The legendary motion picture Star Wars has spawned two big-screen sequels and three prequels—and decades of bestselling fiction. From the original movie tie-in novel through the monumental Fate of the Jedi series, legions of devoted readers have helped expand science fiction’s most celebrated film saga into a page-turning print sensation. Now, for the first time, a comprehensive overview of these sweeping Star Wars adventures is presented in one beautifully illustrated volume.
Star Wars: The Essential Reader’s Companion spans the entire galaxy of published Star Wars fiction—movie novelizations, original stand alone and series novels, short stories, eBook novellas, young adult titles, and comics—and features:
• a concise synopsis of each story, including key characters and planets
• exclusive behind-the-scenes facts and anecdotes about authors, plot and character development, continuity notes, and significance in the Star Wars Expanded Universe
• details on which novels are linked to Star Wars comic books from Dark Horse and Marvel
• a chronological listing of titles, spanning the 25,000-year history of the Star Wars universe and placing each story in its proper context
• more than one hundred original paintings throughout by some of fans’ favorite artists
Whether skimming through fateful eras from the Old Republic to the New Jedi Order; delving deep into the ancient history of the Lost Tribe of the Sith or the tumultuous Clone Wars; crossing paths—and lightsabers—with Dark Lords such as Plagueis or Bane, Sidious or Vader; helming the Millennium Falcon with Han Solo; or mastering the Force with Luke Skywalker, this one-of-a-kind, one-stop reference is a must for fans looking to maximize their knowledge of the sprawling Star Wars Expanded Universe.
About the Author
Jeff Carlisle is a freelance illustrator and concept designer who has spent a good portion of the last decade in a Galaxy Far, Far Away. He has designed or illustrated for various Star Wars projects, such as books, magazines, web comics, role-playing and miniatures games, trading cards, posters, art prints, sketch cards, and even paper airplanes.
Joe Corroney has been professionally creating Star Wars artwork for books, games, trading cards, comic books, posters, and magazines since 1997. Currently, in addition to Star Wars, he’s illustrating for IDW’s True Blood and Star Trek ongoing comic book series. Joe runs a full-time illustration studio where he’s also developing his creator-owned comic book series.
Brian Rood is a freelance illustrator who spends most of his time creating new artwork for the Star Wars galaxy. His work can be found on numerous licensed Star Wars products, including toy packaging, Blu-ray packaging, trading cards, and a large assortment of Star Wars fine art reproductions with ACME Archives Direct. He lives in Southeast Michigan with his wife and two awesome children.
Chris Scalf grew up in Michigan, the middle child of a single mother. He didn’t have much so he thrived on his imagination. He began drawing his favorite moments from the science fiction and monster shows he loved watching on TV. Eventually a high school crush led to marriage and Chris’s desire to provide for his new family by making a living as an artist. In 2006 Chris was hired to paint his first Star Wars project, the R2-D2 mailboxes for the USPS. Today, Chris spreads his work between commercial art and advertising and the genre art he loved so much as a kid. He still lives in Michigan with his wife and daughter.
Darren Tan was born and raised in Malaysia where he grew up drawing spaceships, dinosaurs, and the stuff of his imagination, which was fueled by movies and computer games. Inspired by these, he went on to study animation and later graduated as a computer animator from Sheridan College, Canada. After a brief stint in 3-D animation, he decided to trade in polygons for a Wacom tablet. Now he works as a digital concept artist at Imaginary Friends Studios and is enjoying getting paid for his hobby. Apart from his passion for art and Star Wars, he is also a big fan of The Lord of the Rings and enjoys delving into medieval and church history. He now lives with his beautiful wife in sunny Singapore.
Chris Trevas is a freelance illustrator for Star Wars books, games, trading cards, packaging, and many other products. His book credits include four Star Wars: Essential Guides for Del Rey as well as several Star Wars technical guides and blueprints.
Read an Excerpt
BEFORE Star Wars graced the silver screens of packed movie houses, its story was presented to an eager public via the printed word. A tie-in novel based on the screenplay of Star Wars arrived in bookstores over five months prior to the film’s debut on May 25, 1977, helping to spread awareness of the movie to come in a pre-digital, word-of-mouth age. As such, the very first Star Wars fans were readers.
It was soon evident that Star Wars would surpass the bounds of summer entertainment to become much more than just a movie. The faraway galaxy became a setting for legends. As production promptly began on a sequel to the first film, creator George Lucas opened up his universe to exploration by other storytellers. Comic book tales came first and proved to be a medium that would be integral to the genesis of the Star Wars universe. Within a year of the film’s release, Alan Dean Foster’s follow-up novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, became a bestseller.
Since that time, over 145 full-length novels have expanded the Star Wars story. More than one hundred juvenile novels helped open the door for young readers into a lifetime of reading. Over 170 short stories added to the saga. It can be a very daunting task to navigate among these works. The Essential Reader’s Companion hopes to guide you through these rich stories.
The Essential Reader’s Companion is a summary of Star Wars fiction for Star Wars readers of any level. The novice reader, unsure of where to start, may find guidance by browsing through the curated summaries. It is also meant for the intermediate Star Wars reader who has sampled some works, but never realized how immense the library is. And, for the experts, it’s a fresh look at what they may already know, hopefully with some new surprises thrown in—not to mention all-new illustrations of characters and scenes previously only imagined.
WHAT’S NOT IN THIS BOOK
The Essential Reader’s Companion focuses on prose fiction. Graphic novels, every bit as essential to the Expanded Universe, are beyond the scope of this book, though where relevant mentions of certain stories are given in the text. The younger end of children’s literature—the illustrated storybooks, chapter books, and beginner books—is also excluded, though works for young adults (ages twelve and up) are included. Stories with variable plots—Solitaire Adventures, Choose Your Own Adventure, Decide Your Destiny, and similar works—are also not included.
Stories of videogames, which often form important chapters in the lives of Star Wars characters, are not covered unless they’ve been adapted into a book. Sometimes game books—such as roleplaying game supplements and videogame strategy guides—include fictional sidebars or a fictional story that frames the rules and game information. These, too, are not in the Companion.
WHAT’S IN THIS BOOK
Most of this book consists of summaries of novels, whether for adults or young adults. In some cases, multibook stories that flow into one another are collected in a single entry. Short stories published in official Star Wars periodicals or online are afforded their own entries or are described in sidebars when they directly connect to a larger story.
Each entry includes the cover art—in some cases, multiple examples if more than one version of the cover exists. It is important to note that in the case of multiple entries from the same source, the Companion will show the cover only for the first entry from that source. An entry credits the author(s) and cover artist(s), then lists the work’s publication history—format and release date. A note about release dates: For consistency’s sake, the Companion uses the date as recorded in the indicia of the publication, though the dates books were actually available for purchase may vary by weeks.
Where the story fits into the Star Wars time line follows, with a year annotated as BBY (for events before the Battle of Yavin, as seen in the movie Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope) and ABY (for events after the Battle of Yavin). For those interested in galactic cartography, a roster of the planets visited in the story is given, complete with grid coordinates for use with the maps found in Star Wars: The Essential Atlas. The Companion next identifies the main characters in a story, summarizes its events, and in some cases offers “behind-the-scenes” information about a story’s creation or impact.
The Companion presents Star Wars fiction in a recommended reading order that follows a chronological flow within the Expanded Universe. However, the order presented prioritizes reading experience over rigid adherence to chronology. For example, the Jedi Academy Trilogy and the novel I, Jedi occur at the same time, often covering the same events. A rigid adherence to chronology would recommend reading alternate parts of each work. Instead, the Companion recommends reading the Jedi Academy Trilogy first; it was the first work published, and I, Jedi was written with the expectation that it likely would be the second work read. If a book covers large spans of time, it’s often where the story ends that determines its chronological placement, not where it begins.
CANON AND CONTINUITY
Common questions are: How “real” are these stories? Do they count? Did they really happen?
The most definitive canon of the Star Wars universe is encompassed by the feature films and television productions in which George Lucas is directly involved. The movies and the Clone Wars television series are what he and his handpicked writers reference when adding cinematic adventures to the Star Wars oeuvre.
But Lucas allows for an Expanded Universe that exists parallel to the one he directly oversees. In many cases, the stewards of the Expanded Universe—editors within the licensing division of Lucasfilm Ltd. who work with authors and publishers—will ask for his input or blessing on projects. Though these stories may get his stamp of approval, they don’t enter his canon unless they are depicted cinematically in one of his projects.
That said, unless something occurs in a canon project to directly contradict a published source, it can reliably be said to have occurred. Extensive records track the growth of the Expanded Universe, cataloging planets, characters, technology, and events, to allow for a sprawling, believable continuity connecting the published works of the Star Wars universe. It’s not perfect—when errors occur, the Companion does sometimes call them out. This is not to diminish these tales in any way, but rather to illustrate that the Star Wars Expanded Universe is a living document that grows and evolves over time.
The Reader’s Companion is not meant as a replacement for the experience of reading these works firsthand. Those truly interested in the stories are strongly encouraged to read them whole. No matter how detailed, a summary is no substitute for experiencing a story as the author intended.