Posted by Liam on August 2, 2021 at 09:25 AM CST
Welcome, Rebelscum readers! This week we’re covering The New Jedi Order novels with a series of articles and videos dedicated to one of the most exciting (and controversial!) Legends storylines ever released. Our “Character Profile” article will spotlight some of the most popular Legends characters of all-time, our “Timeline Breakdown” will explore connections to other Star Wars Legends media, and with “Force Casting” we’ll fan cast some of our favorite characters! Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see Bobby’s videos covering the subject.

While younger viewers may know the names Ben Solo, Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron as the next generation of Star Wars heroes, many grew up hearing the names Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin Solo. These characters were first introduced as infants within Timothy Zahn’s The Thrawn Trilogy and later fleshed out in the Young Jedi Knights and Junior Jedi Knights YA series, but The New Jedi Order saga spotlighted the characters in a more mature setting that paved out the future of post-Return of the Jedi media.

Between 1991 and 1999, Lucasfilm began introducing new Star Wars books starting with Heir to the Empire. These novels introduced new characters like Luke Skywalker’s bride Mara Jade and new heroes like Corran Horn, Kyle Katarn (star of the Dark Forces games), and Kip Durron. Most of these novels focused on the remaining Imperial threats left in the wake of Emperor Palpatine’s (presumed) death, with the Imperial Remnant officially surrendering to the New Republic in 1998’s Vision of the Future.

However, in 1999 (the same year The Phantom Menace hit theaters), Lucasfilm decided to dramatically change up its plans for the post-Return of the Jedi era with the launch of the highly ambitious The New Jedi Order series. Nineteen books, beginning with 1999’s Vector Prime and concluding with 2003’s The Unifying Force chronicled the period between 25 and 29 A.B.Y. (after the Battle of Yavin, AKA after A New Hope) in which a new threat to the Jedi Order emerged: the Yuuzhan Vong.

Unlike the Empire, the alien species the Yuuzhan Vong came from a different galaxy and utilized organic weapons to genetically integrate entire planets. The Yuuzhan Vong hated technology and were organized into a strict caste system, with the Supreme Overlord plotting to take over the entire galaxy from the New Republic. The war that ensues across the nineteen books would be one of the deadliest and most destructive in Star Wars history.

It was clear early on that The New Jedi Order wasn’t messing around; Chewbacca perishes in Vector Prime, and several other major characters are killed off within the series, including Anakin Solo in Star by Star. Several other major changes occurred during the series including the birth of Luke and Mara Jades’ son Ben Skywalker and the New Republic’s reorganization into the Galactic Alliance.

The dramatic circumstances sped up the character development of many of the key legends characters, particularly the Solo twins. Jacen’s developed a romance with Tennal Kal Djo, but he also flirted with the dark side of the force during his epic showdown against the Yuuzhan Vong Supreme Overlord. Anakin Solo’s love interest Tahiri Veila, introduced in Junior Jedi Knights, would become a victim of Yuuzhan Vong torture and despite helping bridge a solution to end the war also began developing signs of the dark side.

The nineteen books that constitute The New Jedi Order series include:
Vector Prime (1999)
The Dark Tide Duology: Onslaught (2000) & Ruin (2000)
The Agents of Chaos Duology: Hero’s Trial (2000) & Jedi Eclipse (2000)
Balance Point (2000)
The Edge of Victory Duology: Conquest (2001) & Rebirth (2001)
Star by Star (2001)
Dark Journey (2002)
The Enemy Lines Duology: Rebel Dream (2002) & Rebel Stand (2002)
Traitor (2002)
Destiny’s Way (2002)
The Force Heretic Trilogy: Remnant (2003), Refuge (2003), & Reunion (2003)
The Final Prophecy (2003)
The Unifying Force (2003)

The importance of The New Jedi Order within Star Wars Legends cannot be overstated. The dramatic storylines worthy of the films themselves proved that the Expanded Universe had real stakes, and it laid the groundwork for the future development of the post-ROTJ universe with later books. The series set aside the “New Jedi Order vs. The Imperial Remnant” conflict and finally allowed the younger characters to take the lead from Luke, Han, Leia, and Mara Jade, who all still served as major characters across the series.

Obviously, everything in The New Jedi Order is non-canon at this point and most likely will not be integrated within the Disney canon given the very different storylines in the sequel trilogy. This means that the appeal of merchandise featuring The New Jedi Order characters holds even greater value for collectors. Jacen, Jaina, a Yuuzhan Vong soldier, Kyle Katarn, Nom Amor, YVH-1, and a New Jedi Order-era Luke were all featured within the Legacy Collection figures, with Jaina Solo later appearing in the Black Series.

Just because The New Jedi Order isn’t canon doesn’t mean it isn’t a compelling storyline worth investing in, and telling this complex story over the course of an extended novel series provided opportunities that simply wouldn’t be possible in a film trilogy. Having two alternate versions of the Solo children allows Legends fans and sequel trilogy fans to co-exist (I happen to be a big fan of both), so let’s celebrate this beloved series!

What do you think? Did you read The New Jedi Order series? Did you like the darker approach, or did you think it went too far? Do you have a favorite book, moment, or character? Let us know in the forums, and as always, may the Force be with you!
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