Force Exile III: Liberator is the third novel and overall story in the Force Exile Series written by Atarumaster88. Set during the early years of the Empire, the novel continues the story of Selusda Kraen and the crew of the Hawk-bat.
Welcome, my friend, to a galaxy far, far away. Enter the realm of Jedi and bounty hunters, soldiers and droids, rulers and beggars, alien and human. From Stackpole’s Corellians to Traviss's Mandalorians, come to a universe with the exotica of Zahn, the wit of Allston, the grimness of Stover, the daring of Ostrander, the imagery of Luceno, the detail of Wallace, and most importantly, the vision of George Lucas, to whom we owe it all. And if you listen close enough, you’ll hear the sweet sounds of John Williams’ score in the background. Welcome to Star Wars.
Selu wordlessly clutched the controls with a frenzied grip, precariously dodging and jinking to evade the deadly fusillades of green turbolaser bursts even as he clawed for open space far enough from Zhar’s gravity well to jump to lightspeed. The beams were getting closer. Selu keyed the navicomputer, hoping to plot a jump to somewhere, anywhere away from their assailant. Unfortunately, that particular piece of equipment had yet to be tweaked by Sarth, and precious seconds would be needed to complete the complex calculations for jumping to lightspeed. Seconds they didn’t have.
The Hawk-bat shuddered as another near-miss from a turbolaser detonated near the aft quarter of the sleek freighter. The impact of the blow threw Sarth into a wall across from the overheating shield control circuitry he was trying to bypass. From a muffled groan coming from down the hall, he could tell that the hit had had a similar effect on Cassi. He struggled back to his feet, retrieving the dropped hydrospanner and other tools rolling around on the deck. Cursing at the sight of the now burned-out circuitry and the shower of blue sparks it was emitting, he quickly shut off the entire relay before it literally blew up in his face. Keying the intercom, he shouted a message to Selu.
“Selu! We can’t take any more hits! The shields are gone!”
Force Exile III: Liberator continues the saga of Selusda Kraen and the other crewmembers of the Hawk-bat. Now the captain of the Hawk-bat in his own right, Selu must come face to face with a destiny he does not desire, and realize exactly what lies in the balance for him and other exiles. However, he and his shipmates have scarce time to consider their choice, as every second delayed gives the vaunted Imperial war machine more and more opportunities for destruction. As time races down for them, each member of the Hawk-bat’s crew must choose their own path. The fate of countless lives depends on it.
- Ajaur, Inquisitorius
- Lieutenant Ait Convarion, Imperial Navy
- Commander CC-3433, Imperial Army
- Kinman Doriana, Aide to the Emperor
- Captain Jack Nebulax, Imperial Navy
- Agent Amavel Norres, Imperial Intelligence
- Jana Rothery, physician
- Agent Roxana Taskien, Imperial Intelligence
- Lieutenant Almos Terthbak, Imperial Navy
- Hasla Almani, Matukai trainee
- Jahlel Almani, Matukai Adept
- Daara Sherum, Zeison Sha warrior
- Annita Daowot, Commenor Investigator
- Jorgesoll Knrr, Restaurateur
- Lena Kraen, Teacher
- Samtel Kraen, Attorney
- Sarth Kraen, Engineer
- Selusda Kraen, Ship captain
- Ardo Romierr, Insurgent leader
- Milya Tayrce, Crewmember
- Cassi Trealus, Crewmember
- Chapters 1-2
- Chapters 3-4
- Chapters 5-6
- Chapters 7-9
- Chapters 10-12
- Chapters 13-14
- Chapters 15-16
- Chapters 17-18
- Chapters 19-20
- Chapters 21-24
- Chapters 25-28
Force Exile III: Liberator begins with an Imperial Inquisitor, a lightsaber-wielding fallen Jedi now in Imperial service, named Ajaur boarding a Star Destroyed called the Corrupter as part of a mission to hunt down the last remaining Jedi Knights. Two years after the rise of the Empire, the remaining Jedi, guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, are both rare and enemies of the state. The captain of the Corrupter, Captain Jack Nebulax, is ill-disposed towards his new guest, but has no choice but to obey.
On a cargo run to Zhar—with a cargo that includes industrial explosives—the freighter Hawk-bat passes by the Corrupter, which stops them for a routine inspection. The Hawk-bat is captained by Selu Kraen, a fugitive Jedi Knight-turned-smuggler. Joining him on the ship are the engineer and his brother Sarth Kraen, a retired ARC-trooper named Spectre, a Bakuran cargomaster named Cassi Trealus who is also Sarth's girlfriend, and Milya Tayrce, a runaway Echani mercenary. Though the inspection seems arbitrary, they initially comply. However, the ship catches the attention of Ajaur, who makes his way down to interrogate Selu personally. Though the Jedi is traveling under an alias, Ajaur nevertheless suspects them and begins savagely beating Selu. When he threatens Milya, Selu orders Cassi, hidden inside the ship, to launch one of their escape pods, which has been rigged with some of the explosives by Spectre. The pod launches, buying time for the rest of the crew to board and escape. The resulting detonation causes damage to the Corrupter, injuring both the captain and Ajaur. The Hawk-bat flees, but pursued by fighters, their only option is to make a blind jump into hyperspace. Selu does and the journey takes them hundreds of light years away into unknown space.
Ajaur and Nebulax want revenge on the escaped crew, but are instead ordered to Susefvi to suppress a group of Force-users called the Jensaarai. With the help of Nebulax's executive officer, Ait Convarion, Ajaur slaughters the Jensaarai and the Empire subjugates Susefvi with brutal efficiency.
On the distant world of Zeru Neimodia, Imperial Army Commander CC-3433, a clone trooper with years of experience in the Clone Wars and known as "Trip," struggles to defeat a stubborn insurgency. His request for reinforcements is responded to in the form of Imperial Intelligence Agent Roxana Taskien and a small team of specialists, who begin devising lures and schemes with which to capture the main center of the resistance and its leaders.
Elsewhere on Commenor, a law enforcement officer named Annita Daowot and her boyfriend Jorgesoll Knrr decide to get married. Yet even as they plan their wedding, shadows from their past come back to haunt them. Jorge was the previous captain of the Hawk-bat and Annita helped cover up incidents on Commenor a year earlier involving the Kraens. This, combined with Selu's Jedi heritage, leads to them falling under suspicion from the Imperial liaison officer, Amavel Norres.
The Hawk-bat emerges near a barren, uninhabited planetoid, and they set down for repairs. While Selu recovers, the others discover a hidden chasm. Sarth and Cassi fall in and Selu jumps in after them to rescue them. He manages to do so and the others venture down. Selu discovers that the chasm was hidden by a Force illusion and that there's another one hiding a tunnel leading away from the bottom of the chasm. A rockslide catches them by surprise, pinning them into the tunnel. With little other recourse, they decide to explore it—albeit with considerable reluctance from Selu, who has given up much of his Jedi heritage after being responsible for the destruction of a civilized planet a year earlier.
The tunnel leads them to a crater, invisible from space due to another Force illusion, that contains an ancient temple. As they approach, they are welcomed by the spirits of ancient Jedi, led by Revan. The apparitions greet them and tell them that they are here to fulfill a prophecy. Selu initially wants nothing to do with it, but is eventually persuaded to hear them out.
The apparitions help heal Selu and tell him that they are destined to use the power of the temple to unify Force-users in the face of the Empire's campaign of annihilation against them. They also show Selu a possible future in which he and his friends and family are hunted down and killed, with Milya dying from a tumor. Selu has strong feelings for Milya that he has largely kept repressed and this persuades him. With the Empire hunting them after their encounter on Zhar, their only chance at building a new life is to accept the mission that Revan presents them. The five crewmembers all agree to accept what Revan offers: unlocking a crystal that will imbue them with the Force, augmenting Selu's own potential and allowing the others to consciously touch the Force.
Over the next few months, the Hawk-bat crew trains in the Jedi arts. After learning from Revan that he must be willing to sacrifice everything in order to stop the Empire, Selu distances himself from Milya after they started to warm up to each other. Spectre sees this and shares his own attraction with Milya, causing the two to begin a relationship. Sarth proposes to Cassi and she accepts. Selu learns how to use the Force to create the illusions, and also receives Revan's ancient armor.
On the Corrupter, having subjugated the Jensaarai, Ajaur receives permission from Darth Vader to continue his hunt for Selu, whose identity is still unknown. While the Corrupter and her crew pursues forensic evidence, Ajaur journeys to Dromund Kaas, where he was trained, to seek the advice of his teacher, a Prophet of the Dark Side named Theros. Theros spurns his pupil, who then wanders through the wilds of Dromund Kaas. Ajaur finds an ancient statue of Revan in a hidden cave and learns teachings of the ancient Sith. Finding several instructional inscriptions, he learns to hide himself in the Force. He also recovers an ancient lightsaber and sets back out to confront Theros. Using his new skills, he approaches Theros and ambushes him, defeating him in a brutal fight. Under duress, Theros uses his foresight to reveal that Ajaur will find the Jedi he hunts and can destroy him by destroying the thing he loves the most: a woman. Ajaur then cripples Theros and leaves him for dead, returning to the Corrupter.
Elsewhere on Zeru Neimodia, Agent Taskien devises a risky plan to disguise herself as one of the insurgents and infiltrate the resistance. Trip disapproves of her foolhardiness, but she goes anyway. Taskien is able to successfully infiltrate their ranks and makes her way to their central hidden mountain base, meeting their leader, a cunning man named Ardo Romierr. She is able to hijack a droid starfighter and use it to transmit a message to Trip, but is captured in the process. Romierr has her tortured, but Trip arrives with a large relief force and captures the mountain. Romierr attempts to flee, but an Imperial ship under the command of Taskien's superior, Advisor Kinman Doriana, arrives, and prevents his escape. Romierr is captured, and Taskien is rescued. Doriana, knowing of Taskien's impulsive behavior, brings along a doctor, Jana Rothery, to treat her, and commends Trip for his seizure of the resistance. The Imperials also learn that a collective of Xi Charrians was providing Romierr's troops with arms, and Doriana takes them into custody as well, intending to deliver them to work on the Death Star project.
Meanwhile, the crew of the Hawk-bat finish enough of their training to learn how to use and construct lightsabers of their own. They do so, and Revan at this point sends them out to intercept an Imperial scout ship that discovered the planetoid, telling them that their training was as complete as it could be. The crew quickly take over the scout ship, imprisoning the crew. They learn that the ship was sent out to scout for Jedi and other Force-users. Looking over the ship's itinerary, Milya is able to deduce three more worlds that harbor Force-users with the aid of her newly-acquired foresight. Realizing that time is short, the crew split up, intent on reaching the other Force-users with an offer of banding together in a new refuge that Selu plans to create.
Selu and Spectre travel to the harsh desert world of Yanibar in the stolen Imperial scout ship Observant. Braving the inhospitable environment and vicious predators, they seek to link up with the Zeison Sha, a fiercely independent group of Force-users whose ancestors were abandoned on Yanibar by the Jedi. After rescuing one of the Zeison Sha, a Twi'lek woman named Daara, from an Imperial patrol, they are able to meet some of them. On behalf of the Jedi Order, Selu apologizes for past grievances they have suffered, but the Zeison Sha are unmoved by his suggestion to create a new refuge. Dejected, Selu and Spectre return to their ship. Spectre confronts Selu about his feelings for Milya, and the two tussle over her. During the struggle, the Imperial prisoners break out and attack, wounding Spectre. Selu subdues them and apologizes to Spectre while treating him. Just then, they detect a group of Imperial bombers heading for the Zeison Sha settlement. Selu takes off and shoots the bombers, earning him the gratitude of the Zeison Sha. They agree to join him in his new refuge as long as it is established on Yanibar and he defends it. Selu accepts the terms, but senses that Milya is in danger and so leaves, along with Spectre and Daara, promising to return.
Sarth and Cassi journey to frosty Tokmia to meet with the Jal Shey, a group of Force-users known for their philosophical and diplomatic prowess. They are welcomed in and make their case, but the Jal Shey are skeptical, particularly since they don't even know where the new refuge will be. Sarth heads back to the Hawk-bat and learns from Selu that they've obtained a refuge on Yanibar and, after passing a test devised by the Jal Shey, he and Cassi are able to persuade their audience of their trustworthiness.
Milya heads to Darlyn Boda, a swampy shadowport. After a run-in with local brigands, she is rescued by an Arkanian Matukai named Jahlel. Jahlel takes her back to the Matukai compound, where the Matukai leader, Bolfwé Grysloth, agrees to allow her to stay and learn from their ways before he makes a decision about her proposal to join the new refuge for Force exiles. After seeing a disturbing vision of an imminent attack, she brings her concern to Grysloth, who brushes her aside. She challenges Grysloth to a duel over his leadership, suspecting he has no intention of joining the refuge. Despite the assistance of Jahlel and his sister Hasla, Milya loses. However, she is able to communicate her point to Grysloth, who concedes that an attack may be coming and agrees to have the Matukai join the new refuge.
One of the brigands that accosted Milya tips off the Imperials. Word reaches Captain Nebulax and Ajaur on the Corrupter, and they head to Darlyn Boda. On Doriana's ship, the Griffin, Romierr is able to escape with the help of its crew, many of whom were traitors planted deep inside the Imperial ranks and actually part of his network. He imprisons Doriana, Trip, Taskien, Rothery, and the rest of the crew and takes the ship to Darlyn Boda, intent on selling them to the highest bidder. They are discovered by the Imperials thanks to heroics from the Imperial prisoners, and Nebulax sends a force to surround the Griffin even as Ajaur takes a sizable number of troops to attack the Matukai compound.
In the ensuing battle, the Imperials suffer heavy casualties but overrun the compound. Bolfwé Grysloth is killed by Ajaur, who then chases Milya. However, Selu, Spectre, and Daara arrive, allowing the rest of the Matukai to escape. Jahlel falls in the battle, but Selu is able to lift off in the Observant. Imperial fighters arrive and shoot them down. Ditching the craft, the fugitive Jedi and Matukai flee into the cellars, guided to the house of one of the Matukai's paramour.
Surrounded, Romierr and his men look for a way to escape, but with Imperial fighters overhead, they have few options. However, one of Romierr's officers is the Matukai's paramour and the surveillance system in his house detects the fugitives. Romierr, who was once hunted by Selu before the Clone Wars, is able to negotiate a temporary truce with the Jedi. Selu and his friends will use their ships to take out the Imperial fighters, while Romierr gives them a ship to transport most of their people on and uses the Griffin for cover against the Star Destroyer.
Selu agrees and the Jedi and Matukai strike the spaceport to access Romierr's gunship. They escape as Ajaur closes in, with Selu taking a starfighter they had recovered earlier and shooting down the Imperial fighters. The Griffin lifts off and attempts to flee Darlyn Boda even as the Corrupter closes in, though the Star Destroyer takes heavy damage from baradium missiles. The Imperials board the ship and since Selu's fighter was damaged, he can't make it to hyperspace. He and the other Jedi and Matukai board the Griffin to assist Romierr in exchange for passage out of the system. Selu heads for the bridge, where the Imperials are attacking, their numbers bolstered by freeing the prisoners. Led by Trip and Taskien, the Imperials seize the bridge, mortally wounding Romierr, but Taskien is injured. Trip takes her to the infirmary while Doriana tries to access the auxiliary bridge. Selu is delayed on his approach to the bridge when he learns that Milya has been wounded, and diverts to save her. He is able to do so, but the bridge falls in his absence. Spectre takes Milya to the infirmary while Selu clears the bridge.
Doriana seizes control of the auxiliary bridge, threatening to self-destruct the Griffin if the fugitives don't surrender. However, Selu is able to stop him and the advisor perishes in the process. Spectre and Trip reach the infirmary around the same time. Spectre compels Rothery to treat Milya since the medical droids have been de-activated, but she takes Milya hostage to compel Spectre's surrender to Trip. Milya breaks free and Spectre and Trip, who fought together in the Clone Wars, with Spectre even saving Trip's life at one point, engage in a vicious brawl. Spectre ends up killing Trip, which horrifies Taskien. Spectre also knew her during the Clone Wars, as the two had been romantically involved, but she cannot accept his change of allegiance. She tries to kill Spectre, but Milya intervenes. Spectre stops Milya from killing the unconscious Taskien, and with Selu having secured the ship, they flee to hyperspace.
They meet up with Sarth and Cassi and Selu, having been given control of Romierr's organization just before the insurgent leader expired, is able to persuade both Romierr's men and the Xi Charrians to join him. While recovering, Milya chastises Spectre for letting his lingering feelings for Taskien cloud his judgment—and for trying to use her to replace Taskien. Taskien is equally unmoved by Spectre's attempts at swaying her, rejecting him coldly. Cassi, however, makes better inroads with Rothery, who has been working hard to treat both Imperial and Jedi casualties, including Milya. When the Imperial prisoners are offloaded into escape pods, Rothery decides to stay behind and join the Force exiles.
The prisoners are recovered and brought to the Corrupter, where Ajaur plans to interrogate them for information over the protestations of Captain Nebulax. Upon learning that Ajaur has gone rogue with his attack on Theros, Nebulax decides to arrest Ajaur before he can further torture Agent Taskien. His intervention occurs just as Convarion learns from Amavel Norres of the connection between the Jedi they're hunting and his family on Commenor. Nebulax is persuaded to allow Ajaur to go hunt down the Jedi on Commenor, but he and Convarion secretly follow the Inquisitor there.
Selu and the others arrive on Yanibar and begin establishing their refuge after destroying the Imperial base there. Selu also confesses to Milya that he would rather love her than achieve a great destiny, and she reciprocates his feelings. They receive a message inviting them to Jorge and Annita's wedding on Commenor and agree to attend, both to see their friends and evacuate their family, having learned of the suspicion clouding them on Commenor from Norres.
However, the idyllic wedding is interrupted by Norres, who charges Jorge and Annita with treason. Selu and the crew of the Hawk-bat, backed up by Zeison Sha, Matukai, and some of Romierr's crew, intervene. Selu ends up fighting Ajaur in a prolonged, ferocious duel as the others hold off Imperial troops. Captain Nebulax sends a bomber to wipe out both groups. Ajaur is defeated and they plan to escape as Sarth brings the Hawk-bat around. Ajaur, despite his wounds, rises and attacks Milya, but Selu is able to stop him from inflicting lethal harm before Spectre shoots the Inquisitor, killing him. The Force exiles flee on the Hawk-bat. The Corrupter pursues them, but Selu and Spectre are able to fake the ship's destruction just as they jump to hyperspace.
Returning to Yanibar, they begin forming the new refuge for Force exiles, where members of any tradition following the light side are free to practice without fear or discrimination. Selu uses the Force illusion technique to hide the refuge, and he and Milya begin a relationship after Milya tells Spectre that while she values his friendship, she is in love with Selu. Sarth and Cassi, as well as Jorge and Annita, marry, as the Force exiles start their new life on Yanibar.
Behind the scenes
Force Exile III: Liberator was released in May 2008 as the third entry in the Force Exile Series and the third novel in the series with regards to in-universe chronology. At approximately 150,900 words at its initial release, it was the third-longest of the Force Exile novels. Liberator is one of three novels in the series to be set in the Imperial era. The novel was reworked from late 2013 into early 2014 with a full re-release in April 2014. Unlike rewrites of Force Exile I: Fugitive and Force Exile II: Smuggler, the rewrite of Force Exile III: Liberator was a dramatic overhaul that involved rewriting most of the novel, as well as providing an updated article layout. This second release weighed in at approximately 197,800 words, making it the second longest novel in the series.
Much of the original planned story was set to take place in Force Exile II. The introduction of the Mistryl in Force Exile II resulted in shifting this planned story arc into the third novel. The central story arc of Selu and his companions receiving the quest to establish a new refuge for Force exiles was not only crucial to the novel, but also the series as a whole. The novel underwent several working title changes during development, including Leader and Unifier. The first written draft of the novel was the result of five draft outlines. In particular, the third act of the novel was reworked twice during the outlining stage. One of the major plot points was to explain the death of Imperial advisor Kinman Doriana, whose fate had been described as an untimely demise in canon, but not specified.
The first draft of the story also included a concept where Selu would rescue Force-sensitive children on Belsavis, but it was cut due to the canonical event taking place two years prior to the novel. Another scene that was rewritten during the writing process was the initial meeting between Selu and Daara. The love triangle between Selusda, Spectre, and Milya was also introduced fairly late during the conceptual phase, but the author liked the tension it introduced between the characters and kept it. One last change was introduced during the final conceptual stages: the crew of the scout ship Observant, who were intended as comic relief characters in the vein of R2-D2 and C-3PO.
Atarumaster88 finished Force Exile III: Liberator in May 2008, but soon grew to dislike the novel. The completed novel had a first act that was very heavy on religious symbology and was poorly-paced, spending far too long on exposition and backstory that was heavy on mythical elements that didn't fit well with the rest of the series. Another problem he found was that Selu Kraen, the protagonist, quickly devolved into an angsty, unlikeable character. Further pacing issues plagued the second and third acts, and the antagonists were largely reduced to side characters who were given minor side errands during most of the novel until their final confrontation. The final act of the story relied heavily on coincidence and weak plot devices to achieve the desired outcome and included a near-death experience that was panned as overly melodramatic and unbelievable. The crew of the Observant was another pointless distraction whose characterization served little purpose to the plot and were grating and forced rather than a relief from the more serious and symbolic main arc. The author publicly stated his dislike for the novel on numerous occasions, ultimately resolving to rewrite it.
The rewrite was originally planned to take place before writing Force Exile VI: Prodigal, but Atarumaster88 found the task too distasteful and preferred to finish Prodigal first. When he did tackle Liberator, it was with the understanding that it would be a major overhaul. Most of the novel was completely rewritten and while no meta-narrative events were overall affected by the rewrite, the vast majority of the details were different. Unlike with his previous novels, where he would outline the entire story and then adjust the outline several times throughout the writing process, Atarumaster88 only outlined one act at a time, as he already knew the meta-significant events that would occur in each act.
From the outset, Atarumaster88 wanted to create a more personal animosity between the crew of the Hawk-bat and their Imperial adversaries, so he made the opening chase scene also include a brief capture, allowing the Inquisitor Ajaur to meet and attack Selu and his companions before they were able to escape. The injuries sustained during the escape would fuel Ajaur's desire for vengeance. When the Hawk-bat crew did reach the remote asteroid where they met the Jedi spirits, their encounter was rewritten to tone back the overtly religious references and better conform to canonical developments revealed in The Old Republic and the Revan novel, which were released after the original Liberator release. Milya's persuasion of Selu was also written to be less emotionally-based. The Observant crew was minimized, appearing in only a handful of scenes, and did not retain their own plot arc. Jorge and Annita, on the other hand, were given two more scenes early in the novel, as Atarumaster88 wanted to show Jorge proposing to Annita.
Another major change was expanding the story arc of Trip and Doriana. Previously, Trip had been there to provide an antagonist for Spectre, while Doriana's role was to tempt Selu and provide the means for Selu to acquire rare Imperial technology and free the Xi Charrian workers from his ship. Their inclusion in the first release had been poorly paced and peripheral to the main story. Atarumaster88 sought to fix that. He created a more prolonged campaign for Trip to fight, pairing him with a new character, Agent Roxana Taskien. Later in that arc, Doriana and another new character, Jana Rothery, were introduced. Atarumaster88 sought to create parallel characters between the Hawk-bat and Imperial characters where previously only Spectre had had that dynamic. The new draft juxtaposed Ajaur with Selu, Trip with Spectre, Taskien with Selu, Doriana with Sarth, and Cassi with Rothery.
Whereas previously, Doriana and Trip had been harried by an inconsequential Devaronian pirate, Atarumaster88 wanted a stronger antagonist for the Imperials. Recalling the Separatist Ardo Romierr he had written in the short story Second Guessed as a one-shot character, Atarumaster88 brought the character back as the diabolical mastermind that the Imperials face on a new world, Zeru Neimodia, having moved that arc off Cato Neimoidia due to canonical developments.
In the second act, Atarumaster88 completely rewrote Sarth and Cassi's persuasion of the Jal Shey. While in the first release they had to solve a mysterious puzzle to prove their insight, he did not feel that meshed with the intellectual emphasis of the Jal Shey. Instead, he had them interact with Jal Shey in a more diplomatic fashion through negotiation and verbal ploys. Selu's persuasion of the Zeison Sha was also altered—whereas formerly, Atarumaster88 had written in a prophecy that marked him as "the heir of Revan," he found that too juvenile. Instead, Selu shows his devotion to the cause by defending them from Imperial attack. Additional tension was added between Nebulax, Convarion, and Ajaur, along with a more satisfying resolution of the conflict between them in the third act.
For the third act of the story, Atarumaster88 contrived a more believable means of intersecting the three main plots arcs of the Hawk-bat crew, Nebulax and Ajaur, and Trip, Doriana, and Taskien. Instead of a space battle in the Hoth system, the Darlyn Boda sequence was prolonged and expanded on. Romierr and Selu also had history from Second Guessed, making their inevitable encounter have more personal significance. Doriana's death was shifted away from the final battle on Commenor to Darlyn Boda, while various other details were rewritten. Atarumaster88 wanted to provide a more plausible backstory for some of the Yanibar Guard's capabilities, so having the insurgents join Selu gave the necessary background in intelligence and military operations that the Yanibar Guard would later demonstrate. About half of the final battle was rewritten and some of the more figurative and spiritual elements removed.
Due to evolving understanding of their characters, Atarumaster88 also rewrote most of the interactions between Selu and Milya. He additionally added some interaction between Cassi and Milya, wanting the characters to help develop each other. Selu was written to be less depressed and angst-filled, while Milya's tenuous relationship with Spectre was deepened. However, the revelation that Taskien and Spectre had history together and Spectre's demonstration that he still cared for Taskien in front of Milya provided the impetus for Milya to reject him, rather than the other way around.
During the rewrite, Atarumaster88 made several revisions as a result of beta-reader feedback—Force Exile III was the last work to not receive beta feedback. The rockslide that separated the Hawk-bat from their ship was added, as was a scene where Selu receives the armor and practices his Force camouflage with Revan. Another adjustment was fixing an incorrect characterization where Terthbak was re-introduced to Ajaur again. The journey that Ajaur undertook was also written based on beta feedback, to give Ajaur a parallel experience to Selu's and help the character progress. This feedback made significant improvements to the novel overall.
As is common in Force Exile stories, Atarumaster88 used a number of references to both canonical works and other media. Force Exile I references a number of canonical works. Notable among them are Knights of the Old Republic,I, Jedi, Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Star Wars: Revan, The Force Unleashed, X-wing: The Bacta War, and Outbound Flight. Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force was also a helpful resource for describing the various Force-using groups mentioned in the novel.
The Star Destroyer Corrupter and its executive officer, Ait Convarion, are both from The Bacta War. Inquisitor Ajaur was heavily inspired by the character Jerec. Meetra's line to "let him go, he'll find his own path" is similar to a line spoken by Leia Organa to Luke Skywalker in A New Hope. Selu's comments about the future being in motion and how his vision "can't be true. That's impossible," and also "There is no try, do or do not" and "No ship that small has a cloaking device" are nods to The Empire Strikes Back. The destruction of the Jensaarai was alluded to in I, Jedi, but not explicitly described. Selu's remark about how "size matters not, but surface area, on the other hand, is a real pain" is similar to a statement made by Mander Zuma in Star Wars: Scourge. Romierr's statement about how Imperial Intelligence and even the Jedi couldn't catch him is similar to al line spoken by Viqi Shesh in Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand. Vader's comment about the Emperor being less forgiving than him is a Return of the Jedi nod. Terthbak's operating number is TK-1138421, a mixture of the common occurrence of 1138 in canon as well as TK-421, the stormtrooper mentioned on the Death Star in A New Hope, while Ajaur's use of the phrase "Don't underestimate the power of the Force" to Nebulax was also used by Darth Vader in the same film. Another common canonical phrase used in the book is the eponymous "I have a bad feeling about this." Jahlel Almani's name and Arkanian heritage were inspired by the canonical character Jarael, while his character was inspired by another Wikia user known as Greyman. Trip's line about how the dying soldiers are doing their duty so they can do theirs is a nod to Obi-Wan Kenobi's statement in Revenge of the Sith. Spectre's glib exchange with Selu about the unfairness of the situation is homage to a witty repartee between Han and Leia Solo in Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand.
Outside of canon, Trip's stated dislike of fighting lava is a reference to a similar predilection uttered by Starcraft's Jim Raynor. Another Starcraft reference is the planet Zeru Neimodia, a nod to that franchise's Zerg homeworld of Zerus. When Ajaur beats Selu, Milya's remark of "He's killing him," refers to a similar line by Trinity in The Matrix when Agent Smith was beating Neo. Trip's number of 3433 is a reference to 343 Guilty Spark, from the Halo franchise. Selu's instruction to Milya to "wake me . . . if you need me," is a reference to John-117's final line in Halo 3. Lieutenant Albers' comment of "Shall we begin" echoes Khan's similar line in Star Trek Into Darkness, albeit with a far different intonation. The dance that Jorge and Annita perform is based on ballroom dancing, in particular foxtrot and swing. The quote from Revan that "the answers you seek lie within" is similar to a lore statement in League of Legends. S’vollke was partially inspired by the famous Badger of The Wind in the Willows, as well as the badgers of the Redwall series. Spectre's statement to Selu that "If you were any other man, I'd beat those words right out of you" is a nod to Worf's line to Picard in Star Trek: First Contact, while Taskien's question to Trip about remembering zero-gee combat training is another reference to that film between Worf and Picard. The character name of Jana Rothery is a nod to Teryl Rothery, the actress who played Dr. Janet Frazier in Stargate SG-1. Selu's comment about how Milya has always been his choice refers to the Iron Man franchise.
The reference to twelve spirits as teachers, with one as a traitor, is a biblical reference to the twelve apostles. Another biblical reference is Revan's challenge to Selu about how if he walks away from his destiny, that those in danger might survive, but he won't, which is a nod to a similar passage in the book of Esther. Milya's affliction of a tumor was inspired by an experience of a friend of the author's. When writing about the insurgency on Zeru Neimodia, Atarumaster88 consulted with a military professional with training in counter-insurgency to ensure realism. The term "hope is not a plan" is also a popular USMC axiom. Sarth's persuasion that they were either lying, crazy, or telling the truth is a reference to C.S. Lewis's famous trilemma, originally used about the deity of Jesus. Selu's remark to Terthbak of "There you go again" recalls an American presidential election where Ronald Reagan uttered the statement to Jimmy Carter. Nebulax's statement that he expects every man to do his duty was inspired by Admiral Nelson's message to his fleet before the Battle of Trafalgar.
Force Exile III: Liberator is the first Force Exile novel to use a fan-created character that Atarumaster88 did not develop: the character of Jack Nebulax. Nebulax had present in the original Force Exile draft and Atarumaster88 wanted to keep the character included in the story. He worked with the character's creator throughout the first release of the novel. For the re-release, there was no such collaboration. Another reference to other fan-fiction is Revan's use of the phrase "interpretation is key," a common catch-phrase of Brandon Rhea's Alternative Star Wars Saga.
Recognition and awards
Force Exile III Liberator won "Best Cover" in the 2010 Star Wars Fanon Image Contest in December 2010.
The cover for Force Exile III: Liberator features, from left to right and from top to bottom, the characters Milya Tayrce, Revan, Selusda Kraen, Kinman Doriana, and Daara. Using images provided by the author, the current cover was created by Solus. The original cover was made by Darth Nyne, but was replaced when Atarumaster88 decided to change the style of the novel covers.
This work aims to not conflict with canon, as established by Lucasfilm, Ltd. As with all Force Exile works, all terms copyrighted by Lucasfilm, Ltd. are their sole intellectual property, and the author does not seek to infringe on those copyrights. All comments should be left on the author's talk page or on the novel's talk page. Also, edits to the novel should be confined to spelling and grammar corrections. This work contains sci-fi action violence, mild profanity, some implied sexuality, and scenes that may not be appropriate for children. User discretion is advised.