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No One’s Ever Really Gone: Old Star Wars Stories Good for the Soul

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that I eat, sleep, and breathe Star Wars. From the lore of movies to novels and everything in between, I must ingest it. I’ll be the first to admit that I was less than pleased, you might even say livid, with Disney’s decision to change the Star Wars “Expanded Universe” to “Legends,” which meant all their amazing characters and stories that I grew up reading about and admiring had become nothing more than fan fiction.

I badly wanted to see my favorite Legends characters show up on the silver screen and that hope turned into a fleeting dream. But as Luke says in The Last Jedi, “No one’s ever really gone.” Disney heard the cries from Legends fans and has started integrating a few old stories and characters into the new canon. I’m here to pull back the curtain and show you truly magnificent stories from Legends and what we can learn from them.

Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn

Question Tradition

After writing one of the most loved and successful Star Wars games for BioWare, Drew Karpyshyn dove deep into the Old Republic by writing stories for some of the era’s most iconic characters. One such character was none other than Darth Bane: creator of the Sith’s “Rule of Two.” As Bane navigates his way through the politics of the ancient Sith Academy, he is often met with adversity not only from his classmates, but also his instructors. Everyone around him is deeply seated in ancient Sith tradition, but it’s not until Bane discovers the teachings of an old Sith Lord that he learns about the weakness in tradition.

The cycle of the Sith goes like this: a master takes on an apprentice and begins to teach the student everything they knew. Once the student is powerful enough, they would challenge their master in a duel for the title of Sith. In the Old Republic days, masters would take on multiple students as tradition. Rather than waiting for all the lessons to be completed, a group of students became hungry for power and teamed up against their master, defeating him and usurping the title. They chose power at a surface level rather the greater power in knowledge. Often times, progress is stifled by tradition. In the case of the Sith Lords, the more they stuck to traditional teachings, the weaker their order became. How are we letting traditions get in the way of progress? 

The Thrawn Trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command) by Timothy Zahn.

Be Willing to Fight for Peace 

Since he’s both in the new canon and Legends, I thought it would be fitting to add a story with Thrawn to my list. Aside from Bane, Thrawn quickly became one of my favorite Star Wars villains. He appears to be an annoying know-it-all character that can’t be beaten, but as you learn about his background, you find that he’s much more than that. He’s not intelligent for the sake of being intelligent—you find out that he’s perceptive; he analyzes every situation before making a move; he studies the art and history of the person’s species he’s engaging with to understand them.

Thrawn is the epitome of these passages found in Sun Tsu’s Art of War: “Take the path of least resistance, know your enemy as yourself; war as a means to protect peace.” This is a common p seen throughout history. Teddy Roosevelt said “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” The Roman general Vegetius saidEpitoma rei militarisor If you want peace, prepare for war”. The book of Ecclesiastes even has some words on this principle (Ecc. 3:8). To protect and preserve the things you care about, you must be willing to fight for them. I don’t mean that you have to act violently, but you must take action. There will always be a moment, or several, in our lives when we will need to choose whether we take a stand for something or sit idly by. When your values are in question, will you wage war to preserve peace?  

Republic Commando series by Karen Traviss

To be Human is to Have Family

Do you like stories about Clone Troopers that develop their own personalities outside of their clone programming? Do you like stories where the troopers act on their own accord and join the Mandalorians? Do you like stories about love between a clone trooper and a Jedi? Do you like stories about internal conflict when Order 66 is given and the commandos have to choose between loyalty to the republic or loyalty to themselves? You may have thought this list was only going to have bad guys on it, but I couldn’t make one without throwing in the book series that I would describe as a beautiful marriage of Micheal Bay action and The Fast and Furious family bonding. 

Republic Commando does a deep dive on the clones of Omega and Delta squad and we get a front-row seat to what their lives outside the battlefield look like. Along their journey, they build deep bonds with their sergeants and their Jedi General that are put to the test at every turn. Despite not being actually born, these Clone Troopers are able to become a family and build trust and loyalty with one another. 

One of my favorite moments throughout the series is the relationship between Jedi Etain Tur-Mukan and the commando from Omega Squad, Darman. Through their various missions, the two become very close and Etain starts to question the Jedi code in regards to romantic relationships. She decides that her relationship with Darman is more important than her Jedi code and becomes pregnant with Darman’s child. That leads to the potential of a Mandalorian Jedi, which is just so freaking cool.

Knights of the Old Republic by BioWare

Consequences and Redemption

This game is set in an era that takes place long before the conflict in the movies, during a time when the Jedi and the Sith were at war. You play as an injured soldier captured by the republic and your memories are gone. Your mission is to assist Jedi General Bastila Shaw and track down Darth Malik: apprentice to the recently defeated Darth Revan. As you work your way through the meticulously crafted planets and uncover the secrets of a superweapon called the Star Forge, you also uncover the secrets of your past. One of the RPG systems in Knights of the Old Republic is your alignment. Every so often you will be faced with a choice and your response will dictate which side of The Force your character leans toward. The deeper into one side you go, the more conversation options, force powers, and interactions with party members open up, according to your alignment. However, there is a defining moment in the story when everything is revealed, and your choices come full circle and you are faced with the overarching question that the story has led up to: Do you seek redemption or succumb to the darkness? Knights of the Old Republic excels at immersing the player in the consequences of your choices. Not everything is cut and dry just because you choose a distinct path. A hero cannot save everyone. If you choose the dark side, not everyone will follow you. Either way, the sacrifices made hit hard on an emotional level. 

Want more Star Wars? You can read about New Star Wars stories here.

Joshua Morris is a website designer and podcaster for multiple outlets. He lives at home with his wife and newborn son. You can follow him on Twitter @xbustercannon

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