Note: This article was published on 17th December 2015 and is republished now because it's Star Wars Day!
The Star Wars Legends was once known as the Expanded Universe or simply EU to fans. It refers to the officially licensed backstories outside of the original six movies and the Clone Wars animated series. There are hundreds of novels and comics to read, and thousands of characters to meet if you can’t get enough of Star Wars.
However, it must be noted at this point that in 2014, Disney officially made the call and said that the stories that formed the EU would be consider non-canon. The new primary Star Wars canon would instead consist only of the original six movies, the Clone Wars animated series, Star Wars Rebels, as well as books, comics and video games published after 2014. This was done to give Disney free rein in coming up with the story to the new sequel trilogy.
Consequently, stories from the EU will also be rebranded as Star Wars Legends. But it gets a little confusing from this point on because stories from Star Wars Legends will have varying levels of canonicity. And while the new movies will not be based entirely on these stories, some parts of these stories will still be incorporated in the new movies. The problem, however, is that we have no idea what parts of these stories are still considered canon.
Nevertheless, there are some really fascinating and gripping stories from Star Wars Legends that are still well worth reading. Here are five of them.
The novel Shadows of the Empire was actually part of a larger project to explore the possibilities of a full motion picture release and was the catalyst for the later prequel trilogies. In Shadows of the Empire, we are introduced to the Prince Xizor, a Falleen who was the overlord of the criminal organization Black Sun. In this novel which takes place in between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Xizor pits himself against Darth Vader as they vie to be the in Emperor’s good graces. It’s a fascinating encounter as Xizor is one of few in the galaxy with the resources, skills, wits, and influence to rival Darth Vader.
The history of the Sith is shaped largely by the actions of one man. Darth Bane, a man raised a poor miner on the planet of Apatros, who would later destroy the Sith Brotherhood of Darkness and rise to become a Sith Lord and indoctrinate the Sith's Rule of Two. The Darth Bane trilogy recounts the life of one of Star Wars’ most important Sith: his rise to power, his motivations for the rule of two, his first apprentice and his quest for Sith dominance of the galaxy.
If you really think about it, Darth Vader is really one of the most tragic characters in cinema history. As pure as his intentions were, and for all of his gifts, skills and effort, circumstances always seem to conspire against and test him.
Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader picks up quickly after the events of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and describes the difficulties that Anakin Skywalker faced as he comes to terms with his new body and internal conflicts that he must overcome as he fits into his new role as Darth Vader and enforcer of the Empire. Yes, even the awesome, ruthless Darth Vader was a noob once.
In Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Darth Sidious hinted to Darth Vader that to cheat death is a power only one has achieved. The one that he was referring to, was none other than his own master, Darth Plagueis the Wise.
Darth Plagueis tells not just the backstory of one of Star War’s most powerful, enigmatic and scheming Sith Lords, but it also describes the machinations that took place in between the prequel trilogies that allowed Plagueis’ apprentice, Senator Palpatine, to rise to power. A fascinating read as it gives great insight into the minds of one of the greatest Siths to have lived and also provides great details as to how the Sith’s Grand Plan unfolded.
When a sequel trilogy to Star Wars was announced, there were talks that it could be based upon the Thrawn trilogy. Alas, we now know that it was not to be, but it serves to show just how well loved this series is.
The Thrawn Trilogy takes place shortly after Return of the Jedi and tells the story of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s plans to overthrow the newly formed government of the New Republic. Thrawn would later become one of the most memorable villains in the Star Wars EU because of his tactical genius, and pragmatic and calculating character. Along side Thrawn, we are also introduced to Mara Jade, who would later go on to become Luke Skywalker’s wife.