Looking Back on the Star Wars Expanded Universe

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Well, this has been quite a crazy week for Star Wars fans, hasn’t it? Just a week ago Star Wars and Disney announced their plans for the future of the Star Wars Expanded Universe as we know it, which consists of every book, comic, and video-game that takes place in a galaxy far, far away, and then just a couple days later the first image of the entire main cast for Episode VII was officially released to the public.

That’s a lot to swallow in such a small period of time, and I’d be lying if I said that Star Wars hasn’t been the only thing on my mind almost all week. And while I could easily write a lengthy analysis of the cast photo and speculate on who everyone may or may not be be playing, I’ve decided to do something else and instead give my impressions regarding the fate of the EU.

While I might be a more recent follower of the Star Wars EU, I started collecting the books about two-years ago and have just recently gotten involved with the comics, I’ve actually been a fan of the Star Wars Expanded Universe ever since I first laid eyes on a little video-game known as Knights of the Old Republic,Ā which I first played way back when on my parent’s outdated PC.

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Over ten-years later, and this is still one of my favorite games of all time.

It was one of the first computer games I really lost myself in, and ever since I’ve had this desperate need for Star Wars stories that go beyond the movies. The Clone Wars fulfilled this need for a long time, but ever since it was canceled last year, although it was given a miraculous final season through Netflix, I’ve needed to look elsewhere for my Star Wars fix.

Although I had read a couple books here and there, the departure of The Clone Wars demanded that I fully commit to the Expanded Universe, and by the end of last year year I had an entire shelf of books that I was eagerly exploring at every available opportunity. As of today, I have two shelves full of comics and books, and I’m well on my way to having to make room for a third.

I originally started my EU journey with the Darth Plagueis novel, which brilliantly told of the rise and fall of Darth Sidious’ master, and from there, with my curiosity piqued, I went straight into the nine-book epic known as Legacy of the Force, which followed the Solo and Skywalker families about forty-years after the end of Return of the Jedi.

While I have some mixed feelings on its conclusion, there’s no denying the fact that those nine books enchanted and excited me, but at the same time, they made it very clear that there’s a lot of I had missed out on. There were references to a backstory for these characters that went right over my head, and there were several times where I had to literally research characters online just to follow what was going on.

So, with dozens of questions on my mind and few answers to them, I started to commit myself to gathering as many Star Wars books and comics as I could afford to get my hands on (little known fact: books aren’t exactly cheap…). Even though I own probably two dozen books and just as many comics, I’ve hardly scratched the surface, but yet here I am, still irrevocably obsessed with the EU.

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A glimpse into the sheer amount of characters introduced by the EU.

It’s no secret that the Expanded Universe has a lot of mediocre novels within it, and some that even border on being outright bad, but I’ve found that when the books get it right, they get it very, very right. Last year’s Kenobi is a perfect example of this. I relished every word in that book, and the story it told truly sold me on the potential of the EU and basically cemented me as a fan for life.

I owe a lot to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, so when the official confirmation came last weekend that the entire EU now exists in its own separate universe from the movies and TV shows (yes, that means The Clone Wars is canon. And yes, it’s okay to applaud), my reaction was one of relief.

This is very much the best possible way things could’ve ended for the EU. We’ve known for a long time that the books and comics weren’t ‘official’ canon, but that never once detracted from how enjoyable they all were. My fear was that the books would go the same route that Dark Horse has had to go with its comic selection, and literally discontinue every Star Wars story they’ve ever published.

Heir-to-the-JediInstead, the Star Wars Expanded Universe is being rebranded as a new line of books labeled Legends, which not only promises that the value of the stories the EU told will stay intact, but also ensures that the books will continue to be published and experienced for what I hope is a very long time.

What got me really excited, however, was the silver lining to all of this. Del Rey Books, the publisher who has been in charge of the Star Wars novels for years, immediately announced four brand new books that not only looked great in their own right, but would, in fact, count as official canon in the Star Wars Universe.

Of the four promised books, we have John Jackson Miller’s Star Wars: Rebels prequel novel titled A New Dawn, Keven Hearne’s first-person Luke Skywalker story Heir to the Jedi, James Luceno’s Tarkin, which promises to finally elaborate on the complicated relationship between Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin, and finally, Paul S. Kemp’s Lords of the Sith, a story that tasks Darth Vader and the Emperor with escaping from a war-torn planet.

The EU has always been a confusing puzzle of stories that sometimes make sense and sometimes don’t. While this is part of why so many people fell in love with it, it made it very hard for newcomers to join in on the adventure. With Lucasfilm’s new Story Group tasked with ensuring every Star Wars story fits together into one coherent whole, every bit of Star Wars storytelling will be official canon from this moment on.

This means that the comics Marvel is sure to publish in 2015 will exist in the same universe that the movies do, as will the Star Wars games EA will be publishing in the coming years. This is very good news people, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

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A new dawn for the Star Wars EU is upon us, and it’s a very good thing.

So yes, the Star Wars EU as we know it is over, but it is far from forgotten. Its legacy will live on under the new Legends banner, and even though they might not count as official Lucasfilm canon, which does mean Episode VII will be coming up with a totally brand new story, there are still dozens of fantastic stories just waiting to be experienced over and over again. And I highly recommend that you do just that.

I can tell you right now that I can’t think of a single time in my life where my passion for Star Wars has been more alive and active than it is right now, and while the overall quality of these new stories has yet to be determined, the very fact that there is new Star Wars coming should be something that we can all cheer about.

So go ahead, pick up a Star Wars book from your local library, put in your favorite movie, or flip through one of the many comic books. Just enjoy the Star Wars universe in whatever way means something to you; there really has never been a better time to enjoy the amazing adventures from a galaxy far, far away.

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5 responses to “Looking Back on the Star Wars Expanded Universe

  1. Pingback: Looking Back on the Star Wars Expanded Universe | William Jepma·

  2. Man, there is SO much in the expanded universe between the books and comics. I think I haven’t diligently read any of the books since Timothy Zahn’s first run of books. I don’t think I will ever really catch up with it all.

    I really do want to read Kenobi, though! My library has a few copies. I do have many of the comics and some of the different volumes that Dark Horse has done through-out the years. I really enjoy the Star Wars EU whenever I can devote any time to it, lol. Great post, Billy!

    • I’ve only been devoting my time to the recent releases and the highlights, and it’s still almost too much to keep up with! I did just finish reading Dark Horse’s Legacy series though, which I really enjoyed! There’s a lot of great stories out there, you just have to look for them. šŸ˜‰

      Thanks for stopping by, Vic, and I hope you manage to find some time for Kenobi! It’s still one of my favorite Star Wars stories outside of the movies.

  3. Good article. I’ve really enjoyed the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Started reading the X-Wing novels from Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston, progressed to the New Jedi Order, and picked up several more in between. Its amazing how developed the Star Wars universe is thanks to all the stores and tales from the Expanded Universe.

    • I still need to get into the X-Wing series, but I’ve heard nothing but good things! Even though it wasn’t perfect, I loved how the EU just gave us more Star Wars on such a consistent basis. Thanks for stopping by! šŸ™‚

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