This week Disney has secured the rights to Star Wars (and the rest of the Lucasfilm empire) and announced plans for Star Wars 7, 8 and 9. Already fans are asking which novel will Star Wars 7 be while tipsters whisper it’ll be an all new story. You might suddenly wish for a handy crash course in the Expanded Universe you might know someone who would appreciate it as a gift.
In a stroke of good timing, The Essential Reader’s Companion: Star Wars was published this month.
The headline author of the companion is Pablo Hidalgo. He’s the brand communications manager at Lucasfilm. In other words, Hidalgo works to make sure that other people understand what Star Wars is all about – officially.
Other names in associated with the book the artists and illustrators Jeff Carlisle, Joe Corroney, Brian Rood, Chris Scalf, Darren Tan and Chris Trevas. That’s a lot of illustrators and, pleasingly, The Essential Reader’s Companion is a heavily decorated book. It’s the sort of hefty book that’s a delight to flick through.
It’s a big book too; nearly 500 pages (496) and 7.4 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches in size. That’s a lot of colour.
The size comes as no surprise as the book covers a lot. It starts from the official movie novelizations and includes original stand alone and series novels, short stories, young adult titles, ebook novellas and even comics.
Some fans have been saying that Timothy Zahn’s “Heir to the Empire” is the most likely and natural book to be converted into Star Wars 7. Turning to one of the appendices in The Essential Reader’s Companion, looking up Zahn’s list of books and finding Heir to the Empire I know to turn directly to page 303 to read up on it (or check out the 20th anniversary edition that’s covered on page 295).
One page 303 we’re presented with a sample of the covers and discover that Heir to the Empire along with Dark Force Rising and The Last Command are part of The Thrawn Trilogy. I discover the worlds visited in the series and the main characters – this trilogy involves (in part) Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight (human male); Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon (human male); Princess Leia Organa Solo, New Republic councillor (human female); Thrawn, Grand Admiral (Chiss male) and Mara Jade, former Emperor’s Hand (human female) … and plenty of others.
The companion does not just allow me to research the Star Wars extended universe by story; it includes a synopsis for each of the key characters and planets. This is ideal for Star Wars gamers, I think.
We are also shown how the novels are linked to the comic books from Dark Horse and the comic books from Marvel.
There’s no doubt in my mind that The Essential Reader’s Companion for Star Wars is an extremely useful book for anyone wishing to grabble the extended Star Wars universe as it currently stands. It feels like a must-buy for any Star Wars RPG fan, especially the GM.
My copy of the book was provided for review. Star Wars: The Essential Reader’s Companion is available from Titan Books for £24.99.
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