Following the announcement of new Star Wars movies back in 2012, fans desperately wanted to know if characters and story lines from the Expanded Universe would be incorporated into the sequel trilogy. Fan edits of Thrawn and theories that Karen Gillan’s hair would be a wig for Mara Jade had surfaced throughout the Web, but there was no concrete information denying that the post-Return of the Jedi books would be adapted into movies. There were hints that the sequel trilogy was going in a new direction, especially when J.J. Abrams once stated, “I think the key to moving forward on something like this is honoring but not revering what came before.”
My very good friend, Jason Ward of MakingStarWars.net, summarized it best when he said, “They didn’t hire J.J. Abrams to make book adaptations.” The intention right from the start was to create something original, but fans continued to find a way to extrapolate elements of the Expanded Universe from whatever piece of Star Wars: Episode VII information landed on the table.
On April 25, Club Jade reported that the Del Rey Star Wars Books Facebook page had changed its cover picture. On a dusty planet with red skies and two vibrant suns, the picture’s tagline read, “A new dawn begins September 2014.”
With the Del Rey logo right below the text, fans quickly gathered that news about the future of Star Wars books was on the horizon and that more announcements would soon follow.
Later that day, the official Star Wars site finally confirmed what fans desperately wanted to know: “In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe.”
In addition to getting new stories from the future Star Wars episodes, we also get to keep the Expanded Universe material, which will now be branded as Star Wars Legends.
From now on, stories from books, comics books and video games will be more cohesive and part of a unified vision, which will all supervised by the Lucasfilm Story Group. Most importantly, this new material will be canon and held on the same level as the feature films and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Following the recent announcement of four new young reader books by Disney Publishing Worldwide, many of the adult fans asked what plans were in store for the adult fiction line. With the new unified storytelling approach in place, Random House and Disney Publishing Worldwide also have a bright future planned for adult Star Wars books. What makes this all the more exciting is that Lucasfilm will continue collaboration with Del Rey Books. Following the shift from Dark Horse Comics to Marvel, a large part of the fan community feared that something similar would happen with Star Wars novels.
The first canon material following these announcements, as pointed out by Megan Crouse of Blog Full of Words, will be Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir, the 4-part comic book mini-series that will follow the unaired scripts from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Although Star Wars: The Clone Wars continues to be the first canon material outside of the films, Star Wars Rebels will also join that status later this fall on Disney XD.
The first Star Wars novel will be penned by fan favorite and bestselling author John Jackson Miller with a foreword by executive producer Dave Filoni, entitled Star Wars: A New Dawn, which will precede the events of Star Wars Rebels.
It’s an all-new Star Wars galaxy going forward, and to kick off this exciting new era of storytelling we are publishing the very first novel set in the years leading up to the original Star Wars movie, a previously untouchable time frame in Star Wars history. Features key characters from the upcoming television series, Star Wars: Rebels. With a foreword by Dave Filoni, executive producer of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels!
The stage is set for the coming Rebellion against the Empire: Kanan is a Jedi survivor of Order 66. Refusing to wield his lightsaber ever again, he makes a living as a freelance pilot, keeping his head down to avoid any Imperial attention. But when the beautiful Hera Syndulla sweeps into his life at the same time his friends and his livelihood are being threatened by an Imperial plot, he faces the biggest choice of his life: keep hiding…or or make a stand and risk the wrath of the Empire. (Source via Rebels Report)
Star Wars: Tarkin by James Luceno (Release date: November 4, 2014)
It’s an all-new Star Wars galaxy going forward-an exciting new era of storytelling. Here is the story of the one that even Darth Vader answers to: Tarkin.
“Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader’s leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.” -Princess Leia
Grand Moff Tarkin-the man who controlled the Death Star and ordered the destruction of Alderaan. The man who even the dreaded Darth Vader obeyed. At long last, as the true story of the Star Wars galaxy continues to unfold, Tarkin’s tale now comes to light!
Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne (Release date: January 13, 2015)
It’s an all-new Star Wars galaxy going forward-an exciting new era of storytelling. For the first time ever, a pure Luke Skywalker adventure told in his own words, with a first-person point of view, by the bestselling author of the Iron Druid Chronicles, Kevin Hearne!
This is a key moment of personal growth for the young Luke Skywalker-the time between the original Star Wars film and The Empire Strikes Back. As he struggles to gain a new appreciation for the Force, a mission for the Rebel Alliance leads Luke into more danger than he bargained for.
Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul Kemp (March 2015)
When the Emperor and his notorious apprentice, Darth Vader, find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely solely on each other, the Force, and their awesome martial skills to prevail. Created in collaboration with the Lucasfilm Story Group. Coming March 2015. Jacket art by Aaron McBride.
It should also be noted that Paul Kemp’s novel will feature a character from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Personally, this is wonderful news. I’m not always a big fan of change, but when it comes with the intention of being refreshing and starting off on a clean slate, I’m all for it. George Lucas had a vision for his stories, and even though he opened up his universe for others to be creative and imagine worlds of their own, the Expanded Universe does not reflect that vision in particular. I noticed some fans feel like the EU is being discarded and forgotten, but that is certainly not the case. If the books had been placed in a vault somewhere and removed from printing altogether, then I can see a reason for fans to cause an uproar. However, the books will continue to be printed under the new Legends banner. We should be grateful that the foundation of what made Star Wars so great over the years will continue to be a source of inspiration for future stories.
Also, let’s be honest. If the post-Return of the Jedi books were adapted into films, we would never hear the end of fans complaining about how the movies were unfaithful to the books, how the movies didn’t capture certain scenes correctly, how so-and-so didn’t live up to a particular character, and so on. I think it’s better that fans get to keep their Expanded Universe (from now on known as Star Wars Legends) and also enjoy seeing new stories unfold in the years to come.
After all, the key to being a happy fan is being open minded.
As for the novels headed our way starting September 2014, I am disappointed that there is only one female character in this initial wave of novels (Hera Syndulla). She will no doubt be one of my favorite characters, but I can’t help but sigh at the fact that the stories continue to be male dominated both as protagonists and in the publishing side (four male authors). In the announcement about Star Wars children’s books, only one female writer (R.J. Palacio) is part of the Star Wars saga program. It is even more disheartening when you take into account the fact that the series Sword of the Jedi with Jaina Solo written by female author Christie Golden was cancelled. Here’s hoping the future of Star Wars books taps into more diverse resources.
Finally, it is with great hope that the Star Wars: The Clone Wars character featured in Paul Kemp’s novel, Lords of the Sith, will be Ahsoka Tano. Though, if she is introduced in the novel only to have her killed off in the end, I do not want it! It is important to stress that Ahsoka Tano is now one of the few female canon characters in the Star Wars universe and killing her off will be a disservice to all fans (female fans especially) everywhere.
Which novel are you looking forward to the most? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Links of possible interest: