This article will contain spoilers concerning Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
First and foremost I must congratulate JJ Abrams and the rest of the Star Wars crew for delivering to fans what will be the start of a memorable new chapter in Star Wars history! Coupled with stunning effects, a compelling story of the elusive force, strong family bonds, and the never ending struggle between the forces of light and dark, Star Wars Episode VII has taken the first step forward in the Skywalker story's big screen canon history since 1983 (Return of the Jedi).
But as stunning as Episode VII is, the story is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi (Episode VI), which means that die hard Star Wars like myself are always going to be looking to connect the dots. There is a black hole of creative possibility in the time between the films and Star Wars, of course, capitalizes on that mystery as they always have in the past, using it to fan the flames of interest and create new stories to further expand the Star Wars Universe. Even now, Marvel Comics' artfully crafted canon line of Star Wars Comics, and captivating novels written by well known authors such as James Luceno and Christie Golden are filling in gaps between the movies and trilogies as well as those that run parallel to well known events.
Of course only the "New Canon" will definitively and directly relate to the story. As most fans know, on April 25, 2014, Lucasfilm announced that only the feature films, the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, exclusively mentioned content and any content released after the date will be regarded as canon, thus creating the "New Canon" of Star Wars.
"On April 25, 2014, Lucasfilm officially revised and solidified the canon, stating that all previously released Expanded Universe works would be re-branded under the new Star Wars Legends banner, in order to ensure a flowing timeline with the release of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. They also announced that future Star Wars stories will be considered on equal canon level with the films, with guidance coming from the Star Wars story group."
Initially, some fans were outraged, feeling that 35+ years of content and universe were simply swiped away from them like they were swindled by Lando Calrissian in a heavy pot game of Sabacc. As of now it seems that groundbreaking epics such as the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn, suddenly didn't happen and that characters such as Jacen Solo and Mara Jade simply don't exist. In actuality, while Star Wars Legends is not canon, it does not mean that it has axed its content completely. If you've done any reading or watched Episode VII already then you know that characters and events are heavily drawn upon for inspiration. Which brings me to the New Jedi Order.
The New Jedi Order is a line of "Legends" Star Wars books that take place after Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. It is very briefly discussed that Luke had begun training a new generation of Jedi in Episode VII, but one of them, Kylo Ren fell to the dark side. In the New Jedi Order, Luke Skywalker trains the next generation of Jedi, among other elaborate, dark events, in the wake of new threats attempting to overthrow the Republic. Among these were Jacen Solo, twin brother to Jaina Solo. In the NJO books Luke and Mara Jade have a son, Ben Skywalker. In Episode VII it is revealed that Kylo Ren's real name is Ben, a direct to reference Jacen whom, in NJO, Luke initially trained, and whom eventually fell to the dark side.
Exciting! Extremely so! Does this mean that Rey is filling the role of Jaina? Perhaps, but likely as a cousin and not a twin. Almost all, quite obvious references point to her being Luke's daughter, such as the Anakin's lightsaber ending up in her hands, and the fact that George Lucas stated before that the main films would always follow the Skywalker family. But if this is so, then was there in fact a Mara Jade at some point in time? The fact that Luke had been training Jedi could possibly mean that there others Padawans or Jedi Knights across the galaxy that did not fall to the dark side, and possibly others more that did? A lot can happen in 30 years! What did happened during those 30 years!?
If you have any thoughts, ideas or caught any obscure, or even obvious references please write them in below!