With the launch of a new all-canon supported universe, Star Wars novels (along with other mediums) are now able to explore significant moments in the history of a galaxy far, far away in a new, definitive fashion. With four novels released in the last year, Del Rey’s Star Wars stories have revealed hidden backstories, displayed seminal moments, and helped establish the new history of characters like the Emperor, Luke Skywalker, and Kanan Jarrus in a way never before possible. With the fifth novel, the Star Wars: The Clone Wars-based Star Wars: Dark Disciple due in stores on July 7, 2015, now is a good time to look at the first year of new-era novels and what major moments you may have missed if you’re not up-to-date. Beware: there are mild spoilers herein.
1. The Past and Future of the Jedi Temple
The Jedi Temple was the seat of power for the Jedi Order for generations. Centrally located on the city-planet of Coruscant, the Temple housed the Jedi Council’s chamber, training grounds for the Jedi, and the Jedi Archives, where the history of the galaxy was at the fingertips of Padawan, Knight, and Master alike. What most of them probably did not know, though, was that the Temple was built upon a Sith Shrine. This reveal, in the pages of Tarkin, serves to show how the dark side took hold and weakened the Order. The circle would also complete itself when, after the Jedi Order was eradicated during the execution of Order 66, the newly christened Emperor Palpatine, the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, made the Temple his seat of power as the Imperial Palace.
2. Move the Noodle, Luke
In the novel Heir to the Jedi, we learned more about Luke Skywalker’s training in the interim between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. While Luke had used the Force subconsciously to fire the proton torpedo into the Death Star, this book told the story of his first conscious use of the Force to move something telekinetically. And, naturally, it was the impressive movement of… a noodle! Yes, Luke’s build up of power started by making a noodle do a little dance. It’s not quite pulling his lightsaber to dismember a wampa, or lifting an X-wing out of a swamp, but everyone has to start somewhere, right?
3. The Emperor’s Show of Force
In the original trilogy, and even in Star Wars Rebels, the Emperor is more of a behind-the-scenes kind of guy, only getting active when absolutely necessary, and otherwise letting his massive military and his Sith Apprentice be the face of power in the galaxy. Not so in Lords of the Sith, however, when Darth Sidious flexed his muscles a bit, using the Force and his lightsaber in an impressive battle against a surprising mass of foes. Of course, in order to maintain his frail mystique, anyone who saw him use his considerable power had but one next step in their lives: the end of it. Darth Vader enacted his Master’s swift justice upon any and all witnesses, perhaps demonstrating Palpatine’s true power.
4. An Elegant Weapon
Just as Luke struggled to learn the ways of the Force without a Master, so too did he need to master the Jedi’s primary weapon, the lightsaber. While anyone can flick the switch and use the sword to hack and slash, Luke’s curiosity about the inner workings of the device was piqued when he came across a second lightsaber in the pages of Heir to the Jedi. The Clone Wars-era Jedi Huulik’s blade was gifted to Luke, and he took it apart to see what made it tick, including the kyber crystals. This knowledge is usually an early part of a Padawan’s training at a very young age, and it’s an important milestone in Luke’s accelerated course in the Force.
5. So That’s Where the Clones Went
By now, you probably know that the clones who made up the bulk of the Republic’s military were gradually replaced by regular human recruits as the Empire increased its stormtrooper force. But in a moment that’s sure to break the hearts of many fans of The Clone Wars, the book Lords of the Sith showed that at least some of the clones were still around. In fact, one of the Imperial Royal Guards, those red-clad personal bodyguards to the Emperor, is revealed as a clone trooper. Vader recognizes this familiar face and has a rare moment of longing introspection. The appearance serves to show just how much control Palpatine had over his engineered army, and the loyalty they showed all the way until the end.
6. Kanan, Meet Hera
Okay, this is basically the premise of the entire novel A New Dawn. It’s worth mentioning though, especially how they actually meet for the first time: in a street brawl. Just perfect!
Those are just a few of biggest moments from the new-canon Star Wars novels so far. What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!
Lucas Siegel is a freelance journalist and writer with over a decade of comic book, movie, TV, and video game reporting. A lifelong Star Wars fan, the galaxy far, far away shares time in his brain with Disney, superheroes, and Chicago sports. When he and his wife aren’t at Disney Parks, they’re watching Disney movies, their favorite The Clone Wars episodes, or playing Disney Infinity — you get the idea. He currently contributes to ComicBook.com and other outlets.