As we make our journey to December 2015, Star Wars fans have been biding their time by searching the far corners of the 'Net for any clues pertaining to J.J. Abrams' highly-anticipated The Force Awakens, which will be the seventh episode in the space opera saga. Whether it's a supposed breakdown of how the second trailer plays out or rumors that threaten to spoil the plot, moviegoers will take all they can get regarding the project.
One of the things we do know about the project is that, story wise, it picks up roughly in real time, around 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. As that would indicate, a lot has happened in the lives of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia in between the two movies. Fortunately, we'll get to see all those adventures play out thanks to a new series of Star Wars books.
EW is reporting that Disney World Wide Publishing and Lucasfilm Press are working together to release a total of 20 books set in the Star Wars universe between now and The Force Awakens' theatrical premiere. The project is called Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will offer reading materials for fans of multiple generations - as everything from novels to sticker books are being released.
The primary objective of this initiative is to fill in the gap between Return of the Jedi and Force Awakens, giving readers a glimpse at what their favorite characters were up to over the previous three decades. It has also been reported that the titles of the books will be "filled with Easter eggs" foreshadowing events that will take place in the upcoming Episode VII, giving people even more incentive to check them out.
Obviously, a plethora of Star Wars books have been published throughout the franchise's history, forming what was referred to as the "Expanded Universe." However, this aspect of the brand was (controversially) discarded from the canon after Disney acquired Lucasfilm (becoming Star Wars Legends), as the Mouse House aimed to give their filmmakers more creative freedom on their projects. As one would expect, these new books are considered part of the official timeline.
It's just another step in Star Wars' evolution from transcendent film property to multimedia empire under the new Disney ownership. Ever since the transaction, Disney has been looking for ways to expand the brand by way of TV shows (Star Wars Rebels), books (A New Dawn), and comics (Skywalker Strikes) to consistently engage fans with new material and keep interest in Star Wars high. As the fanfare surrounding The Force Awakens reaches a fever pitch as the year goes on, we have reason to believe these books will be a hot item for those in search of new information about the galaxy far, far away.
Currently, it is unknown when the first of the books will hit shelves or what the release strategy is for the series in whole. Regardless, this sounds like a fun treat for fans and it will be fascinating to see what reveals come out as a result of the project. The books may not be a prerequisite for enjoying The Force Awakens as a standalone film, but including them in your reading schedules should enhance the experience of watching the movie this winter.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18th, 2015.