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"Let that be a lesson for you, my dear. Never underestimate the power of poetry."
―Holshef to Merei Spanjaf[src]

Holshef was a human male living on Lothal. He was an old man with wispy white hair who painted and wrote poetry. His artistic expressions against the Galactic Empire resulted in an arrest warrant under an Imperial directive known as Operation Guiding Light and forced him into hiding. He paid credits to Yahenna Laxo of the Gray Syndicate to stay safe, but Laxo sheltered individuals only so long as he felt it to be to his own advantage. The death of Laxo left Holshef in great danger, as a bounty remained on him. Thus, Merei Spanjaf, a human female who came to know and like him through her activities with the Gray Syndicate, sought to spirit him off-world. As the Empire's crackdown on Lothal tightened, Holshef was imminent danger. Spanjaf eventually removed him from his place of hiding in a hasty and risky plan to escape, at which point the two were directly targeted by a dangerous bounty hunter. A wild chase left the bounty hunter dead and Holshef escaped to Garel with the help of a cantina owner known as "Old Jho."


Early lifeEdit

Holshef was a human male who lived on the planet Lothal under the Galactic Republic and later the Empire. His grandmother had come to the planet as a young woman and built the family home in Capital City. In his youth, his first job was as an apprentice sap collector, collecting sap to make greel-wood syrup from the trees of Far Hiradne. He also spent time in his youth at the reliquary of a saint. When the Empire first annexed Lothal, he and his family threw a party because they felt there was much more the Empire could do to bind the galaxy in a better way than the Republic ever could.[1]

A fugitive artistEdit

"There's so much the Empire could do to bind the galaxy together, to create a more perfect union of worlds the way the Republic never could. But what has it done instead? Poisoned Lothal's air and water, when protecting them would have only cost a few percentage points of profit. I thought that was wrong, and I thought surely someone in the Empire would understand it was wrong. I thought if I pointed it out, someone would stop it."
―Holshef, explaining why he was wanted by the Empire[src]

Holshef learned that the Empire was poisoning Lothal's air and water when it would have taken so little to preserve them, aggressively strip-mining the planet and rapidly destroying forests to build heavy industry. He wrote poems and painted pictures to express his objections, but only ended up with an arrest warrant issued against him for his trouble,[3] as the Empire was cracking down on all dissent and nostalgia on the planet under a directive code-named Operation Guiding Light.[1] He thought about going to see Arihnda Pryce, Governor of Lothal, regarding his concerns, thinking she would understand, but was told by his daughter that it was a bad idea. As such, he was forced into hiding, paying credits to Yahenna Laxo of the Gray Syndicate, a small-time criminal syndicate and protectorate based on Lothal, to keep safe.[3]

As part of her duties for the Gray Syndicate, in the fourth year before the Battle of Yavin,[4] Merei Spanjaf would sometimes visit Holshef in his hiding places to collect his credits to give to Laxo. Spanjaf was a teenage human girl who had been drawn into the shady underworld of the Gray Syndicate due to her investigations into the Galactic Empire's capture of her boyfriend Zare Leonis's older sister, Dhara. An attendee of Capital City's Vocational School for Institutional Security, she possessed slicing skills, but was forced into the group's activities against her will due to her need for a snooper program as part of her investigations. Holshef would offer her tarine tea and ask her to describe things like the color of the grass or the sunset outside and she found him to be terribly lonely. She empathized with his complaints about the Empire and he found her to be a friendly face, promising to paint her a picture, but nothing that would get her in trouble. Later, Spanjaf visited Holshef again to inform him that Rosey, also of the Gray Syndicate, would be moving him to a new hiding place in order to ensure his continued protection from the Empire. At some point after this, Laxo sold the details of Holshef's location to a bounty hunter and assigned Spanjaf to take the bounty hunter to Holshef's newest hideout, 1044 Chapel. Spanjaf was to wait as the bounty hunter collected the Empire's bounty on Holshef, a portion of which would go to Laxo. This was punishment for an attempt by Spanjaf to cross him, but a raid on Ake's Tavern, the headquarters of the Gray Syndicate, brought down by Spanjaf herself, followed Laxo's ultimatum. The raid left Laxo dead and Spanjaf seemingly free of their influence, as she was believed to be an innocent civilian who had been taken hostage in order to stop an investigation being conducted by her mother. Holshef, however, was still a wanted man, and his former protectors that he had been paying were now dead.[3]

A need to escapeEdit

"Living the rest of my life without the sound of the wind in the grasslands? Or the sight of thunderheads rolling in over the mountains?"
"Holshef, you have to listen to me. If you stay here you'll never see or hear those things again. They'll put you in a cell and all you'll see is metal. And all you'll hear is machines."
―Holshef and Merei Spanjaf[src]

Following the assault, Spanjaf wondered what had become of Holshef. As soon as she was in a position to do so, she visited the warehouse where she was told he was being kept. Upon arrival, she spoke with a whiskered Lutrillian, who warned her that Holshef would not be able to stay because he had not received his credits. She told him that alternative arrangements were being made and gave him enough credits to cover the week, plus a little extra, telling him to only deal with her when it came to Holshef. Upon seeing her, Holshef greeted her cheerily, saying that he had forgotten her name, but she reminded him that she had never told him it, as it was too dangerous. He was amused by the intrigue and pleased at the idea that he would be moved within the week, as he would have a chance to see the sun and enjoy early spring, though Spanjaf lamented that it was still cold. Both commiserated about the fact that they could no longer enjoy the smell of the jogan blossoms and as Spanjaf's eyes watered at thoughts of time past, he offered to read her poetry about Lothal's fragrances in the time of his youth. Overwhelmed, she fled for the stairs, reminding him again that he would be moved soon.[1]

Spanjaf continuously fretted over the problem of Holshef before finally reaching the conclusion that there was no safety for him unless she moved him off-world. At dinner with her parents, she floated as a topic of conversation that the Empire was cracking down on off-world travel from Lothal, saying it was something her classmates at the Vocational School for Institutional Security had been discussing. Her mother told her that while it was true unauthorized launches were reacted to quickly, travel was still possible if one submitted to an ID check and questioning by security personnel, who had been trained to spot people who were nervous or hiding something. Spanjaf realized that she would not be able to get Holshef off Lothal via the spaceport. She returned to the warehouse to find the Lutrillian in a state of near-panic about the recent Imperial crackdowns. She was able to give him enough credits to cover ten more days, but warned that this was the absolute limit. She began having nightmares about Holshef's fate.[1]

Spanjaf decided to visit Old Jho, a contact she had met during her time working with the Gray Syndicate. The Ithorian was amused that she was looking for more trouble after being freed of a bad influence like Laxo, but she told him that she just had this last bit of business to clear up. When he asked her what it was Holshef did to anger the Empire, she showed him some of his poetry, which caused him to reminisce about the spine trees of Pelamir Gorge in the forests, forests that the Empire had now cut down. He told her that he had people who owed him a favor and to be there with her friend and credits in six days. Four days later, Spanjaf visited Holshef, only to run into an unexpected problem. Holshef simply did not want to leave, as Lothal had been his home for all his life. Though Spanjaf sympathized, she helped him to see that he be of no help to anyone if he was locked up on Lothal, but he still had a chance to help the rest of the galaxy. This seemed to strike something within him and he noted that she had never told him her name. She told it to him and in barely a whisper, he agreed to go, then sobbed for what he had lost and was about to lose.[1]

Sudden flightEdit

"Listen to me. We're in danger. We're going to go as fast as we can without getting stopped by a patrol. And if a patrol does try to stop us, we're going to have to go a lot faster than that. So I need you to do two things. First, shut up. Second, hold on tighter than you've ever held on before."
―Merei Spanjaf to Holshef[src]

Spanjaf soon realized that there was much more at stake than Holshef. Her deceptions were finally catchiing up with her. The Galactic Empire had arrested Hestia Tarleton, a girl whose photo had been used a doppelganger for her. Spanjaf knew that she had hours at most. She contacted her family, told them to meet her, and then went immediately to Holshef, telling him that they were leaving right away. Holshef tried to gather stacks of poetry, a year's worth of poems, only for her to cut him off at one week. What followed for Holshef was a wild ride on a jumpspeeder of the type the poor old man had never experienced in his life. The two nearly made it to Old Jho's when they were very nearly blasted off the bike. A wild chase ensued as Spanjaf realized that the individual chasing them was the bounty hunter who had been after Holshef. As the chase continued, Holshef's bag of poetry papers slipped and one of them blew in the wind, covering the face of the bounty hunter, who crashed into a droid truck. As the truck exploded, the two made their escape and Holshef mused "Never underestimate the power of poetry."[1]

The two arrived at Old Jho's, where Holshef spoke of their thrilling exploits and talked of Lothal's history with Old Jho. The two established quite a rapport while Spanjaf confessed the truth of her activities to her parents. That night, the group slept together in a storeroom and the next morning, Spanjaf awoke to find Holshef absent, though her father told her that Holshef was out "mooning over wildflowers" with Old Jho. She later found Holshef scribbling on a stylus as she received an important comm message from some old friends, a group she knew as "the Spectres," who were to meet up with the group at the edge of the Garel system after Old Jho brought them there. Shortly after this, however, Spanjaf learned that her boyfriend Zare Leonis was scheduled for execution by the Empire. The entire group was forced to flee Lothal in a hurry, once Spanjaf rescued Leonis's parents.[1]

Personality and traitsEdit

"When I smell jogan I'm sixteen again. Tall and strong, with a rakish black mustache. It's the closest thing we poor creatures have to magic, my dear—the ability to be transported through time by a waft of scent that unlocks memory."
―Holshef was left his memories of a better past.[src]

By approximately five years before the Battle of Yavin,[3][5] Holshef was a tiny, pale man with a halo of wispy white hair,[3] though in his past, when he was just 16 years old, he was tall and strong with a rakish black mustache.[1] He was a kindly individual with a single daughter, but carried a great sadness about him. He had a sense of justice and used artistic means to express his dissatisfaction with how the Galactic Empire had poisoned the planet Lothal. Spending his time in isolation due to being wanted by the Empire, he took comfort in the presence of a kindly face.[3] He was fiercely loyal to Lothal, to the point that he had trouble accepting the idea of leaving it, even if staying placed his life in danger. He could be transported to memories of youth simply by smelling certain scents of Lothal. He wished to share his poetry with anyone that he could and was very protective of it. Even knowing his own life was in danger, he clung to his sheaves of paper, abandoning a year's worth of work only very reluctantly. Often lost in his own memories, he sometimes seemed oblivious to the very real danger that a bounty on him from the Galactic Empire meant.[1] Holshef's misdeeds against the Galactic Empire were different from most of those being sheltered by Yahenna Laxo, which generally fell into the category of gambling debts or other self-inflicted trouble.[3]

Behind the scenesEdit

Holshef appears in Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice,[3] a 2015 novel by Jason Fry that is part of the series Star Wars Rebels: Servants of the Empire, focused on Zare Leonis's quest to uncover the fate of his sister, Dhara Leonis.[6] Holshef is one of the several individuals in the book being hidden from the attentions of the Galactic Empire by Yahenna Laxo of the Gray Syndicate, others being Apapaba, Durchine, Kinlo, Marhas and Pinson, though Holshef is the only one who actually appears within the story.[3] Holshef's story was continued in Servants of the Empire: The Secret Academy, in which Merei Spanjaf sought to move him safely off-world.[1]

On an officially registered account on a Star Wars fan-forum, the Jedi Council Forums of, Fry responded to a comment from a fan who complimented his title Star Wars: Rey's Survival Guide, wondering when readers might see Holshef's Poems. Fry described the idea as being "awesomely unlikely to happen," but suggested that he might include such a poem as an Easter egg in a future title.[7]

Fry also stated on his official blog that the rescue of Holshef initially "had more moving parts." In his original version of the tale, Spanjaf had additionally enlisted his daughter in the rescue, as well as playing a game of cat and mouse with the bounty hunter which Laxo had sold him to. This plotline was ultimately cut in the interest of economizing the story, as there wasn't room for another plot thread.[8]


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Servants of the Empire: The Secret Academy
  2. Holshef recalled, at an early age, charting the arrival of spring of Lothal. Furthermore, he stated it was "the only home I've ever known."
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice
  4. The events of this article take place in or between "Empire Day," which marks the beginning of the fourth year before the Battle of Yavin; and "A Princess on Lothal," which is the first known episode to take place in the third year before the Battle of Yavin. As such, we can deduce that this event takes place in the fourth year before the Battle of Yavin. For more information, see Wookieepedia's Timeline of Star Wars Rebels Events.
  5. Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide - The events of Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice take place during the events of the first season of Star Wars Rebels. The Visual Guide establishes these events as taking place at this time.
  6. Amazon favicon Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice on
  7. Fry, Jason (October 29, 2015). Jedi Council Forums - A&A - The Official Jason Fry Discussion Thread. Retrieved on October 4, 2016.
  8. Fry, Jason (March 29, 2017). Jason Fry's Dorkery - Author's Notes: The Secret Academy, Pt. 2. Tumblr. Retrieved on August 16, 2017.

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