Series Spotlight: New Canon Star Wars


Vagabond_Vahn_100I need to nerd out for a moment here.  Not as the type of nerd who reads too much exactly the right amount, but the nerd who has read most of the novels in the extended Star Wars universe, played most of the video/tabletop games and is optimistic about the release of Star Wars Episode VII next month, but who first had to come to terms with an entirely new canon to replace the stories he’d become so familiar with over the past few decades.  If you’re not a fan of Star Wars, this is not the post you’re looking for…

I was stunned when Disney announced that the Extended Universe, ruled canon by Lucas and his company, would be no more.  It would stick around and be dubbed “Legends”, but it would no longer be the future past I knew.  This was Disney’s baby now, and they intended to raise it and shape it however they wanted.  That took me a little time to digest.  True, I didn’t love every entry in the extended universe.  Sometimes I didn’t like entire series arcs – but they often led to novels further down the road that I did enjoy.

In the end I had to recognize that Disney spent a boatload of money on Star Wars, has an awful lot to lose by not doing it right, and frankly has put out some fantastic movies lately.  I’ve decided to gamble, and put my trust in them.  In preparation for the upcoming Episode VII I’ve been reading the new canon novels.  So far, I’m both impressed and satisfied.  With one exception…

What is going to happen to the character of Kyle Katarn, first introduced to me through the PC game Dark Forces?  He is one of my favorite characters in the entirety of Star Wars, making appearances in multiple videogames and novels.  His role in the backstory of the movies and everything that came after in what we now know as Legends is incredibly important to the stability of that future history – or perhaps I’m just incredibly biased.  One of the two.

A New Dawn, Tarkin, Heir to the Jedi, Lords of the Sith and Aftermath have all been released.  I have had the pleasure of reading the first three, and will hopefully finish the last two before Episode VII hits theaters.

A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller introduces the characters in the new Disney animated series Star Wars: Rebels.  As such, I was expecting a very Young Adult feel.  It certainly does lean that way, but not detrimentally so.  The villain is very Star Wars, very reminiscent of Darth Vader.  So similar, in fact, I was worried at first – but I didn’t need to be, I still enjoyed it.   Then again, I enjoy the animated series as well…and lots of cartoons, because I’m incapable of growing up.  Ahem.

Tarkin was a pleasant surprise.  It was a bit more prolific in description than Darth Plagueis, both of which were written by author James Luceno.  Despite this, it really dug deep into Tarkin’s backstory in a way I hadn’t experienced before and made him the hero of the story – despite being the enemy in the original movie trilogy.  While I found myself skimming sections at times, I acknowledge it was necessary to spend the time building the foundation for the new canon moving forward.  The flashbacks of Tarkin’s teen years and the training he endured made that skimming worthwhile and turned Tarkin from a classic cookie-cutter villain into an intriguing, disciplined man with a brutal past to support his conviction and vision.

Heir to the Jedi has received a mixed response.  Let me first openly state that I entered this with a positive bias – I’m a huge fan of author Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles.  Obviously this will have played some role in my reaction.  That said, I enjoyed the novel, which takes place between Episodes IV and V.  Beyond Luke Skywalker, it is not focused on the other characters from the movies – rather, it introduces a few completely new companions for Luke to adventure with.  This works, as Disney needs to set up some of their own characters to play with moving forward.  Regardless, in the end this book does one important thing – it offers an explanation as to how Luke is able to use the force in The Empire Strikes Back to pull the lightsaber to him while hanging upside-down in the wampa’s cave, despite never learning how to do so in A New Hope.  That plot hole, albeit minor, always came to mind during that scene.

Here’s hoping Lords of the Sith and Aftermath keep up the momentum and solidify my faith in having a new Canon.  Can I just ask someone to bring Kyle Katarn back?  Please?

Note: There are other novels released or planned as New Canon that I did not mention here.  Most notable are Dark Disciple, released July 7th 2015 and Battlefront: Twilight Company coming November 3rd 2015.

Percy will be reviewing Star Wars: Aftermath next week, so stay tuned!


About Vagabond Vahn

I have a beard.

Posted on November 18, 2015, in Review, Series Spotlight. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I’m not as impressed as you but I agree with the majority of what you’ve said.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think I’m most impressed by the fact that, with the exception of my favorite character being absent thus far, the new canon hasn’t felt like it’s future will be lacking. I’ve come to realize that I was expecting that in the far reaches of my mind…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Please please please also consider adding Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray to your reading list! It’s YA, but don’t let that tag put you off! Ever since I read it I’ve been jumping up and down trying to get others to check it out, honestly it’s not getting the attention it deserves (while Aftermath got so much buzz and it was just an average book…Lords of the Sith was awesome though!) Of all the new canon novels (and I’ve pretty much read them all) Lost Star’s probably my favorite…and heck, it’s probably one of the best SW novels I’ve ever read, period, and that’s out of dozens of titles going back to the old EU.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll be honest – I usually don’t read YA. Usually. But I’m going to do it, for you. Why am I doing it for you? Because Mass Effect and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic are on your page right now, and that means that now I love you. Platonically. It won’t be very soon unfortunately, as I have a backlog to read, but it’s now on the list.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, I’ll be honest, I considered skipping it over too at first, because of the YA tag. Then guys that I’ve known are huge Star Wars fans and read a lot of the books started telling me it was one of the best SW novels they’ve ever read. That got my attention, and so now I’m very glad I gave it a chance 🙂


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