Audio dramas, Star Wars: Tempest Runner, have always been a challenge for me to enjoy because I have auditory processing issues that make it difficult to fully enjoy listening to a cast of characters that I cannot see. I enjoyed past audio dramas like Dooku: Jedi Lost and Doctor Aphra, but both of those I waited to listen to after the script was available for read-along with. My unwavering love for The High Republic compelled me to dive head-first into Star Wars: Tempest Runner without a script in hand and I am so glad I did.
Star Wars: Tempest Runner Asks, “What’s in a Name?”
At its core, Star Wars: Tempest Runner is a story about a woman scorned. Lourna Dee’s opinions are not valued by her family, her lover manipulates her and betrays her, Asgar Ro views her as “his greatest work,” she is underestimated by her peers, and even the Jedi and “the good guys” deceive her and leave her in the dark. Lourna has endured incredible amounts of trauma and that trauma has shaped her into the ruthless, devil-may-care Nihil that we have seen in Light of the Jedi, The Rising Storm, and Out of the Shadows.
In a franchise where names carry so much weight (think Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader, Ben Solo and Kylo Ren, and Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ben Kenobi), one intriguing element of Lourna’s evolution throughout Tempest Runner is the way in which she presents herself to others. It’s not an inherently duplicitous action, but one driven by a necessity to survive.
In her adolescence, she used her brother's name to survive the academy that she is coerced into joining after the Jedi rescued her from slavers and, in her adulthood, Lourna assumed the identity of “Sal” after she was taken into custody by the Jedi and imprisoned on The Restitution. Both of these require her to also change who she is as a person and how she reacts to situations, but her true nature always slips through in the end.
Aboard The Restitution, Lourna manages to make both friends and enemies, but those enemies are those who test her mettle and challenge her to put others before herself. Which is something that seems uncommon for a Tempest Runner such as her. One of these friends she makes is Councilor John Wittick, who she entrusts with her true identity. Others aboard the prison ship know her true identity. They are fellow Nihil who know that the fearsome Lourna Dee, the alleged Eye of the Nihil, is not dead, but alive and well and in custody under an assumed name.
This theme of names is underscored further when she is promoted by Asgar, in a flashback, and she revels in the Nihil chanting her name. The throughline connecting this moment to her acquisition of her own Nihil vessel, which she names The Lourna Dee is a powerful thread in the story. I have been left with no choice other than to stan her.
The tragedy of Lourna Dee is presented with such flawless nuance. There are rare moments when she seems driven by a desire to be better than who she is, but one misdeed by a trusted ally forces her to turn back to the harsh, world-worn warrior she has been molded into. Star Wars needs more ruthless female characters like Lourna Dee, who match the intensity and character depth of the likes of Asajj Ventress or Qi’ra, but flourish in the hands of writers that value their importance within the story.
Cavan Scott is a masterful writer of the written word, but perhaps even more talented at crafting words that transcend beyond the page when they are brought to life by a cast of talented vocal artists. In concert with an incredible audio mixing, orchestration, and editing, Star Wars: Tempest Runner is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Jessica Almsay stars as Lourna Dee, alongside Dan Bittner as Councilor Wittick, Orlagh Cassidy as Ola Hest, Sullivan Jones as Bala, January Lavoy as Tasia, Kathleen McInerney as Councilor Fry, Tara Sands as Sestin, Vikas Adamas H7-09 & Raleigh, Jonathan Davis as Andrik Keller & Asgar Ro, Saskia Maarleveld as Parr & Avar Kriss, Soneela Nankani as Muglan & Keeve Trennis, Marc Thomspon as Pan Eyta, Sskeer, & Marchion Ro, and Shannon Tyo as Quin & Nib Assek.
Star Wars: Tempest Runner is on sale on August 31st, wherever you buy your audio dramas.