Seeing the Others
The Importance of New Characters in the Expanded Universe
By: Eric Eilersen
When I initially dived into the Star Wars Expanded Universe, I had a number of expectations. I assumed that I would see new planets, explore new storylines, and witness a number of thrilling space battles featuring all of my favorite ships, but above all, I wanted to spend more time with my favorite characters from the films!Within the pages of the New Canon and the Legends dwelled the further adventures of Han, Luke, Leia, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Rey, and more!
For years, I had loved these characters (admittedly, some of those fine folks commanded almost two decades rather than the relatively minimal time since 2015), and now, I could soar through the stars with them again. No longer were they confined merely to the planets on which I had originally met them, nor did their narratives end the moment that the John Williams music swelled behind “DIRECTED BY.”
Surprisingly, however, the more books that I read beyond the reach of the main saga, the more that I get excited about another faction entirely.
The other characters.
Now, I know that the category of “other” may sound almost comically broad, but it’s true, nonetheless. Star Wars books do bring us new stories featuring our favorite heroes and villains from the films we grew up with (and are continuing to do so), but moreso than that, they truly expand the lexicon of characters that we’re allowed to love.
Huh. I just got it. Expanded Universe...expa--yeah, you get it.Let’s take James Luceno’s Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, for example. While this book does a fantastic job deepening the relationship between Galen Erso and Orson Krennic (what I would argue is the main reason to pick up this astounding book), it also introduces us to the character of Has Obitt.
Has is a Dressellian smuggler who finds himself unwittingly situated within Krennic’s iron grip, and throughout the book, we see him interact with Orson, himself, Lyra & Jyn Erso, and even Grand Moff Tarkin.
His undeniable roguish charm aside, Has allows us to interact with characters that we have already met in Rogue One through an entirely new lens. He’s an everyman. He has no real stake in the larger narrative of the Star Wars saga other than to stay free and go about his semi-legitimate business operations until later in the novel when he--well…
You’ll have to give it a read. Trust me.
Living on the Outside
But more importantly than the specifics of Has's plotline is the way that he is written by Luceno--a true Star Wars master in his own right.
For decades, we have been told the story of the galactic conflict between good and evil through the eyes of our heroes that were directly involved. Leia went right from the royal family of Alderaan to the Rebel Alliance to the New Republic Senate to the Resistance, so of course the stakes and the price of loss and victory have always been apparent to her. From the moment that Luke picked up his father’s lightsaber, his fate was directly linked to the will of the Living Force as well as that of his militaristic friends.
But Has was never on the front lines. He never saw a Jedi nor is he likely to in however many years he has left. His conflict revolves around his day to day life as well as his sense of morality which he begrudgingly begins to acknowledge as the book goes on.
His is a smaller conflict. An intimate conflict. And sometimes, when Red Squadron is tearing through the sky or the Jedi and the Sith are manipulating the bonds of reality through the power of the Force, we forget that the Star Wars universe is populated with millions upon millions of people who are just trying to make it through the day. They don’t care how many battles were won and lost until the troopers show up on their doorstep or in their cargo hold, and even then, maybe they’re so terrified that they’ll say anything to make the carnage stop.
Or maybe they never come within a million leagues of the Empire or the Rebellion. Maybe they grow up with legends of their own that we’ll read about in years to come.
"...the Star Wars universe is populated with millions upon millions of people who are just trying to make it through the day."
Because that’s the true beauty of the Expanded Universe. We get to realize how little of the story that we’ve really seen and how much more there is to know. So let’s meet new Jedi, new Sith, new heroes, and new villains.
But let’s never forget about people like Has, because in our eyes, their stories are just beginning.
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About Eric Eilersen
Eric is a Chicago based actor who can proudly wear a different Star Wars shirt to work every day of the week. When not acting as the Managing Editor for the Youtini blog, Eric enjoys catching up on all the Star Wars books he missed out on in his youth, drinking wine, playing video games, creating D&D campaigns, and taking numerous walks with Mordin, the best corgi in any and all galaxies. Most of Eric’s writing can be found on the Twin Suns blog here at Youtini where he describes the beginnings of his journey into the extended universe.
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