|This article relies on references to primary sources. (September 2007)|
|Mara Jade Skywalker|
|Star Wars character|
Luke Skywalker (left), Mara Jade (right), and their son, Ben Skywalker
|Portrayed by||Shannon McRandle (for the Star Wars Customizable Card Game)|
|Position||Emperor's Hand, Jedi|
Mara Jade Skywalker is a fictional character in Star Wars Expanded Universe books, comic books, and computer games. She is also wife to Luke Skywalker, and mother to Ben Skywalker. In the different video games, she is voiced by Heidi Shannon and Kath Soucie.
 Concept and development
Mara Jade was introduced in Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire (1991). Zahn imagined Jade as a strong, complex female character, which he found was lacking in the Star Wars universe. While competent, she also is flawed. When the Thrawn Trilogy ended in 1993 with The Last Command, Zahn thought it was the last book for which he would develop the character. When Zahn was asked to write another novel, he established two goals: "to end the war between the New Republic and the Empire, and to get Luke Skywalker and Mara together." Although Lucasfilm initially resisted the idea of Luke marrying Mara, they eventually acquiesced.
Compared to Star Wars' sole iconic female character, Princess Leia, Zahn said, "Mara has a sharper and more sarcastic manner, and of course, she had to go through the painful realization that her service had been to an evil cause. But they're both women who are strong without sacrificing their femininity, a balance which I think some authors have trouble writing. Bear in mind too, that Leia was one of the first people in the New Republic who decided Mara could be trusted, which perhaps says something about their understanding of each other."
In a 1998 Star Wars Insider poll of fans' favorite Star Wars characters, Mara Jade was the only Expanded Universe character to break the top 20.
Mara Jade is introduced as smuggler Talon Karrde's second-in-command in Heir to the Empire. The novel establishes that she previously was an "Emperor's Hand" — a special agent — for Emperor Palpatine. Several stories depict Jade before the events in Heir to the Empire, showing her training under Palpatine and executing his orders. The Thrawn trilogy depicts Mara's first confrontation with Luke Skywalker, whom she has sworn to kill to avenge Palpatine's death. This was reinforced by the Emperor's final telepathic command to assassinate Luke, which had plagued her thoughts since his death; upon learning this situation, Luke vowed to help Mara break Palpatine's hold on her, regardless of the danger she posed to him. At the end of the trilogy, she resolves her anger toward Luke and silences the command without killing Luke, instead killing Luke's clone — Luuke Skywalker — who had been made by a corrupt Jedi to challenge Luke. In doing so, she took Anakin Skywalker's blue lightsaber (which Luuke was using), and used it instead of Luke's green lightsaber, which she kept because she did not trust Luke. Luke recognizes in Mara an underdeveloped affinity for the Force; although she initially resists Jedi training, she eventually becomes a Jedi Master.
Luke and Mara develop a strong bond in Zahn's The Hand of Thrawn Duology; he proposes marriage, and the two wed in Michael A. Stackpole's graphic novel Union. She delivers a son, Ben, during The New Jedi Order series. In the Legacy of the Force series, Mara becomes suspicious of her nephew, Jacen Solo, when he sends Ben on several ethically dubious missions. Upon learning that Jacen has become a Sith apprentice, Mara vows to kill him, but Jacen ultimately kills her in Sacrifice. She later appears as a Force ghost, first to Ben and then to Luke, in Revelation. She also appears as a Force ghost to Cade Skywalker in the Legacy comics, set more than a century after the Star Wars films.
 Other appearances
Mara was portrayed by model Shannon McRandle (as Shannon Baksa) on several cards in the Star Wars Customizable Card Game. Meeting her was also a mission objective in the now defunct massively multiplayer online game Star Wars Galaxies. She is a controllable character in Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, the Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith and Star Wars: Empire at War. She also narrates the Imperial campaign in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds.
Mara Jade was chosen by IGN as the 19th top Star Wars character. IGN's Jesse Schedeen also listed the character as the top 10th Star Wars hero, noting that she "entered the Expanded Universe early, and she's stuck around for so long because she's just a great character". UGO Networks called the character the seventh top Star Wars Expanded Universe character, calling her complex.
- Carter, Jeff. "Star Wars Per-Zahn-Ified". Retrieved 2008-03-18. "Mara [is] a strong female character (which were few and far between in the Star Wars movies), but she's also flawed and searching and—dare we say it?—human. At the same time, she's highly competent at her job."
- "Timothy Zahn". Interviews - Face To Face With The Masters. TheForce.Net. 2008-03-13.
- Carter, Jeff. "Star Wars Per Zahn-Ified". Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- "Top 100 Star Wars Characters". IGN. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
- Jesse Schedeen (14 August 2008). "Top 25 Star Wars Heroes: Day 4". IGN. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- Adam Rosenburg (1 July 2008). "Top 50 Star Wars Expanded Universe Characters". UGO Networks. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- Skywalker, Mara Jade in the Official StarWars.com Encyclopedia
- Mara Jade Skywalker on Wookieepedia: a Star Wars wiki