What is Star Wars Legends and why is it still important?

Revan image courtesy of Starwars.com
Revan image courtesy of Starwars.com /

As a Star Wars fan, you might have heard the phrase “Star Wars Legends” being tossed around at some point. You might have seen certain books or comics with this Golden Legends banner across the top or bottom. or maybe you’ve heard of the new Essential Legends book collection. But what exactly does the term Legends mean, and why is it still necessary?

Star Wars Legends, formerly known as the Expanded Universe or the EU, is every book, comic, and video game published before the Disney acquisition of Star Wars. On April 25th, 2014, Disney made all previous EU books, comics, television shows, and video games “Legends” and said that only everything published going forward would be a part of the new canon. However, this did not include The Clone Wars animated series, which was the only exclusion as that was George Lucas’ project. All the books and comics received a Golden banner across the cover with the word Legends. No more new stories were published in this timeline, and only the new books set in the Disney canon were published.

Stories in Legends ranged from thousands of years before The Phantom Menace to hundreds of years after Return of the Jedi. Many characters that we know now, such as Grand Admiral Thrawn, Rukh, and Asajj Ventress, originated from Legends, and countless examples of inspiration are seen today from these stories.

Grand Admiral Thrawn. Image courtesy of Starwars.com
Grand Admiral Thrawn. Image courtesy of Starwars.com /

The first Legends book ever published was Splinter of the Minds Eye back in 1978, though the books and comics did not gain more popularity until later in 1991 when Timothy Zahn‘s Heir to the Empire was published. These books continued the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo when no new Star Wars movies were being released. So, a lot of fans were driven to read them. Up to the end of their publication in 2014, more and more stories were released, expanding the Star Wars universe. It comprised six eras: The Old Republic, Rise of the Empire, Rebellion, New Republic, New Jedi Order, and Legacy. Stories in these eras ranged from stand-alone novels to trilogies to even a massive series spanning nineteen books.

Although no new Legends books are published today, DelRey has begun to reprint some Legends books under the new “Essential Legends Collection” banner. This has brought a whole new generation of Star Wars fans to Legends, and it’s nice to see the old stories getting more and more acknowledgment. Many Legends authors like Timothy Zahn and John Jackson Miller still write books for Lucasfilm Publishing. The popularity has even kicked off Legends Con, a delightful convention focusing only on Extended Universe material.

Star Wars Legends is a fantastic timeline of its own, and though not every story is extraordinary, there are some great works that everyone should check out.

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