KYLO REN IS A HUFFLEPUFF!!!

Yes, you read that title right and I’ll say it again for the people in the back…KYLO REN, MASTER OF THE KNIGHTS OF REN, SON OF DARKNESS, HEIR APPARENT TO LORD VADER, AND THE NEW SUPREME LEADER OF THE FIRST ORDER…IS A HUFFLEPUFF.

Surprising I know but go figure.

I stumbled upon this discovery after reading a hella fun article over on Strangely Pop Cultured a few days ago wherein the writer explained how Kylo’s parents are both actually members of the Slytherin house. As a Snake myself, I was thrilled to have Princess Leia and Han Solo among my ranks because in all honesty, we need all the heroic Slytherin examples we can get — but it left me wondering… if both his parents are heroic Slytherins, what exactly is Kylo Ren/ Ben Solo?

I won’t lie, this question stumped me for a while. Kylo is an extremely complex character wrapped in layers of frayed emotions and self-deceit and I wanted to do him justice. The easy answer and the one I think most would give is that he’s a Slytherin as well, but I think that’s for all the wrong reasons i.e. Slytherin is evil and so is Kylo therefore bad person equals bad house, but that’s unfairly profiling and simplifying both the character and the house. Slytherin is not an evil house comprised solely of evil people. Evil isn’t house specific (I’m looking at you Pettigrew and Lockhart). Slytherins simply idolize cunning and ambition, traits that when wielded correctly can actually be used for great good! And Kylo Ren is one of the most complex, fully realized characters in the sequel trilogy, so to judge him without understanding his motivations would be childish. So again, I asked myself: what Hogwarts house would encapsulate all that Kylo is?!

And the answer was simple.

For all his over-the-top destructive behavior and bravado, cunning and ambitious are not keywords I’d use to describe Kylo Ren. Slytherins are go-getters and he’s reactionary at best. Brave and wise go out the window too and with them, Gryffindor and Ravenclaw – not because he doesn’t have any of these qualities, he does, but they are not driving forces behind his personality. No, Kylo at his core exemplifies dedication, fairness and above all: loyalty. A Hufflepuff through and through.

Still don’t believe me? Let’s break it down a little bit shall we?

First up: dedication… Kylo’s pretty damn dedicated to a few things, namely eradicating the last vestiges of the Jedi and the Sith teachings in the galaxy. As an ex-padawan learner, Kylo saw first-hand how dangerous the Jedi ideology and practice is when his own uncle nearly killed him in his sleep because of perceived darkness. Never mind that Vader actively wielded and misused his inner darkness for over twenty years and was somehow still forgivable, it’s the mostly-dormant darkness in Kylo that warrants an immediate death sentence. This easily demonstrates how unjust and unreliable the Jedi/Sith system is as it houses no room for middle ground and yet is executed with individualistic concerns. That being said, Kylo has spent years methodically searching for his uncle to ensure that that kind of uncompromising lethality is annihilated and if that’s not dedication I don’t know what is.

Second up is fairness and again, it’s easy to see in both films. Kylo is extremely reactionary, he’s a tit for tat character when it comes down to it, you strike out at me, I strike out at you. Fair is fair. We see this best when he faces his father Han Solo. Whatever our preconceived notions of Han, it is made abundantly clear in the supplemental reading and The Force Awakens itself (Kylo telling Rey Han would have disappointed her as a father) that Kylo has unresolved issues with his father. In Daniel Jose Older’s novel Last Shot, we see a young Ben Solo distraught when his father leaves him for a mission that almost ended with baby Ben being killed by his unqualified babysitting droid and we’re left with the sense that this forced separation will be a reoccurring theme in their relationship. And once he’s older, Ben is sent away to Luke for training (an act again that almost resulted in his death) so it’s not hard to imagine the resentment that comes from being constantly left behind or sent away. Therefore, after all the years of unnecessary painful goodbyes and resulting near-death experiences and a lifetime of Snoke whispering poisoned words in his mind, it’s no surprise that a severely conflicted Kylo redresses the issue and strikes a blow for himself – in the worst way possible of course, but morality aside, Kylo finally stands up to his father and makes it clear: you hurt me, now I’m hurting you. Again, worst possible way to make this point, but it’s a space opera and it’s go-big or go home. This goes double for when he faces Luke in The Last Jedi. Whether or not he completed the act and whether or not it’s understandable, Luke tried to kill Kylo and Kylo definitely returned the favor. Fair is fair after all.

Last, but not least, the epitome of Hufflepuff traits: loyalty. Broken and used as he is, Kylo Ren is undoubtedly loyal…to those who deserve his loyalty. He doesn’t bestow it lightly, it’s made clear that until Luke’s ill-fated attempt on his life, Kylo struggled with the darkness inside his head, never giving into it until that final act of familial treachery. Betrayed by his uncle, sent away by his parents, Kylo made his way to the only constant presence in his life: Snoke. He does all that he can to become the person Snoke wants him to be, aka the next great Vader. He constructs a mask for himself, literally and figuratively, drawing any tangible or perceptible lightside qualities deep into himself until he is left with Kylo Ren, a deception, a mask in every definition of the word. The loyalty that binds him to Snoke takes him down the darkest paths, nearly destroying him, but he endures it and it’s not until Snoke proves un-loyal in turn by first tasking him with killing his own father and then again by using his connection to Rey for nefarious purposes and then demanding he kill her that Kylo retracts that loyalty. For a moment we think that loyalty will be given to Rey, but Rey isn’t quite ready or deserving of it yet. She doesn’t know enough about Kylo, his motivations, or the galaxy at large to be deserving of a Hufflepuff’s loyalty, she can’t see past what she herself wants and so for the time, Kylo is loyal to the only person he has left: himself. I imagine that will change in Episode IX, but for now it’s for the best, he needs to heal before he can give such a large piece of himself away to another person and another cause.

And there you have it, Kylo Ren is a clear-cut Hufflepuff if I ever saw one: dedicated, fair, and above all, loyal. Destructive and dangerous, it’s easy to take his actions for those of a “stereotypical” Slytherin, but he’s not. He playacts as one, trying so desperately that it comes off as unauthentic and that’s because at his core, Kylo Ren embodies the very best of the Hufflepuff qualities – they’ve just been twisted by negative forces both outside and within. But there is still hope for his future. As my favorite Gryffindor once said: “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” (J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). I think we’re going to see a whole new Kylo Ren in the next film, a Kylo who chooses for himself for once, someone who had taken the time to examine the mistakes and hurts of his past and has resolved to be better in the future. Not a perfect person mind you, because as Luke famously said himself in The Last Jedi, “It is time for the Jedi to end.” The galaxy doesn’t need perfection, it doesn’t need absolutes, it needs people who truly understand themselves and can act with both passion and clarity. It needs a middle-ground. Souls with a touch of darkness and a taste of light.

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The Edge of the World (A Kylo/Ben Poem)

 

 

 

 

The Edge of the World

I’ve been to the edge of the world,
And peered below into the darkness:
Seen the vastness of eternity…and held my breath.
Icy waters rushed past my bare feet. Burning cold.
Searing flesh, freezing memories.

I’ve straddled the edge of the world,
Dangling, one leg on each side; waiting to choose
To finally choose…unsure but desperate.
Seeking relief, needing relief
Demanding relief.

I’ve leaned over the edge of the world,
Seen the whole of the universe waiting,
Felt myself break into a thousand sharp pieces.
Still unsure of letting go, breaking free,
Of giving up to the unknowns of forever and eternity.

I’ve decided my fate at the edge of the world,
Resolved to pull back, to tread the waters home.
And feel each stab of pain
Like rays of sunlight on my face.
To try, again and again and again.

I’ve survived temptation at the end of the world,
Fought back the false promises of peace;
Destroyed the source of the whispered words;
Tore down the lies, the promises of artificial escape.
Stood up again and backed away slowly.

I’ve lost a part of myself to the edge of the world,
Straying so close comes with a heavy consequence;
And now part of me is lost forever:
My mind, my heart, my soul, my sanity.
I can never be whole again.

I’ve been to the edge of the world,
And I found my way back home again,
Determined to try the game once more.
Knowing there will always be a part of me that is tainted,
Ruined and panic-driven by the wilds of forever and eternity.

 

Another lost poem found, another character found shining through. These words weren’t written for him, but now it’s his face I see peering across the darkness at the edge of the world.

Picture via: StarWars.com

Top 5 Canon Star Wars Novels

Alright starfighters, let’s start this blog off right! Now as much as I love the Star Wars movies themselves (and my stars and starships do I LOVE them!), they admittedly only span a certain amount of time with my favorite characters and plot points. They only have so much time and most people don’t care enought to invest in a seven or eight hour movie, but dammit I’m greedy and I want to know more! I mean there are so many questions that need to be answered!!!

What was Leia doing before The Force Awakens? What was it like for her being a teenage senator responsible for millions of lives while also becoming one of the most reknowed Rebel Leaders? And what in the galaxy drove people to join the Empire, how did they justify working in that environment?!

I could go on forever but I think you get my point 😉

The films give us so much, but they can’t be everywhere at once. That’s where the books come in! Now I’ve been reading Star Wars books since I was in the fifth grade and found the Jedi Apprentice books at a school book fair by accident, but for this list I’m going to narrow my favorites down to the new wave of canon books that have been released since The Force Awakens was announced.

So in no particular order, I present to you… my favorites!

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1) Lost Stars by Claudia Gray — Lost Stars is the first of the new-wave books that I came across and absolutely loved! It’s always risky for me picking up a SW book that is centered on characters I’m not familiar with since for me at least, SW IS its characters and I get very attached to specific people, but this book was a revelation! Set in the early years after the rise of the Empire we follow two young pilots as they chase their shared dream of flying the best ships the galaxy has to offer. Ciena Ree and Thane give us an inside view of what it was like growing up during Palpatine’s reign and how the Empire conned the best of its citizens into a life of dishonor. From backwater worlds, to imperial academies on gleaming Coruscant, to the Death Star itself, and even the bridge of a Star Destroyer during the final battle of Jakku, this book takes you on one wild ride with two protagonists who are deeply in love but fighting on opposite sides of one of the biggest wars the galaxy has ever seen. The stakes are high and love and honor are on the line!

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2) Bloodline by Claudia Gray — Leia is one hell of an epic woman, let’s just make that clear. Princess, Rebel Leader, Spy, Senator, she wears a lot of hats. But what does she do when she’s not out rescuing Han Solo from Bounty hunters and Hutts or saving the Galaxy from the stranglehold of the Empire? What does a warrior like her do when the battle is finally done and the war won? Get back to work to make the galaxy a better place, that’s what. One senate meeting at a time. This book sets us down a few years before TFA in a time just before Leia’s world comes crashing down around her. You can’t help but feel a near-suffocating desperate hopelessness while you read this one knowing that unbeknownst to our beloved Princess, she is witnessing the birth of the next great evil in her galaxy and possibly the end of her relative happiness in life. This book beautifully walks that fine line of telling it’s own story and subtly setting us up for the first sequel film. It’s breathtaking and heartbreaking. Leia’s strength shines as strong as ever, but we see the cracks starting to form around her. A battle is coming, but can she see it in time?

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3) Last Shot: A Han and Lando novel by Daniel Jose Older — I WANTED NOTHING MORE THAN TO SEE HAN AND BABY BEN/KYLO TOGETHER AND THIS BOOK DELIVERED!!! Ahem… Sorry about that, but as a Kylo fan I was desperate for more information regarding his life, especially relating to Han and while that isn’t the entire focus of this book, it is a wonderful part of it! Baby Ben and Han are just soooo precious and I demand more content with them! But all that aside, the majority of this book is set in varying points of time with Han, Lando, and a few other rather frightening characters while they race against the clock to fix a deadly mistake they both made in the past. As someone who is easily spooked by the thought of a robot apocalypse, this book actually scared the hell out of me at times. Honestly. There is some creepy sh*t going on, and while it was sometimes hard to follow with all the jumps in time, when it comes down to it this book PERFECTLY captures Han and Lando’s respective voices. It was almost uncanny. Really, excellent job!

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4) Most Wanted by Rae Carson — As someone who LOVED Solo: A Star Wars Story, I was eager to delve into the lives of Han and Qi’ra before we see them escape Corellia in the opening scenes of the film. What were their lives like in that murky underground gang, what were they to each other really, and perhaps most important to me, who is this Qi’ra girl? This book answers all these questions and so much more. Fast paced and thrilling we meet these unforgettable characters before they actually become the characters we know. Han isn’t the Han we see in ANH or even Solo yet and Qi’ra is just as compelling and beguiling as she was on-screen. I was left with the sensation of knowing these two people so much better but still having no idea how their story together will ultimately end.

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5) Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray — How does one top Bloodline you ask? Well let me tell you! This book IS Leia as she becomes the rebel leader princess we all know and love! Coming of age to be named heir to the Alderaanian throne, Leia must prove herself to her parents, her people, the galaxy at large, and most importantly to herself. Witness a girl who knows nothing but the strength and power of love as she starts to discover the hardships of those around her and struggles to find a way to help that won’t result in more devastation. This is the Leia I never knew I needed, this is a princess who isn’t as confident, isn’t as sure how to accomplish all that must be done, but still has that fiery determination to try. There were moments I literally gasped, moments I squealed in delight, and moments like reading the very last line where I felt such devastating despair at all that was about to come for one of my favorite SW characters 😭

And there you have it my starfighters, my top five favorite canon Star Wars books! I have a few more on my to-be-read list (The Aftermath trilogy) and a few that I liked just fine but these are the ones that really gave me those wonderful, epic SW feels. What about you guys, which of the new canon novels do you like best? Is there one you’d recommend I read? Let me know in the comments and remember: may the Force be with you!