"At last, we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last, we will have revenge."
Episode I: The Phantom Menace not only marked a new chapter of the Star Wars film franchise, but also established an entirely new era for the saga to explore. Set 32 years before A New Hope, it featured previously undiscovered worlds and species, epic duels between the Jedi and the Sith, and (of course) podracing.
Perhaps the best way to fully understand and appreciate the impact of TPM is to imagine the state of Star Wars today without it. Quite simply, without TPM, Star Wars as we know it wouldn’t exist. We would have never seen the Jedi at the height of their influence, housed within the Temple walls on Coruscant. We would have never seen a droid army or its violent potential in the hands of the Trade Federation. We would have never seen a double-bladed lightsaber or the Dathomirian who wielded it. We would have never seen the raucous arguments in the Senate chambers that literally decided the fate of the billions. In fact, we would have never seen the Clone Wars, Order 66, or the rise of Darth Vader.
Clearly, The Phantom Menace is more than just a movie, and more than just a time period. It’s a literal launching point for so much of the saga as we know it.
This is where it all begins.
The Sith are revealed and the galaxy will never be the same again...
The Sith are a thing of ancient history. Some even question their existence to begin with since not a single one had been seen for centuries. But as a long-awaited prophecy starts to come to fruition, the Jedi will soon learn that their greatest fear is emerging from the shadows.
Soon, they will reveal themselves to the Jedi.
Soon, they will have their revenge.
What does one do after ruling an entire planet? For Padmé Amidala, that answer came easily: move on to even bigger things. However, transitioning from the throne on Naboo to a seat in the Galactic Senate is not without challenges, especially at such a young age. Uneasy alliances, ruthless media, and hidden agendas not only leave her wondering how she can possibly hope to instate positive change in the galaxy, but also how she can survive long enough to do it.
EK Johnston’s story bridges the gap between the Padmé fans see in The Phantom Menace and the one they see in Attack of the Clones. It largely expounds upon Naboo culture, including the fashion, government, and the role of the handmaidens.
The relationship between Jedi Master and Padawan is tumultuous as often as it is tight. Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi know this fact all too well. In the midst of their struggles to work together, Qui-Gon gets an offer that would allow them to part ways forever. However, after being sent on what may be their final mission together, Qui-Gon begins have visions that cast everyone’s future into doubt.
Claudia Gray once again does what she does best by delivering a moving, impactful story that delves into big questions surrounding the Force. She was entrusted with hugely important characters and uses them expertly.
Few know much about Count Dooku or his past that led him from the highest ranks of the Jedi Order to the knee of Darth Sidious. But when he charges his new assassin, Asajj Ventress, with her first mission, he also opens a window into his past. That past, riddled with dark prophecies and broken relationships is the key to Ventress understanding her new master…and his weaknesses.
Cavan Scott, bolstered by a whole host of voice actors, delivers one of the most engaging, immersive stories in all of the Expanded Universe with Dooku: Jedi Lost. This origin story enriches Dooku’s character so much that it even manages to elevate his on-screen appearances in the films.
In the start to this series written for audiences ages 9-12, Jedi student Obi-Wan Kenobi competes for the attention of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. He and fellow hopeful Padawan Bruck Chun provoke each other to anger, threatening their futures with the Jedi. Obi-Wan’s future as a Jedi Knight hangs in the balance as he battles his anger with his peer.
As a result of his displays of his temper, Obi-Wan is sentenced to serve in the Agricultural Corps on the planet of Bandomeer. Also assigned to this mission is Qui-Gon himself. En route to their destination, the Republic ship is ambushed by pirates. This mission might prove to be Obi-Wan’s last chance to prove that he has what it takes to be a Jedi.
Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious discover a way to annihilate the Jedi before they can even comprehend that the Sith still exist. But this plan involves a certain nuclear device, so the Sith Lords send their deadly apprentice to a prison colony to find the merchant who owns it. While Maul dukes it out with the prisoners in a fight-to-the-death contest in search for the target, Plagueis and Sidious plot against each other in how they'll use the weapon for their own personal gains.
Darth Maul is a favorite among many when it comes to Sith characters, and the merciless brutality he displays like that in Maul: Lockdown is probably why. Author Joe Schrieber has effortlessly integrated the genre of horror into the Star Wars universe, and using the most menacing-looking character to do it calls for a bloody good time.
The Sith have been extinct for a millennium. At least…none have been seen. But the finest Sith are as patient as they are ruthless, and Darth Maul is no exception. Sent on a covert mission to fuel a vendetta between rival mining companies, Maul hopes to strengthen the Trade Federation, please his master, and get one step closer to revealing himself to the Jedi…and having revenge.
This short story by James Luceno gives a bit more backstory to the mysterious black-clad figure fans meet in The Phantom Menace and, in the process, proves that Maul’s mind was every bit as sharp as his saber.
Plans for the Trade Federation’s blockade of Naboo is at risk of being compromised, so Darth Sidious sends his skilled apprentice to Coruscant to take care of the problem. Completely loyal to his master, Darth Maul vows to crush any threat that is prone to delivering their secret agenda to the Jedi.
Shadow Hunter is a spectacular display of a Sith apprentice’s devotion to their master. Darth Maul had been trained by Darth Sidious since he was a child, and it shows in the way he hunts his prey and fuels on his anger to finish the job.
It may be lonely at the top…but it’s also dangerous. Chancellor Valorum learns that fact when a terrorist group makes an attempt against his life. However, there is no shortage of enemies for the leader of the Republic, and Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are soon assigned to the case. As arguments spark in the Senate and the jockeying for power intensifies, it seems that someone must be benefitting…but who?
James Luceno delivers a story filled with conspiracy, duplicity, and political intrigue as he fleshes out the character of Chancellor Valorum and enlightens readers to just some of the turmoil that ultimately led to the vote of no confidence in his leadership.
Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? It's a sprawling tale that establishes several important origin stories for characters fans know well. Readers learn how Plagueis seduced Palpatine to the dark side and how their alliance led to the Sith apprentice’s ultimate betrayal of his master. This is how darkness truly began to rise.
In Rogue Planet, we find Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi a few years into his training of Anakin Skywalker, said to be the Chosen One by the late, great Qui-Gon Jinn. Chosen One or not, Anakin is quite the troublemaker, and the Jedi Council decide it best for him to pour his energy into a mission rather than illegal races in Coruscant's underbelly. Along with Obi-Wan, Anakin is sent to investigate the disappearance of a Padawan named Vergere and see how it relates to the purchase of a unique Sekotan spacecraft on the mysterious planet Zonama Sekot.
Greg Bear gives readers a story that focuses on a unique time in Anakin's training. The planet Zonama Sekot and the character of Vergere have some important implications later in the EU, though those implications do nothing to hamper the enjoyment of Rogue Planet as a standalone story.