Esthar is one of the main political powers in Final Fantasy VIII, and also the name of the nation's capital, Esthar City. Located on the large continent to the east of Galbadia, Esthar is Galbadia's major political rival and its territory spans the entire eastern continent. Esthar is technologically-advanced and is governed by a president. Esthar has, since the Sorceress War, been hidden from the world using a cloaking device, known as Optical Camouflage System, or OCS for short.
- Esthar (1)
Founded by people who immigrated to a continent east of Centra around the same time Dollet Empire was founded. The mild climate and temperament of the people soon gave way to scientific advancement.
- Esthar (2)
Started the Sorceress War and fought against the world under Adel's rule. Their sorceress and their scientific powers posed a worldwide threat. After abruptly declaring an end to the war, Esthar closed its borders and has kept silent ever since. No details are known.
- Esthar (3)
Governed by President Laguna and his aides. Due to their concern over Dr. Odine's inventions having a negative effect on the state of world security, they closed off their country for 17 years. It is very likely that President Laguna will be criticized for keeping silent for so long.
Four thousand years ago the civilization of Centra created two major empires: Holy Dollet Empire and Esthar. While Dollet in the west excelled in military force, Esthar, in the east, grew scientifically advanced. Eventually they began to focus on military affairs aided by their superior technology, which culminated as the Sorceress War under the rule of Sorceress Adel.
It is unknown when Adel was inaugurated as the nation's ruler, but she made a bid for world domination, which was opposed by Galbadia's growing military. During the war Adel sought out potential heirs to her sorceress power and sent out search teams across the world. She set her eyes on a young girl named Ellone in the rural Galbadian town of Winhill, but when the Estharian forces kidnapped her Laguna Loire, her caretaker, went after her.
Following her to Esthar, he would become instrumental in Adel's downfall, staging a coup, trapping her in a stasis chamber and blasting her into space to prevent her from passing on her sorceress power. Esthar closed its borders to the rest of the world, and was ever since known as "The Silent Nation." Unbeknown to the rest of the world Adel's Tomb, which Esthar launched into orbit, is the reason behind the worldwide radio interference.
The president rules the nation from the palace in the center of the city, though in the Final Fantasy VIII Ultimania it is mentioned that the title is more symbolic and most of the political affairs are handled by the aides and the rest of the government. The city is hidden from the rest of the world by a cloaking device that renders it invisible to persons crossing the Great Salt Lake. Crossing the Horizon Bridge is considered the only way of entering the country, as air travel doesn't appear to exist in the world of Final Fantasy VIII, perhaps due to the radio interference.
According to the Final Fantasy VIII Ultimania, Esthar's military power exceeds Galbadia's. Its soldiers' powers are enhanced by their special armor, and they wield swords that have built-in shotguns. The Ultimania reveals that Esthar is developing mechanized soldiers, which will eventually replace people in military service. A common concern is that the soldiers rely too much on the enhancement suits, and the refining of their natural strength is neglected. Adel and her time in power are somewhat of taboo subjects, and the younger generation, never having experienced the torments of living under the sorceress's rule, are largely ignorant on the details.
Seventeen years after Esthar hid itself away from the world, Squall is searching for Ellone, wanting her help in saving a comatose Rinoa. After speaking to the White SeeD he discovers Ellone has departed for Esthar. Squall sets out to cross the Horizon Bridge on foot, the only known way into the mysterious nation. The rest of the party follows him with Sorceress Edea, who wants Dr. Odine's help in getting rid of her sorceress powers so that Ultimecia, an evil sorceress from the future who reaches back in time to inhabit other sorceresses to do her bidding, may not possess her again.
They meet Dr. Odine in Esthar who examines Edea and Rinoa. Edea is no longer a sorceress, as she had unknowingly passed her powers on during the Battle of the Gardens. Squall learns Ellone has gone to the Lunar Base, Esthar's space station said to study the moon, but its true purpose is to oversee Adel's tomb that rests on the earth's orbit.
While Squall and Rinoa set off to space to find Ellone, the Galbadian army, led by Seifer, comes to Esthar. They have salvaged the Lunatic Pandora from the bottom of the sea, and with it, induce the Lunar Cry, which brings down Adel's tomb, along with a swarm of monsters. Esthar takes a heavy blow from the Lunar Cry, the capital being overridden by lunar creatures.
After having learned Rinoa is a sorceress, the Esthar government wants her contained, similar to Adel. As soon as Rinoa, now out of her coma, returns from orbit, she is taken to the Sorceress Memorial. Squall, with the aid of Ward Zabac (though Squall doesn't know it at the time) rescues her, and the party flees Esthar.
Having heard of Ultimecia's plan to destroy the world with time compression, Esthar comes up with a plan to save the world by sending a team of soldiers to the future to kill Ultimecia. They want to hire out Squall's team for the task, and so the party sets out to Esthar for their final mission. They meet President Laguna in his office who explains the mission with the help of Dr. Odine, and afterward Laguna joins Squall's party on their airship, the Ragnarok. They infiltrate the Lunatic Pandora, defeat Seifer and free Ellone from his clutches. After felling Sorceress Adel who had been recuperating under Seifer's care for Ultimecia to take over her body, Ultimecia possesses Rinoa allowing for Ellone to use her mystical powers to send her consciousness back in time. Ultimecia casts her time compression spell allowing for Squall and his friends to travel to the future and defeat her, halting the spell.
Some of the locations found in Esthar include:
- Great Salt Lake
- Esthar City
- Lunatic Pandora Laboratory
- Lunar Gate
- Lunar Base
- Sorceress Memorial
- Lunatic Pandora
- Tears' Point
Transport and craft
Esthar is present as a room for preset characters of the Multiplayer Mode Online Lobby.
Esthar is used as the background during Battle Music Sequences for "Man With The Machine Gun" and "Force Your Way".
Behind the scenes
The nation of Esthar is associated with the color blue, the main city being this hue. However, in early ideas Esthar was planned to be emerald green and "channel the essence of The Wizard of Oz." Thus, the base ideas for Final Fantasy VIII settings, though near-future scifi, was still in fairy tales. At the time, Art Director Yusuke Naora was into semi-transparent designs, and thus asked it to be incorporated into the backgrounds for Esthar.
During the first visit in Esthar City, Kiros and Ward can be found near the presidential palace, though the player cannot speak to them.
The nation of Centra echoes the real world Roman Empire, with a somewhat reminiscent architectural style. In the world of Final Fantasy VIII Dollet and Esthar were founded by emigrants from the Centra, the old Dollet being known as Holy Dollet Empire, as an allusion the Holy Roman Empire, a weak, fragmented empire of city states proclaimed as a successor to the Roman Empire. The other empire with a claim to being the successor to the Roman Empire is the Byzantine Empire that was more technologically and culturally advanced than the Holy Roman Empire, but also intentionally cut-off and secretive. This reflects Esthar's role in the game.
Esthar likely a reference to either "Ishtar Gate"—which was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon, named after the Mesopotamian goddess of love, who was the daughter of Sin, the god of the moon—or the biblical Queen Esther. The former echoes Esthar's interest in the moon, and being the eighth gate, may be an allusion to the number eight as well.