Mara Jade Skywalker (born c. 21 BBY) is a fictional character in the Star Wars book universe and the most popular original character from that book series.

She is a very beautiful human woman who was once known as an "Emperor's Hand", because she functioned as one of his personal assassins and answered only to him. She later became second-in-command to smuggling chief Talon Karrde, and afterwards she became a Jedi Master and Luke Skywalker's wife. Mara is not in any of the Star Wars movies but she is portrayed by the model Shannon McRandle in Star Wars collectible card games.

In Hebrew, Mara means "bitter", which pretty much describes Mara's personality in the earlier Star Wars books. However, it also means "myrrh" or "fragrance", which portrays her character in later books. She is a strong woman of many talents. She has fiery red hair, deep green eyes, and the figure of a dancer. She is said to be similar in character to Princess Leia, her husband's twin sister.

She was introduced in Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn, an Expanded Universe author. Emperor Palpatine took her from her parents when she was an infant. He trained her (to some degree) to use her strength in the Force, and used her as his personal Hand (or, at least, one of them). When Palpatine began to worry about the threat of Luke Skywalker, Mara was sent to infiltrate Jabba's Palace to await and kill him. She failed because Jabba wouldn't allow her to come to the execution.

Mara saw scenes from the Emperor's death through the Force. Vader and Skywalker were there, and it seemed that they both killed Palpatine together. While her hatred for Skywalker burned deep within her, Palpatine's last message to her was to "kill Skywalker". In the meanwhile, though, her life was a shambles: the resources she had once had access to were all dependent on the Emperor, and her life of luxury, privilege and purpose was over. She made her way through the galaxy, doing odd jobs and manual labor to make ends meet. Even worse, her Force skills went into remission, only to return at inconvenient times, generally necessitating a change of employment. Fortune finally struck when she managed to save smuggler baron Talon Karrde from an ambush that took the life of his second-in-command, Quelev Tapper, and almost killed him as well. So impressed was Karrde by this woman that he hired her on the spot; over the following six months she rose within his organization at an astonishing rate, propelled by her skills, insight and abilities.

Into this promising future crashed Luke Skywalker, the man she was compelled to kill. At Karrde's base on Myrkr, where Skywalker lacked his Force talents, Mara was intent on following through; but a series of circumstances and some unknown hesitation resulted in her helping him escape instead. Karrde and his organization fled soon after, a massive Imperial bounty on their collective heads.

Skywalker came to understand that it wasn't truly her who desired to kill him, but Palpatine, whose voice Mara could somehow hear in her head anywhere in the galaxy, even after he was long dead. Mara, further, came to understand that Palpatine didn't want Skywalker dead for his own sake, but rather as an added bit of revenge against Vader. Luke, for his part, resolved to free her from this curse, regardless of the danger she posed to him. Mara was both confused and impressed that her hated enemy would do such a thing for her. The golden opportunity came when the two found themselves battling Luuke Skywalker, the original's clone. After a protracted battle, Mara killed it, silencing Palpatine's voice and any ill will towards the real Skywalker.

In the computer game "Mysteries of the Sith" Mara is seen under the tutelage of Kyle Katarn for a time. Eventually, the first person perspective switches from Kyle to Mara, and the user experiences the game through Mara's eyes for the rest of the game. She is eventually able to bring Kyle back to the light after he briefly falls to the dark side of the Force.

Over the years, Mara and Luke would continue to work together in many important situations in the aftermath of the Galactic Civil War that essentially followed the Battle of Endor. Initially, Mara declined to attend the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV because of her concerns about Luke and the way he structured the academy. On their mission to investigate the Hand of Thrawn, the two would realize what a perfect match they were. They married on Coruscant, soon after the signing of the peace treaty with the Empire. Mara would later continue her training and become a Jedi Master, strong in the Force. She took on young Jedi Jaina Solo (who was also her niece) as her apprentice, helping to bring her to a more skilled understanding of the Force.

Prior to gaining her own ship, Mara used a personal Z-95 Headhunter when circumstances required her to go off on her own. Mara lost her first ship, a craft known as the Jade's Fire, when she used a beckon call to direct it straight into a Chiss fortress. She later owned two other ships, the Jade Sabre and the Jade Shadow.

In the New Jedi Order books, Mara and Luke (along with the other characters in the Star Wars universe) fight together against a new threat, the Yuuzhan Vong, who infected Mara with a dangerous and deadly disease. Through the use of the Force she cleansed her body, keeping the disease at bay, Jedi Vergere's tears helping. Despite her worries, she found she was pregnant. She carried the baby to term, and nearly died when giving birth. The bond she and her family shared bolstered her abilities with the Force, and it healed her.

They named their son Ben, after Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi's nickname.