Since the establishment of the Lucasfilm Story Group, we have been witnessing the creation of a unified Star Wars canon, where all the stories – whether they are told in the movies, TV shows, books or comics – create a single narrative. While it took a couple of years for the canon to really get going and show us those connections, there is enough of it now that we can start talking about some standout characters. One of these that most fans seem to agree about is Rae Sloane, the Imperial officer originally created by John Jackson Miller for his novel A New Dawn.
Since then, Rae Sloane has appeared in several short stories, a comic and several novels. In addition to Miller, other authors have taken Sloane’s character and run with it including Jason Fry, Greg Weisman and Chuck Wendig.
As someone who never ventured into the old Expanded Universe, now Legends, I have never connected to a Star Wars character that I haven’t seen on screen in some shape or form. I never had my Thrawn, Mara Jade or Kyle Katarn. But since the introduction of new canon, I have taken a deep dive into the extended mythology of Star Wars and now, in addition to Luke, Leia, Obi Wan, Ahsoka, Asajj Ventress or Kanan, some new heroes and villains have taken part in my Star Wars fandom. Rae Sloane is one of them.
Since her original appearance, we have practically seen Sloane’s entire professional career unfold – from being a cadet on board Defiance Flight Training Institute to becoming Grand Admiral post-Battle of Endor.
As a little girl, Sloane dreamed of leaving her home planet Ganthel for a richer, greener world, so much so that she once attempted to run away from home. That didn’t turn out as well as she expected, but she found her way out when the Empire arrived and cleaned up her world of slavers and other gangs. She joined the Naval Academy and graduated high in her class. Ambitious and loyal, Sloane rose fast through the ranks achieving captaincy before the age of thirty.
One of Sloane’s most impressive traits is that she learns from every mentor along the way, whether it’s harsh Commandant Baylo whose plot to assassinate the Emperor she foiled, Count Vidian or Grand Moff Tarkin. In addition to Tarkin, Sloane came face to face with all the head honchos of the Empire, including the Emperor, Darth Vader who deemed her smart (albeit in his head) and, lately, Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax. While her loyalty to the Empire is absolute, Sloane is not a mindless drone. If she feels that the orders she received are, intentionally or not, against the interests of the Empire, she will question them and, in some cases, work actively against them.
Rae Sloane is an important character in-world and in the real world. The Original Trilogy showed the world of Star Wars in black and white; the prequels complicated things a little (not all the Separatists were bad and the Republic wasn’t exactly the glowing example of freedom and democracy), but with Palpatine in the picture, the general division between good and evil was still distinct.
The new canon attempts to show that not all the people who follow an evil regime are evil themselves. One hesitates to call Rae Sloane a “good person” – as she does perpetuate the evils of the Empire. However, Sloane is a believer; she honestly believes that the Empire is a good thing for the galaxy, because she saw with her own eyes the effects of it. Sloane, like many others born on the chaotic and poor worlds, cherishes order and prosperity the Empire brings to those worlds. She is not entirely blind to the Empire’s failings, but her loyalty and idealism keep her in line. This excerpt from Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath Life Debt might best describe Sloane:
Slavery has never been part of the perfect Empire that lives inside her head. It may have been necessary for a time, but now the galaxy should be made to see the Empire’s glory—and you can’t teach them of its splendor through slavery. Slavery is not strength; it is weakness. Citizens should serve the Empire because it is right to do so. Why would any choose otherwise?
In the real world, the character of Rae Sloane is important because she is a woman of color. In the world that freaks out over a black stormtrooper, seeing a woman of color attaining position of power through intelligence and hard work is gratifying. More importantly, she is a complex and nuanced character – she is not on the side of good, she does some pretty bad things, but she is not evil; she has a code of honor and is protective of her people and beliefs.
Rae is a determined opponent. After meeting Kanan Jarrus in A New Dawn, she dedicates her personal time to finding out who he is. She sets a trap for him that fails only because of Kanan’s Force abilities. We haven’t seen a lot of her personal relationships, but by all accounts she is a fair superior officer. This is especially reflected in her relationship with her personal assistant Adea Rite, a relationship marked by mutual respect and nearing friendship, which makes Adea’s betrayal of Sloane all the more affecting.
In most situations, Sloane is the person who sees the whole picture best and has control over the situation. She knows when she has lost the battle and when to withdraw, but that doesn’t mean that she has lost the war. After the Battle of Endor, Sloane seemed to be the highest ranking officer left in the Imperial fleet (at least until Gallius Rax appeared) and worked restlessly to consolidate the Imperial forces and plan for the future.
The fate of Rae Sloane is still undetermined. She is going towards major conflict – with both Gallius Rax and the New Republic. It could be that Jakku is Grand Admiral Rae Sloane’s final resting place, though I certainly hope not. At the very least, I am hoping she gets a shot at Rax because of everything he put her through.
But, whatever her fate will be, I am hoping that we will someday see Rae Sloane transition to the screen. Whether it’s a small screen or silver screen, I feel that she deserves to be presented to a much wider audience. At the time of the Battle of Yavin, Rae Sloane is 41 years old. So, who should play her? Or, who should lend her the voice? What do you think?
Chronological timeline for Rae Sloane:
- Orientation by John Jackson Miller (Star Wars Insider 157)
- Bottleneck by John Jackson Miller (Rise of the Empire)
- A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller
- Kanan: The First Blood #12, Epilogue: The Ties That Bind by Greg Weisman
- The Levers of Power by Jason Fy (Rise of The Empire)
- Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
- Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig