Tag: books

Captain Phasma’s origins and backstory explained

Source: ScreenRant

The Force Awakens introduced audiences to a new era of Star Wars, including a bevy of new characters of varying allegiances, from Rey to Kylo Ren. There were a few moments of peril and destruction, most notably killing off Han Solo, but outside of a few Resistance pilots (and everyone in the Hosnian System), all of the new characters made it out alive. With everyone set to return for The Last Jedi, almost everyone is also carrying an element of the plot or backstory forward, except for one: Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma.

Despite her awesome chrome stormtrooper armor and intimidating demeanor, almost nothing is known about Phasma, partially because she has very little screen time to establish any kind of backstory. That all changes with Phasma by Delilah Dawson, a new novel in the Journey to The Last Jedi series of tie-in stories that tells most of the First Republic Captain’s life story leading up to within a few years of The Force Awakens.

While Phasma is fairly thorough, it’s important to point out that the story is being told by a questionable narrator – a captured Resistance spy name Vi Moradi who got all of her information from an old friend of Phasma’s, Siv. Per Vi’s internal monologue, the story is entirely accurate, aside from some slight embellishment, but all her information is second hand from Siv. So, while this bit of Star Wars canon is fairly well documented, there’s always a good chance that things didn’t play out exactly as described. Even so, it was probably pretty close.

EARLY LIFE

The planet Parnassos was once lush and green, teeming with all manner of wild species and ripe for farming – until the arrival of Con Star Mining. Arriving as many as several hundred years before the events of the Star Wars movies, Con Star’s Parnassos endeavors were intended to improve the lives of their employees and those that lived on the planet, but some combination of shoddy work and lax regulation resulted in a nuclear explosion at one of their cities, destroying all life within the blast radius and leaving a nuclear fallout that would slowly expand across more of the planet, poisoning the air and killing animal and plant life.

Con Star abandoned Parnassos as all the resources were useless. Some of their employees ended their own lives, leaving behind teams of droids to mindlessly continue running any functional stations. Other inhabitants, whether natives, Con Star employees, or some combination of the two lived on, forming tribes and living in primitive isolation until the memory and understanding of advanced technology was little more than legend and the daily struggle for survival occupied most of their waking lives. This is the Parnassos into which Phasma was born.

Phasma’s parents and her brother Keldo lived with a small tribe in a cave they called the Nautilus. When she was a young girl, the already scarce sources of food slowly dried up, wounds – even minor ones – would fester and lead to life-threatening infection, and people’s hair began to fall out. Since the Nautilus was one of the few safe havens in the area, other tribes, the Claw and the Scyre, wanted it for themselves. Phasma’s tribe would routinely have to fight off attacks from both the Claw and the Scyre, maintaining control of the Nautilus, but slowly decreasing their already small numbers.

Phasma urged her family to unite with the Scyre to form a larger group that could continue to fight off the Claw, but they refused. Eventually, behind their back, Phasma made a secret agreement with the Scyre. One night, she attacked her brother Keldo, stabbing him in the leg and pushing him into the Nautilus, and when he woke up, he and Phasma were the only survivors, and the Scyre had taken over. His leg had to be amputated to avoid infection, but the Scyre had a special oracle salve – harvested from the bodies of their fallen in a sort of pseudo-religious ceremony using devices called “detraxors” – that could be applied to fresh wounds to allow it to heal properly. Keldo and Phasma only needed to pledge their loyalty to the Scyre, which they did.

As a member of the Scyre, Phasma grew into a mighty warrior, both in size – she was one of the tallest people in the Scyre – and skill, regularly leading her own elite warriors in combat against the Claw or on scavenging missions. Keldo, too, became a significant part of the Scyre. While he was missing his leg and not as useful for combat or manual labor, he was one of the few – if not the only – member of the Scyre that could read, and eventually found himself sharing Scyre leadership with Phasma.

INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST ORDER

Crashed ships were not uncommon on Parnassos. Some had been abandoned long ago, but other newer ones could also be found thanks to some old defense installments in orbit, still protecting Star Con’s former interests on the planet, despite the fact that the corporation hasn’t been active there for potentially hundreds of years. One day, Phasma witnessed a glittering ship falling from orbit and dropping an escape pod somewhere beyond Claw territory.

Against Keldo’s orders, Phasma races to the location of the crash with some of her soldiers in hope of salvaging something useful, only to find Brendol Hux, the man in charge of the First Order’s stormtrooper recruitment and training programs. The Claw arrive first, and Brendol declares that he is seeking the finest warriors in the galaxy and will recruit anyone willing to help him get to his ship, which just so happened to be one of Emperor Palpatine’s personal chrome Nabooian yachts.

Phasma pretends to make a truce with Balder so they can both help Brendol, but stabs the Claw leader instead, then her and her soldiers fight off the remaining Claw, telling Brendol he couldn’t trust them anyway, and she and her Scyre soldiers set off to help them across the desert to find his ship.

Their journey takes them across several other unfriendly groups, and Phasma proves her fighting prowess each time until even Brendol Hux’s stormtroopers begin taking orders from her. She endears herself to Brendol and quickly begins mimicking the former Imperial’s accent and posture, watching and adopting the training of the other Stormtroopers over the course of their journey.

When they finally get to the ship, it’s in no condition to fly, but they’re able to hail the First Order to send a shuttle for pickup. Keldo and the rest of the Scyre intercept them and attack, angry at their betrayal, but Phama, her soldiers, and the First Order wipe out the Scyre, and Phasma even kills her brother herself. Only one of Phasma’s original Scyre company, Siv, is still alive at this point. Turning on Siv, Phasma abandons her on Parnassos, leaving to start her life with the First Order, shredding the last vestige Parnassos to begin a new life where nobody but Brendol and a young Scyre girl, Frey, who they will raise as a stormtrooper, knows who she is.

PHASMA – FIRST ORDER CAPTAIN

Already a quick learner, Phasma has mastered many of the basics of stormtrooper training – merely by observation – prior to leaving Parnassos behind with Brendol Hux to join the first order. Once officially joining the ranks, her ascent is even faster. Due to a life that required her to be on constant guard, Phasma only sleeps four hours a night, so she spends the rest of her night time hours learning about things she couldn’t on Parnassos, like galactic history, military tactics, and technology, including a little “slicing” (hacking).

She gains the title of Captain in less than a year and Brendol Hux grants her half of his stormtrooper training program, a role she now shares with Captain Cardinal, a stormtrooper who wears crimson red stormtrooper armor and designs and conducts the training regiment for the young children being raised to be stormtroopers. Phasma’s responsibility is for the older troopers, training them in the actual ways of war and leading them on missions.

After reaching the rank of Captain, Phasma returns to Parnassos and retrieves the chromium plating from the ship Brendol Hux crashed in. Taking it to a former Con Star facility, she has it copy a full set of stormtrooper armor, including a rejected prototype helmet, giving her iconic chrome armor. While on Parnassos, she also retrieves a native beetle who’s bite is extremely lethal, but largely unknown of outside of Parnassos.

Scheming with Brendols’s son, Armitage Hux, Phasma has the beetle bite Brendol, allowing her and Armitage to fill his shoes. Since Frey had also mysteriously died in a training accident, Phasma believes she has removed the last living person who knows anything about her life before the First Order. Cardinal would eventually uncover part of this plot and attack Phasma, but she kills him as well, taking full control of the First Order’s troop training program.

With a new comic detailing more of Phasma’s story after The Force Awakens (including how she escaped from the trash compactor), and a more action heavy role in The Last Jedi, Phasma is going to continue to be a major presence in Episode VIII at least – we’ll see if she survives until Episode IX. Using the First Order simply as a means to elevate own power, without any regard to any of her allies, she could have an interesting role you play yet.

5 THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT CAPTAIN PHASMA

Source: StarWars.Com

As the First Order spreads its reign of fear across the galaxy, stormtroopers armed and armored for war lead the way. The sound of their marching feet is sometimes preceded by another steady gait. Next comes the sight of all of those troopers again, doubled by reflective chrome armor.

Supreme Leader Snoke’s master of ground troops, Captain Phasma, packs a punch on her own, too. Introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, she joins Kylo Ren and General Hux as one of the newest icons of Star Wars villainy.

With an upcoming novel and comic series bearing Phasma’s name, there’s more of the silver-armor-clad leader to come. For now, let’s take a look at the captain’s dossier.

1. Her armor is an expression of her loyalty.

Like Kylo Ren, consumed by his aspirations to emulate Darth Vader, Phasma indulges in her own Imperial idolatry. Her armor’s mirrored surface is made from chromium previously used on one of Emperor Palpatine’s own yachts. The chromium coat might not stop an anti-starship weapon, but it does shield her from radiation.

And as Phasma novel author Delilah S. Dawson said at Celebration, Captain Phasma’s enemies will see the moment of their own death reflected in that armor.

2. That blaster packs a punch from a distance.

Phasma’s blaster is also coated in chromium, an affectation that adds to her imposing appearance. She’s equally comfortable flying a heavily-armed starship, driving a speeder, or wielding any of the First Order’s small arms. Her custom blaster features some upgrades, including a recurved trigger guard for a two-handed stance. Not all of the combat she sees has to be close enough to be reflected in her kit; the blaster rifle can unfold a stabling grip and a macroscope sight for sniping with magnification up to eight times. She holds it with crush gauntlets which were also specially made for Phasma’s gear.

3. “Adequate” is the highest praise her troopers can expect.

As the head of the stormtrooper legions, Phasma has to hold her trainees to the highest standard.

She took a special interest in FN-2187’s training, but even her best soldier was merely “adequate.” She manipulated her troopers’ minds as much as their bodies, observing their behavior in great detail and pinpointing not just weaknesses in their fighting technique, but also friendships that could turn into alliances or dissenting thoughts that could tear a unit apart. She has memorized the serial numbers of every one of the troopers who she works with directly.

“FN-2187 has the potential to be one of the finest stormtroopers I have ever seen…But his decision to split the fire-team and return for FN-2003 is problematic. It speaks to a potentially … dangerous level of empathy.

4. She idolizes the Empire — but wants to do better.

Phasma has high ambitions in other areas, as well. Darth Vader’s bickering advisors wouldn’t have fared well under her rule. Although she supports the First Order’s blind bid to bring back the Empire, she’s also thankful not to have any politicians giving input on how she should raise her troopers. She wants to eliminate infighting while focusing on making her army the best that it can be. While few details are known about Deliah Dawson’s upcoming Phasma novel, it’s sure to reveal more about what makes her such an effective leader.

5. She survived being thrown in the trash compactor.

There’s something alive in here. The stormtrooper extraordinaire is confirmed to have survived her trip to the trash compactor, courtesy Finn and Han Solo, in Captain Phasma #1, a series of comics from Marvel that reveals how she escaped.

Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson is now in stores. Buy here.

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All new Star Wars books coming on Force Friday II

Source: StarWars.Com

You might be ready for Force Friday II. But is your bookshelf? Force Friday II has started on this September 1 and we are seeing the release of several major new Star Wars books, including many in the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi publishing program. Check out StarWars.com’s list below for what titles you’ll find in stores (along with some coming soon, as well), and start your reading journey to the next Star Wars film.

MAY THE BOOKS BE WITH YOU!

Fiction:

Leia: Princess of Alderaan (Disney Lucasfilm Press)
by Claudia Gray

It is Leia Organa’s sixteenth birthday and she participates in the traditional ceremony where she declares her intention to one day take the throne of Alderaan. But she’s much more concerned about the way her parents are acting lately: lots of meetings and late dinners and not talking to her as much as they used to. Eventually she discovers the reason for their secrecy: their involvement in the increasingly organized rebellion. When Leia decides to become involved herself in the fight against the Empire, whether her parents approve or not, she will have to prove to them that she is a valuable asset who must be allowed to take a stand, regardless of the risk to herself. 

Phasma (Del Rey)
by Delilah S. Dawson

When a Resistance spy is taken prisoner by Cardinal, a high-ranking stormtrooper in the First Order, she cuts a deal for her freedom: to tell Cardinal everything she knows about his biggest rival: Captain Phasma. The story then cuts between the present and the past, showing Phasma growing up as a fearsome warrior on a brutal world and the bond that she forges with Brendol Hux when he crash lands on her planet. Hux sees potential in Phasma to become a great asset for the First Order.

The Power of the Force (Disney Lucasfilm Press)
by Michael Siglain (author) and Brian Rood (artist)

The Force gives the noble Jedi Knights their power, but it can also be used by the fearsome Sith. In the never-ending battle between good and evil, who will control the power of the Force?

A Leader Named Leia (Disney Lucasfilm Press)
by Jennifer Heddle (author) and Brian Rood (artist)

To some she’s a princess, to others a general, but to everyone Leia Organa is one of the galaxy’s greatest leaders. Learn all about Leia’s exciting adventures with A Leader Named Leia.

Tales of the Force (a Big Golden Book) (Random House)

From the Jedi, to the Sith, to the Force-sensitive, this Big Golden Book is packed with stories about all the heroes and villains from the Star Wars saga! Featuring stunning retro stylized illustrations, this book is perfect for Star Wars—and Big Golden Book—fans of all ages!

BB-8 on the Run (Disney Lucasfilm Press)
by Drew Daywalt (author) and Matt Myers (artist)

BB-8 must fend for himself when he is separated from his master, Poe Dameron, on the desert planet of Jakku. This original picture book, written by New York Times Bestselling author, Drew Daywalt, explores what exactly BB-8 was up to from the time he leaves Poe to when he is rescued by Rey in The Force Awakens. Everyone’s favorite little droid is on the run, encountering new friends and foes along the way!

Non-Fiction:

Star Wars: Made Easy: A Beginner’s Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away… (DK Publishing)
by Christian Blauvelt

Never seen a Star Wars film? Don’t know one end of a lightsaber from another? Then Star Wars Made Easy is for you! This beginner’s guide to a galaxy far, far away is a fun and informative read that will leave you knowing the difference between a Jedi and a Jawa!

Kirigami: The Starships (Chronicle)
by Marc Jagan-Guirey (Author and artist)

Celebrate the Star Wars saga’s most iconic starships with Marc Hagan-Guirey‘s incredible kirigami projects, made by folding and cutting paper to create amazing 3D artwork.

Stealth Mission Construction Book (Poe’s X-wing) (Egmont UK)
by Rob Ball (model artwork) and Neal Manning (paper engineer)

Join Poe and BB-8 for more action and adventure in Star Wars: The Last Jedi! This mini construction book contains fun facts and stats about some of the characters and ships from the new movie.

Keepsake Coloring Book (Disney Lucasfilm Press)
by Katie Cook

A keepsake coloring book for parents & padawans, featuring fan-favorite artist Katie Cook’s adorable black & white line art from ABC-3PO and OBI-123. Featuring new characters, ships, and vehicles from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Look & Find (PIP)
by Art Mawhinney

A fun-filled adventure through the galaxy in which kids will need to search and find some of the most iconic characters and ships from The Force Awakens, with two spreads from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Star Wars: Annual 2018 (Egmont UK)
by Egmont UK staff

Celebrate 40 years of the Star Wars saga with the Star Wars Annual 2018. The perfect gift for fans, with puzzles, games, activities, facts, and more! Features a section of posters from the year’s most anticipated film Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Coming Wednesday, September 6

Captain Phasma Mini-Series (Marvel)
by Kelly Thompson (author) and Marco Checchetto (artist)

In this high-octane thriller Kelly Thompson (HawkeyeStorykillerThe Girl Who Would Be King) and Marco Checchetto (Spider-ManDaredevilStar Wars: Shattered Empire) present a character-defining story of the Star Wars saga’s iconic new villain.

Star Wars Adventures (IDW Publishing)
by Cavan Scott and Landry Walker (authors) and Chris Samnee, Derek Charm, and Eric Jones (artists)

A monthly comic book for younger readers, IDW’s Star Wars Adventures will tell short, epic tales featuring iconic heroes from a galaxy far, far away, with a running backup featuring adventurer Emil Graf telling tales from all eras of the Saga.

And there are more Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi titles coming soon, including…

Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About Star Wars – Updated & Expanded(DK)

Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor (HarperCollins)

The Legends of Luke Skywalker (Disney Lucasfilm Press)

The Rebel Files (becker&mayer!)

IncrediBuilds: A-wing book and model (Insight Editions)

IncrediBuilds: BB-8 book and model (Insight Editions)

Canto Bight (Del Rey)

Phasma Novel will explore the villain’s past

Source: ScreenRant. Animated gifs: Tumblr.

Per the synopsis of the upcoming Star Wars novel Phasma, the book will explore the villain’s past in great detail. While The Force Awakens earned widespread positive reviews and broke nearly every box office record in the book, the film wasn’t without its noticeable flaws. Despite her prominence in the marketing campaign, First Order stormtrooper leader Captain Phasma was severely underserved in the actual movie. The character had roughly 90 seconds of screen time, didn’t partake in any action sequences, and was tossed into the garbage chute by the end. Many felt the role was a waste of actress Gwendoline Christie’s talents, and Lucasfilm seems to be taking the necessary steps to rectify the situation.

Phasma is returning as part of the villainy in this December’s The Last Jedi, with the promise of a turn that’s more action-orientated. At some point, she will be going toe-to-toe with her former student, Finn. The story group is also hard at work on finding ways to flesh Phasma out via other canon materials, unveiling plans for a comic miniseries and prequel novel that will be part of the “Journey to The Last Jedi” publications. With the latter hitting shelves on September 1, an official synopsis has now been revealed.

Appearing on Penguin Random House’s pre-order page for Phasma, the summary hints at an intriguing rivalry between Phasma and another stormtrooper called Cardinal. A Resistance prisoner may hold the key to Cardinal getting an upper hand on Phasma within the First Order hierarchy. You can read the full synopsis below:

One of the most cunning and merciless officers of the First Order, Captain Phasma commands the favor of her superiors, the respect of her peers, and the terror of her enemies. But for all her renown, Phasma remains as virtually unknown as the impassive expression on her gleaming chrome helmet. Now, an adversary is bent on unearthing her mysterious origins—and exposing a secret she guards as zealously and ruthlessly as she serves her masters.

Deep inside the Battlecruiser Absolution, a captured Resistance spy endures brutal interrogation at the hands of a crimson-armored stormtrooper—Cardinal. But the information he desires has nothing to do with the Resistance or its covert operations against the First Order.

What the mysterious stormtrooper wants is Phasma’s past—and with it whatever long-buried scandal, treachery, or private demons he can wield against the hated rival who threatens his own power and privilege in the ranks of the First Order. His prisoner has what Cardinal so desperately seeks, but she won’t surrender it easily. As she wages a painstaking war of wills with her captor, bargaining for her life in exchange for every precious revelation, the spellbinding chronicle of the inscrutable Phasma unfolds. But this knowledge may prove more than just dangerous once Cardinal possesses it—and once his adversary unleashes the full measure of her fury.

This certainly sounds like a compelling mystery, and it will be interesting to see what secrets await readers when the book comes out. Those who have been following Star Wars canon know that in their earliest incarnations, the First Order had deep ties to the Unknown Regions. The Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig ended with a young Hux and presumably young Phasma setting out to explore the uncharted territories with former Imperial officers, so hopefully Phasma contains more information about the Unknown Regions. The novels in particular seem to be placing an emphasis on them, as they were also mentioned throughout Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn. Fans should not go into this new book expecting confirmation about the latest Supreme Leader Snoke theories (which probably is being saved for the movies), but it will still be fun to read about Phasma’s history, especially since there’s a lot to unpack in regards to her character.

Captain Phasma, in her chromium armor, carried a customized F-11D blaster rifle.

With even hot topics like Rey’s parentage said to be “less important” than originally thought in Episode VIII, it looks like Last Jedi is going to be focused more on the present and telling that particular story, rather than lingering on backstories. As such, the Phasma novel is a great illustration of how the various corners of the Star Wars universe can come together and compliment one another to present a more complete picture. Reading the book won’t be required homework for those looking forward to seeing Last Jedi, but curious minds interested to discover more about Phasma will definitely want to pick it up and find out where the chrome-domed soldier comes from.

Phasma will be released on September 1, 2017. Pre-order now clicking here.

Grand Admiral Thrawn’s origins & plans explained

Source: ScreenRant

The inclusion of fan-favorite Star Wars Legends villain Grand Admiral Thrawn in the official Disney canon was the biggest announcement to come out of Celebration last year, and after the third season of Rebels, readers now have an opportunity to see the Chiss’ beginnings. Author Timothy Zahn’s recently-published novel Thrawn takes us back to the alien’s first days with the Empire as he quickly rose through the ranks while dealing with a government prejudiced against nonhumans. That was the biggest difference with the “new” version of Thrawn; instead of being the main antagonist in a post-Return of the Jedi world, he’s a prominent Imperial officer in the time before A New Hope. This means it’s possible to see him interact with classic villains like the Emperor, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Darth Vader.

When Thrawn arrived in Rebels, he was already in the position of Grand Admiral, so his past was a story that had yet to be told. Things have come full circle as Zahn, who originally created Thrawn in the 1990s, had the opportunity to re-introduce the character to a new generation of fans. While the book doesn’t contain as many juicy connections as other novels in the canon have (possibly a product of Thrawn’s place in the timeline), it still makes for an interesting study of the ever calm and calculating Grand Admiral and reveals what his true intentions in the galaxy far, far away are.

RECRUITMENT TO THE EMPIRE

At the start of this tale, Thrawn, under the guise of being exiled by his people, is captured by the Empire on a planet in Wild Space and brought aboard the Star Destroyer Strikefast commanded by Captain Parck. There, Thrawn informs the Imperials about great threats that are out in the universe, warning, “You would do well to learn of them.” Intrigued, Parck assigns young Cadet Eli Vanto (who heard myths of the Chiss in his youth) to be Thrawn’s aide and translator and plans to bring Thrawn before Emperor Palpatine on Coruscant. Parck is convinced the Emperor will be interested in what Thrawn has to say, believing it could be of value to both the Empire and his own career aspirations.

When in the Imperial Palace, Thrawn uses his connection to Anakin Skywalker as a means of piquing Palpatine’s curiosity and tells the Emperor of the dangers that are in the Unknown Regions, saying the jeopardize the futures of the Empire and the Chiss race. Thrawn hopes to strike a deal with Palpatine, offering his knowledge of what lies in the Unknown Regions for the Emperor’s “consideration to my people.” Palpatine, who has a great fascination with this corner of the universe, agrees to the terms (after Thrawn swears loyalty to him), and offers him a place within the Empire. Instead of merely being Palpatine’s advisor, Thrawn is sent for training at the Royal Imperial Academy, with Vanto in tow to stay alongside Thrawn and teach him the language and customs of the humans.

As expected, Thrawn’s placement in the Academy is met with much scorn from senior officers and other students. Thrawn, who already had extensive combat training on his home world, is set to graduate in three months with Vanto and immediately placed into a command position. This perceived special treatment, along with his alien heritage and origin from the Unknown regions, are the sources for contempt towards Thrawn and Eli. Nevertheless, the two persevere and make it through their schooling relatively unscathed (save for an assault at the hands of other cadets). Much to Vanto’s chagrin, he learns his first assignment is to be an aide to Lieutenant Thrawn on a cruiser called the Blood Crew. Instead of his chosen career track as a supply runner, Eli is forever tied to the mysterious Chiss as Thrawn becomes a major force in the Imperial navy.

ASCENSION THROUGH THE RANKS

One of Thrawn’s most recognizable traits is his high intellect, which proves to be an invaluable skill in military command. Thrawn and Vanto form a dynamic similar to Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, as Thrawn is able to analyze whatever problems come their way from a rather interesting perspective that few would even think of. All Thrawn has to do in some instances is study a culture’s art to learn all he has to in order to obtain an advantage. His prowess at thwarting the efforts of various smugglers, pirates, and others consistently impresses his superiors, and Thrawn earns promotion after promotion as he consistently demonstrates his skill in strategy to eliminate any problems he faces.

If there is one shortcoming with Thrawn, it’s that his methods can be quite unorthodox when compared to standard Imperial procedure. For all his knowledge of combat and tactics, Thrawn is nearly oblivious when it comes to politics, and he constantly finds himself in hot water due to actions such as assuming command from his ship’s captain during a battle and laying waste to a planet’s farmlands and water springs in order to completely destroy any traces of a pre-spice vein that lies underground. Thrawn and Eli are frequently brought in for hearings, only to receive a pass since ultimately, they get the job done. Thrawn becomes a high-ranking officer in the navy, eventually earning himself the title of Admiral and his own Star Destroyer. He’s even able to form an alliance with Lothal’s Arihnda Price in order to pull some strings and give Eli his long-overdue military promotion. Thrawn’s relationship with Price is part of the book’s subplot that sees Price attempt to gain as much political traction as she can – by any means necessary.

Thrawn is highly successful in carrying out his missions, but he does not have a perfect record. An individual known as “Nightswan” escaped Thrawn’s clutches during an operation, and the Chiss becomes obsessed with tracking him down. His quest leads him to an insurgent uprising taking place in the Outer Rim territories (perhaps the proto-Rebel Alliance that was seen in the earliest seasons of Rebels), which is under the leadership of Nightswan. The site of the book’s final conflict is Scrim Island on the planet Batonn, where the insurgents have taken hostages in the Imperial garrison. After an Imperial strike on the planet fails (under Admiral Durril), Thrawn takes control of the mission and seeks out Nightswan – not to kill him, but to have a conversation.

THRAWN’S TRUE OBJECTIVES

In his talk with Nightswan, Thrawn peels back the layers of his own personal plan. Prior to joining the Imperials, Thrawn was exploring the galaxy far, far away and witnessed the very end of the Clone Wars, when the old Republic transformed into Empire. Instead of being exiled by the rest of his species, it was simply made to look that way as Thrawn tried to lure the Empire to his location. When he was picked up, his initial hopes were to just examine the Empire’s “political and military structure” in order to determine if they could be useful against whatever threats are present in the Unknown Regions. Instead, he was unexpectedly offered a job in the Imperial navy and learned more than he originally intended.

Thrawn is aware that there is corruption within the Empire (and has suspicions about a “secret project” – the Death Star), but he sees it as a necessary evil in order to maintain order in the galaxy amidst the chaos rebels present. He intends to stay within their ranks during Palpatine’s reign, and when the Emperor passes away, Thrawn will use his high-standing power and influence to help select the new ruler – who ideally will have less evil inclinations. In the meantime, Thrawn offers Nightswan a position in what he calls the Chiss Ascendency in exchange for his insurgents leaving the Imperial facility. Thrawn describes the Ascendency as a group that will “stand against forces far more evil than you face now,” but Nightswan still refuses. The situation is dealt with through another one of Thrawn’s unusual military approaches, as well as the unforeseen actions of Price – who was embarking on her own personal mission to save her parents from a war zone.

After receiving assurances from Palpatine that the Death Star is a valuable asset to the Empire and the weapon will not be used against the Chiss people, Thrawn assumes the position of Grand Admiral and meets Darth Vader (Thrawn doesn’t know Vader’s true identity). In the novel’s epilogue, Eli Vanto is sent to the Unknown Regions at the behest of Thrawn in order to see if he could aid the Chiss Ascendency in any way. During their time together in the Empire, Thrawn had become fond of Eli’s leadership and military abilities, seeing much potential in him. Vanto is presumably taking the position that Thrawn had once offered to Nightswan. The book ends on a cliffhanger of sorts, closing out on Eli first interacting with the other Chiss. Not much is revealed about the Ascendency, perhaps being saved for another time.

CONCLUSION

Thrawn is very much an origin story for its namesake, detailing how he became the Grand Admiral that haunted the Ghost crew in the most recent season of Rebels. For anyone with a passing familiarity with the character, the fact that he rose to his spot via tremendous brilliance isn’t truly anything new, but it’s still great to see Thrawn fully entrenched in the new canon, becoming a larger part of the franchise. Reading about his exploits and seeing how he outsmarts his opponents at almost every turn is fun, and makes up for the lack of some more “major” revelations that were at the heart of novels such as Bloodline and Catalyst.

Zahn ends his latest Star Wars book with an obvious sequel set-up, and hopefully he gets a chance to further explore the character and the Unknown Regions. Lately in the canon, there has been a lot of emphasis put on these uncharted areas of the universe, including Palpatine’s contingency plan highlighted in the Aftermath trilogy (which hints at the First Order’s origins). Whether the Unknown Regions factor into the upcoming films remains to be seen, but it’s nevertheless highly interesting. Fans will want to learn more about the Chiss Ascendency and Thrawn’s overarching goals, and odds are we haven’t seen the last of him yet (outside of Rebels, of course).

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn is now available.

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View anthology book celebrates 40 years of SW

Source: StarWars.Com

When Star Wars: A New Hope was first released in 1977, part of its appeal was that the world it presented felt alive. Landspeeders and starships were dirty. Droids broke down. And it was filled with cool, weird, and reallyweird background characters. (Really, just take a look around the Mos Eisley cantina.) Never mind Han, Luke, Leia, Darth Vader, and Obi-Wan. Who were these other guys? What was their story? Just seeing them brought up questions for fans that sparked the imagination.

In celebration of Star Wars’ 40th anniversary, Del Rey is going to shine the spotlight on those unsung weirdos, heroes, and villains with a unique, new anthology. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, coming October 2017, will bring together more than 40 authors for 40 stories. Each will be told from the perspective of background characters of A New Hope — from X-wing pilots who helped Luke destroy the Death Star to the stormtroopers who never quite could find the droids they were looking for. There’s never been a Star Wars book like it, and you can get a first look at the cover below!

The author lineup is a selection of Star Wars all-stars, many of whom have been teasing this announcement with #OperationBlueMilk on Twitter. (Which would be an amazing hashtag, with or without this book.) The current list, with more authors to be announced closer to publication, includes:

  • Ben Acker & Ben Blacker
  • Renee Ahdieh
  • Tom Angleberger
  • Meg Cabot
  • Rae Carson
  • Adam Christopher
  • Zoraida Cordova
  • Delilah S. Dawson
  • Paul Dini
  • Alexander Freed
  • Jason Fry
  • Christie Golden
  • EK Johnston & Ashley Eckstein
  • Paul Kemp
  • Mur Lafferty
  • Ken Liu
  • Griffin McElroy
  • John Jackson Miller
  • Nnedi Okorafor
  • Daniel José Older
  • Mallory Ortberg
  • Madeleine Roux
  • Gary D. Schmidt
  • Cavan Scott
  • Sabaa Tahir
  • Glen Weldon
  • Chuck Wendig
  • Gary Whitta
  • And more!

All participating authors have generously forgone any compensation for their stories. Instead, their proceeds will be donated to First Book — a leading nonprofit that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to educators and organizations serving children in need. To further celebrate the launch of this book and both companies’ longstanding relationships with First Book, Penguin Random House has donated $100,000 to First Book, and Disney/Lucasfilm has donated 100,000 children’s books — valued at 1 million dollars — to support First Book and their mission of providing educational resources to children in need. Over the past 16 years, Disney has donated more than 57 million books to First Book.

So if you’re a fan of the desert-searching stormtroopers of the galaxy and the scum and villainy gathered in a Tatooine watering hole, you’re in luck — even if Obi-Wan might not believe in it. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View is available for pre-order now.

Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End returns Lando to Cloud City

empires_end_coverSource text: ScreenRant

In the Star Wars original trilogy, Lando Calrissian went from a skeezy double crossing businessman to a General of the Rebel Alliance and one of the biggest heroes of the Battle of Endor. Needless to say, many fans were upset to find him without an appearance in The Force Awakens, even though the rest of the main cast from the OT was reunited. With Donald Glover putting on the cape and mustache for the now-officially-in-production young Han Solo movie, Lando is officially on his way back to the big screen. While he hasn’t had a presence in the new movies yet, the character hasn’t been entirely unused in other stories – he’s had a couple appearances in Star Wars Rebels, and even got his own Marvel miniseries.

lando-star-wars-rebelsLando voiced again by Billy Dee Williams in the Star Wars Rebels episode Idiot’s Array.

Remember Lando’s first scene in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back:

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There have only been a few books and comics that take place in the 35 year span between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, but the real heavy lifting during that era has been done by Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy, which is about to be concluded with Aftermath: Empire’s End on February 21:

Aftermath previously served as the only post Return of the Jedi story to include Wedge Antilles in any significant way in modern canon, and it looks like Empire’s End is going to do the same thing for Lando Calrissian. As is revealed in a recent excerpt from the book, released by io9 (read the full excerpt here), Lando is back at Cloud City, trying to pick up where he left off before the Empire showed up on his doorstep.

The excerpt includes a couple major connections to previous Star Wars stories. The first is from the (now cancelled) mobile game Star Wars: Uprising, where the Imperial Governor Adelhard creates a blockade in the Anoat sector (home to Bespin and Hoth), and attempts to retain imperial control immediately after the Battle of Endor.

“After Endor, he thought he would just be able to sweep in here like a handsome king retaking his throne in the sky—but then that son-of-a-slug Governor Adelhard formed the Iron Blockade. He kept the people here trapped not only by a well-organized Imperial remnant, but also by a grand lie: that Palpatine was not dead.”

lando-calrissianThe second reference ties back to one of the “interludes” from the first book in the trilogy, Star Wars: Aftermath, where an uprising in Cloud City is led by a pirate, Kars Tal-Korla, who’s working with Lando’s right hand man, Lobot. Not so surprisingly, the Empire’s End excerpt reveals that Lobot is still working with Lando, who had slowly led this uprising from the shadows to eventually beat Governor Adelhard’s blockade and retake Cloud City.

The excerpt takes place on Cloud City’s casino level, which may remind many fans of rumors that some characters visit a “casino planet” in The Last Jedi. Obviously Lando doesn’t run every casino in the galaxy (as much as we’re sure he’d like to), but fans hoping for a Billy Dee Williams appearance in Episode VIII will obviously be encouraged by this passage.

The passage also features a Hamilton Easter egg (“The Rebellion was easy, Lando. Governing’s harder.”), and Lando stresses about a baby gift for Han and Leia. While it’s only a brief tease of what Empire’s End has in store – outside of finally revealing more details about the Battle of Jakku – it’s definitely enticing for Star Wars fans, especially those that love the cape-wearing Baron Administrator of Cloud City, Lando Calrissian.

Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End will hit stores on February 21.

Star Wars: Grand Admiral Thrawn explained

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Source: ScreenRant.Com and MoviePilot.Com

The big news coming out of this past summer’s Star Wars Celebration was the announcement that a certain legendary character from the original iteration of the Expanded Universe (that overflowing collection of novels, comic books, short stories, and video games) would be popping up in the new Disney-owned Star Wars saga: Grand Admiral Thrawn, the villain originally introduced to take the place of the fallen Dark Lords of the Sith, Darths Sidious (Ian McDiarmid) and Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones).

The only alien that Emperor Palpatine trusted to climb the Imperial ranks, the good admiral will first be popping up in the season 3 premiere of Star Wars Rebels (where he’ll be voiced by Lars Mikkelsen) before arriving once again in book form, in the appropriately titled Star Wars: Thrawn. The latter is scheduled to be released on April 11, 2017 and will act as a prequel to Thrawn’s television run, covering his first encounter with the Empire and ending just before Rebels‘ third season.

Newer viewers and readers can be forgiven for not being familiar with Thrawn, and even those battle-hardened story veterans may need a bit of a refresher, given just how many decades it’s been since the character was initially established – and given some of the continuity problems that the reintroduction of the character can cause. It may be necessary all around, therefore, to ask one simple question: Who Is Grand Admiral Thrawn?

SO, WHO IS THRAWN?

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“To defeat an enemy you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art.” – Grand Admiral Thrawn

When publisher Bantam Spectra and Lucasfilm agreed in the late 1980s that a trilogy of novels set in the immediate years after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi would be a tremendous financial success, Timothy Zahn was selected to be its author. Zahn, in turn, realized that he would need a villain not only to propel the books’ plot, but to also stand up to the legacy of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader (who, at the time, were unknown to both be Sith Lords, a revelation which wouldn’t come to light until nearly a decade later, in Episode I: The Phantom Menace).

Zahn’s accurate instinct was to create an antagonist who would represent a wholly different approach to Imperial hegemony; one who valued strategy over brute force, creative contributions from subordinates instead of simple blind obedience, and who possessed an unshakably calm demeanor as opposed to the rage-filled outbursts from Lord Vader (and, later on, Kylo Ren [Adam Driver]). Thrawn is an individual who prizes art above all else, both for its external beauty and for its intrinsic ability to carry an entire people’s psychological disposition within it. By studying a civilization’s art, along with dabs of its culture and history, he could deduce the strategies they would deploy on the battlefield, allowing him to always be three steps ahead of whatever opponent he was currently facing. When combined with his very alien appearance – blue skin, jet-black hair, glowing red eyes – the resultant effect is a character who is wholly unique in all of Star Wars, from the movies to the rest of the old EU to, most recently, the television outings.

In short, it’s absolutely no surprise that Lucasfilm would bring him back into the new Star Wars canon status quo.

Fans finally got their wish when Thrawn’s appearance was revealed in the latest Star Wars Rebels Season 3 trailer. The reveal of Thrawn comes in around the 1:55 mark.

THRAWN’S ORIGINAL ROLE IN THE FIRST EXPANDED UNIVERSE

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In the years before Episode IV: A New Hope, Thrawn is able to do the impossible: work his way up the Imperial ranks in a largely human-only club, where he eventually reaches the dizzying rank of grand admiral (another invention by Timothy Zahn) and is eventually made the commanding officer in charge of exploring the Unknown Regions, those uncharted territories beyond the galactic rim.

He returns from his mission four years after the Galactic Empire’s defeat at the Battle of Endor to fill the Emperor’s larger-than-life shoes (robes?), attempting to shore up the shrinking Imperial numbers, topple the still-fledgling New Republic, and reassert Palpatine’s New Order once and for all. This campaign, which comes so narrowly close to being successful, forms the basis of Timothy Zahn’s inaugural trilogy of books: Heir to the Empire (1991), Dark Force Rising (1992), and The Last Command (1993) (which, collectively, have since come to be known as the Thrawn trilogy, for obvious reasons).

trilogyDie-hard fans know that Thrawn was a character who was introduced by author Timothy Zahn in his first novel Star Wars: Heir to the Empire. That novel eventually turned into a trilogy (Dark Force Rising and Last Command were the other two) and was the first set of stories to follow the conclusion of Return of the Jedi.

As the final volume in this series comes to a close and as the grand admiral’s immaculate plans start to miraculously unravel, the unexpected happens: Thrawn is betrayed by one of his most loyal servants, being stabbed in the back while sitting in his command chair aboard his flagship, the Star Destroyer Chimera (even here, with the double shock of betrayal and death ravaging him, Thrawn never loses his trademark calm, wryly noting “But… it was so artistically done”). Just like that, the gravest threat that the New Republic has yet faced dissipates, allowing the government time to stabilize and granting Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) the chance to, at long last, create that New Jedi Order he has long been burdened with initiating.

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That would, obviously, seem to be the end of Thrawn, but he is resurrected, both literally and figuratively, five years later, for Zahn’s next big Star Wars outing: Specter of the Past (1998) and Vision of the Future (1999), which together comprise the Hand of Thrawn duology. With the still-existing Empire on its last legs (yes, once again) and with the New Republic on the verge of disintegration and civil war (again), Grand Admiral Thrawn’s clone rises to take his progenitor’s place, and the sheer announcement of his “return” is enough to place nearly the entire galaxy into a state of panic.

In an interesting, if somewhat cliché, move, Zahn offers two twists almost back-to-back, which serve to end The Hand of Thrawn, starting with the revelation that the man presumed to be the admiral’s clone is actually an imposter, and ending with Master Luke discovering the real clone, who was created immediately after the real Thrawn’s death a decade earlier but has yet to be awoken. After a debate over the morality of killing the genetic offspring (since he technically has committed no crimes and all), the clone dies, anyway, when Luke and his compatriot are forced to blast their way out of the cloning facility.

PREQUELS, RETCONNING, AND THE FUTURE

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Timothy Zahn ultimately couldn’t resist playing with his most famous creation one final time, doing so across the novels Survivor’s Quest (2004) and Outbound Flight (2006), with the former having more to do with Thrawn’s legacy than anything else and the latter being a prequel, delivering a full story based off of an off-hand reference made in the Thrawn trilogy about a key episode in the grand admiral’s secretive past. Interestingly enough, it is in these final Thrawn outings that we glimpse some of the continuity difficulty that Dave Filoni, the showrunner of Rebels, and Zahn himself will now be facing in their attempts to assimilate the iconic character in this new iteration of the Expanded Universe.

To explain, let’s back up for a moment. As part of his efforts to furnish the story for his initial trilogy of books, Zahn had nearly free reign in providing his own explanations for a number of mysterious plotlines that were left over from the movies (such as what, exactly, the Clone Wars were, or how Palpatine could have been a Force wielder without having been a former Jedi Knight). But once the prequel trilogy started to arrive on the scene, bringing along with it the official answers to these riddles, Zahn needed to attempt to reconcile the two continuities. Hence, none other than Darth Sidious himself makes an appearance in Outbound Flight – which is now inserted in between The Phantom Menace and Episode II: Attack of the Clones – striking a bargain with the newly-discovered Thrawn out in the Unknown Regions to help him start to pick off Jedi, some 10 years before the Purge. (An effort was also made to place the episode – and all of Thrawn’s backstory, more generally – in the context of preparing for the eventual war against an extra-galactic alien race known as the Yuuzhan Vong, whose arrival formed the basis of the “New Jedi Order” publishing program that lasted from 1999 to 2003 and which consisted of no less than 19 books.) It was a fine narrative needle to try and thread, but Zahn plugged away at it dutifully, fudging the details in order to make a general fit.

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Such a messy integration is seemingly needed once again, as both the author and the Rebels writing staff have indicated that references to the character’s past (and now-invalidated) adventures will be included in both the television episodes and the new novel, a move which can potentially open a Pandora’s box of continuity chaos. Will the character’s earlier alliance with the once-and-future Emperor Palpatine be carried over, and, if so, will extra moves be taken to scrub all the old-EU-specific detritus away from the narrative core? Will the brilliant battlefield strategies that older readers were originally delighted by 25 years ago in Heir to the Empire be dusted off and repurposed for Rebels – something which could bore the long-time fans? And, finally, will the more out-there scenarios, such as having several Thrawn clones waiting to run around the galaxy once their genetic antecedent bites the dust, be invoked – possibly in Episode VIII or IX? (It’s a possibility which, actually, isn’t that far-fetched, given that Rebels and its predecessor, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, have already brought Darth Maul [Ray Park] back to life, robotic spider legs and all.)

And all of this doesn’t even address the fundamental issue underlying the entire enterprise – should the new Expanded Universe stories address, or otherwise reinforce, their older, non-canon versions? If left unchecked, such a move would ultimately and inexorably lead to the boundary between the two versions being erased entirely, resulting in an even bigger, inchoate mess than what the original EU was during its more awkward early days (after the Thrawn trilogy and before Del Rey imposed a strict top-down game plan on the narrative proceedings).

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Just when you thought the news couldn’t get any better, Timothy Zahn himself revealed to the mass audience that a new Star Wars novel will be released in April 2017 simply titled Star Wars: Thrawn. The novel will look to shed some light on this fan-favorite character.

But all of those are future concerns best left to a different day. For now, all that Star Wars fans should concentrate on is the fact that one of the most brilliant additions to that galaxy far, far away is set to become, at long last, a canon resident – and that he’s probably here to stay.

Leia uses the Force in new novel Aftermath: Life Debt

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Source: ScreenRant.Com.

Luke: It won’t be easy for you to hear it, but you must. If I don’t make it back, you’re the only hope for the Alliance.
Leia: Don’t talk that way.  You have a power I don’t understand and could never have.
Luke: You’re wrong, Leia. You have that power, too.  In time, you’ll learn to use it as I have.  The Force is strong in my family. My father has it.  I have it. And… my sister has it. Yes. It’s you, Leia.
Leia: I know. Somehow… I’ve always known.

Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

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In Return of the Jedi, audiences learn that Princess Leia Organa is Luke Skywalker’s twin sister. As the daughter of Anakin Skywalker, it means that Leia is Force sensitive and has the potential to be a Jedi Knight if she so chose. Of course, the siblings went down very different paths following the Battle of Endor. Leia became a leading figure of the New Republic before assuming command of the Resistance; Luke went off on a quest for the lore of the Jedi and exiled himself on Ahch-To once Ben Solo became Kylo Ren.

Still, Luke mentions to Leia, “In time, you’ll learn to use it as I have.” As fans have seen with Maz Kanata in The Force Awakens, it is possible to know the Force (and control it) without becoming a full-fledged member of the Jedi Order. It would appear that Leia fits that bill, if passages in the new canon novel Aftermath: Life Debt are any indication. At some point, Luke taught his sister some lessons, which play a substantial role in the book.

Leia using the Force isn’t exactly a new topic for Star Wars to cover. When Kylo Ren killed Han Solo in Episode VII, a cutaway shot showed that Leia felt a disturbance:

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Even in The Empire Strikes Back, she hears Luke’s call for help and brings the Millennium Falcon back to Cloud City:

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At the end of Return of the Jedi, Leia tells Han that she knows Luke wasn’t inside the Death Star when it exploded.

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The biggest takeaway from Life Debt is that Leia received some minor training from Luke, specifically how to let the Force guide you during a troubling time. In the novel, Leia is going through a very stressful period, as Han has gone missing while trying to liberate Kashyyyk with Chewbacca (and the New Republic offers minimal help to find him).

Life Debt made headlines prior to its release thanks to an excerpt that depicted Leia communicating with her unborn child and realizing that she’s pregnant with a son. This is perhaps the most noteworthy example of the Princess using the Force in the book, but it is far from the only one. During a dogfight sequence towards the end (when Leia is flying the Falcon against an Imperial attack), author Chuck Wendig writes:

“There are even moments when she can feel the battle unfolding around her in space – invisibly, as if all of it is a warm stream in which she has dipped her hand.” 

Leia may never have followed the footsteps of her brother, but she is using her abilities in ways that benefit her, letting the Force flow through her when it’s absolutely necessary.

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The Disney canon hasn’t been afraid to suggest Leia has become somewhat skilled with her gifts. There are instances in Claudia Gray’s Bloodline that imply Leia is using the Force as she works on unraveling a diabolical plot. She isn’t performing Jedi mind tricks or levitating objects with her mind yet, but there’s enough evidence in the publications to suggest that Leia has become (or is in the process of becoming) strong with the Force, and it will be interesting to see if this aspect of the character is developed in the future. Leia has always been a powerful fighter, but now that she has the Force as her ally, she can take things to a whole other level.

A big question is whether or not Leia’s developed use of the Force will factor into one of the upcoming movies – beyond the small segments already seen. The Lucasfilm story group is very careful about what they release and when they publish it, so it’s likely they have some plans for Leia in Episode VIII or Star Wars 9. At the same time, her role in The Force Awakens was very minimal, and if rumors about Star Wars 8 pan out she won’t have much to do in the next chapter, either. It would be disappointing if Leia never got to display the full extent of her talents on the big screen, but at the very least, fans are getting a taste of a Force enhanced Leia in the other materials available, illustrating that Lucasfilm is making the most of their initiative.

Han Solo and Chewbacca life debt backstory explained

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Source: ScreenRant.Com

One of the most dynamic duos in all of cinema, Han Solo and Chewbacca have been an inseparable pair since they were first introduced in 1977. It’s hard to think of one without the other, one of the many reasons why Han’s death in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens was so heartbreaking. They are two of the most beloved and popular characters in the entire franchise, making them ideal candidates for their own spinoff film (hitting theaters in 2018). And with all the new novels and comics being released as part of the larger series canon, there are plenty of opportunities to put the best friends in the spotlight.

This is why there is much interest in the latest book, Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig, the sequel to last year’s Aftermath. As the title (and cover image of the Millennium Falcon) would suggest, part of the narrative deals with Han and Chewie’s history with each other as they work on accomplishing a mission that means so much personally to the both of them. We’re breaking down the backstory for the two characters here, as well as theorizing on what (if any) implications it will have on future films.

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HAN AND CHEWIE’S LIFE DEBT

Fans of the old Expanded Universe (now “Legends”) know the story quite well. Han Solo was a member of the Imperial Navy and saved Chewbacca from enslavement as the Empire occupied the Wookiee home planet Kashyyyk. Because of this, Chewie felt he owed Han a life debt, and stayed by his side through thick and thin. Of course, Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 wiped out most of this material, but the story group stuck very close to this basic idea when re-canonizing how Han met Chewie.

The primary focus of Life Debt is Han and Chewie attempting to liberate Kashyyyk from whatever traces of the Empire remain. At some point, the Wookiee is captured while Han makes a getaway. Obviously, the smuggler is determined to save his co-pilot, which proves to be a dangerous task. After a transmission to Princess Leia ends abruptly, Leia sends a team of New Republic fighters out to find her husband. When the group finally discovers Solo and asks why he’s risking his life, Han explains the deep bond he has with Chewbacca, making it apparent why he can’t just turn his back and walk away.

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Though the passage in the novel is brief, it’s heavily implied that the Disney canon version of the tale is very similar to Legends. During their rise to power, the Imperials severely mistreated the Wookiees. Says Han:

“I’ve seen what the Empire has done. They ripped down trees. They put cuffs and collars on all the Wookiees. Some of them they cut open. Others they ship off to work the worst jobs the Empire has on offer. They took his home from him. I can’t abide by that. I don’t have a home anymore besides the Falcon, but him? He does. And he deserves to go home. He has a family too, you know.”

The “him” Han is referring to is Chewbacca. From this, it would appear that in his younger days, Solo’s journeys somehow landed him on Kashyyyk, where he saw firsthand the tyranny of the Empire. Somehow (this isn’t revealed in the book), Han gets Chewie off the planet, and the famed life debt is formed. Chewbacca believes that Han saved him, but according to Solo it’s the other way around:

“I saved him, at least that’s what he says, the big fuzzy fool, but really, he saved me. I was on a bad path, and Chewie, he put me straight. Saved my shanks more than once too. He said it was part of some life debt… It means that he owes his life to me… He doesn’t owe me. I owe him. I got a debt to Chewie to get him his home back.”

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This is a fascinating angle that adds a layer to Han and Chewie’s relationship. For longtime fans, it also makes a great deal of sense too. Dating back to A New Hope, Chewbacca has always been Han’s conscience. As the Rebels geared up to assault the Death Star, Chewie seemed to be reluctantly going along with Han’s plan to make away with his reward. “What are you looking at? I know what I’m doing,” Solo said to his pal after Luke Skywalker stormed off. Off-screen, it very well may have been the Wookiee that influenced the change of heart in the smuggler. Han realizes that his partnership with Chewie led to a far more rewarding life than he could have ever imagined (or deserved), so he wants to repay his friend.

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By the end of Life Debt (with a major assist from Leia and members of the New Republic), Kashyyyk is freed and the Wookiees can work on rebuilding their homes and eliminating whatever Imperials are left. In an emotional scene, Han says goodbye to Chewie, because he now has to go back with Leia and start his own family. Insisting that he stays on Kashyyyk, Han tells his co-pilot “We’ll see each other again. I’m gonna be a father and no way my kid won’t have you in his life.” From there, they go their separate ways. Those who read Claudia Gray’s Bloodline know that the two weren’t “together” for a while, as Han was partaking in an intergalactic racing league while Chewie settled into a domesticated life with his relatives.

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The big question, then, is what happens between Bloodline (set six years before Force Awakens) and Episode VII. Han and Chewie are back to their smuggling ways in Star Wars 7, hauling rathtars and swindling whoever they can in the galaxy. It will be interesting to see if a future canon publication will detail this time period, since it’s now something fans will be very curious about. Did the First Order target Kashyyyk? Did Chewie just decide to rejoin his friend after Ben Solo turned to the Dark Side? It’s an interesting topic that could serve as a compelling story.

AN ‘ORIGIN STORY’ SPINOFF FILM

Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s currently untitled young Han Solo anthology movie will of course feature Chewbacca fighting alongside Alden Ehrenreich’s version of the Corellian. Disney CEO Bob Iger has mentioned that the project is envisioned as an “origin story” for the pair, but wouldn’t elaborate past that distinction. It’s a vague classification that could mean one of several things. Going by the textbook definition of “origin,” Han Solo could detail how the two met and became a team for life. It is somewhat telling that Wendig doesn’t explain the entire backstory in his book, as if Lucasfilm is planting seeds for things to come.

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One of the key aspects of any Star Wars movie is heart. The best films in the franchise have a strong emotional core that makes viewers genuinely care about what happens to the characters. What Han alludes to in Life Debt has the potential for an engaging tale that provides a satisfying character arc for fans to enjoy. It’s true that seeing Han on the “bad path” could contrast with the action/comedy sensibilities of Lord and Miller, but it’s worth pointing out that Star Wars has seamlessly blended tones before. The Empire Strikes Back is regarded as the darkest installment, yet still has plenty of laughs. The Force Awakens dealt with some serious subjects, but also made time for BB-8’s thumbs up and Kylo Ren’s temper tantrums. Moviegoers shouldn’t go into Han Solo expecting 21 Jump Street in a galaxy far, far away. However, Lord and Miller should still find room for their unique voices while fitting into the larger franchise.

There are many fans who are questioning the necessity of a young Han Solo movie, and if it’s basically When Han Met Chewie…, it could be viewed as a wasted opportunity (since everyone knows the two become best friends). Kathleen Kennedy has mentioned Lucasfilm doesn’t want to get into the habit of answering questions better left untouched, but the Han and Chewie origin story may not fit into that category. An argument could be made that this would be a stronger angle than having the two go on a random assignment from Jabba the Hutt (in James Bond style, for example). The circumstances surrounding their partnership being formed could enhance the dynamic on display in the original trilogy, changing the way fans watch the first three movies. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is poised to do this with the Death Star plans, so it’s only logical Han Solo could add something of value too.

CONCLUSION

The backstory of Han Solo and Chewbacca was one of the most famous aspects of the Legends materials, so it was only a matter of time before the new canon covered it. For fans of the EU, it’s nice to see that not much has changed, and if anything, it’s now more impactful. The two saved each other from unspeakable horrors, and Life Debt serves as a touching epilogue to their pre-Force Awakens adventures. Their debts are now repaid, and they will never forget what they gained from their friendship.

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For the most part, Lucasfilm has made an effort to tone down any references to the larger canon in the feature films, understanding that not all viewers will have been caught up on all that’s available. Still, there are certain nods to elements from the books, comics, and TV shows popping up. The Aftermath character of Temmin Wexley is an X-wing pilot in Episode VII, and Forest Whitaker is portraying Saw Gerrera from The Clone Wars series in Rogue One. These are smart ways to illustrate that it’s all connected while still maintaining universal accessibility. Even if Han Solo deals with the fateful first meeting of smuggler and Wookiee, reading Life Debt won’t be a requirement; it will just make the experience more rewarding.

Lucasfilm’s story group doesn’t just arbitrarily do things, there’s a purpose behind each and every move they make. It’s no surprise that Episode VIII director Rian Johnson contributed story ideas for Bloodline, which lays the foundation for the political landscape of the galaxy. The Han Solo spinoff is arriving just five months after Star Wars 8, so it wouldn’t be a shock if Life Debt was the studio’s way of introducing concepts that tie into the movie, allowing fans to familiarize themselves with the history. Time will tell.