What initially seemed like a fairly inconsequential “kids’ book” turned out to be a collection of stories that fundamentally questioned our unconscious stigmas around storytelling. No longer were certain books “just for kids” or “below our level.” Instead, adult readers were able to freely transport back to a time when storytelling was unadulterated and distilled to its purest form.
Mann’s work accompanied by breathtaking illustrations from Grant Griffin provided the purest escapism found in Star Wars in quite some time, and as a result, we found ourselves clamoring for more.
Fortunately, Disney Lucasfilm was happy to oblige.
Star Wars: Dark Legends marks the second entry in George Mann’s series of myths, fables, legends, and tales in a galaxy far, far away. Much like its predecessor, Dark Legends asks its audience to suspend the rigid ideas of Canon and Legends in favor of a reading experience that harkens back to childhood stories right before bedtime.
Because that’s what these stories are. Scary tales told to children from Tatooine to Coruscant to Black Spire and beyond. Mann’s magical introduction even harbors a cautionary message for young ears that are about to embark on an adventure into the realm of the spooky and horrific.
Because what good ghost story doesn’t begin with a foreboding warning around the campfire?
Past the introduction lie seven tales featuring different monsters, spectres, terrors, and fears. As opposed to the relatively hopeful tone set forth by most of the stories in Myths & Fables (I’m looking at you Gaze of Stone), each of these diabolical tales is written in a way clearly meant to warn young children away from the wickedness of the world.
While some of the stories feature familiar monsters like Darth Vader and The Grand Inquisitor, both brilliantly depicted by Griffin’s illustrations, I found myself far more captivated by the stories that focused on the beast within. Because that’s where Dark Legends truly hits its mark in a way that is simultaneously fascinating and inescapably disturbing. While the beings that go bump in the night may cause a well deserved startle, the intangible forces of greed, malice, and possession are far more sinister.
It is these very forces of inner turmoil and bestial identity that compose the majority of Dark Legends. Within these pages, we are introduced to protagonists that would assuredly tell you that they are the victims of the tales that are spun about them, but the validity of that statement is up to you.
Mental prisons are built out of ambition, years of pent up anguish are released through malice, and the desire to control the future only guarantees the suffering that was so deeply feared in the first place.
If those story beats sound decently familiar, it’s probably because they’ve existed in folktales and fables long before tales were ever written down, but therein lies the brilliance of Mann’s writing. His ability to combine ancient folklore with homages to classic horror films and the mythology of Star Wars is laudable, because none of it feels remotely forced. Every planet and character fits perfectly in its chosen environment, and the delicious wickedness of every tale is tailored just as perfectly to the Star Wars galaxy as to our own.
Cautionary tales of greed, malice, ambition, and terror are universal. These traits have existed in humanity long before Star Wars was conceived, and yet the way Mann crafts his tales makes the lessons seem fresh and new in a way most Star Wars fans haven’t heard since the first time the name Dracula drifted into their ears.
Last year, we praised Myths & Fables for its ability to transcend traditional Star Wars storytelling and its creation of a wholly unique product within the world of Star Wars publishing. Dark Legends brilliantly carries on that mantle by adding seven new stories that need nothing more than a stormy evening and a crackling fire to create the perfect evening.
And finally...because it seemed to work out so well last time...we can’t wait for more legends and myths to spill out of Mann’s mind directly onto the page. And whether they feature valiant heroes or reprehensible demons, you can bet we’ll be there day one ready to be transported once more.
For more info about Dark Legends visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.
You can also check out both of our Exclusive Interviews with George Mann on The Living Force where we chatted about his love of storytelling, Doctor Who, and of course, Star Wars.