a.k.a. Star Wars Canon for Kids
Spoiler Warning: This articles contains spoilers for Servants of the Empire, Adventures in Wild Space, Finn’s Story, Rey’s Story, Leia and the Great Island Escape, and Luke and the Lost Jedi Temple.
If you follow the release of Star Wars canon media, you are undoubtedly familiar with the Marvel comic series, the major novels (i.e. Aftermath, Catalyst, etc.), and the more popular young adult books (i.e. Lost Stars, Ahoska), but there is a “class” of material you may be less familiar with. I always find myself, being somewhat of a canon completionist, wondering if books for “children” are worth investing in, and for the many of the releases, they tend to retell iconic scenes from the films, prepping the younger readers to be absorbed into the larger Star Wars universe. However, here are a few of the stories that have deep ties into the canon that you don’t want to miss!
Servants of the Empire by Jason Fry
Servants of the Empire is a four book series (Edge of the Galaxy, Rebel in the Ranks, Imperial Justice, and The Secret Academy) that follows Zare Leonis. If you are thinking that name sounds familiar, then you might remember his appearance on season one of Star Wars Rebels (episodes “Breaking Ranks” and “Vision of Hope”). Yet, there was always something much more to him than met the eye, as he seemed to have another mission… a personal mission… he was pursuing.
This story plays out in Servants of the Empire. From his acceptance into the Imperial Academy on Lothal in book one, to his training in book two, where he met “Dev Morgan,” the alias used by Ezra Bridger in the episode “Breaking Ranks.” The story of that episode plays out from Zare’s point of view in book two, giving us some great backstory and then what happens to Zare afterwards. In book three, we see Zare discover the secret academy on Arkanis and try to get himself reassigned there, while also showing us his perspective of the events of Star Wars Rebels “Vision of Hope.” And lastly, book four which takes us to Arkanis and the mission to rescue Zare’s sister.
Seems like a simple enough story, but there are some interesting intersections with the Star Wars canon. Zare’s sister Dhara was force sensitive, and it was the Grand Inquisitor that had much to do with the way the story played out. We also go to see Zare find out about the Grand Inquisitor’s death. However, perhaps the most significant canon connection here is the secret class of cadets at Arkanis, a class that was established by Commandant Brendol Hux, the father of General Armitage Hux from The Force Awakens. This was the beginnings of the philosophy that built the First Order Stormtrooper force thirty years later. While the actions of the Ghosts crew to help Zare rescue Dhara may have slowed down this operation, Arkanis was mentioned in Lost Stars, Aftermath: Life Debt and Bloodline, and became an important, yet divisive, planet in the New Republic.
Leia and the Great Island Escape and Luke and the Lost Jedi Temple by Jason Fry
I wont spend too much time on these two books, and their companions Poe and the Missing Ship and Han and the Rebel Rescue. While these stories are not “original” per se, they are based on original Star Wars canon stories that were written for an older audience. Leia and the Great Island Escape was adapted by Jason Fry from Moving Target by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry. It covers a portion of that story discussing how Leia was trying to lead the Empire away from the Rebellion. Luke and the Lost Jedi Temple was adapted by Jason Fry from his novel Weapon of a Jedi, covering his discovery of a Jedi Temple and some early lightsaber training.
This series of 8×8 books are important in that it is one of our first adaptations for kids of non-film stories. Also, the illustrations do inform those of us familiar with the original stories just exactly what the connection with different parts of the canon are. Being able to see the actual species of characters, or see them in settings that call up other stories in the universe is very exciting.
Finn’s Story by Jesse J. Holland and Rey’s Story by Elizabeth Schaefer
Yes, these two books are retellings of The Force Awakens from each characters perspective, and for the most part, these books stick strictly to that. However, do not overlook the first chapter or two of each, which really help frame up these characters and how they got to where the first 20 minutes of the film showed us.
In Finn’s Story, we get a brief rundown of the other troopers in his squad, their designations and nick-names: Slip, Zeros, Nines. We also find out that Finn was the best cadet in his squad, but we also see him struggle with what is right and what is wrong as he goes through training simulations. While you can get a lot of this information in Before the Awakening, here it is clear and direct, and serves to really help us understand why he struggled so much on Jakku.
In Rey’s Story, we get a prelude about Rey’s life on Jakku, and talk about her flight simulator. Yes, in her salvaging efforts over the years, she managed to scrape together a flight simulator, which allowed her to learn how to pilot starships. No wonder she was able to get a hold of the Millennium Falcon controls so quickly. Again, this information was found in Before the Awakening, but here it is in the context of what was to happen next as she discovered BB-8 and her life changed forever.
Adventures in Wildspace by Tom Huddleston and Cavan Scott
The last series I want to bring your attention to is still being released. This six book series follows two children, Lina and Milo, their droid CR-8R (Crater), and their monkey-lizard Morq. Their parents were kidnapped by the Empire for their knowledge of cartography and the sector of the galaxy known as Wild Space. Their children were able to escape capture and fly their families ship to safety, and with it, their parents research. It became their personal mission to find help and rescue their parents.
Honestly, I went into this series thinking it would be a quick read and that I would find nothing of note, but boy was I wrong! Book one and two set up the direction of the story, but towards the end of book two, the children hear some anti-imperial broadcast. At first read, I had thought this was Ezra’s transmission, but, in book three, the children meet none other than Ephraim and Mira Bridger, the parents of Ezra. These two play an important part in books three and four of the series.
There is also mention of one other canon character that was a huge surprise to me in book four: Doctor Cylo from Marvel’s Darth Vader series. While he did not make an appearance, a creation of his did, and became a major obstacle for our heroes.
Though there are many books for kids out there, there are a handful that are relevant in the canon, and may throw in a few surprises along the way. They are quick reads, so check them out, and pass on the stories to your children or the children of others, continuing to grow the wonder that is the Star Wars canon.
Let me know your thoughts by posting in the comments below. You can find my coverage of #starwarscanon stories at my YouTube channel Star Wars: The Canon Explained. I can be found on Twitter (@starwarstce) and Instagram (@starwarstce), and you can also reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a fan of Star Wars: Destiny, I run The Chance Cube – A Star Wars: Destiny Podcast, a site and podcast dedicated to exploring the game and its fans.
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