Star Wars is a transmedia franchise, and many of the most important developments in canon and lore take place in the books. There’s nothing new to the idea of transmedia in Star Wars; the first official tie-in novel, Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, was published in 1978 – well before the release of The Empire Strikes Back. Traditionally, these tie-ins have been viewed as ancillary; George Lucas never considered himself beholden to the so-called “Expanded Universe,” taking what he liked and dropping everything else.
All this changed in 2012, when Disney acquired Lucasfilm. The old EU was officially declared non-canon (or “Legends”), but from that point on every tie-in would have equal canon weight to the movies and TV shows. Disney’s canon novels have improved the prequels, while a transmedia initiative surrounding the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story told the full history of the Death Star. More recently, official Star Wars books and comics have worked to fill in many of the plot holes from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (with mixed success). Here are all the biggest contributions to canon told in the books.
The Chosen One Prophecy
George Lucas launched the prequel trilogy in 1999 with Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, and he introduced a new idea that took viewers by surprise; the concept of a Messianic prophecy fulfilled through Anakin Skywalker. Conceived of the Force itself, Anakin was destined to bring balance, a term Lucas scrupulously avoided defining. Lucas never actually explained the Chosen One prophecy, though, perhaps in part because it didn’t get the reaction he anticipated. The nature of the prophecy, and exactly how it worked, is still a matter of substantial debate in the fandom.
Claudia Gray’s novel Master & Apprentice finally answered some basic questions about the Chosen One. It even revealed the full text of the prophecy: “A Chosen One shall come, born of no father, and through him will ultimate balance in the Force be restored.” This was apparently part of a collection of ancient Jedi prophecies, neglected by the Jedi of the prequel era, but still studied by Qui-Gon Jinn. One of the few Jedi truly sensitive to the Force’s guidance, Qui-Gon studied these forgotten Jedi prophecies and realized he was living in the time of their fulfilment. It is no coincidence Qui-Gon was the one who found Anakin on Tatooine; he was perhaps the only Jedi who could have recognized the Chosen One.
Obi-Wan Knew About Anakin & Padmé All Along
Set during the Clone Wars, Mike Chen’s Brotherhood confirms suspicions Obi-Wan Kenobi knew about Anakin’s relationship with Padmé all along. Freshly promoted to the rank of Jedi Knight, Anakin shared a moment of spontaneous affection with Padmé in the Jedi Temple itself. He believed he was unobserved, but he was wrong; Obi-Wan had sensed something was wrong, and unwittingly viewed this moment of intimacy.
Brotherhood subtly reframes the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin; it rewrites Anakin’s former master as his secret keeper, because Obi-Wan guarded Anakin and Padmé’s secret throughout the Clone Wars. Obi-Wan was more like Anakin than he would ever admit, because he cared more about his former student’s happiness than he did about obedience to the Jedi Code. He was as much a victim to his attachments as Anakin, and became a hypocrite as the years passed, not even raising the matter with Yoda or Mace Windu when he became a member of the Jedi Council. This explains his growing irritation with Anakin in Star Wars: The Clone Wars secret 7, when he left Anakin shocked after implying he knew about the relationship. No doubt a part of Obi-Wan had grown to resent the secrecy.
The History Of The Death Star Project
The publishing initiative around Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was easily one of the best in the franchise’s history, with James Luceno’s Catalyst and Alexander Freed’s novelization both making important contributions to Star Wars canon. Luceno, one of the greatest masters of continuity ever to write in Star Wars, effortlessly drew together all the conflicting strands to pen the definitive history of the Death Star. He revealed construction of the Death Star began during the Clone Wars, shortly after the Jedi recovered the plans from the Separatists in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Palpatine secretly convinced senior figures in the Republic that the Separatists were preparing their own Death Star, and that the Republic needed to build theirs first. It was a typically masterful example of Palpatine’s political genius – but unfortunately for the Emperor, construction hit problems.
Alexander Freed’s novelization of Rogue One explained how the Death Star was sabotaged by Galen Erso, the scientist who successfully figured out how to weaponize kyber crystals. He used Imperial bureaucracy against the Empire, “discovering” the problem of an overheating reactor and suggesting a range of impractical solutions in addition to the one he secretly preferred – the installation of an exhaust shaft, which created the weak spot the Rebel Alliance ultimately used against the Death Star. Galen’s sabotage was successful, and the Imperial battle-station was destroyed courtesy of Luke Skywalker.
The Identities Of Rey’s Parents
Adam Christopher’s Shadow of the Sith is one of most important books in Star Wars canon to date, exploring some of the concepts and ideas revealed in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Shadows of the Sith introduces Rey’s parents, naming them as Dathan and Miramir. Dathan was a strandcast, a failed Palpatine clone created on the planet Exegol, and he managed to escape – swiftly meeting, and falling in love with, Miramir. The couple were absolutely besotted with Rey, and only left her on Jakku when they realized they would have to face the Emperor’s bounty hunters. They hoped to return to Rey when they had triumphed, but were sadly killed by Ochi of Bestoon.
Exegol’s Importance To The Sith
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker introduced the Sith planet Exegol, and it has fallen to novels and comics to explore this Sith redoubt. Exegol is venerated by the Sith, site of a vergence in the Force where the veil between life and death is unnaturally thin. This is revealed in George Mann’s Dark Legends, and the revelation hints why the Emperor’s acolytes could only resurrect him at Exegol. They were able to summon his spirit, drawing it into a clone body. The same vergence explains why the cloning went so badly wrong, because the dark side has a profound effect on cloning.
Why Nobody Helped The Resistance In The Last Jedi
Star Wars: The Last Jedi proved a particularly divisive film, with many arguing it failed the themes and concepts that are central to Star Wars. One of the most disturbing moments sees Leia send out a desperate call for help, but nobody responds. The Resistance is left alone, the fires of hope dying out. Viewed from a thematic level, The Last Jedi rejects the theme of hope that has always been so important to the franchise. It fell to Rebecca Roanhorse to explain this away in her novel Resistance Reborn, published ahead of the end of the sequel trilogy.
Roanhorse came up with a smart explanation, a logical extension of ideas that had already been hinted. She revealed the First Order had scoured the galaxy for potential allies of the Resistance, and had kidnapped their loved ones, holding them hostage against them. It was only after Resistance allies had been neutralized that Supreme Leader Snoke began his military campaign, first firing Starkiller Base to destroy the New Republic capital of Hosnian Prime, and then launching a Blitzkrieg across the galaxy. This is the real reason nobody came to help the Resistance in the Star Wars sequels; because, tragically, they’d already been neutralized.
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