Mara Jade Skywalker is a fictional character in Star Wars Expanded Universe books, comic books, and computer games. In video game, she is voiced by Heidi Shannon and Kath Soucie.
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 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. When asked about the high popularity of Mara Jade, Zahn suggested it is due to women's ability to identify with her, and men's interest in having her at their side.
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