Mara Jade is one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. She first appears in Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn (1991), the first Star Wars novel to take place after Return of the Jedi. Originally trained in the Force by Emperor Palpatine, she later went on to become a Jedi Master and Luke Skywalker's wife.
The Emperor's Hand
Mara was born on an unknown planet in 17 BBY, two years after Palpatine declared himself Emperor. Sensing her Force potential, Palpatine took her from her parents and brought her to Coruscant, where he trained her to use the Force as a weapon for espionage.
As a teenager, Mara Jade became the Emperor's Hand, one of his elite assassins. One of her tasks was to help Darth Vader hunt down the last of the Jedi who had escaped the Purge. Before the Emperor died, he sent her one final command through the telepathic link connecting them: "You will kill Luke Skywalker."
Fighter and Smuggler
The death of the Emperor and the fall of the Empire left Mara alone and without resources. Hunted by former Imperials and losing some of her former Force abilities, Mara survived for several years by taking odd jobs under aliases and constantly moving from one planet to another. In 8 ABY, she joined a smuggling organization led by Talon Karrde, quickly rising to a position of power.
Mara's dormant Force abilities re-emerged after she encountered Luke Skywalker floating helpless in space in a damaged X-wing. Forced to suppress her desire to kill Luke so Karrde could collect a bounty on their captive, Mara soon found herself fighting with Luke against the Imperials.
Renouncing the dark side of the Force, Mara Jade trained as a Jedi under Kyle Katarn and at the Jedi Academy. Her loyalties to Talon Karrde's organization remained strong, however; she aided his smuggling operations and hoped to take over his position one day.
Jedi and Family Life
After a crisis brought them back together in 19 ABY, Luke and Mara acknowledged their mutual attraction and got married. Mara soon ended her business relationship with Karrde in order to focus on her role as a Jedi. She later helped train Jaina and Anakin Solo, two of Han and Leia's children.
Mara became pregnant during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. Infected with a deadly Yuuzhan Vong disease, she was near death by the end of her pregnancy. However, she, Luke, and their newborn son, Ben, were able to join together and heal her through the power of the Force.
The pain Ben felt through the Force during the devastating Yuuzhan Vong war led him to unconsciously cut himself off from the Force. Mara was at first glad when her nephew, Jacen Solo, took over Ben's training and helped him regain his connection with the Force, but later learned that Jacen had become a Sith. Jacen killed Mara as part of his Sith training; during her funeral, Mara made her body disappear in order to expose her murderer.
Behind the Scenes
Mara Jade is one of the most well-known and loved characters in the Expanded Universe. In fact, when Star Wars Insider magazine polled readers to name their favorite characters, Mara was the only character in the top 20 to never appear in a Star Wars film. She was also the first Expanded Universe character to receive a Hasbro action figure and the first character from the EU novels to cross over into Star Wars video games as a playable character.
Mara's death in Legacy of the Force was controversial among both writers and fans. Star Wars novelist Timothy Zahn, in particular, expressed his displeasure with Lucasfilm both for their handling of Mara's death and their failure to inform him in advance.
Model Shannon McRandle (née Baksa) portrayed Mara Jade in photos for the Star Wars Customizable Card Game. Her likeness has since been used as a basis for Mara's appearance in comic books, action figures, and other media. Several voice actresses have portrayed Mara in radio dramas and video games, including Samantha Bennett, Heidi Shannon, Edie Mirman, and Kath Soucie.