When a TV series ends, its often a time of deep reflection for the fans. You spend weeks, sometimes months mulling over all the events you witnessed and experiences your favorite, and no so favorite, characters went through. When shows are fortunate enough to be aired for multiple seasons, often times you grow along with it and come out the other end a changed person. If the show meant a lot to you personally you find yourself feeling hollow and even missing the characters you identified the most with. Yes, the TV viewing experience can at times be a painful and profound one.
Star Wars Rebels, as it turns out, is no different. The dramatic events depicted in the recent finale have brought about a conclusion to a series that, while only on a short time, left a permanent scar for many. Most fans are still trying to catch their breath from the incredible scenes they witnessed that brought this exciting and occasionally esoteric series to a close. Yes, the audience which this series has imprinted upon doesn’t seem quite ready to let go.
One way to keep your favorite characters and locations alive is to simply start over, go back to the beginning. Because we live in the digital age, we can simply just re-watch our favorite scenes, episodes, seasons or series at nauseum if we wish. But it’s certainly not the only way to revisit the past.
If the Star Wars machine does anything well, its that it provides the fans with many avenues for us to go down, to go beyond the films and TV series. Luckily, we have a vast galaxy of written material to devour that takes us much deeper than we thought possible and even occasionally, rediscover a lost treasure.
So, if you find yourself struggling to cope with the recent loss of Star Wars Rebels, here are five books that will help scratch that itch or provide that fix. There are many great ones out there, but these ones preclude the series and help set up Rebels and the characters we love with rich backstory. And not to be outdone, the comic books that focus on some of our favorite Rebels characters are just as, if not more so, valid and enlightening. But for now, lets just look at a few of the books.
Minor spoilers ahead...
“Rise of the Rebels” by Michael Krogge
Released on August 05, 2014
At only 128 pages “Rise of the Rebels” by Michael Krogge is a very quick read. And if you’ve see the four 3-minute shorts that were released in the following weeks that precluded the start of Season One of Star Wars Rebels, then you know the premise. This book is a compilation of those shorts and serves as the best, and only really, written introduction to each of the Ghost Crew members.
Each chapter serves to showcase the individual members skillset and personalities and takes place just before the crew meets up with a young Ezra Bridger on Lothal. Because of the existence of the digital shorts its not entirely essential reading but because of its early release served as the first historical introduction to these characters. We wouldn't know it at the time, but these characters would each become essential to the Star Wars universe.
The shorts, “The Ghost in the Machine”, “Art Attack”, “Entanglement” and “Property of Ezra Bridger” are all represented here and each give us such a wonderful first look at these great characters. Even Chopper gets a chance to shine in the first chapter, “The Ghost in the Machine” where our favorite Astromech saves the day in his usual fiery manner.
At its best, the book serves as a companion to the shorts and elaborates on them providing a little more detail each time. The full color art that accompanies on almost every page provides a wonderful visual introduction to the characters as well.
“A New Dawn” by John Jackson Miller
Released on September 02, 2014
“A New Dawn” has the distinct pleasure of being the first book released in the new Disney ear canon universe and was set six years prior to the events in Star Wars Rebels, which would premier a month later. Dave Filoni even wrote the foreword for the book.
This book chronicles the events that brought Rebels alum Jedi Kanan Jarrus and General Hera Syndulla together for the first time. Their paths cross as Hera is hot on the heels of a former Clone Wars explosives expert who is set on exposing the Empire for what they are up to on the mining moon Cynda. Hera is hoping to recruit this person for the rebellion while Kanan has him apprehended on his ship with plans to turn him over to the authorities.
Up until the release of the excellent comic book run by Marvel Comics, this book gave us our earliest look at Kanan and really goes into his mindset and frame of mind in the years since his master, Depa Billaba, was murdered during Order 66. Those were difficult years for him as he struggled between two identities, his former Jedi self Caleb Dume and his adopted moniker, the hard-drinking smuggler Kanan Jarrus.
Not only did this book give us our earliest look at characters such as Hera Syndulla and Kanan Jarrus but it marks the first appearance of Rae Sloane, who would rise to the rank of Grand Admiral in the Imperial Navy. She would of course go on to fight in Battle of Jakku and flee to the Unknown Regions, being credited with the formation of the First Order along with Brendol Hux, as chronicled in the “Aftermath” trilogy by Chuck Wendig.
“Lords of the Sith” by Paul S. Kemp
Released on April 28, 2015
“Lords of the Sith” takes place between the events of Revenge of the Sith and the novel Tarkin written by James Luceno. As the Emperor’s still rookie apprentice, Darth Vader is still struggling to let go of the past and prove his unwavering loyalty to his new master.
As they attempt to take control of the planet Ryloth, rich is resources and slave labour, they encounter a surprisingly strong resistance led by none other than Cham Syndulla. Stranded on the surface and forced to fend for themselves, the two Sith Lords find themselves in the unusual position of having to fight without a clone army behind them.
This novel not only gives us a more detailed look at General Cham Syndulla and the great losses he suffered while trying to defend his home world, but it also gives us our earliest appearance of a young Hera Syndulla! The destruction the Empire inflicts on Ryloth and its citizens sets the stage for Hera’s motivation to eventually leave her home planet and join the rebellion.
Also, this is a rare occurrence where we get to see a more personal interaction between Vader and the Emperor, as the two must work together to survive on the planet’s surface. Each step, Palpatine pushes Vader further and further into the darkness, finally letting go of the memories of the past. Its also the last time the Emperor gets his hands dirty and undertakes a personal mission.
“Ahsoka” by E.K. Johnston
Released on October 11, 2016
Hard to believe its been ten years since we first met the young Togrutan Jedi, and since that time, Ahsoka Tano has risen to become one of the most popular Star Wars characters of all-time. We first met her in The Clone Wars TV series when she was Anakin Skywalker’s young but talented Padawan, but it wouldn’t be a smash hit right out of the gate. Fan acceptance was generally a slow burn but by the time she walked away from the Jedi order in Season 5 her had risen considerably.
There were more plans for Ahsoka during the Clone Wars era but as we know the show ended and those stories were never put into production. This novel appropriately titled, “Ahsoka” starts off around that time during the “Siege of Mandalore” where Ahsoka encounters Maul and they engage in an epic duel, with Tano besting the former Sith Lord.
From there we follow Ahsoka around the galaxy as she assumes a false identity, “Ashla”, and tries to forge a new life post Order 66 which of course destroyed most of her Jedi friends. As she encounters suffering of all types on other worlds, the Togrutan may have turned her back on the Jedi, but she can’t sit idly by watch the oppression of others.
The book not only follows her adventures, but we get a glimpse into some of the other surviving members of the Jedi and the Clone Wars including Obi-Wan Kenobi, Bail Organa and Anakin Skywalker. We get also get the appearance of an Inquisitor (Sixth Brother) who enters a duel to the death with Ahsoka, and in his defeat, she acquires his lightsabers and purifies the Kyber crystals turning them to natural hue of white. The book ends with Ahsoka agreeing to rejoin the rebellion, only this time under the name Fulcrum.
"Thrawn” by Timothy Zahn
Released on April 11, 2017
The blue skinned Chiss male of course needs no introduction, and that’s Grand Admiral Thrawn of the Imperial Navy has risen to become one of the most popular Star Wars villains of all-time. This book takes us back to the events of the supposed exile Thrawn faced from Chiss Ascendancy and his later excommunication to an unknown planet in Wild Space. The Empire discovers (or was lured by) Thrawn on an uncharted planet in Wild Space and are forced to investigate thanks to an antiquated protocol known as the Unknown Alien protocol.
Drawing from the original EU Thrawn trilogy that Zahn also wrote, we find Thrawn encountering a host of familiar faces as well as some intriguing new ones. As he climbs the ranks within the Imperial Navy and gains the confidence of Emperor Palpatine and his apprentice Lord Vader, Thrawn earns his reputation as a highly intelligent, master tactician who seems content to serve the Empire, for now.
The book also alternates between accession’s in power as we also meet Arihnda Pryce, a Lothal resident whose personal family wealth in the mining business is under siege. As we know, their two careers parallel each other and eventually will cross paths bringing us to the events on Lothal in Star Wars Rebels.
Aside from the multitude of revelations and insight we gain into perhaps the greatest military mind in the Star Wars universe, it is here we also learn Thrawn’s Chiss name as it is uttered for the first time…Mitth’raw’nuruodo. With the recent release of the excellent Marvel Comics “Thrawn” series and the upcoming release of “Thrawn: Alliances”, again written by Zahn, it appears we’ll know more than ever about our beloved Ghost Crew’s most dangerous foe.
So, if you’re feeling down right now here are five options that will help ease that pain. If you haven’t read them I highly suggest you do as these are obviously just simplifications of the books. And if you have already read them? Why not read them again!
Till next time…MTFBWY.
TFN Review: Thrawn By Timothy Zahn From Del Rey Books
TFN Review: Ahsoka By E.K. Johnston From Disney-Lucasfilm Press
TFN Review: Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp
Suvudu Posts Q&A With A New Dawn Author John Jackson Miller
August 5, 2014: Star Wars Rebels: Rise of the Rebels By Michael Kogge