he stars are as old as time itself. And between every sun and planet, as well as every rock and tree upon those planets, an energy - the Force - binds all life. In ancient times, the Jedi Order was founded. Its members had a sensitivity to the Force and united to use this gift to benefit everyone.”
And thus begins Star Wars Timelines, the latest reference book from DK Books. Written by Kristin Baver, Jason Fry, Cole Horton, Amy Richau, and Clayton Sandell, this tome is easily the most ambitious reference book in a decade! In fact, it’s the most detailed, and fan-serving, reference book since 2009’s The Essential Atlas, also written by Jason Fry (with Daniel Wallace). So much so that the Youtini content team thought it would be a good idea to let me (Trevor, keeper of our own timeline pages) out of the database broom cupboard to write this review.
It’s not hyperbole on my part to say I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book. Since its first announcement, and the page spread reveals at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2022, the excitement hit its peak last weekend at Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023. Imagine the scene: it’s opening day. We’ve all spent hours in the queues. The doors open, everyone runs, and I head straight to the Forbidden Planet booth for this book (well, and the Jaxxon comic!). And I am here to tell you, dear reader, that this book…
Let’s start with the basics. First off, it’s a beautiful looking book. The cover is eye catching and well designed, featuring everyone from Keeve Trennis to Rey Skywalker. And it’s heavy! Weighing in at nearly 2 kg, over 335 pages, this is a chunky coffee table book.
But if the title itself doesn’t give you enough clues, let’s explain how the information in Timelines is presented. As one might expect, this book presents the events of the Star Wars saga in chronological order, placing given events in the appropriate year using the BBY/ABY dating system. If you’re still unsure how timelines work, we have a great resource for you here.
Each page is presented as a double page spread with a line (sometimes looped, sometimes straight) depicting the passage of time with text boxes and images providing the necessary information. The spreads themselves cover three separate categories: you have the main chronology that runs throughout the book, but sometimes that will be interrupted by a more narrow-focused spread; concentrating on a singular character or event; or a broader focus, concentrating on an item or particular class of ship. This adaptive style prevents the book from ever becoming too dry or dull, and also allows the authors to highlight common fan interests and explore more unique timelines than just sticking to what the main saga would allow.
Next, let’s talk about exactly how much Star Wars this book covers. We’re not just talking “The Skywalker Saga,” and not just books and comics, either: we are talking about everything. I honestly lost track of the amount of times I was shocked by some of the references I found in this book: flashback portion of an IDW comic annual - check! Cancelled mobile video game - check! Limited run VR experience - check! Chinese-language High Republic novel - check! And not only will the amount of content blow your mind, the sheer number of new confirmed Canonical timeline placements for stories that timeline-nerds like myself have been guesstimating for years ensures that this book will provide hours and hours of deep-dive nerdy fun!
BUT, what about the casual reader? Oh, you have not been left out my friends. Although this book may be a veritable feast for some of us, it also provides enough background on stories you may have missed or eras you simply haven’t explored yet, so as to keep you engaged and wanting more.
The design is bright, bold, varied, and interesting throughout; nothing is too complicated to follow, with some extra flourishes here and there that really shine (I’m looking at you, World-Between-Worlds).
I have heard all the authors talk about this being one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, experiences in their varied Star Wars writing careers, but despite that fact, their joy and commitment shine bright on every page.
However, no book is perfect. Any detailed Star Wars reference book, especially one covering the timelines of virtually every story in the galaxy, runs the risk of being out of date as soon as it hits the shelves, and this is no exception. The High Republic Phase II isn’t explored in as much detail as one may like, and “Young Jedi Adventures” and “The Mandalorian” season 3 are not mentioned at all. But, that is the nature of the beast with a book like this.
Personally, I think this book could benefit from identifying the sources that each entry is related to. You may be intrigued by the entry that states “Jaxxon T. Trumperakki helps deliver extremely rare eggs from the Queen of Livorno to Leia”, but Timelines doesn’t actually tell you where you may find that story. But to be fair, that is a minor quibble at best. Would I have wanted to sacrifice 20 pages of content for a source list? Personally, no.
So there you have it. This is, by a country mile, THE best Star Wars reference book in a generation. If you were even slightly on the fence about purchasing Timelines, then wait no longer. It’s a MASTERPIECE.
Star Wars Timelines will be available on April 25, 2023. You can purchase your copy here.