- Matt Wilkins
Star Wars by Era: (Part 3) Prequels
Concluding my essays on Star Wars eras I’ve covered so far on my YouTube channel, I’d like to address the latest one I did. The Prequel era.
Prior to running through the Expanded Universe in chronological order on my channel, if you were to ask me which era felt flat, I would have said the prequels. Back in the day these always seemed secondary to what I considered to be the “main storyline” featuring the adventures of Han, Luke, and Leia.
Every time Del Rey announced another “prequel era” book, I would roll my eyes and complain they were wasting time publishing in that far inferior era to the New Republic stories that had been going on years before.
Now I realize I was wrong.
Reviewing these great stories, I now fear that many others out there like me will fall into the same thinking and never give these novels a chance. And that’s a shame. Some great gems are hidden within the era, and though the movies don’t shine as bright as the originals, the books are (a lot of the time) just as good as New Republic novels.
Stories such as James Luceno’s Darth Plagueis, John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi and Karen Travis’ brilliant young adult book No Prisoners really stand out.
On the comic book side of things Star Wars Republic is a superb comic book which told some of the best stories in the era, period. John Ostrander and Randy Stradley put together character and story arcs that are still memorable today! I would even argue that the comics outshone the novels when it came to the clone wars--but it doesn’t stop there!
The official novels for each of the prequels are actually BETTER to me than watching the movies themselves. Everything seems more realistic in a way I can’t fully describe. To be honest, I’m not even sure if anyone else feels the way I do about this era because I haven’t heard many others talk of it as a whole.
All that being said, this era did indeed have its low points. Both Stealth and Gambit are deplorable stories, Travis’ hokey clone/Jedi relationship story is fan fiction at its worst, and a lot of the spin-off comics from Dave Filoni’s Clone Wars TV show are 100% skippable. But as a whole, the prequel era EU doesn’t come off looking as bad as I assumed it would.
What could they have done better in the era? Simple. Less clone wars stories. The publishers couldn’t help going back for second, third, and fifteenth helpings as the same tired plots during the war. I think we have a complete account of every planet rebelling under the rule of the separatists, and almost every delegation sent from the republic to stop those planets from flipping.
After a while, the books and comics looked like an episode of Gilligan’s Island. Where the cast tries to get off the island…yet once again is foiled. See you next week folks for the same exact story just with different details!!
What they could have done more of is continue making stories from right before Episode 1 (young Qui Gon and Dooku) or even during the 10 years between TPM and AOTC, which went totally ignored after Episode 2 came out.
That being said, I’m happy with what we got, even though it wasn’t all I wanted. Where would be a good place to start in this era, you ask? For me I think there’s only 2 logical answers.
The first would be Luceno’s Darth Plagueis novel which is borderline brilliant and an excellent enhancement to TPM as a story. Second best (and maybe better in some ways) is Jude Watson’s incredible Jedi Apprentice novels. Though made for kids, I think these stories are entertaining for adults just as much.
In comics, go with Republic and don’t look back. As discussed earlier there are very few misses in that series overall.
Despite where you start, the Prequel era at least deserves a shot that everyone EU fan should take advantage of. I guarantee, it’s worth your time.