There was definitely some uncertainty in 2012 when Disney purchased the rights to Star Wars by acquiring Lucasfilm from George Lucas for a hefty sum of money. Kathleen Kennedy was hired as President shortly after and it was clear from the get go the priority was to make it a film-first franchise once again and produce feature length films ASAP. But what about all the other forms of Star Wars media? What would happen to them?
One of the first things Kennedy did was hire Kiri Hart to head up a new Lucasfilm story group whose job it was to go through the ton of already existing Star Wars material and decide which was to be kept, and which wasn't. Also gone was the canon hierarchy system and stationed in its place was a new single, cohesive continuity. There would be two distinct categories of Star Wars material going forward for the first time ever.
So, it was announced in April of 2014 that the current lot of Star Wars novels referred to as the "Expanded Universe", would be rebranded and relegated to the "Legends" category and anything produced from that day forward would be considered official Canon.
The first title launched under this new banner would be Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller and was released on September 2, 2014. Set six years prior, it served as a prequel for the Star Wars Rebels animated series which would officially debut a month later on October 3rd, although four shorts were released in the summer. The novel chronicles the lives of secret Jedi Kanan Jarrus and Twi'Lek Hera Syndulla just prior to their first meeting and eventual partnership. It was the first novel to be written in conjunction with and using input from the newly formed Lucasfilm Story Group which included among others, Pablo Hidalgo, Rayne Roberts and Carrie Beck.
Dave Filoni, fresh off The Clone Wars and the creator of Star Wars Rebels, would write the foreword for the novel. By doing so, he not only gave us our first preface of the new era, but also ushered in a change in hegemony. Here's an excerpt...
"We came together as a group and found the best talent: people who, like you and me, love Star Wars and want to make it great. Who want to capture the feeling that it gave all of us, that inspired all of us. More than at any other time in its existence, new Star Wars stories are being told every day. More important, the old concept of what is canon and what isn't is gone, and from this point forward our stories and characters all exist in the same universe; the key creative who work on the films, television, comic gooks, video games, and novels are all connected creatively for the fist time in the history of the Star Wars universe.
A New Dawn is a result of this method of story collaboration here at Lucasfilm..."
There has been close to a hundred novels released since A New Dawn came out four years ago and that of course doesn't include the hundreds of graphic novels, comic books and journals which are also all integrated into this new canon universe. Whether Jackson and the rest had this in mind when they titled the novel "A New Dawn" or not, who’s to say, but there is an obvious double meaning if you choose to see it.
As for the book itself, it is a fun and immersive classic Star Wars adventure story whose purpose is to really showcase Jarrus more than Syndulla. Out of context it's an interesting but sometimes unemotional read, but in conjunction with the series Star Wars Rebels, it becomes a rich backstory for these two would be heroes of the Rebellion. In a way, it perfectly ushers in what we would expect to see from Lucasfilm going forward. Each novel, comic book, film or video game could work perfectly fine on their own accord, but it’s by combing them that you get the whole cohesive story, the complete picture. I'll say this, for me the book takes more than a few chapters to get going, but once it does it truly does provide that piece of a larger puzzle in the story of Kanan Jarrus and the pretext of what's to come.
Of course, not all fans were thrilled with the move to distinguish the two eras. A community of diehard Expanded Universe fans and Disney-era haters haven't embraced these new novels, or films, and the slow drip method of incorporating the EU into canon hasn't happened fast enough for some. Nevertheless Lucasflim, under the guise of Disney, continues to move forward and do very good business around the world. In fact, when you include merchandising sales, the just over $4 billion Disney paid for Lucasfilm six years ago looks like a steal now as they have already likely surpassed that amount.
So, now that we're deeply engrained into the "canon" era and countless books have been released since this one, where does "A New Dawn" rank on your list? Looking back now does it feel like an appropriate and high-quality launch title for what would be a very important date in Star Wars history? Let us know!
Till next time...MTFBWY.
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