With the announcement that Disney had purchased the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas, everyone got excited about the possibility of new content and story lines breathing life back into the franchise. It’s safe to say that The Force Awakens did that very thing as it made an approximate billion trillion dollars at the box office in December.
Now we’ve got new main narrative films in the pipeline and cool one-shot movies like Rogue One coming out. (I dare you to try to tell me you watched that trailer without drooling. You can’t. Trust me.) And we’ve also got new books just released or soon to be released connecting the movie stories together.
There are more than just these three obviously, with plenty more slated to come. These are just the ones I’m particularly excited about reading. Naturally, the folks at Disney had to come up with something to do with all of the books that had been written about what happened after Return of the Jedi. The most recent “non-canon” series showed Luke, Leia, and Han well into their sixties. Ultimately, the decision was made to cast these books as Star Wars “Legends.” Kind of like when comic book writers write a super hero’s story that is way different than the hero’s typical narrative and everyone just sort of labels it as something that “could happen” or something that happened in an alternate timeline or reality. Superman: Red Son is an example that comes to mind, where Superman actually ends up landing in Russia instead of Kansas and his whole story is changed based on that scenario.
All in all, Disney wanted to be able to move forward in their own direction with this franchise which is why they made the move. Maybe that will turn you off from reading any of the Star Wars Legends books, but if you make that choice, I think you’ll be missing out. There are some really cool characters and story lines out there and who knows? It’s quite possible that future stories will showcase characters and plot lines from these books. I already think that’s happening with Kylo Ren’s character and a character from one of the series mentioned below. So my recommendation is to read all the new Star Wars books coming out (naturally) but to also delve into these “Legends” and see how/if Disney adapts some of these stories.
Here are some interesting characters that are either introduced or expounded upon in Star Wars Legends novels:
Grand Admiral Thrawn – With the loss of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, an effectively intimidating character was needed to provide an antagonist for Han, Luke, and Leia. Luckily for Star Wars fans, Timothy Zahn stepped into the gap and wrote what is still often considered one of the best Post-Return of the Jedi book series. A trilogy comprised of the novels Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command introduced readers to Thrawn, a tactical genius who takes over the remnants of the Empire to battle the “New Republic” that Han and the Skywalker siblings are trying to establish. Thrawn is quite different from Vader or Palpatine but no less dangerous.
Boba Fett – Everyone loves Boba Fett despite his lack of actual lines in the Star Wars movies and the fact that he meets a less than exciting end in Return of the Jedi. K.W. Jeter’s The Bounty Hunter Wars details Boba Fett’s escape from the Sarlacc’s stomach, as well as some of his interactions with other jobs and bounty hunters prior to his stay at Jabba’s Palace depicted in the movie.
Another great Fett story line lies in the Legacy of the Force series (various authors). Tensions arise when Boba Fett becomes the leader of the Mandalorians and a member of his family is killed by a Solo. That whole series is great but Boba Fett’s character makes it particularly interesting.
Mara Jade – A strong female character was added to the universe with the addition of Mara Jade. Formerly a pupil of Emperor Palpatine, she leaves the service of the Empire and is introduced in the aforementioned Thrawn series. She eventually becomes a jedi and plays an important role in later book series including Legacy of the Force and even marries a well-known character from the movies.
Jacen Solo – One of three children Han and Leia have in the Legends universe, Jacen has a twin sister named Jaina and a younger brother named Anakin. The Solo children play a big role in a lot of different series including Young Jedi Knights (Kevin J. Andersen), The New Jedi Order (assorted authors), and Legacy of the Force. Jacen’s character arc is maybe the most interesting as he learns more and more about the Force. He begins to see stop seeing issues as black and white and this eventually leads him down a dangerous path. The character of Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens definitely had a lot of inspiration from this character.
So if you’re waiting in eager anticipation for new Star Wars stories and have never had the opportunity to delve into some of the Legends, I highly recommend it. You may find some similarities to the new movie(s) that you didn’t expect. But be warned, you may also find some stories you hope that Disney will use as well!
What are some of the new Star Wars books you’re most looking forward to reading?
— Ethan Evans, currently reading Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray and listening to Dark Places by Gillian Flynn whenever he’s driving somewhere