armor. How old he was, what color his eyes were, if he was more prone to smiling or frowning. All she knew was that his voice was sharp, his skills as a pilot were immaculate, and they would soon fight side-by-side.
The Jedi had surprisingly little intel regarding the mission; they only knew that Obi-Wan Kenobi had been ambushed by the massing Separatist army. Every available Jedi in fighting form was on a ship right now, just like Iskat. Unlike her missions with Master Vey, she had no way to know what role she would play, but she was excited to be among her fellow Jedi and pleased that the masters had deemed her skilled enough to take part in such an important undertaking.
She would prove worthy of their trust. She would follow their orders and embody their teachings. She would be part of the team that saved the day.
And yet, there was this persistent thought that kept breaking past her barriers, a pesky unwanted whisper wondering what might happen if instead of calming herself and quelling her emotions, Iskat relinquished the control for which she’d fought so hard and allowed the Force to fully flow through her. What strength might she find in that surrender? What power might she find beneath layers of repression? What might she accomplish now that she was facing actual adversaries instead of other children on a training field?
She clutched her amulet and banished the thought with the same energy she’d used to silence the cloying voice of the Sith artifact. This was a dangerous way of thinking. The Jedi Code existed for a reason, and history taught that those who stepped off the path often found tragedy. True greatness came from peace. From knowledge, serenity, and harmony. Iskat wanted to be great, and she wanted to do honor to the Jedi. In addition to Sember, other masters would be watching her closely during this mission. Her performance here might influence her future within the Order.
The shuttle whined and shook as it slowed, gravity pulling at Iskat’s bones. The metal under her boots trembled, and as if she could already feel the hot sun outside, sweat beaded on her lip. They were close to the surface now, and she imagined that if she could see through the viewport, she would look upon a world of sand and spires, bright orange striped with harsh black shadows.
It was almost time.
They were almost there.
It felt as if she were about to cross some important line, like this rescue — now seeming very much like it would become a battle — would change things forever, both for the Jedi and for Iskat herself.
She could not forget how close she’d come to washing out in the Jedi Tournament, how horrible she’d felt waiting for a master to claim her as a Padawan until Sember Vey had, to Iskat’s great surprise, stepped up in what felt like the last possible moment. She sometimes worried that between the distracted teachings of her master and the mistakes she made in the past that she required more observation and guidance than other Padawans, that everyone was all too aware that Iskat was lacking as a Jedi and might ultimately wash out for good.
There was no way she would let that happen.
The shuttle’s thrusters went to work as they landed, and Iskat’s stomach swooped with excitement. If only she could see out the shuttle’s viewports and begin to take stock of the battle to come. They’d been briefed on Geonosis, on how the hive mind worked, but they wouldn’t know what they would face here until they were on the ground and received more specific orders.
After a bouncing thump, the ship went still. The door slid open, harsh light burning into a space packed with nervous bodies clad in brown robes. Iskat struggled to release her chest harness but managed it before Sember had to unbuckle her. Her feet were numb as they hit the metal floor, but her fingers were already wrapped around her lightsaber.
As the Jedi all stood, Master Klefan Opus blocked the open door. He was an Askajian, and he usually kept himself overhydrated so that his epidermal sacs would swell, making him seem jolly and giving his eyes kind wrinkles in the corners. Today he had chosen a more slender and agile form, and Iskat was fascinated by the change in his demeanor. Usually a mild-mannered center of calm, he now clasped his lightsaber at his side and gave off a determined air. He held out a holoprojector, and an image of Mace Windu appeared, lightsaber ready in his other hand.
“Klefan Opus here,” the master said. “We’re on the ground, to the northwest.”
“Welcome to Geonosis. We need your detachment to help secure the arena where Count Dooku is preparing to execute Obi-Wan, along with Anakin Skywalker and Senator Padmé Amidala.”
There were gasps and whispers around the shuttle. Why was Skywalker here? And how had a senator become involved?
Star Wars: Inquisitor: Rise of the Red Blade arrives this summer and is available for pre-order now.
Catch up on this and other news on the latest episode of This Week! In Star Wars below!