Analysis

The Difference Between Canon & Legends

What "Canon" and "Legends" mean and why you should care
Corey Helton
Jan 27, 2018
"Then Disney did something ingenious. They broke the Star Wars books into two categories..."

“Read Star Wars books they said. It’ll be fun they said,” you think to yourself as you stand idly in front of the Star Wars section at Barnes & Noble. You can’t help but be blown away with the fact that there are likely hundreds of books in front of you.

You pick up the first one that catches your eye: Legacy of the Force: Betrayal by Aaron Allston.

The inside flap reads, “This is the era of Luke Skywalker's legacy; the Jedi Master has unified the order into a cohesive group of powerful Jedi Knights. But as the new era begins, planetary interests threaten to disrupt this time of relative peace, and Luke is plagued with visions of an approaching darkness…”

“Wait a minute. I just saw The Last Jedi and Luke didn’t rebuild the Jedi Order… How is this possible?”

You continue, “When a mission to uncover an illegal missile factory on the planet Adumar ends in a violent ambush—from which Jedi Knight Jacen Solo and his protégé and cousin, Ben Skywalker, narrowly escape with their lives…”

“Oh my gosh… Jacen SOLO…? Ben SKYWALKER…? I don’t remember any of these characters in the films. Geez this is so confusing!”

Then you close the book and notice the golden “Legends” banner across the front of the cover. We get it and you’re not alone. The Legends and Canon distinction is a confusing one and is important for any Star Wars to grasp before diving into the books. So here’s a history lesson.

Youtini's Star Wars: Thrawn image.

In 2012, George Lucas sold the STAR WARS franchise to Disney.

Disney made a huge, controversial decision. They wanted complete creative control over STAR WARS. Any pre-published material wasn’t officially part of the STAR WARS universe unless it was in the movies, The Clone Wars TV show, or the film novelizations.

Anything else simply didn’t count. This decision meant that all those beloved books that had been published weren’t part of the STAR WARS universe anymore.

Fans were furious. Devastated. We had fallen in love with storylines and characters that Disney now claimed didn’t even exist.

Then Disney did something ingenious. They broke the STAR WARS books into two categories:

Canon

All the STAR WARS books released after 2014, when Disney started releasing books that fell into the “official” STAR WARS universe. These books are considered history and the material that occurs in these stories is officially part of the Star Wars timeline.

Legends

All the books published before 2014. These stories could have happened, but they aren’t part of STAR WARS history. These stories are simply considered Legends.

Canon and Legends books are both fantastic. There is no type that is better than the other. A vocal minority may disagree, but we believe those people are wrong - a lot of the new Canon material is truly brilliant. Disney has even begin asking writers of Legends material to produce Canon literature.

Youtini's Dark Disciple and Kenobi image.

If you are standing at Barnes & Noble, its not too difficult to differentiate Legends from Canon. If there’s golden Legends banner on the cover, its a Legends book. If there is no banner at all, then its a Canon book. If you are at a used bookstore, it’s not quite as simple because if the book was printed before the Disney-Star Wars purchase, there isn’t a Legends banner.

When in doubt… check the Youtini Bookshelf to see the lists of Legends and Canon books.

While the separation of books into Canon and Legends is brilliant and satisfying for readers, the two categories make reading STAR WARS books even more confusing. Fans truly don’t know when to read which books. What’s the best method?

Youtini has set out to end this confusion.

Thanks to our dedicated and passionate team determined to make the EU more easily accessible, fans will find it extremely easy to figure out which books to read at what time. With this guidance, fans can spend less time navigating the literature and more time falling in love with STAR WARS.