The Spanish Inquisition of Monty Python certainly had a tendency to show up unexpectedly. Alas, the true Medieval inquisitions were far from being that hilarious. They were a matter of life, and more likely, of death.
The word inquisitor is derived from Latin meaning “he who seeks out.” During the Middle Ages, inquisition courts were created in Europe to regulate the Christian faith and to prosecute transgressors and unfaithful individuals. Inquisitions dealt with witchcraft, blasphemy and all who didn’t follow the Christian regulations. Roman (Catholic) inquisitions during the 16th century began to respond to the rise of alternate beliefs, such as Protestantism. One of these tribunals was the Spanish Inquisition, established in 1478 and under direct control of the Spanish monarchy. Despite its infamy, the Spanish Inquisition actually performed less tortures than other European tribunals, but they surely didn’t offer soft cushions to the accused. In the first half of the 18th century the ideals of the Enlightenment finally slowed down the activity of the inquisition in Spain.
The Star Wars universe features echoes of these inquisitions. The Inquisitor will be the main villain in Star Wars Rebels, and in the last decades many Legends stories have used different inquisitors as adversaries. Let’s see how the inquisitors were used in the different eras of ‘Legends’.
West End Games
The Star Wars Sourcebook (1987) by West End Games was the first book to mention an inquisitor. It reports that Grand Inquisitor Torbin was killed on Weerden when a shuttle crashed on the Imperial Palace. But it wasn’t until 1993 that another Imperial Inquisitor would make an appearance. Galaxy Guide 9: Fragments from the Rim is one of the most valuable West End Games sources on the inquisitors. It features a profile on High Inquisitor Antinnis Tremayne and it has a bit of a background on how West End Games envisioned the inquisitors. Tremayne, who is only answerable to the highest echelons of the Empire, was once a Jedi Knight who was seduced by Palpatine and joined the Dark Side. The profile says that the High Inquisitors serve under the Grand Inquisitor and that Tremayne is the most feared High Inquisitor in the Outer Rim. In his quest across the galaxy Tremayne uses the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Interrogator. Tremayne’s life in Legends didn’t come to an end with West End Games. He was also used in other books such as The Essential Guide to Warfare and The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide.
Alliance Intelligence Reports (1995) has a similar profile on High Inquisitor Mox Slosin, a non-Force sensitive Entuurian (a human race). His territory is the Lesser Plooriod Cluster and he’s considered one of the cruelest and most sadistic persons in service of the Empire. Three issues of the Star Wars Adventure Journal (4, 8 and 12) brought a story of a rogue Inquisitor, Adalric Cessius Brandl.
Several inquisitors appear briefly in West End Games books, but received a larger back story in other publications. In addition to Laddinare Torbin’s death (The Star Wars Sourcebook), Han Solo and the Corporate Sector Sourcebook tells the tale of how Torbin’s life was once saved by Odumin, a Tynnan who would rise to the position of Territorial Manager in the Corporate Sector Authority. In 2002, an edition of HoloNet News gave Torbin’s first name and also made him the Judicial Department Information Director right before the start of the Clone Wars. Torbin is also mentioned in a handful of other sources, including Star Wars Gamer # 5 (by Wizards of the Coast). Two other inquisitors who appear briefly in West End Games are Gwellib Ap-Llewff and Halmere. Their role as inquisitors got expanded in the online comic series Evasive Action (2004-2006).
West End Games utilized inquisitors as opponents for the heroes in role playing adventures. They didn’t use them too often, because they knew that Force users were rarely seen in plain sight during the Galactic Civil War. Because the prequels hadn’t yet been developed, the exact origins of the inquisitors would remain mysterious.
Wizards of the Coast Era
When Wizards of the Coast got the license to produce role playing game products, the Inquisitors were no strangers anymore to the fans. Since the role playing game products of Wizards were released during the prequel era, the authors had more freedom to develop backgrounds for the Inquisitors. Familiar names were expanded, such as Tremayne and Jerec (from Dark Forces II) but new Inquisitors were developed as well (in online adventures), such as Ameesa Darys, Jorad, Nolor, Shynne, Misha Vekkian and Volytar. Especially Valin Draco was a popular Inquisitor since he appeared in no less than ten online adventures. In these tales, the headquarters of the Inquisitorius moves from Coruscant to a Citadel on Prakith in the Deep Core. In the Wizards campaigns Inquisitors are often portrayed wearing a headpiece and long robes with high collars.
The best Wizards of the Coast book on the Inquisitors is The Dark Side Sourcebook from 2001. In the chapter ‘Playing the Dark Side’ you can find statistics and a lot of information about becoming an Inquisitor in the RPG. The book describes an inquisitor as follows: “The Imperial Inquisitor is a Force-trained hunter charged with seeking out other Force-users and either turning them to the service of the Emperor or eliminating them”. The ranks of inquisitor, High Inquisitor and Grand Inquisitor are still used. When The Dark Side Sourcebook was published, the inquisitors had to share their moments of glory with other Dark Siders such as the Prophets of the Dark Side. After the prequels were released it became apparent that a lot of the Inquisitors had been seduced by Darth Vader and Darth Sidious. They had been former members of the Jedi Service Corps or other Force sensitives that weren’t part of the Jedi Order. The Rebellion Era Sourcebook from 2001 mentions that the Inquisitorius was a secret division working for Imperial Intelligence.
The Last Legends
Now that the inquisitors had been developed through the years, other stories began to use them as well. The already mentioned online comic Evasive Action: Recruitment (2005) is an important source on the inquisitors. The comic shows Darth Vader training several inquisitors like former Jedi Antinnis Tremayne, Gwellib Ap-Llewff, Lanu Pasiq and Halmere. The comic tells the story of three Padawans who escape Order 66 and who are now being pursued by Vader and the inquisitors. Recruitment was succeeded by two sequels (Prey and End Game) that would also feature the young inquisitors and the Padawans.
The Last of the Jedi (2005 – 2008) is a series of ten young reader books written by Jude Watson. The main character in these stories is Ferus Olin, a Padawan who resigned from the Jedi Order and therefore survived Order 66. Olin reconnects himself with the Force and starts a complicated quest to help survivors of Order 66 and members of the Erased, an organization of individuals who are wanted by the Empire. During his adventures, Ferus defeats Grand Inquisitor Malorum on Naboo and is blackmailed to operate as an agent of the Emperor. During his time as an Imperial agent, he often works with Grand Inquisitor Hydra, a human female.
Another series of Legends is Coruscant Nights, a series of adventures revolving around the same characters. The events take place on Coruscant shorty after Revenge of the Sith. The main character is Jax Pavan, another Jedi Knight who survived Order 66 and who makes a living as a private investigator in the Coruscant Underground. Pavan and his friends end up being chased by Darth Vader and the Imperial Inquisitors including Yral Chael, Mas Sirrah and especially Probus Tesla. Tesla has been trained by Kuthara, a Falleen Master in the College of the Inquisition.
One of the most recent books to mention the inquisitors is The Book of Sith. This in-universe book offers a short view on Darth Sidious’ thoughts on the inquisitors. Sidious explains that they are unseen enforcers operating across the breadth of his vast dominion.
Enter the Inquisitor from Star Wars Rebels who’s not directly related to the Legends inquisitors. The British actor Jason Isaacs will provide the voice for the Pau’an dark sider who’s not a Sith and whose facial tattoos seem reminiscent of the tattoos worn by the Son of Mortis in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The Inquisitor’s only purpose is to hunt down and destroy Jedi survivors such as Kanan Jarrus. The Inquisitor is the newest addition to the gallery of iconic Star Wars villains and you can bet he’s going to make the life of the heroes in Star Wars Rebels a lot more arduous.
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?’.
– Alliance Intelligence Reports
– Coruscant Nights
– Cracken’s Rebel Field Guide
– Dark Empire Sourcebook
– Evasive Action: Recruitment
– Han Solo and the Corporate Sector Sourcebook
– HoloNet News
– Rebels: The Visual Guide
– Star Wars Adventure Journal 4, 8, 11 and 12
– Star Wars Galaxy Guide 9: Fragments from the Rim
– Star Wars Galaxy Guide 10: Bounty Hunters
– Star Wars Gamer #5
– The Book of Sith
– The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
– The Dark Side Sourcebook
– The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
– The Last of the Jedi
– The Rebellion Era Sourcebook
– The Star Wars Sourcebook