Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekly Journal - Update!

This is my weekly journal. This is where one will find a glimpse into the niceties of the Expanded Universe- the quirky, intriguing, yet easily missed twists and turns of my journey.

I will continue to update this particular blog post every week, sharing the progress of my exploits. Please check back regularly for updates.

July 20th, 2009
5-2 years BBY

My recent exploits have been rewarding. It's wonderful to feel the magic of the GFFA once again, after my own personal "dark times" with the Ewoks and Droids cartoons. The overarching theme of the past week has been the birth of the Rebel Alliance.

Shortly before I began recording my travels, I had finished the
Droids Omnibus by Dark Horse Comics. Apparently, R2 and 3PO, who were left in Episode III under the care of Captain Antilles, were lost in an escape-pod test over the Karthakk system. This omnibus (and the Nelvana cartoons) chronicles their adventures at this time, though I'm not sure how they'll be recovered by Antilles. I have to say, I'm thoroughly impressed by this Dark Horse collection.

Moving on, I finished the first six chapters of
Rebel Dawn, the last book of the Han Solo Trilogy by A.C. Crispin. Without a doubt, this book is turning out to be one of my favorites. Take Han, Chewie, Boba Fett, Jabba, and Prince Xizor, put them all into one pot, and you've just gotten into my top 5 before I've even finished! Han finally wins the Millenium Falcon from Lando and Bria Tharen (his love interest) is roaming the galaxy, trying to unite rebel movements. It also ties in well with the events of The Starcave of Thonboka, the last Lando trilogy book (always a plus for good connections).

Just finished the first third of
The Force Unleashed. The book and comic are good, but you need to read both of these as well as play the game to get the full, and much better, experience.

In terms of minutia, I finished up the Princess Leia Diaries (
SW Tales Volume 3), ending with Princess Leia as the youngest Imperial senator (and already aware of her father's dream of a Rebel Alliance).

Also threw in a couple of short stories. First, one about young Luke and "sand surfing" on Tatooine, via the
Movie Trilogy Sourcebook. Kinda kool, and sets up the competition between Fixer and Biggs (Luke's friends), but no need to worry yourself on it. Also, read a couple short stories, in the Rebel Alliance Sourcebook, about some of the first attacks by the Empire on rebel groups in the Atrivis sector. This sets up the legacy of Mon Mothma as an Alliance leader.

So far so good.
Rebel Dawn, The Force Unleashed, and the short stories about the Alliance birth are meshing extremely well!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Worst So Far

So now that I've listed my favorites so far, I thought I'd take some time to tell you what my LEAST favorite EU materials have been. Now, this doesn't mean you can't like these things or that I didn't enjoy them at all. For the record, there hasn't been one story/adventure from the EU so far that I didn't enjoy at least somewhat. However, unless you are a die-hard fan like me, you may want to steer clear of these items:

#1 Ewoks Animated Adventures (Nelvana animated series)

3 years BBY

Contrary to popular opinion, I don't hate Ewoks. But this show is just a little bit more than I can handle. There are 25-odd episodes comprising 2 seasons and none of it really holds relevance to what's going on in the galaxy. The best episode is the last, when the Empire comes scouting out Endor. But honestly, after I watched about 5 episodes, learned all the characters and read the comic books, enough was enough.

#2 Rogue Planet by Greg Bear

29 years BBY

I remember this being the first EU book I encountered that I didn't really like very much. The best things this book has going for it are that it's one of the only books to feature young padawan Anakin and the bloodcarver ( This is also the first time when Anakin feels the pull of the dark side. Furthermore, it does have a nice connection to the book Outbound Flight and the Thrawn Trilogy, as Obi-Wan and Anakin are looking for answers Vergere's disappearance. However, in all, this book is not that interesting. It's not horrible, it's just kind of boring and not much happens. And, also contrary to popular opinion, I don't hate little Anakin and that's not why I didn't like the book.

#3 The Adventures of Lando Calrissian by L. Neil Smith

5-3 years BBY

I might catch some flak for this one, but honesty is the best policy. This trilogy chronicles the adventures of the young gambler Lando Calirissian before he owns Cloud City and while he own the Millennium Falcon. I must admit, the main villain, the Sorcerer of Tund Rokur Gepta(, was highly enjoyable. And the third book was actually really fun to read. However, in my opinion, the books themselves were poorly written and the trilogy as a whole was lackluster. On top of that, being one of the first EU books ever written, some of the vernacular and terminology was out of place. For example, "Portuguese man-o-wars" were mentioned. I don't think the sentients of the Star Wars galaxy know anything about Portugal or man-o-wars. However, I can forgive all of this because these books flow and connect exceedingly well with the Han Solo Trilogy. I'm convinced A.C. Crispin and Smith had many good conversations.

#4 The Clone Wars (3D animated series)

22-19 years BBY

I do enjoy this TV show for what it is and there are several things I love about it. However, The Clone Wars has completely and horribly defaced continuity, and I can't let that slide. I'm not upset about Anakin's padawan, Ahsoka Tano, although I wonder what's gonna happen to her come Episode III (partly why I watch the series). What upsets me is that it has irresponsibly tossed around the timeline for the Clone Wars. For example, Anakin, according to Jedi Trial, does not become a knight until 6 months before the end of the Clone Wars. Now, because of this series, he's a knight almost from the outset. Not to mention his scar, which shouldn't be there yet, and the fact that clone commanders shouldn't be popping up until Phase II clone armor is developed, whereas Captain Rex and his squad wear Phase I armor. I feels like, overall, the Clone Wars team did not do it's homework. This isn't beyond repair, but it's annoying to say the least. Regardless, I do genuinely enjoy this TV show, if only just to see/hear previously ancillary Jedi like Plo Koon, Luminara Unduli, and Kit Fisto. And Cad Bane is awesome!

At the end of the day, I can't wait for season two.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Best So Far

Because I'm well into this adventure already, I thought it would be helpful to recap on the best and the worst so far. First, my top 10 favorite pieces of EU material, in no particular order:

#1 Tales of the Jedi

7,000 - 3,986 years BBY

book cover of  The Golden Age of the Sith   (Star Wars : Tales of the Jedi) by Kevin J Anderson

You can't go much farther back than these graphic novels, which go back even before the Old Republic. Perhaps the most attractive part of this series is the chance to see the Ancient Sith Empire, a civilization of Sith far more numerous than in the times of Palpatine and Vader. The Jedi librarian Odan Uur, one of my favorite EU characters, makes his cameo in the first books of this series. This also chronicles the mortal life and fall of Exar Kun during the Great Sith War, 4,000 years before he posseses Kyp Duron and wreaks havok on Luke Skywalker's Jedi Academy. You also get a glimpse into the lifestyle of Ancient Jedi on the planet Ossus, when practices such as loving/emotional attachment and multiple apprentices were not yet forbidden. This makes the merit of the "dogmatic" ways of prequel-era Jedi seem much less convincing.

I can't wait for this period of time to be expanded on!

#2 Knights of the Old Republic (video game)

3,956 years BBY

This is one of the best Star Wars video games out. Being an RPG, you are relatively free to custumize your character and experience in terms of lightsabers, force powers, and allegience (lightside or darkside). You can also customize your team. All the while, the story remains essentially the same: you are the Sith Lord Darth Revan, who, having had your memory wiped by the Jedi Order and unable to remember your dark past, are on a mission to stop your old apprentice, Darth Malak, from harnessing the power of an invincible fleet. A word to the cannon-obesessed: the "true" ending to this game is Revan remaining loyal to the Jedi and defeating Malak. Another nice touch for this game is to read the Knights of the Old Republic graphic novel series, which features events during the Mandolorian War which lead up to this game. The sequel to this game, KOTOR II: The Sith Lords, is fun and interesting, but not nearly as story-driven as the first.

#3 Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn

1,000 years BBY

This book, the first of a trilogy, is absolutely fantastic. First, you get to see what the Sith were like before the "rule of two"- one master, one apprentice. You also get to see just how ancient Sith were trained. Trust me, it's brutal! During this book, the Jedi and the Sith are embroiled in the War of Light and Darkness and, all the while, Bane plots his takeover of the Sith Order, one betrayal and massacre at a time. Finally, the philosophical foundation of this book is intriguing and creative. Delving deep into the mind of Bane and his fellow Sith, you will come to understand the true nature of the dark side, and why it is a power that should only be shared by two.

Path of Destruction is a part of the Bane trilogy, Rule of Two being the second, but less engaging, book and Dynasty of Evil scheduled for release this October, 2009.

#4 Jedi Apprentice Series by Jude Watson (#1 by Dave Wolverton)

44 -34 years BBY

This may be a 20 book scholastic series, but it is well worth your time (and very little money). This series chronicles the adventures of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi as a padawan under Qui-Gon Jinn. Did you know that Qui-Gon had a previous padawan? Ever wonder why spirit Obi-Wan comments to Yoda that he, too, was too old for training when he began? The answers are here, as well as the very foundational philosophies and teachings of the Republic Jedi.

#5 Darth Maul

32 years BBY

Nothing like some good old dark side mayhem. And believe me, Darth Maul brings the pain! It's amazing Maul is so popular, espeically when his time in the Star Wars movies was so short (thanks, Obi). This is a very good origin story and one of the first appearances on the timeline of the Black Sun Criminal Organization- who, unsurprisingly, are no match for Maul.

#6 Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves

32 years BBY

Michael Reaves is one of my favorite SW authors, and I'll tell you why: every one of his books/series that I have read have taken place in different times and places. Yet, with the help of one or two common characters, all form a comprehensive story. This is the very first one and features everybody's favorite baddy, Darth Maul, as the key villain. If you read only one of Reaves' books, I recommend this one.

#7 The Republic Commando Quadrilogy by Karen Traviss

The Clone Wars: 22-19 years BBY

Once thing that I love about Karen Traviss is that, in every book of hers that I've read, she really challenges the way I think about the characters of the Star Wars Galaxy. This is especially so for the Republic Commando Quadrilogy, which takes place throughout the Clone Wars. If you read these, prepare never to look at Clones the same way, ever again. On top of that, she does a great job of highlighting the inconsistencies of conventional Jedi wisdom, such as attachment and the righteousness of their role as generals in the Clone Wars. This series is also a wonderful source to learn about Mandalorian (i.e. Boba Fett's) culture

I'm looking forward to her follow-up series, Imperial Commando, with the first book being released this October, 2009.

#8 Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover

21.5 years BBY

Now I don't know about you, but I love me some Mace Windu. Discover Mace's Korun roots in this exciting Clone Wars adventure to save his old padawan, Deepa Billaba! But before he can save her, he must overcome the malignant nature of the jungle that surrounds him at every turn. Just one question: Why's he gotta be from a jungle, Mutha F*&%$ !?

#9 Dark Rendevous by Sean Stewart

19.5 years BBY

Ever wondered what would happen if Yoda went to the dark side? Well so does Count Dooku. And if you read this book for any reason, read it for the final confrontation between Yoda and Dooku. Top that with lots of classic Clone Wars action and cameos from Asajj Ventriss, and you've got yourself a winner.

#10 Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno

19-18.5 years BBY

Vader didn't become the cold, "more machine than man" Dark Lord we know from the Classic Trilogy over night, even after he donned the suit. James Luceno really seems to tap into that easily forgotten fact. I really love books that bring everything together. And after the dramatic events of Revenge of the Sith (Ep. III), this book is where you really get some closure. While we all know now how Anakin physically became Vader, James Luceno does a great job of finishing the emotional and spiritual transformation of Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader.

The Eras of Galactic History

For those that are interested in becoming a little more acquainted, here is a summary of the basic Eras of Star Wars:

The Old Republic:

25,000-1000 years BBY

This is the time of the Old Republic and the Jedi Order before the coming of the Galactic Empire. The tales of this Era tell the stories of the ancient battles between the Jedi and the Sith: the Great Hyperspace War, the Great Sith War, the Jedi Civil War, and the Battle of Rusaan. This is also the time of the infamous Mandalorian War. These are the tales of Ancient Sith Lords like Naga Sadow and Freedon Nadd, as well as fallen Jedi like Exar Kun, Uliq Qel-Droma and Revan. This era also has it's fair share of heroes, from Nomi Sunrider to Zayne Carrick.

These ancient stories are later returned to, full circle, as Luke Skywalker slowly rebuilds the Jedi Order and seeks out more and more information about his predecessors.

The Rise of the Empire

1,000-0 years BBY

This is perhaps the longest Era, material-wise, along the timeline. This period stretches from the founding of the New Sith Order by Darth Bane, all the way through the early adventures of Obi-Wan Kenobi as a padawan. This period also includes the Prequel Trilogy (Ep. I-III) and the Clone Wars (now a TV show), after which Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader, the Jedi are slaughtered, and the Empire is born. But just as darkness falls, a new hope arises.This is the time of the birth of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, better known as the Rebel Alliance. This Era ends with the destruction of the first Death Star.

The Era of Rebellion

0-4 years ABY

Need I say more? This is the time of the Rebellion and the Classic trilogy (Ep. IV-VI). These are the most classic tales of Star Wars heroes and villains during and between the original films. This also includes epic Star Wars side-adventures such as Shadows of the Empire and Dark Forces, which tell the early tales of Dash Rendar and Kyle Katarn. This Era chronicles rise of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca as great heroes of the Rebellion, as well as the fall of the evil Empire.

The New Republic

5-25 years ABY

Having defeated the Galactic Empire, the leaders of the Rebel Alliance found the New Republic. But the troubles aren't over, especially with the Imperial Remnant, led by ruthless leaders such as Grand Admiral Thrawn, Ysanne Isard and a reborn Emperor Palpatine, trying to regain strength. During this time, Jacen, Jaina and Anakin Solo, the children of Han and Leia, are born. Together, these young force-sensitives become some of the first members of Luke Skywalker's new Jedi Academy on Yavin. One of the greatest Star Wars trilogies of all time, the Thrawn Trilogy, takes place in this Era.

The New Jedi Order

25-30 years ABY

Luke Skywalker's New Jedi Order is growing rapidly. However, the invasion of a malevolent species from the Unknown Regions, the Yuuzhan Vong, as well as internal pressures, prove a daunting challenge for the fledgling New Republic. While the Yuuzhan Vong are defeated, the galaxy is changed forever.

Legacy of the Force

37-140 years ABY

Following the Yuuzhan Vong Crisis, the Imperial Remanant and the New Republic form, for the first time, a galaxy-wide unified government: the Galactic Alliance. The New Jedi Order is appointed the guardians of this body. However, this is also the time of the fall of Jacen Solo to the dark side, consumed by Darth Caedus, and his ascendence to rule. In order to combat this evil, Luke Skywalker and his Jedi Order abandon the Galactic Republic and wage war against Caedus, who is finally felled by his own sister, Jaina Solo. Alternately, this Era includes the adventures of Cade Skywalker, 100 years after these events.

Fate of the Jedi

42 years ABY

This is the newest Era of the expanded universe. Having defeated Darth Caedus, new tensions rise between the Jedi Order and the Galactic Alliance, led by Chief of State Natasi Daala. With a warrant out for his arrest, Luke Skywalker retreats into exile....

A Note On Timeline Shorthand

At the beginning of every entry, there will be a date that lists the placement of the book in question within the timeline of Star Wars history.

There are two simple abbreviations to know:

BBY - Before the Battle of Yavin. The Battle of Yavin is the classic battle in A New Hope (Ep. IV), during which the Death Star is destroyed. Thus, 10 years BBY takes place ten years before the original Star Wars movie (Ep. IV).

ABY - After the Battle of Yavin. Thus, Return of the Jedi (Ep. VI) takes place 4 ABY, or 4 years after A New Hope (Ep. IV).

For my timeline reference, up to date book placement, and help with the Era descriptions, I primarily use

An Introduction

Two years ago, I decided to begin a journey that has literally changed my life. I've always been a Star Wars fan and I've seen the movies millions of times. So I thought I'd expand my horizons a bit. Little did I know, I got hooked...

This journey begins, like all journeys should, at the very beginning. I started reading a graphic novel series called Tales of the Jedi, which encompasses Star Wars history dating all the way back to 25,000 years Before the Battle of Yavin, Episode IV (BBY) up until about 1,000 years BBY. Now, as I write this post, I'm reading the adventures of a young Han Solo, a mere 5 years BBY.

Along the way I've learned much about the Star Wars Galaxy, as I have about myself. You may laugh, yes, but you would be surprised how deeply the moral and practical lessons that the Star Wars mythos teaches us resonate with the real world. Lessons of discipline, of acceptance, of love- and, of course, fear, anger and hate.

Join me in this wonderful adventure, which I hope never, ever has to end.

May the Force Be With You, Always.