Star Wars Legends vs. the Disney Canon vs. the Best of Both Universes
When Disney bought Lucasfilm, they tossed all of the Legends lore that came after the films down the trash compactor, and, as you might expect, many fans were distraught. Since then bits and pieces of the novels have made their way into the Sequel trilogy and elsewhere. Here are some (but not all) of my favorites from Legends as well as the new Star Wars material brought to us by Disney. Are the ysalamiri canon? Will Mara Jade make it into the movies? Only a time long ago will tell.
Legends: You could say the expanded universe started with "Splinter of the Mind's Eye." In between the first Star Wars movie and "Empire Strikes Back," it both fueled and fulfilled the the desire for more Star Wars material. Nevermind that it perpetuated the notion of a romantic relationship between Luke and Leia.
Legends: The first book in the Thrawn trilogy, "Heir to the Empire" starts a series that introduces one of the most fascinating characters in the Star Wars universe, Mitth'raw'nuruodo, who eventually becomes Grand Admiral Thrawn. Reading about his cunning military tactics is a rarefied treat. You will also want to read books two and three, "Dark Force Rising" and "The Last Command."
Canon: Thrawn becomes canon! He is back, in an official capacity, and better than ever. Timothy Zahn delivers another excellent story featuring one of my favorite characters in Star Wars. Readers learn how he was "found" by the Empire and the details of his rapid ascension through the ranks of the Imperial military.
Canon: There is a whole array of new Star Wars comics that are nearly all very good. This is perhaps my favorite.
Canon: Anyone want to read a comic about Darth Vader? I do! This book does not disappoint.
Canon: In "Tarkin" you learn the harsh upbringing of young Wilhulf that leads to the cunning and ruthless strategy at the head of the Imperial military.
Canon: This is the book that started my new holiday tradition of listening to a Star Wars audiobook, preferably one that chronicles the construction of a planet-killing super-weapon, while preparing for big family gatherings to, you know, take the edge off.
Canon: These books are so much fun to read, certainly, and, especially, to listen to. My son and I saw the author not long ago at the Kennewick library (and will again on May 18!). He asked the audience if anyone knew the name of the giant space slug from Empire and my son raised his hand and gave the answer. We just listened to this audio collection during a drive to Spokane so it was fresh in our minds. Never was a papa so proud!
Canon: I could not put this book down; I was so excited to read about a super Star Wars Empire Team-up, Thrawn and Darth Vader! The book jumps back and forth between two missions: the first when Thrawn first meets Anakin Skywalker and the second when Anakin has become the Sith Lord we all know and love. The intermingling of the two time frames is done exceptionally well with echoes that resonate across time. Zahn absolutely nails it, again!
Legends: Thrawn is back in the Hand of Thrawn duology, and features another favorite EU character, Mara Jade. She and Luke engage in an adventures that bring them closer together. Book two in the series is "Vision of the Future." Cross your fingers that Mara Jade makes an appearance in Episode IX, "The Rise of Skywalker."
Legends: Everyone wants to believe that Supreme Leader Snoke is Darth Plagueis. That's because he is such a cool villain! He is briefly mentioned in "The Revenge of the Sith" so does that mean he's part of the Disney canon? Let's hope they make it official.
Canon: I never thought I'd read a young adult romance novel, but I guess if it involves the relationship of two Imperial cadets, I can't help it.
Canon: My son and I have read a number of Star Wars books together, and we both really liked "Smuggler's Run" as well as two very similar books, each featuring Luke and Leia in separate adventures. These are "The Weapon of a Jedi" and "Moving Target."
Canon: A terrific look into the formative experiences of Princess Leia, this is another YA book that I liked very much.
Canon: This list would not be complete without Chuck Wendig's excellent Aftermath Trilogy. Also including "Life Debt" and "Empire's End," every Star Wars fan should read this series for the great new characters and the glimpse into a larger world it provides.