After George Lucas concluded his original trilogy with Return of the Jedi, Star Wars fans didn’t know when they would ever get new stories from the Star Wars Universe. Before Lucas continued his epic saga with a trilogy of prequels, and before the latest trilogy was announced, the Star Wars Legends existed as a means to expand on the Star Wars Universe with novels, video games, and comic books. Dozens of science fiction authors created exciting narratives featuring all the saga’s beloved characters, as well as introducing a bunch of new ones.
When Lucas sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney in 2014, everything that had been written about the Star Wars Universe before was no longer considered canon. It didn’t align with the plans the Disney creative team had going forward, and when Episode VII: The Force Awakens premiered, the Expanded Universe was to be considered an “alternate timeline” to the main events of the Star Wars saga. But to many fans, those events and those people represented the true essence of Star Wars, and they have been patiently waiting for some to be reintroduced into the canon.
10 MARA JADE - THE THRAWN TRILOGY
One of the most popular characters from the Star Wars Legends catalog, Mara Jade was the Emperor’s secret “Right Hand”, an ultra assassin that fulfilled secret missions not even known to Darth Vader. Featured prominently in Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire novel and beyond, she had still not finished her final mission when the Emperor was killed; to destroy Luke Skywalker.
When she caught up to Luke, circumstances required them to work together to survive a cave in, and slowly the Jedi became transfixed by the outspoken, flame-haired beauty. They would later be married and have a son, Ben Skywalker.
9 PRINCE XIZOR/DASH RENDAR-SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE
In Steve Perry’s Shadows of the Empire, Han Solo is still the prized trophy of Jabba the Hutt, and while formulating his rescue plan, Luke and Leia must confront Prince Xizor, an alien crime lord that seeks to rival the authority of even Vader himself. Before there was Dryden Vos and the Crimson Dawn in Solo, there was Xizor and the Black Sun Syndicate, which first broached the subject DJ brought up in The Last Jedi - weapons dealing with both the Rebels and the Empire.
With Han Solo in carbonite, a new rogue needed to fill his place - enter Dash Rendar, leader of a swoop bike gang (think intergalactic motorcycles), gunslinger, and silver-tongued wordsmith. He was an instant fan favorite and would make a great character in his own series.
8 EXAR KUN/ULIC QEL-DROMA-TALES OF THE JEDI
Set during the Old Republic Era, Tales of the Jedi was a series of comic books by Dark Horse Comics that, with a particular focus put on the events surrounding the Great Sith War. With insight into the Golden Age of the Sith and the Fall of the Sith Empire 5,000 years before the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope, these stories are a wealth of information for anyone curious about the galaxy during that time.
Fans became drawn into the stories of Ulic-Qel-Droma (a Jedi Knight that became a famed Sith Lord), Nomi Sunrider (his lover), and the Dark Lord of the Sith Exar Kun who would go on to wage war against the Republic and the Jedi Order. Their exploits would become the inspiration for the Knights of the Old Republic.
7 DARTH REVAN-THE OLD REPUBLIC
The Knights of the Old Republic game introduced a Sith Lord who has become one of the most revered in the Star Wars Legends canon, Darth Revan. The novel The Old Republic: Revan by Drew Karpyshyn expands on the circumstances surrounding Revan’s departure from the Jedi Order and his eventual induction into the Sith.
He once served in the Old Republic Jedi Armies against the Mandalorians, but he soon found his true purpose as a Sith Acolyte. Revan was a complex character, similarly conflicted like the Dark Side user Kylo Ren in the new Star Wars trilogy, and his reasons for embracing the Sith path never had a simple explanation.
6 KYLE KATARN-DARK FORCES: JEDI KNIGHTS
Based on the Star Wars: Dark Forces and Jedi Knight video games, the series of graphic novels involving Kyle Katarn, decorated Imperial Military Academy graduate turned Jedi Knight was immensely popular due to its empathetic main character. When he learns the Empire had something to do with the death of his father, he defects to the Rebel Alliance, becoming one of their most celebrated operatives.
Before Rogue One, Kyle Katarn was the one sneaking into the Imperial Research Facility on Danuta and stealing the Death Star plans. He also discovers the Valley of the Jedi, and has to protect its location from Dark Jedi, Imperial agents, and the Emperor himself.
5 STAR WARS: REPUBLIC COMMANDO SERIES
To some, the Republic Commando series by Karen Traviss is the definitive version of storytelling involving the clone troopers introduced in Episode II: Attack of the Clones. She deftly wove complex stories involving the tough-as-nails clone troopers that undertook some of the most dangerous missions in the galaxy, making you care deeply about the clones behind the helmets.
That the gritty, tactical series isn’t canon and was retconned by The Clone Wars television show due to inconsistencies with how Traviss portrayed the troopers, is considered a creative crime to this day. Fans loved celebrating the wins and grieving the losses of the Republic’s finest soldiers, whom Traviss wrote about with such earnesty, and will mourn that the series was never finished.
4 KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC
One of the most popular role-playing video games in recent memory, Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR for short) by LucasArts and Bioware transported Star Wars fans 4,000 years back in time before the Battle of Yavin. A powerful Sith Lord, Darth Malak (apprentice to Darth Revan), has launched an armada against the Republic and its armies, and a lone Jedi must traverse the galaxy on a mission to stop him.
Fans of the game series (it spawned a successful sequel, as well as comic books) enjoyed being able to find out more about Sith Society as a whole, from its culture to its weaponry and even its ideologies, as most had been shrouded in mystery and branded entirely “evil” by the Star Wars films.
3 GALEN MAREK - THE FORCE UNLEASHED
The concept of uber-powerful Force users like Rey didn't come out of nowhere. Galen Marek, one of Darth Vader’s pupils, star of the Star Wars Force Unleashed video games, could give her a run for her credits (he can bring down a Star Destroyer with his mind). The son of two Jedi Knights, he was stupendously powerful in the Force, gaining the interest of Darth Vader who would later train him in the Dark Side.
Galen, posing as a Jedi, recruited senators Mon Mothma and Bail Organa into a false-flag operation of the Rebel Alliance, which Vader planned on eliminating in one go. However, Galen eventually sympathized with the senators, sacrificing himself to Vader so they might go on to create the Rebel Alliance and use his family crest as their emblem.
2 DARTH PLAGUEIS
Technically, Darth Plagueis is canon, in the sense that he was mentioned by Senator Palpatine (Darth Sidious) as a Sith Lord who had discovered how to create life and cheat death. In the book Darth Plagueis, his backstory is fleshed out much more, and it is revealed how he came to take Palpatine as a younger man as his apprentice and teach him the ways of Sith Alchemy.
It was at this time that both Master and apprentice were utilizing massive amounts of Dark Side energy, the effects of which created an opposing reaction in the Light Side creating Balance in the Force with the immaculate conception of Anakin Skywalker.
1 ROGUE SQUADRON
For fans of epic space dogfights and military battle strategies, the series of novels following Wedge Antilles as the leader of the famous Rogue Squadron first introduced in A New Hope is the ultimate payoff. The series takes place after Return of the Jedi, when Coruscant has been liberated, but there are still remnants of the Imperial Fleet spread far and wide throughout the galaxy.
Besides giving Wedge a lot of well-deserved backstory, the series also introduced Force-sensitive Corellian lieutenant Corran Horn, who became a fan favorite and the star of the first Star Wars Legends novel written in first-person I, Jedi.