10. The Sequel Trilogy
It’s everything a fan could want from a “Star Wars” film and then some. Even the sorts of viewers who spend the entire running time of movies anticipating every plot twist and crowing “called it!” when they get one right are likely to come up short here. But the surprises usually don’t violate the (admittedly loose) internal logic of the universe George Lucas invented, and when they seem to, it’s because the movie has expanded the mythology in a small but significant way, or imported a sliver of something from another variant of Lucas’ creation.
These films are preoccupied with questions of legacy, legitimacy and succession, and includes multiple debates over whether one should replicate or reject the stories and symbols of the past. Among its many valuable lessons is that objects have no worth save for the feelings we invest in them, and that no individual is greater than a noble idea.
9. The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis The Wise
To the casual viewer, the love for Plagueis may be seem a little strange; why does everyone care about that guy who was only mentioned by name once in Revenge of the Sith? To these people we say, look no further than Darth Plagueis.
The story of the novel essentially acts as one giant prequel to the Star Wars saga. It starts off with Palpatine, having just recently killed his master, reflecting back on the life of Darth Plagueis the Wise. This book shows readers how the Sith Lord rose to power, how he groomed Palpatine as his apprentice, the introduction of Darth Maul, the creation of Anakin Skywalker by the Force, and how the two Dark Siders planted the seeds of the Clone Wars. It is one of the greatest Star Wars books ever written, and a must read for even the most casual of fans!
8. The Prequel Trilogy
The prequels do have their share of flaws — there’s no denying this. The films — especially Attack of the Clones — garnered deserved (but measured) criticism when they were released from 1999 to 2005. Yes, Jar Jar was terrible (from his language to his antics to his CG depiction), Jake Lloyd was not the greatest child actor, and the dialogue ranged from wooden to cheesy to downright silly. Blame Internet outrage or peer pressure or how excited we are for the new installments in the series, but just as nostalgia has inflated the original trilogy to near mythic heights, the last decade has allowed dislike for the prequels to sour into petty disdain. And they don’t deserve it.
There are plenty of elements in the prequels that are worthy of celebration, and indeed, The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith are very solid entries in the franchise as a whole. Yet we scorn all three movies because they are different. Or, more accurately, we scorn them because they’re not exactly what we wanted.
The prequels tell a different kind of story than the original trilogy told, which was jarring for many fans. Instead of a hero’s journey to victory, they depict a hero’s fall from grace, a tragedy that is harder to bring to life onscreen. Coupled with the fact that Lucas — with significantly improved technology behind him this time around — chose a different visual style, the first three episodes of the series often feel as if they are part of a different universe.
Now you are probably wondering why we placed the Prequel Trilogy ahead of the Sequel Trilogy. It’s because the sequel trilogy, although great, lacks originality and feels more like a reboot than a continuation of the story and lore. The Force Awakens did that more than the early ones, because it had that the girl from a different planet, the death star, the Cantina sequence.
Director J. J. Abrams was trying to figure out what was it about the original movies that everybody loved. However, the Prequels told a unique, original, ambitious (although imperfect) narrative that far surpasses the Sequel Trilogy. The Prequels are classics in their own right and they prove that an ambitious story with flaws is far superior to an unambitious story with no flaws. Ironically, the flaws are part of what make it beautiful.
7. Choices of One
Of all the characters found only in the Legends continuity, Mara jade is the definitive fan favorite. Veteran Star Wars author Timothy Zahn’s 2011 novel Choices of One is the most popular Mara Jade story out there, and it’s certainly one that does the character justice.
Set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Choices of One follows Mara Jade on an exciting mission with a ruthless group of Stormtroopers to squash a rebel alliance with the Governor of an Outer Rim territory. The rebels in question? None other than Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Chewbacca.
Mara Jade is most well-known for switching sides after the Emperor’s demise and eventually marrying Luke, so it’s a great bit of fun to see her at her baddest, on a ruthless imperial mission, right in the middle of the original trilogy era.
5. The Thrawn Trilogy
The Thawn Trilogy changed everything for fans and has withstood the test of time to top my list of Star Wars books. For the first time we’re introduced to Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, and others, who would become beloved entries into the Expanded Universe. The engrossing story saw Thrawn leading remnants of the Empire against the New Republic as his ally, Dark Jedi clone Joruus C’baoth, goes after Luke and Leia, who is pregnant with the twins. The trilogy keeps the spirit of the original three films while successfully expanding Star Wars lore and left fans wanting more Star Wars stories.
Beginning with Heir to the Empire, the Thrawn trilogy of books follows the escapades of the Rebels five years after the Battle of Endor. It appears that the “New Republic” is finally winning the war; the last remnants of the Imperial forces are driven back to the Outer Rim. However, the tide is about to turn. Under the guidance of Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Empire is set to make one last major push against our heroes.
What can we say about these books that hasn’t already been said? They introduced Thrawn, a character who has become so popular that fans were furious when they found out he was being taken out of the canon. Lucasfilm heard the outcry and responded appropriately, reintroducing him in the newest season of Rebels as a prime antagonist. This story also featured the introduction to the Dark Jedi Mara Jade, an agent of the Empire who eventually went on to become Luke’s wife in countless EU material. It also had Leia become pregnant and learn the ways of the force (she even had her own lightsaber!). We also can’t forget the series’ memorable characters, like the evil Jedi Master Jorus C’baoth, the smuggler Talon Karrde, and an evil clone of Luke Skywalker. Seriously, read this series!
The story of Thrawn’s life as a whole and his lasting legacy in the Expanded Universe. This guy was such a genius that even a decade after his death the plans he’d laid out were threatening to tear apart the fledgling New Republic. His fingerprints are everywhere.
4. The Original Trilogy
What I can tell you is that the original movies follow this guy, a kid really, named Luke. He lives on a farm in the middle of nowhere and isn’t really all that exceptional at anything. He doesn’t have many friends (unless you count his soon-to-be-deceased aunt and uncle) and his only goal in life is getting away from where he was born. Over the course of the next two films you watch Luke struggle to make decisions, often failing with horrible consequences (he loses his hand by the way.) There are other characters, like the roguish Han Solo, with a spotty past, and the feisty, capable leader Princess Leia who are great, too, and in time you’ll come to relate to all of them in some capacity. They all exist in what we call the original trilogy.
Star Wars is a stepping stone of my childhood; it has great, classic storytelling that still works today. It features interesting and complex characters. It got me interested in Sci-Fi which is a big passion to this day, and it got me to bond with my father. It’s a universal story that helped make Sci-Fi a globally appreciated genre. It’s got the right formula of high stakes and action, romance and angst. It’s got funny characters, too, and classic tropes – and it’s infinitely entertaining.”
3. Anakin’s Padawan
This youngling seemed a character doomed for the refrigerator, one who existed to create an emotional attachment and whose death would explain the actions of another, ostensibly more important, character. Ahsoka might very well die before Revenge of the Sith, although her decision to leave the Jedi Order at the end of Season Five might offer her a reprieve. She might survive only to be killed later by Darth Vader. She might live a long life, using her Jedi training to help people outside of the rules and regulations of the Order. But however she dies, she will die not just as a vehicle for Anakin’s character development, but as a fully realized character who helped highlight the Jedi’s flaws.
Ahsoka is the character who exists within the canon of the Star Wars prequel universe and seemingly doesn’t tolerate all of the dishonesty and deception associated with it. It’s almost like she’s the manifestation of a critique of the Prequel universe.
Anakin was super unlikable in the actual Star Wars films, but through his friendship/mentorship/partnership with Ahsoka, he’s rendered a lot more likable. Roles for females not played by Natalie Portman are scarce in this version of the Star Wars universe, and Ahsoka obviously corrects that. She’s also not as gloomy and depressed as all the other Jedi are in the Prequels. Ashoka has a positive attitude coupled with a believable personality.
As a matter of fact, her sense of right and wrong is so clear that she straight-up leaves the Jedi Order in the penultimate season of “The Clone Wars” because she feared the Order had compromised its position as a force for good in order to win a war.
One of the best moments in all of Star Wars is in “Twilight of the Apprentice Part 2” is when Ahsoka declares almost proudly, “I’m no Jedi.” The Jedi in the Prequels are obviously the victims of systematic murder perpetrated against them by Darth Sidious and his conspiracy.
Nevertheless, the Jedi are also incompetent to a point where they’re hard to feel sorry for prior to said conspiracy unfolding. Most frustratingly, they’re rude to Qui-Gon Jinn, jerky with Obi-Wan, and straight-up push Anakin to the Dark Side. In The Clone Wars, Ahsoka gets fed up with this BS. When she is falsely accused of bombing the Jedi Temple, the Jedi totally screw her over. Most of this is because their bureaucratic power structure coupled with their stoic and detached attitudes. Ahsoka walking out on the Jedi in The Clone Wars and helping the Rebellion in Rebels is exactly what a regular person would do if they were thrust into the universe of Star Wars. Ahsoka is that one character who states whatever the audience is thinking. She’s like you and me.
Sometimes we have had Jedi embrace a “help people help themselves” policy, but Kreia’s stance is simply to just stay out of regular folks’ business. You might say it’s just a trick — Kreia, we learn, is a former Jedi instructor known for controversial teachings. She later became Sith before losing her connection to the Force — but listen to this from her:
“A culture’s teachings, and most importantly, the nature of its people, achieve definition in conflict. They find themselves… or find themselves lacking. Too long did the Republic remain unchallenged. It is a stagnant beast that labors for breath… and has for centuries. The Jedi Order was the heart that sustained its sickness — now the Jedi are lost, we shall see how long the Republic can survive.”
Star Wars is escapism. It’s a space fantasy, not just science fiction, and more often than not it attempts to paint a picture of a world that is easy to understand and feel comfortable with. That black-and-white portrait is a demonstration of how we wished our world would be, with good and evil and a clear dividing line between them. KOTOR collapses that construct, humanizing evil and obscuring that dividing line. Whereas other Star Wars stories provides surface-level enjoyment, KOTOR goes deep enough to be intellectually stimulating.
The difference between the KOTOR games and other Star Wars fiction is apparent in their basic premises. In most Star Wars stories, you are someone important/powerful who is trying to save the galaxy. In KOTOR nobody knows you nor cares about what you’re doing. Most Star Wars fiction is fun and simple and earnest, and KOTOR is heady and heavy and noir-ish.