"I almost wish I could have done the backstory first. I could've added more detail to the books. I spent more time writing the comics than the books. I know so much about him; he wouldn't have been quite so clear-cut a villain. I'd take the edge off him."
--Kevin J. Anderson
The character of Exar Kun was created by author Kevin J. Anderson, who used the Dark Lord's spirit as a major antagonist of his 1994 Jedi Academy Trilogy. Kun first appeared as a dreamlike "dark man" in the trilogy's first novel, Jedi Search, and was properly introduced in the next novel, Dark Apprentice. Tom Veitch wrote the Tales of the Jedi which detailed Kun's life.
Arrogance of a Young One
Exar Kun was very rash but talented Jedi in his youth, but his qualities resulted in arrogance, not a quality that is warmly welcomed by Jedi. Whilst training, Exar frequently had sparring battles with his fellow Padawans Sylvar and Crado. Although they just be friendly matches, the rage and anger in Exar's eyes could be purely seen. The temptation of power was overwhelming to the young one as he looked upon his master 's holocron. Exar's Jedi master was worried, for knowledge of the dark side could be dangerous to such a mind as Exar Kun's, who'd already shown the possession of rage in him which fueled most Sith.
Soon it became crystal clear that the arrogance and stubbornness of his pride was starting to consume him; Kun shorty afterward convinced himself that he had enough power to learn the techniques and ways of the dark side whilst still on the light. Jedi Master Baas did all he could to keep his apprentice from being corrupted by the dark side but Exar ignored his master and his instructions to heed his lessons and ignore snippets of the dark side and soon afterwards Exar abandoned Master Baas, declaring himself a Jedi knight.
Surrender to Darkness
"I am going to Yavin Four. But unlike you, I will never be seduced by the dark side."
"Oh, but you already have… you already have!" --Exar Kun and Freedon Nadd
Kun's mind was not changed about him having the power to withstand the dark side and set a goal for him; his journey first took him to the war-torn planet of Onderon. Whilst talking to the native people, Exar Kun heard of a tomb containing Sith Lord Freedon Nadd, who had been captured at the end of the Naddist uprising; the Jedi had sealed it shut, their captive inside, using Mandalorian iron to block entrances and exits. After they were sure of Nadd not being able to escape they placed it in a remote section of the moon, Dxun.
This did not stop the stubborn and determined young Exar Kun who visited the moon to find a master. What he found was the spirit of the long deceased Freedon Nadd, who spoke to him and, using Exar's curiosity and ambition to his advantage. He persuaded the young Kun to carry on his goal and continue his quest into the tomb. In doing so Kun agreed to his own downfall. On Korriban, the young and determined Kun traveled deep underground. Directed by the spirit of Nadd and others, the Sith spirits decided to test their newest asset. One test being that he was deliberately trapped under rocks from a cave in and had had to escape without using the Force to aid him.
Soon the Sith spirits told him his only means of escape would be to fully embrace the dark side, the ambitious Jedi Knight fueled himself with the power that had been wanting to come out for years. Exar Kun entered the cave a high and mighty Jedi Knight and left as a fallen one. Later he travels to Yavin 4 to search for Freedon Nadd's amulet and is attacked by the Massassi who are Sith creatures. Exar Kun displays his power and gains their loyalty. He later finds Freedon Nadd's amulet and finds a great Sith monster guarding it. It manages to slaughter dozens of Massasi before Exar is able to kill the beast and gain the amulet.
Peering into the amulet Exar Kun has visions of himself as a great and powerful Dark Lord of the Sith of Massasi legends. Empowered by the vision, Exar Kun turns on the spirit of Freedon Nadd, using the amulet to obliterate the spirit. As he vanishes he sends a signal across the galaxy to his other proteges Satal Keeto and Aleema of the Krath. He then finds Naga Sadows secrets on Yavin 4 he finds ancient Sith alchemy that allows him to turn the Massasi into hideous monsters filled with destructive powers, then finds an ancient ship and learns that it is perfectly preserved he than uses the amulet to find Freedon Nadds proteges to destroy them.
He then duels a young Jedi who has a dark side influence by the name of Ulic Qel-Drama. As they duel the reigning Sith Lord appears and brands Exar with the title of Sith Lord and brands Ulic with the title of his apprentice.
Lord of the Sith
"Exar Kun, because of you, the Sith will never die. You have earned the right to bear the mark of Dark Lord of the Sith." --Marka Ragnos, appointing Exar Kun as Dark Lord
Afterward, Kun decided that it was time to take his leave of Yavin 4. The Sith amulet had shown him the existence of the Ketos, and with the discovery of the Corsair giving him the opportunity to finally leave the moon, Kun resolved himself to track down Freedon Nadd's other students and kill them. Along with two of his Massassi, Kun lifted off from Yavin 4 in the Corsair and traveled to the planet Empress Teta in search of the Ketos, eventually finding his way to the Iron Citadel that the Krath magicians called home.
As he approached the fortress, his Sith amulet began to glow, Kun realized that the Ketos had taken possession of the amulet's mate, making them even more of a threat. But by then, circumstances had changed: Satal Keto was dead, slain by a Jedi named Ulic Qel-Droma who had initially joined the Krath as a sleeper agent, but had himself become seduced by the dark side and was leading the Krath alongside his now-lover Aleema. Desperate to save Qel-Droma from his fate, several of his Jedi friends attacked the Iron Citadel from above in a daring bid to extract him from the Krath.
Kun approached the citadel amidst the Jedi bombs, although by the time he reached the building the Jedi had already realized that Qel-Droma would not be swayed from his path and decided to leave. While Qel-Droma and Keto embraced, Kun announced his arrival. Keto immediately attacked but Kun swiftly took her out of commission with a blast of dark side power, Kun and Qel-Droma dueled, but the two were both such master swordsmen that neither could gain the advantage. As the two fallen Jedi battled, the Sith amulets they wore began to glow and envelop the pair in energy.
The energies from the amulets combined and began to form an image of the ancient Sith Empire, a message carried in the two talismans for centuries. Finally, the image of long-dead Dark Lord Marka Ragnos appeared and ordered the pair to cease fighting, which they both immediately obeyed. In awe, Kun realized that he recognized the long-deceased Sith, as he had seen his mummified remains on Korriban. Ragnos' spirit named Kun the new Dark Lord of the Sith, his initiation into the dark side complete, with a single touch, Ragnos burned a mark into the center of Kun's forehead, along with that of Qel-Droma, whom Ragnos said would become Kun's first and foremost apprentice. When the smoke cleared and Ragnos' spirit had dissipated, Kun and Qel-Droma, rippling with tremendous amounts of dark side energy, eagerly clasped hands and resolved to bring down the galaxy.
Enemy of the Republic
"Not just a military battle for the dominance of a few worlds—this is a war of light and darkness, and at its center is my own student…Exar Kun." --Vodo-Siosk Baas
After traveling to Ossus and killing Odan-Urr, the Jedi Keeper of Antiquities, Exar Kun stole an ancient Sith holocron in the Draethos Master's possession and used it to corrupt many Jedi Knights to his cause, forming the foundations of a Sith-inspired galactic empire. He then ordered his converts to strike down their masters in an attempt to destabilize the Jedi Order's leadership; Kun himself would confront his own former Master, Vodo-Siosk Bass, on Coruscant during the trial of a, where he slew both the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic and Master Baas. Kun then set Qel-Droma free, and the two Lords of the Sith resumed their campaign of galactic terror.
After instigating the destruction of the Cron star cluster, Exar Kun led his forces in a raid on the Jedi's stronghold world of Ossus, where he pillaged as much of the ancient lore of the Jedi as possible. He then retreated to his temple on the moon of Yavin 4, but was unaware that Ulic Qel-Droma had betrayed him to the Jedi, and had also led them to Yavin to stage a final offensive against him. Using an ancient Sith technique that even he did not understand, Kun separated his spirit from his body in an attempt to elude capture. However, he was defeated when Nomi Sunrider led thousands of Jedi in the creation of a wall of light; the power of which destroyed the landscape of Yavin 4, and trapped the Dark Lord's spirit within the walls of his temple forever.
"How you must hate me. I can feel your anger."
Nearly four thousand years later, some of these temples were used by the Rebel Alliance as a base of operations. As knowledge of the existence of temples on Yavin 4 became known, in 1 ABY, Professor Walter Emanus led a University of Corellia archaeological expedition. However, during their excavations, they uncovered the catacombs beneath the Dark Lord's temple and reawakened his spirit. He possessed them and made them into the Cult of Exar Kun, which was devoted to his worship. Under his influence, some of the cultists travelled to the Corellia University research outpost on Talus to recruit more students and researchers to their ranks. The cult based itself around the catacombs, but was destroyed, when Professor Cornelius Wagglehorn, a former colleague of Emanus, hired a group of spacers to drive them out. Exar Kun himself battled the spacers, but due to his spirit form, was easily defeated and silenced once more.
These temples went on to become the site of Luke Skywalker's Jedi Praxeum in 11 ABY, a school where he began the re-creation of the Jedi Order. Exar Kun's presence was felt again only after Luke established his Praxeum. As a spirit, Kun appeared to the young Jedi Gantoris. The inexperienced apprentice was unable to avoid being corrupted and was eventually killed by the spectral Kun. After destroying his first Jedi in thousands of years, Kun's insatiable appetite for spreading his dark wrath escalated. He was able to successfully corrupt and partly possess the young and extraordinarily talented Kyp Durron.
In addition, he somehow sundered Luke Skywalker's spirit from his body, resulting in great confusion and dismay amongst Luke's Jedi apprentices. Kun's spirit was eventually roused from hiding and banished into Chaos by the combined efforts of the Jedi apprentices, Luke's spirit, and the long-dead spirit of Kun's Master, Vodo-Siosk Baas. After Kun's shade was vanquished, Corran Horn destroyed Kun's temple with proton torpedoes, thus removing his dark taint from Yavin 4 forever.
- Age: Late 20s (Tales of the Jedi), over 4000 years until his final death
- Died: 3996 BBY, spirit incapacitated 11 ABY
- Species: Human
- Gender: Male
- Height: 1.9 m
- Hair Color: Black
- Eye Color: Gray
- Ulic Qel-Droma
- Nayama Bindo
- Oss Wilum
- Zona Luka
- Kyp Durron (temporarily / influenced)
"The infamous Sith Lord Exar Kun had no relations with the true Sith Empire, but his fall to the dark side set the stage for the Mandalorian Wars and the eventual fall of Revan and Malak." --Jedi Master Gnost-Dural
Although Kun's spirit would remain hidden away in secret for thousands of years after his physical death, the impact of his life, and his war with the Republic, was felt throughout the galaxy. One of Kun's most immediate legacies lay in the millions who perished in the Great Sith War, and the worlds his campaign razed: places like Toprawa, Ossus and his moon Yavin 4, which saw its forests scorched at the end of the Great Sith War. It took less than ten years for Yavin 4 to be green again, but Kun's temples would still dot the moon's landscape for millennia. Ossus would remain a shattered wasteland, with the descendants of some Jedi survivors persisting as primitive tribes.
Those worlds were not alone, nearly a quarter of the civilized worlds of the Republic were devastated by the Great Sith War, and many were forced to rebuild by themselves, as the Jedi Order and Galactic Republic were greatly depleted by the conflict. The Republic was able to greatly rebuild its shattered infrastructure and economy over a 30-year Restoration Period, although it wouldn't be long until the government was embroiled in another galaxy-spanning conflict.
"Exar Kun, you are the most formidable student I have ever had. But I sense something is missing in you—an empty place hidden even from yourself, a place that remains hidden because no light escapes from that region of your heart."
Exar Kun was a very arrogant man and sure of himself to a fault. He believed himself incorruptible and insusceptible to the temptations of the dark side. Kun held a disdain for non-human Jedi, feeling they were beneath him and inferior to human Jedi. However, Kun does still have some respect for his old Jedi Master and tried to convince Baas to join his order.
Exar Kun's most notable trait is his extreme confidence in his abilities and his extreme desire to reach new heights of power. He has no patience for slow methods, believing he understands his capabilities better than anyone. This lead to Kun pursuing the secrets of the dark side and while at first his growing rage and usage of dark side powers bothered him, Kun now eagerly immerses himself in the Dark Side. He wants all the power and influence he can and is extremely talented at manipulation and deceit to bring others to his side.
Kun hates the Jedi Order and the Republic, seeing both as weak and ineffectual and he will go to any lengths in order to bring about the defeat of both. In addition, Kun’s time sealed as a spirit made him highly unstable, but no less dangerous and power hungry.
Powers and Abilities
"Nadd only taught you the beginnings of Sith power, woman–but I have learned everything!"
Vodo-Siosk Baas called Exar Kun the most formidable student he had ever trained, and his power in the Force only grew once he accepted the dark side into his heart. Once the choice was made, Kun lost his ability to tap into the light side of the Force, but the dark side offered new possibilities and new abilities to master. On Yavin 4, Kun intensely studied Sith magic, learning how to unleash enormous amounts of destructive dark side energy, even more so once he discovered Naga Sadow's ancient Corsair. The discovery of the Corsair also allowed Kun to research Sith alchemy, which he would quickly master, Kun would eventually gain the ability to create monstrous dark side creatures, such as terentateks and Sith wyrms, that would continue to pose a menace long after the end of the Great Sith War.
Kun would also develop strong mental Force powers, notably using a Sith spell to mesmerize the entire Galactic Senate and dominate the mind of the Supreme Chancellor. As he delved deeper into Sith magic, Kun discovered pathways that he did not truly understand, but that he used anyway to free himself of his body at the end of the Sith War, at the expense of thousands of Massassi lives.
But while he would become a master of the arcane ways of the dark side, Exar Kun shone the most with his vaunted lightsaber ability, which he honed in training duels with the Cathar Crado and Sylvar on Dantooine. His preferred form was Niman. Even as an apprentice, Kun was strong enough to defeat his Master, Vodo-Siosk Baas, although his combat style tapped into an inner anger that worried his Master. An overwhelming combatant with his single-bladed lightsaber, Kun would later add to his arsenal by innovating and mastering the double-bladed lightsaber, which was a previously unseen weapon in his time.
Kun's formidable prowess in combat was bolstered by his tactical genius in utilizing the adaptability of his double-bladed lightsaber. By suddenly changing the intensity or length of one of his blades, Kun was often able to trick his opponents into overextending themselves and creating openings for fatal counter-strikes. Coupling his tactics with his ability to predict his enemy's actions through the Force, Kun became a nearly unbeatable force.
Kun's energy reserve was largely depleted his physical death. And he needed a nucleus of followers to restore his full strength, and access many of his powers. No longer bound to a mortal body, Kun gained the ability to manifest where he pleased amongst his network of temples on Yavin 4, appear in the minds of others, and even possess his targets. In his spiritual form, Kun was still strong enough to complete great feats of Force power, such as sundering Luke Skywalker's spirit from his body and helping Kyp Durron bring forth the Sun Crusher from Yavin's sun, but he was weak enough that he was unable to prevent his own demise at the hands of a group of Jedi apprentices.
"Time to make this more interesting… do you like the modifications I made to my lightsaber, Master?"
A master of lightsaber combat, Exar Kun was remembered for his innovation of the double-bladed lightsaber, using a blue-bladed weapon that he constructed himself as a modification of his original blue-bladed lightsaber. Although Kun was often credited with the weapon's invention, Master Vodo-Siosk Baas Tedryn Holocron stated that Kun followed instructions from a Sith holocron, possibly prepared by the original Sith Lords, Jedi exiles who fought in the Hundred-Year Darkness millennia before Kun's life.
Kun added a second emitter matrix on the other end of the lightsaber's handle, which allowed him to use the weapon with only one blade released or both. Kun also added customized controls to the lightsaber, allowing him to adjust both the length, measuring from half a meter to one and a half meters, and the intensity of each blade, using this variability to his tactical advantage in combat. Kun used this modified lightsaber much as his Master, Vodo-Siosk Baas, used his quarterstaff, utilizing one blade to block attacks before spinning his grip and attacking with the other blade.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I-II / The Old Republic
While Exar Kun does not make an appearance in any of the old republic video games, he is mention on several occasions by such characters like Jolee Bindo when he fought in the war against Kun. Darth Sion is said to have fought for Exar Kun's Sith Empire until the day he was struck down and he is the subject of one Gnost-Dural's recorded entries made in the Jedi Archives called The Exar Kun War.