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BONUS MATERIAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Reviews click here

 

 

The Star Wars Expanded Universe

 

Since the debut of the first film (now dubbed Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope) in 1977, the Star Wars saga has grown in comics, books, cartoons, newspaper strips, and even some video games.  All of tell the stories that take place before, after and during what was shown in the films.  So encompassing has this ‘expansion’ of the six-film saga become that it’s now a full-fledged “history” of the Star Wars Universe and includes several eras of time set over the course of five thousands years… 

 

This monumental task – set upon by hundreds of writers, editors and creators under the careful guidance of Lucas’ hired staff at Lucasfilm – has been a source of enjoyment for fans of the Star Wars films for years; but new fans not always sure where to begin can find things a bit daunting at first… Where does one even start to explore in this vast web of Star Wars multimedia?  And for those who may only want to dip their feet first before fully plunging in, what sampling of items should they choose?

 

Here may be found a starting point, a list of titles that are available that should help you to get an idea of some of the great things that are out there in the galaxy far, far away…

 

Method 1: For many, the best way to start is at the beginning: The Tales of the Jedi trade paperbacks would be the appropriate ways to kick off your Star Wars sojourn…  If you follow this method, go here or here.

 

Method 2: Choose an Era that best suits your tastes.  There are currently six to choose from:

 

  • The Sith Era” encompasses stories of the Old Republic and the ancient battles between the Jedi and Sith. 

  • The Rise of the Empire” era is where the Prequel trilogy takes place and the stories of the Clone Wars. 

  • The Era of the Rebellion” encompasses the four plus years in which the Classic Trilogy takes place.  Many of these adventures center on the Heroes of Yavin: Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie and the droids, and were told in the pages of Marvel comics, newspaper strips, short stories, Dark Horse’s Empire comics and the first spin-off novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, almost all of which are in-print. 

  • The “New Republic” era begins where the “Era of Rebellion” leaves off and takes us further down the road with the main cast, and brings some new cast members to the forefront, including Han and Leia’s three kids and Luke’s future wife.  This era was kick-started into gear in 1991 by the much vaunted ‘Thrawn Trilogy’ of novels by Tim Zahn, and the acclaimed ‘Dark Empire’ series by Tom Veitch and Dark Horse Comics.

  • The era of “The New Jedi Order” shook things up yet again as alien invaders from beyond the galaxy (and beyond the Force) assaulted the New Republic and brought about the death of at least one major character.  “The New Jedi Order” proved an epic series that turned the Star Wars Universe on its head. 

  • The final era begins almost a decade later and is called “Legacy. ” Returning are some of the surviving cast from prior eras (including Boba Fett and a favorite villainess from the old Marvel comics) in the Legacy of the Force novel series. This era also moves forward a century with the Legacy comics by Dark Horse.

 

Method 3: Pick and choose.  Many prefer to sample a little of everything, but want to read quality work and not waste their time on sub-par material.  With Star Wars, there is a lot of great titles to choose from.  Of course, the Star Wars literary medium is vast and hotly debated.  What is adored by some may be despised by others and vice versa.  The best you can do is try different things based on recommendations (such as the one I’ve provided below) and try and have an open mind to creative diversity. 

 

 

111 Star Wars Stories You Can’t Live Without (in chronological order)!

 

 

The Sith Era/The Old Republic

 

 

(#1-7)

The Tales of the Jedi trade paperbacks

(Golden Age of the Sith, Fall of the Sith Empire, Knights of the Old Republic, The Freedon Nadd Uprising

Dark Lords of the Sith, The Sith War, Redemption)

 

      5,000 years before the now famously called Battle of Yavin (BBY for short) seen in Episode IV: A New Hope, the Republic and a cadre of Jedi faced off against the overwhelming advances of the ancient Sith.  In the course of a thousand years, the Sith return and two Jedi abandon their master’s teachings to learn the dark side, one for the intention of defeating it, the other to become its most powerful adept…  Grand in scale and high drama, these epic tales of the ancient Jedi embody the very essence of what is best in Star Wars.  Magnificent interior illustrations highlight the powerful events contained within.  Note: The video-game, Knights of the Old Republic, which takes place some time after the events depicted here should not be confused with the trade paperback of the same name. 

 

 

(Tied for the #8 spot)

Darth Bane: Path to Destruction and Jedi vs. Sith (trade paperback)

      Learn how the evil Darth Bane started the new era of the Sith and begat the ‘rule of two’. At the height of a cataclysmic war between Light and Darkness, Bane manipulates the dark side to set in motion a far-reaching plan of galactic conquest and ultimate revenge against the Jedi and the Republic.  Appropriately intense and unsettling, this mini-series from Darco McCan inspired the great novel by Drew Karpyshyn who expanded the story and set the stage for the tragic events that would eventually unfold in the Prequel Trilogy.

 

 

The Rise of the Empire (Era of the Prequels)

 

 

(#9-42)

Jedi Apprentice 1-18 (Softcover novellas)

Jedi Apprentice Special Edition: Deceptions (Softcover novella)

Jedi Apprentice Special Edition 2: The Followers (Softcover novella)

Jedi Quest (hardcover)

Jedi Quest 1-10 (Softcover novellas)

Legacy of the Jedi (hardcover)

Secrets of the Jedi (hardcover)

Last of the Jedi (ongoing novellas)

 

      This phenomenal series of novellas by Jude Watson deeply explores the relationships between Qui-Gon-Jin and Obi-Wan, and later Obi-Wan and Anakin during the period of their respective apprenticeships and the challenges they each face.  These books can be enjoyed separately, but when read in succession, weave together to form one larger tapestry that ultimately finds resolution in Episode III and beyond.  Expertly written, exciting and moving, this insightful series takes a hard look at the characters and the external and internal trials they confront.  Jude Watson’s brilliant stories bring the Prequels to life, enabling readers to understand and care about the characters on a much more intimate level than before!  Highly recommended!

 

 

(#43-51)

Clone Wars Volumes 1-9 (trade paperbacks)

      Dark Horse Comics had their fingers on the pulse of the Clone Wars and released some of the most powerful Star Wars stories to bridge the gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.  Some of the best introductions to the Jedi (Kit Fisto, Adi Gallia, Even Piell, Mace Windu, Shaak Ti, Quinlan Vos, Ki Adi Mundi, Plo Koon, Ashared Hett, etc.,) come in the pages of these stunning graphic novels (which also introduced Twilek Jedi Aayla Secura to George Lucas who included her in Episodes II and III).  Action-packed, character-intensive and beautifully illustrated by famed illustrator Jan Duursema, herein you’ll discover the battles of the Jedi against the Separatist onslaught of Asajj Ventress, Durge, and General Grievous.

 

 

(#52-55)

Clone Wars Adventures 1-4 (digests)

      Based on the animation style of the Clone Wars cartoons, these digest-sized Star Wars books are a compilation of several adventure stories told during the course of the Clone Wars (one even concludes an adventure seen in the cartoon).  Highly enjoyable, action-packed and intriguing (see how Grievous became General of the Clone Armies), these stories are breezy, fun entertainment for long summer days.

 

 

(#56)

Republic Commando series (novels)

     I never imagined a novel about the exploits of four specially-trained Clone Commandos would prove not only one of the most exciting books of the Clone Wars, but a weighty character-study as well.  Karen Traviss tells a highly entertaining story about the failed infiltration of a Separatist-held planet by Republic Commandoes and a Jedi Padawan (who’s not-so-strong in the Force) and their insane adventures on a hostile world brimming with slavers, suspicious natives and adventure!  Traviss makes you absolutely care about these characters and their mission and the result is an exhilarating ride through a momentous chapter in the Clone Wars.

 

 

(#57)

Shatterpoint (novel)

      Jedi Master Depa Billaba has gone native and it is up to Mace Windu to rescue her, but Depa may not want rescuing.  Mace must survive against the most deadly jungle in the galaxy, that of his home planet Haruun Kal.  The first entry of the Clone Wars novels remains one of its best.  Fans have referred to this as the Apocalypse Now of Star Wars (and indeed Matthew Stover based many of its themes on the story Heart of Darkness) and it shows.  Brutal at times, certainly powerful and intense at others.  With Shatterpoint, Star Wars proved once and for all time that media-tie books could achieve the height of literary standards (a point that was further emphasized by the follow-up The Cestus Deception).  Moreover, it is epic story told with panache and style, and brought the character of Mace Windu into the top ten fan favorites.

 

 

(#58)

Yoda: Dark Rendezvous (novel)

     Count Dooku claims to want peace and has summoned Yoda to a meeting to his dark homeworld of Djun.  Yoda agrees to go in the hopes that Dooku is telling the truth, but a sinister plot may await him and the two padawans he brings along.  Sean Stewart’s penultimate Clone Wars book proves one of the most enjoyable of the saga as Master faces apprentice one last time.  But there is much more at stake here than meets the eye, and loyalties will be tested on all sides.  Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress unveils her plans to ascend to the Sith, while Dooku’s own faith in Darth Sidious and the dark side are challenged.  Riveting and powerful, but also endearing and at times witty and hysterical, Yoda: Dark Rendezvous succeeds in countless ways.  A Must-Read Star Wars novel!

 

 

(#59)

Labyrinth of Evil (novel)

      The hunt for Darth Sidious is on!  Anakin and Obi-Wan follow a twisted trail that will lead them right into the heart of darkness and into the seed of evil that comes to fruition with Revenge of the Sith.  This tie-in novel begins the momentum that will end the Clone Wars and bring upon the galaxy the tyranny of the Empire and the rule of the Sith.  James Luceno weaves in the past and future (beautifully tying in various references from all over the EU) to craft this first part of the triptych that frames Matthew Stover’s Revenge of the Sith novelization and concludes with the upcoming novel Dark Lord: the Rise of Darth Vader.  Here is the story of the invasion of Coruscant and the search for the most evil and powerful man in the galaxy!

 

(#60)

Revenge of the Sith

      Matthew Stover takes you deeper into the dark side with this novelization of Episode III.  More of a companion piece than a strict adaptation, the author goes a long way towards exploring the motivations and thoughts of the characters during one of the most important and tragic chapters in the Star Wars saga.  A brilliant book that enhances your appreciation for the film a hundred-fold, and also contains many of the scenes that were cut for the theatrical release of the film.  Poignant and powerful, and the best of the film novelizations.

 

 

(#61)

Visionaries (graphic novel)

      The creative forces behind Lucasfilm’s own team at ILM constructed with prose and art the ten diverse and fascinating stories in this book that tell all manner of events in Star Wars history (particularly those leading to Episode III).  Talented, witty, provocative and imaginative, this is the illustrated anthology to beat all illustrated anthologies.  Star Wars is known to have been inspired by Lucas’ love of film and storytelling, and the geniuses at ILM show their influences here as well (everything from Moebius to Heavy Metal); Witness the secret origins of General Grievous; the motivation behind Durge’s hatred of Mandalorians; the weirdness of Wat Tambor; the hidden pain of Mon Mothma; the satanic truth of Darth Sidious; and much, much more.  Star Wars has never been more artful or beautiful than in Visionaries.

 

 

(#62-70)

The Han Solo Trilogy (includes: The Paradise Snare, The Hutt Gambit, Rebel Dawn)

The Han Solo Adventures (includes: Han Solo at Star’s End, Han Solo’s Revenge, Han Solo and the Lost Legacy)

The Lando Calrissian Adventures (includes: Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu

                                                                          Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon

                                                                          Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of Thonboka)

 

     A.C. Crispin’s Han Solo Trilogy is the definitive life and history of Han Solo and is also an excellently-constructed framework for the events that occur in the early Star Wars trilogies penned by the late Brian Daley (in the stunning Han Solo Adventures) and L. Neill Smith (in his fantastic Lando Calrissian Adventures).  Those books and the three that make up The Han Solo Trilogy are must-reads for any true Star Wars fan: chock full of entertainment-value, witty, engaging, and action-packed.  Daley’s and Neill’s books are two of the earliest trilogies set in the Star Wars Universe and remain some of the best and most beloved!  Sadly Brian Daley passed away and Neill has never written Star Wars since, but what both men have left behind is a legacy of tales that perfectly captures the characters and true spirit of mystery and high adventure in Star Wars.  Where Daley sets Han in just the right Space-Western milieu, Neill sends Lando out into the bizarre and outré. Both trilogies give off the feel of the age-old pulps of yore.  More accurately, they capture the experience of what it was to love Star Wars in the early days!  Crispin manages to not only weave the continuity of those adventures (and many others) into the midst of her own, but matches them with brilliant stories that take the characters right up to the start of A New Hope!  All nine books are the pinnacle of Star Wars lit.!

 

 

The Era of Rebellion (The Classic Trilogy Era)

 

 

(#71-77)

A Long Time Ago: Volumes 1-7

      The Golden Age of Star Wars comics!  What happened to Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and the droids after the conclusion of Star Wars (now more accurately known as Episode IV: A New Hope)?  What happened to Darth Vader?  Three years would pass, both in real-life and in Star Wars time between the events of the first film and The Empire Strikes Back, and Marvel comics were the first to fill in that gap!  Originally penned by famed Conan the Barbarian author Roy Thomas (and illustrated by Howard Chaykin), Thomas soon passed off the reins to master storyteller Archie Goodwin who brilliantly captured the characters and space-opera spirit of Star Wars!  Goodwin took readers on a thrill ride every month, advancing the saga and raising the stakes for the heroes of Yavin.  Following the release of Empire, Marvel told the story of the search for Han and the devastating Imperial plot to destroy the Alliance!  The post-Jedi tales focused on the struggles of the new government against an invading race from beyond the stars!  Through the talents of David Michelinie, Chris Claremont, Jo Duffy, Tom Palmer, Ann Nocenti, Cynthia Martin, Terry Austin, Jan Duursema (who debuted in issue 92), and many more, Marvel Star Wars gave fans some of the most memorable and entertaining Star Wars stories set between and after the events of the films starring everyone's favorite heroes and villains.  And it also introduced several interesting new ones, including the Dark Lady Lumiya – legacy of the Sith – and bitter enemy of Luke Skywalker (Lumiya will be returning in the upcoming “Legacy Era” novel series!)   This gorgeous seven-volume collection by Dark Horse Comics is pure joy!

 

 

(Tied for #78)

Classic Star Wars: Devilworlds #1-2 (comics)

      Alan Moore conjures the spirits of Lord Dunsany and H.P. Lovecraft in these fantastic sci-fi outings that showcase the diversity of Star Wars as it enters the realm of horror and the supernatural.  Collected in Star Wars Omnibus: Wild Space, these original Marvel stories, once available only in the UK until Dark Horse reprinted them in the 90's collects eight of the weirder short stories that appeared in Star Wars Marvel UK run (which had extra stories commissioned for them because the UK magazine-sized comic was published weekly as opposed to our monthly).  Here are some of the most brilliant, bizarre and fantastic Star Wars tales ever told!  Luke encounters an evil realm where an ages-old enemy of the Jedi has lured him to his doom; Han and Leia get lost in a bizarre world where a satanic family has the power of mental torture; Darth Vader plays a game of will after being lured to a world where a strange cult prepares his demise; R2 and 3PO explore a junk world where droids worship a mythical deity that has the power of life and death; these and much more make up the amazing and outré Devilworlds; Alan Moore alone makes these a must-read!

 

 

(#79-82)

Classic Star Wars 1-4 (trade paperbacks)

     Archie Goodwin wasn’t done with Star Wars when he stopped writing for Marvel’s Star Wars after TESB.  Instead Goodwin teamed up with fan-favorite Al Williamson (who illustrated The Empire Strikes Back adaptation and was Lucas’ original choice for A New Hope) to continue the run of Star Wars newspaper strips that ran in several papers across the country.  In 1992, Dark Horse collected, edited and colored those strips, and released them in three gorgeous volumes called Classic Star Wars (subtitled: In Deadly Pursuit, The Rebel Storm, and Escape to Hoth).  These stories continued where Marvel left off, showing the Rebels evacuation of Yavin base, the bounty hunter of Ord Mantell (apparently the first of two as Brian Daley introduced us to a later bounty hunter in his LP storybook, “The Bounty Hunter of Ord Mantell”), and the discovery of Hoth.  The stories were true classics in every sense of the word and more than made up for the passing of the original strips author, Russ Manning.  Russ Manning, a well-respected comic-strip writer and illustrator, began a successful run of Star Wars newspaper strips in 1978.  Unlike Goodwin’s later run, the stories weren’t chronological and took place through the period between ANH and ESB.  Manning took the Big Three (Han, Luke, Leia) through a vastly entertaining romp of adventures that included a Gambler’s world, Kashyyyk (next to the Holiday Special, Manning was the first one to introduce the Wookiee homeworld), and an ice-planet where readers first got to meet Boba Fett (likely under LFL’s direction Manning wisely avoids reference to his ill-fated Holiday Special appearance and introduces Fett anew to the heroes).  We also get to meet an assortment of new heroes and villains, including the infamous Blackhole and Lady Tarkin!  Star Wars was never more fun!  For the unedited versions of some of these strips, check out Star Wars’ official Hyperspace website.

 

 

(Tied for #83)

Splinter of the Mind's Eye (novel and trade paperback)

     The one that started it all!  The first Star Wars expansion novel penned by Alan Dean Foster (who also ghostwrote the initial Star Wars novelization) is a Luke/Leia tales set on hostile world of angry natives and tyrannical Imperials.  Luke must find the mythical Kaiburr Crystal, a gem that amplifies the Force in any who uses it.  But Darth Vader has learned of Luke's search and intends to find him first.  A high-spirited adventure that is as every bit exciting today as it was in 1978.  George Lucas has written a foreword to newer editions of the book expressing his enjoyment of it, as well as his raison d'être for begetting the Expanded Universe in the first place.  Foster himself wrote the introduction to the faithful adaptation by Dark Horse Comics.  Do yourself a favor and check this one out!

 

(Tied for #84)

Shadows of the Empire (novel and trade paperback)

     A first for Star Wars: a multimedia endeavour that encompassed everything but the movie: a novel, comic book mini-series, videogame, soundtrack, toys and assorted other media!  Shadows of the Empire successfully told a story set after ESB and before ROTJ about the Rebels’ attempt to rescue Han from Boba Fett’s clutches.  It also introduced the underworld, a deep criminal organization known as Black Sun and led by a Falleen alien named Xixor who had the ear of Palpatine and a deep-seated resentment against Darth Vader.  When Xixor discovers Luke’s heritage, he hatches a plot to destroy Vader and the Alliance in the process… The play between Xixor and Vader is a fascinating study in Machiavellian repartee.  Shadows of the Empire also worked brilliantly because of its humor, strong sense of adventure and the fact that Steve Perry and the editors at LFL were careful not to tread on other stories already set in the era.  An all-around stunning success!

 

 

(#85)

Tales from Jabba’s Palace (anthology novel)

     A great way to get a taste of many of the EU (Expanded Universe, for short) writers is this daring and inventive anthology that explores the characters that appeared in and around Jabba’s palace during the events of Return of the Jedi.  What makes this anthology even more interesting and valuable than its predecessor (Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina) is that every story is actually linked to a central storyline that is a sort of murder mystery.  It seems there is someone (or some ones) who want to kill Jabba, but which of his many trusted allies is it?  And other mysteries abound as well in this well-conceived, highly amusing anthology of tales that run the gamut of styles and voices.  A worthwhile, clever and entertaining book, Tales from Jabba’s Palace has a lot going for it and goes a long way towards enhancing your enjoyment of Return of the Jedi.

 

 

(#86)

Mara Jade: By the Emperor’s Hand (trade paperback)

     Meet the woman who later goes on to play a very important role in the life of Luke Skywalker.  If you haven’t read Timothy Zahn’s ‘Thrawn Trilogy’, you may want to consider that first in order to better appreciate the significance this woman has in the first place.  That said, this is the kind of story that’s great regardless, a tale of a hunted woman learning to find her way in a changed galaxy in which there is no one she can trust.  Mara Jade was the Emperor’s Hand, a trained dark side warrior, manipulated by Palpatine to do his will in delicate situations; Beautiful, intelligent and highly deadly, Mara finds herself bereft of home and country when the Emperor is killed and the remnants of the Empire abandon her.  Excellent storytelling and gorgeous artwork make this one of the finest collections by Mike Stackpole, Tim Zahn and Dark Horse Comics!

 

 

The New Republic Era

 

(#87)

The Courtship of Princess Leia

    Guess whose getting married?  That’s right, Princess Leia and Prince Isolder of Hapes!  WHAT! Stop the presses!?!  Who?!  This is exactly Han’s reaction when political pressure from a powerful potential ally threatens to destroy Han’s relationship with Leia; and in typical Han Solo aplomb, he kidnaps her aboard the Falcon; destination: an unknown planet named Dathomir!  And owing to Solo's penchant for disaster, Han takes Leia to the one place where they can never leave: a planet of force-using witches that even Palpatine had kept under lock and key!  Dave Wolverton’s romp of a romance takes a sweeping space operatic turn in this exciting chapter in Star Wars history!  Laughs, chills and thrills abound as Luke heads off to avert disaster, only to find himself captured and bound to marriage!  Oh and did I mention that Dathomir is the native-world of rancors (Jabba’s pet in Return of the Jedi)?!   A fun novel with great villains and an intriguing storyline that keeps moving.

 

 

(#88)

Tatooine Ghost

     In many ways, Troy Denning’s magnum opus is the tonal opposite of the book that chronologically precedes it (The Courtship of Princess Leia, see above), a sober story that gives life to Han and Leia’s marriage, and lends poignancy to The Phantom Menace.  Leia and Han travel to Tatooine in search of a valuable piece of art from Alderaan which contains the key to hidden Rebel secrets.  But Leia’s journey to her brother’s home planet yields up secrets from the past she’d never imagined she’d find, for it is also the planet of her grandmother and father, Anakin Skywalker.  A thoughtful, moving examination of a woman coming to terms with a haunted past and an unknown future, Tatooine Ghost succeeds in delicately bridging the gap between the Classic and Prequel trilogies.  It’s also a Star Wars book that eschews the notion of what a typical movie franchise book should be, or even what a Star Wars book should be.  Denning proves (as several authors have) that Star Wars is capable of far more than the trappings of space opera; Tatooine Ghost is not just a good Star Wars book, but good literature, replete with layered metaphors, subtle profundity and charming wit; all in all, a thinking fan’s novel.

 

 

 (#89-91)

‘The Thrawn Trilogy’

(Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, The Last Command)

     Timothy Zahn’s much vaunted ‘Thrawn Trilogy’ (so named for its starring villain) comprised the first Star Wars books to hit bookstore shelves in a long while after the lull that came a few years after Return of the Jedi.  The hunger for new Star Wars stories was sated in 1991 when Heir to the Empire debuted and rocketed to the bestseller’s lists.  And after all these years, the trilogy still maintains its entertainment-value.  There is a good balance of intrigue, adventure, science-fiction action and mystery within.  Five years after the Battle of Endor, an Imperial Grand Admiral has arisen, an alien mastermind named Thrawn who unites the Empire under his banner and strikes at the heart of the fledgling New Republic.  Under his command is an insane cloned Jedi who uses the Force to manipulate events to his will.  The Grand Admiral has made some interesting new discoveries, one is a species of creature that acts as a shield against the Force; another is a former Emperor’s Hand, a woman who contains a burning hatred for Luke Skywalker.  Along with her aid, the Force-repellent creatures and a secret fleet of newly discovered warships, Thrawn plots to bring about the downfall of the New Republic.  Zahn’s writing is crisp and the action, story and plot unfold adroitly.  While Zahn’s later duology (nicknamed ‘The Hand of Thrawn) was far less enticing (both critically and commercially), Zahn continued to probe the mysteries of his original trilogy with the books Survivor’s Quest (which details the intrigue behind the discovery of the doomed Outbound Flight) and the upcoming Outbound Flight.

 

 

(#92)

Dark Empire (trade paperback)

       Released in 1992 was the stunning and highly controversial Dark Empire comic book series.  It’s painted covers by Dave Dorman complemented Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy’s stark and gritty story of the return of the Emperor and Luke’s plunge into the dark side in an attempt to defeat him.  Panels were a brooding wash of magenta and green, highlighting the phantasmagoric disintegration of the New Republic under the assault of the new Imperial war machines and the Emperor reborn.  Also to make his reappearance was Boba Fett, who escaped intact from the Sarlacc after all (where Han left him in Marvel #81).  Daring and chock-full of jaw-dropping moments, Dark Empire was the first series by Dark Horse Comics and took Star Wars to the next level, introducing a far grimmer palette that many fans devoured (and some decried), and introduced a new and disturbing paradigm in the relationship between Luke, Leia and Han.  Dark Empire also introduced the Holocron, an ancient Jedi instrument that allowed one to learn from the Jedi teachings of the past and which gave birth to the stories later told in Tales of the Jedi (another brilliant conception by Tom Veitch).  Book-only fans were confused for a long while about the numerous mentions to the events of this series, but fans of Dark Empire knew the answers were all here (note: new printings of this graphic novel may not contain the important text pages in the back of the book – in this case seek out the older printings which have a different cover image) and clamored for more.  Sadly, the two sequels (Dark Empire II and Empire’s End) were compromised by in-fighting between the author and LFL which resulted in the third volume (Empire’s End) being reduced from six to two issues.  An interim graphic novel (Lightsider) was likewise never published.  As such, Dark Empire remains controversial and enigmatic and a true must-read for the Star Wars enthusiast.

 

 

(#93-95)

Boba Fett: Death, Lies and Treachery (trade paperback)

Boba Fett: Enemy of the Empire (trade paperback)

Bounty Hunters (trade paperback)

     Boba Fett fans can rejoice in these three trade paperbacks which collect some of most death-daring adventures of the canniest bounty hunter in the universe!  In Enemy of the Empire Fett does a job for Vader he soon learns to regret; In Bounty Hunters, you’ll find the fan-favorite “Twin Engines of Destruction,” a masterpiece by Andy Mangels wherein Fett tracks down an imposter who’s been using similar Mandalorian armor to get high-paying jobs.  You don’t want to cross Fett!  Other great stories here are: “Murder Most Foul,” “Bounty on Bar-Kooda,” “When the Fat Lady Sings,” and “Salvage” (a rare Wizard Magazine one-shot)!  And meet some others who walk the grey line between good and evil.  There’s the troubled Kenix Kil (former Royal Guard from Crimson Empire) and Aurra Sing (the infamous Jedi killer first seen in The Phantom Menace).

 

 

(#96-99)

The Jedi Academy Trilogy (contains Jedi Search, Dark Apprentice, Champions of the Force)

I, Jedi

     Kevin J. Anderson’s first foray into Star Wars and arguably his best was the follow-up series to Zahn’s ‘Thrawn Trilogy’ and the Dark Empire comics.  The Jedi Academy Trilogy propelled the Star Wars saga onto the path it would follow as Luke Skywalker started to gather Force-sensitive students for training.  Luke utilizes the temple on Yavin 4 (former home of the Rebels) to set up his new academy.  Unbeknownst to him, however, is the presence of something evil lurking in another temple on Yavin’s moon, the spirit of the long vanquished Sith, Exar Kun (from the Tales of the Jedi series) who’s found a means of re-entry into the world… through one of Luke’s students!  Anderson’s trilogy is a rollicking, roller-coaster ride filled to the brim with dark villains and superweapons and plenty of action and adventure.  Readers also finally get to travel to the famed spice-mines of Kessel and discover the deadly underworld where things in the darkness stir.  Every character is kept busy and put under fire by various trials and tribulations.  Interestingly, Mike Stackpole took a stab at the very same time and place in his book, I, Jedi.  Corellian Jedi student, Corran Horn enters the Jedi Academy, but has serious doubts about the way Luke is conducting affairs.  His inability to follow instructions leads him to abandon the Temple in order to follow a different path and save his wife from a band of ruthless pirates that have kidnapped her.  But will his minimal training be enough?  It’s interesting to compare the two wildly different perspectives on many of the same events and see how the stories intertwine to tell a much grander narrative of this significant period in Star Wars history.

 

 

(#100-102)

The Corellian Trilogy (includes: Ambush at Corellia; Assault at Selonia; Showdown at Centerpoint)

     Of all the exciting “New Republic” stories to come later on, perhaps the most enjoyable were those that made up Roger MacBride Allen’s Corellian Trilogy.  Han returns to his home system after many years to find a shattered world, ruined by politics and war.  But a secret is unfolding on Corellia and Han’s youngest son may be the key to a mystery long lost in the ages of time, a discovery that could change the very nature of the galaxy!  But old wounds arise when Han discovers a long-lost relative is behind a dangerous plot that threatens his family and all of Corellia!  Allen’s trilogy showcases an unknown corner of the Star Wars galaxy, the much talked about, but never-before-visited Corellian system.  There are mysteries abounding everywhere and Han’s family find themselves dead center in the middle of it all.  This is an intriguing series that takes its time to unfold and reveal its surprises along the way.  Han and Leia’s children play a part in the affairs and are perhaps best portrayed here (the kids were slowly built up to take on more active roles since their appearance in the unfairly maligned but highly enjoyable The Crystal Star) along with a number of interesting and likeable new characters we meet along the way.  A well-told story of corruption and family and the struggle to set things right against overwhelming odds!

 

 

The New Jedi Order

 

 

(#103-109)

The New Jedi Order

     All bets were off with the start of the new era coined ‘The New Jedi Order’ as indeed this first book penned by R.A. Salvatore proved when it killed off one of the main characters from the films!  With the hero’s no longer having any immunity to death, the Star Wars galaxy suddenly became a dangerous place to be in, and this cranked up the involvement factor for many readers who suddenly had reason to worry.  Violent invaders from another galaxy begin their conquest, and for reasons unknown, they appear to exist outside of the Force!  Self-mutilating, frightening beings, the Yuuzhan Vong abhor technology and utilize bizarre, life-based organisms for weaponry and advancement.  And the New Republic, teetering on the brink of civil-war, does not know how to fight them.  The death knell sounded and fans clamored to know what would happen next.  Oddly enough, through the demise of a beloved character, life was revived in Star Wars EU in an unprecedented way.  Things were off to an exciting start as Salvatore set just the right tone for the major galaxy-shattering events to come. A watershed moment in Star Wars history!  Other major events to follow appeared in all the books in this series, but particularly Kathy Tyer’s astonishing Balance Point, Troy Denning’s apocalyptic Star by Star, Matt Stover’s shockingly brilliant Traitor, Walter Jon William’s epic Destiny’s Way, Greg Keye’s penultimate The Final Prophecy and James Luceno’s exceptional closer, The Unifying Force.

 

Legacy of the Force

 

(#110)

Legacy of the Force: Betrayal

     The start of a new nine-book saga was begun by Aaron Allston who would rotate every third book with Karen Traviss and Troy Denning for a highly charged series that saw not only the return of fan-favorite Lumiya from the Marvel series in the early days of the Expanded Universe, but the descent of Jacen Solo into the path of the Sith.  Tightly plotted narratives kept readers in suspense as the Dark Lady of the Sith manipulated galactic events to the bring the galaxy to the brink of war as Corellia declared its independence from Coruscant and the Galactic Alliance.  And that was just the beginning.  Betrayal kicks off the new era of Star Wars by returning it to its space opera roots, bringing back much of its lost humor without sacrificing any of its darker fantastic elements or great characters.  A triumph in every way.

 

(#111)

Legacy: Broken

     140 years after the events of A New Hope, gone are Han, Luke and Leia and everyone you've grown up with.  There is a new Skywalker on the scene, but he wants nothing to do with the Jedi or the Sith.  And of the Sith, the rule of two has been replaced with the rule of One.  Darth Krayt rules the Sith Empire, and with him dozens of Sith who call him Master!  Opposing him is the rightful emperor Roan Fel, his body of Imperial Knights and his beautiful daughter Marisiah.  The Jedi are scattered, betrayed by both and looking for Cade Skywalker, now a pirate running with the Zeltron Deliah Blue and bounty hunter Jariah Syn.  This controversial leap forward in the timeline has been realized by the brilliant minds behind Star Wars Republic's success, John Ostrander and Jan Duursema, and shows no signs of letting up. 

 

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