Kathleen Kennedy made an announcement back in 2012 stating that all previous novels and video games are not part of the Star Wars canon. Basically everything that you may have read or remembered including the fantastically written Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn, these stories no longer serve a purpose in the Star Wars cinematic story. While some of these stories were never officially canonized, it was nice to have seen some authors take a shot at telling their own stories using familiar characters from the films.
Lucasfilm decided to wipe the slate clean exclaiming that every story or game moving forward is officially canon. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term canon, the dictionary definition is as follows: “a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine.” This means that EVERYTHING categorized as ‘canon’ actually happened in the story of Star Wars.
However with all that being said, that does not mean that the writers couldn’t have taken or nitpicked certain things from the non-canon novels. Case in point, I believe that many elements of Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy books heavily influenced the writers for The Force Awakens. These novels include Jedi Search, Dark Apprentice, along with Champions of the Force and were written only a few short years AFTER Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy.
So you might be asking yourself as to what kinds of things were utilized from these source materials? Well read on to find out!
Han Solo Losing the Millennium Falcon
In the Jedi Academy Trilogy, Han and Lando both play a game of Sabaac to bet over who can officially own the Millennium Falcon. Unfortunately for Han, he loses the bet and hands over the keys to Lando to take back the ship that once belonged to him. In the final book of the series, Champions of the Force, Han asks for a rematch with Lando and succeeds this time around with his bets. It is unclear in the story however if Lando purposely loses the game of Sabaac to Han after he realizes that the ship should belong to both Han and Chewie. Either way, Han gets his pride and joy back from Lando and is satisfied with the outcome.
In The Force Awakens, we learn that the Falcon was somehow stolen from Han and ended up in the hands of Unkar Plutt who is the crime boss of Nima Outpost on the planet Jakku. While having it stolen or losing it over a bet are two very different things, one thing was certain: Han and Chewie were without the Falcon for a prolonged period of time. This was just one of the minor elements they borrowed from this trilogy.
General Hux is the Admiral Daala from The Jedi Academy Triology
General Hux could easily be classified as the asshole in The Force Awakens. You know who else could be classified as the asshole in the Jedi Academy Trilogy? That’s right a female Imperial Officer named Admiral Daala.
To keep it short, Admiral Daala was tasked with annihilating the remaining forces of the Republic. Highly regarded by Grand Moff Tarkin, Daala rose up in rank eventually helming the title of Admiral. Daala admired Tarkin and the two eventually became lovers. Tarkin watched this young female human in some of the battle simulations knowing all to well that she had a bright future ahead of her as a supreme officer.
Trusting her with his life, Tarkin sent Daala off on a mission aboard an Imperial Class Star Destroyer. Her mission was to go to the Maw Installation system at a secret Imperial facility and oversee the next deadly creation the Empire had to offer. This secret weapon that the Empire had in mind could destroy entire star systems. That weapon would come to be known as the Sun Crusher which I’ll talk about in my next point.
Unfortunately for Daala, she did not know anything about what went on in the past decade. She didn’t even know that her lover Wilhuff Tarkin was destroyed on the first Death Star. Hell she was unaware that it even blew up! The Maw Installation system itself began driving her mad to the point of insanity. This enabled her to go on a rampage and destroy anyone or anything that got in her way. She wanted to finish what Tarkin started (sound familiar?) and obliterate the remaining remnants of the Republic.
Here are some of the quotes spoken by Admiral Daala from the novels:
“Tarkin is dead, and I’m making all the decisions now. I need every ounce of firepower to deal a fatal blow to the New Republic.” – Jedi Search
“We must focus their attention to the appropriate enemy—the Rebels who killed Grand Moff Tarkin, who destroyed the Death Star, who murdered the Emperor.” – Dark Apprentice
“I just want to cause damage. Lots of it.” – Dark Apprentice
“I mean to stab at the heart of the Rebellion. Coruscant itself.” – Dark Apprentice
As you can see from the quotes above, Daala is not going to take any shit from anyone particularly those who fight or defend the Rebellion. The second novel in the series goes so far as to attack the home world of the Mon Calamari named Mon Cala. That would of course be the planet that Admiral Ackbar was from. Daala killed many innocent lives from these stories and would stop at nothing to get her way.
So what other character could Daala compare to in The Force Awakens? If you said General Hux you would be correct. Hux was commander and chief of the First Order. He too was a man who was thought highly of by Supreme Leader Snoke to lead the First Order. Hux was given orders by Snoke to command the First Order Star Destroyer known as the Finalizer.
General Hux had a persona about him that like Daala would stop at nothing until he got his way. Sure he might have to listen to Snoke every once in a while but Kylo Ren would prove to be a thorn in his side. Those two fought constantly in the film and Hux eventually got his way when he asked Supreme Leader Snoke to fire the deadly weapon of Starkiller Base.
"The weapon it is ready. I believe the time has come to use it. We shall destroy the government that supports the Resistance. The Republic. Without their friends to protect them the Resistance will be vulnerable and we will stop them before they reach Skywalker."
His speech says it all and how much his passion for the First Order’s motivations truly are:
“Today is the end of the Republic. The end of a regime that acquiesces to disorder. At this very moment in a system far from here, the New Republic lies to the galaxy while secretly supporting the treachery of the rogues of the Resistance. This fierce machine which you have built, upon which we stand will bring an end to the Senate, to their cherished fleet. All remaining systems will bow to the First Order and will remember this as the last day of the Republic!”
Nothing and I mean nothing means more to him than the ultimate destruction of the Republic. Those are some of the major comparisons between General Hux and Admiral Daala and yet another element shown in The Force Awakens.
The Sun Crusher is Starkiller Base
The Sun Crusher was a weapon created by the Empire and was authorized by Grand Moff Tarkin himself. This deadly weapon was created to demolish entire star systems and according to Star Wars Wookieepedia: “causes it’s target star to turn into a supernova.”
What it lacks in size, it makes up for in firepower. The Sun Crusher’s powerful weapon could obliterate entire star systems with just one push of a button. What weapon in The Force Awakens had this type of firepower? That’s right Starkiller Base.
Though Starkiller Base may have looked more like the Death Star, the capabilities of the weapon were very similar to what the Sun Crusher provided. The one scene in the movie showed us the power of Starkiller Base. After General Hux gave the order to obliterate what was left of the Republic, the base gleamed a large beam and annihilated the entire Hosnian Prime system.
Another comparison that can be made between the two is subtle. Even though Starkiller Base gets it’s source of power from the sun, the Sun Crusher’s power was already built inside the machine much like the original Death Stars. However the writer’s simply took the name “Sun” from Sun Crusher and used it literally for Starkiller Base.
Certainly a lot has been taken from the concept of the Sun Crusher. But that wasn’t the most crucial part of the story that was borrowed…
Luke’s Jedi Academy
In Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy, Luke Skywalker attempts to bring back the Jedi by training younglings who are proven strong in the Force. Does this sound like a familiar plotline used in The Force Awakens? The answer is a resounding yes.
J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy obviously borrowed this plotline from this trilogy because we learn in The Force Awakens that Luke was trying to bring back the Jedi. In Anderson’s novels which took place roughly seven years AFTER Return of the Jedi, Luke started training young Jedi in a temple on Yavin IV (which was where the former Rebel base was located in A New Hope). This temple officially became known as the Jedi Temple and housed young Jedi to hopefully jumpstart the rise of the Jedi once again.
Even this temple was alluded to also in The Force Awakens when we learn that Luke became a hermit after one of his students turned to the dark side (I’ll explain that in my next point). This Jedi Academy was one of the few remaining temples that have lasted since the Empire destroyed the majority of them. The temple in the film version is located on the planet Ahch-To instead of Yavin IV.
Han Solo says it best in The Force Awakens:
"Ever since Luke disappeared, people have been looking for him. He was training a new generation of Jedi. One boy, his apprentice turned against him and destroyed it all. Luke felt responsible and he just walked away from everything... People that knew him best think he went looking for the first Jedi Temple."
I’m sure we will learn more about Luke’s Jedi Academy in Episode VIII since the last shot of the film gave us Rey finally meeting Luke on a distant planet. Let’s now get to my fifth and final comparison between the books and the film.
Kyp Durron represents Kylo Ren
Now hear me out on this one. While Kyp Durron is NOT the son of Han Solo, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other comparisons to be made. Kyp Durron was a young man who was made a slave on the planet Kessel by Moruth Doole in the space mines in search of a rare substance called ‘glitterstim.’ Glitterstim is found in some of the spice that can be harvested underground. It’s defined as a type of “hallucinogenic drug made from spice that may cause temporary psychic abilities.” When used it can be very dangerous and is highly sought after by the Empire.
Han Solo and Chewie were captured while they were on a mission to Kessel. There they met Kyp and Han sort of became a father figure to him. Han also realized that Kyp had Force potential and mentioned that his friend Luke was starting a Jedi Academy if he would be interested. Kyp took him up on the offer and they all eventually found a way to escape from the mines.
Kyp later became one of Luke’s most accomplished students however an evil presence on Yavin IV corrupted the mind of Kyp. The evil presence in the Jedi Temple was a former Sith Lord named Exar Kun who was able to lure Kyp to the dark side. Kyp became so enraptured by the dark side that he eventually attacked his master Luke Skywalker and placed him in a type of coma. Luke was MIA until the very end of the trilogy. Kyp was so overtaken by Exar Kun and the dark side that he went on a killing spree even accidentally murdering his own brother.
Even though Luke goes MIA for the rest of the book until the very end, the same thing can be said in The Force Awakens. We don’t see him until the very end when we learn he had been in exile after his failed Jedi Academy. Kyp Durron was basically a Kylo Ren type of character. Though he wasn’t anyone’s blood relative, he was still a young apprentice and proved to be one of Luke’s greatest pupils who turned to the dark side just like Ren. The spirit of Exar Kun might as well represent Supreme Leader Snoke who enticed him over to the dark side.
Kyp Durron eventually came back over to the light side towards the end of the story. Will we see the same for Kylo Ren? Only time will tell.
It’s good to see Lucasfilm actually take a few pieces of the old expanded universe and use it to tell their own story with their own spin on it. Of course it doesn’t have to be EXACTLY like the old novels, but it’s still a good idea to at least take some notes because those stories meant a lot to die-hard Star Wars fans.
What will Episodes VIII and IV reveal? Could we see an Admiral Thrawn type of character? We know Benicio del Toro has been cast in Episode VIII and most speculate he will be the main villain for the film. Could he be Grand Admiral Thrawn? If so, that would be awesome!
So what do you all think? Do you believe in some of the comparisons to The Force Awakens? Were there any other scenes in The Force Awakens that were heavily influenced by the non-canon expanded universe? If so, I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comment section below and please share!