Back in 2014, Lucasfilm announced that the Star Wars Expanded Universe was becoming Star Wars Legends. In other words, all of the books, comics and video games we’d come to know and love over the previous 37 years had become obsolete to make way for a new canon. I’ve had a year to absorb this news, and I’m still unhappy about it.
Actually, there are some perks to the loss of the Expanded Universe as Star Wars canon. There are some gems scattered throughout the Expanded Universe, but there are also some real stinkers. (If you’ve started reading some of the new canon books, you’ll probably agree there are going to be some titles we’d rather forget in this new incarnation, too.)
Here is my list of what I will miss most from the Expanded Universe, and some storylines and characters that I’d like to see cross over to the new canon. If you’re new to the world of Star Wars, or if you’ve never gotten beyond the scope of the movies, these are titles worth checking out, even if they are classified as Legends.
The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
For years, fans like me considered Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command to be Episodes 7, 8 and 9, which means there is a lot of pressure on The Force Awakens to give us a worthy substitute for Episode 7.
The trilogy focuses on the New Republic struggling to make their government a functional reality while remnants of the Empire continue to assert their power. No one has more power or tactical skill than Grand Admiral Thrawn, a blue-skinned, red-eyed Chiss. At the same time, a mysterious figure with exceptional Force powers emerges and allies with Thrawn and his Imperial troops. These are also the novels that introduce us to Mara Jade, a character a lot of us would be happy to see in the new canon. More than anything, though, I’d love to see Thrawn be a part of the Star Wars universe again.
While the rest of my list is comprised of books, this character warrants her own entry. Love her or hate her, Admiral Natasi Daala is always a fun conversation piece. After debuting in Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy, she showed up in plenty of books by Anderson and others. Daala attended the Imperial Academy of Carida, but was constantly overlooked because of her sex. Tarkin saw her potential and took her under his wing – and to his bed.
I love Daala. In fact, my first costume for the 501st Legion was Daala in her Imperial uniform. But I think she’s a case of a character who overstayed her welcome. She began as brash but ambitious, then eventually became sort of ridiculous. That said, I’d love to see Daala emerge in the new canon. Maybe if she got a second shot, she would make better decisions or, at least, have a more believable storyline.
Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina
All of the “Tales from” books are among my favorites, although Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina is my top pick. The book is a collection of short stories by different authors, all featuring one of the characters seen in the cantina during A New Hope. Even characters who are just briefly glimpsed in the background get a name and a backstory. What I love about the Tales books is that they have nothing to do with the main crop of Star Wars characters or the main plot of the movies. They are short, fun reads.
Darth Plagueis by James Luceno
A lot of people I know absolutely raved about this book, and for good reason. While it starts out focused on Darth Plagueis, the book really chronicles the rise of his apprentice, Darth Sidious. The book confirms that the future Emperor really is as deliciously evil as we had all hoped, and it’s a fascinating tale of political maneuvering to gain power in the Senate. (For the record, though, I liked Luceno’s Tarkin even more, which is recent enough to be new canon.)
The Force Unleashed by Sean Williams
I am terrible at video games, so I opted for the novelization of the game The Force Unleashed. I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The story of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice turned hero, the game and book gave us memorable characters like our protagonist Starkiller and the oft-cosplayed Juno Eclipse. The Force Unleashed is an interesting look at the origins of the Rebellion and the Imperial oppression that inspired people to take action.