German YA Legends Novels
It's always interesting when you find Expanded Universe material, that you didn't know existed before. Goes to show just how big the EU truly was. It's hard to keep track of all the stuff Lucasfilm put out over the decades. And surely one of the more fascinating things is when something Star Wars related is published only in one country, but not in any other.
As big EU Fan's, we all probably know about stuff like the Hungarian Han Solo novels, where the Hungarian publisher decided they wanted to cash in on the success of Brian Daley's officially licensed Solo Trilogy. So they hired Hungarian authors, and put out 4 books, without telling Lucasfilm about it. Obviously Lucasfilm wasn't happy about unlicensed stuff being sold, and so they shut that down.
Those Hungarian books are probably the most interesting of the unlicensed Expanded Universe material, simply because they are books, and Fan's like us get completely new stories to read.
The 4 books I want to talk about here are something different though. They are German exclusive, Young Adult type books that were published by Heyne, the official German publisher of Star Wars books in the 90's. These German YA books, written by the Head of the German Star Wars and Star Trek fanclubs (this is just based on what I've been told, as i can find next to no information about the guy), Oliver Denker, who allegedly also is an extra in The Phantom Menace, are retellings of the films, and the Expanded Universe work that came out till 1997, when these 4 books first got published. They are basically like The Essential Chronology, 2 years before that books was even released, but obviously these German ones weren't as detailed.
Now what's so fascinating about these books is the framework of them. We have 4 books, with each focusing on a different topic (The Jedi Knights, The Empire, Han Solo & Chewbacca, Luke & Leia), and each book is split in different chapters. All those chapters open with this text:
New Republic Holo Message
Source: Journal of the Whills
To: Senator Heria Organa
From: Historian Halsyyk
Topic: Han Solo & Chewbacca (this varies, obviously)
From this text alone we can assume that the intention was for the retellings in these books to be written by this historian character called Halsyyk, who was in correspondence with an apparent descendant of Leia Organa Solo, called Heria Organa. And so the text in the books we are reading here would become part of the 'Journal of the Whills'.
While 3 of these books make some wrong assumptions about the Prequel era of Star Wars, since they were obviously written in 1997, the book about The Jedi Knights is the only one of them that adds more details to this framework. Die Jedi-Ritter (The Jedi Knights) opens with the historian Halsyyk telling us how he went to visit Leia Organa's sarcophagus in the catacombs under the Coruscant Palace, alongside with some other historians, and lead by a Knight seconded from the Order. We learn that Halsyyk is writing his Chronology to celebrate the Anniversary of Luke and Leia's birth, which took place 1000 years ago, placing this story in the year 981 ABY. We hear how the Republic doesn't want to celebrate this Anniversary, and how the Core Worlds have no interest/memory of the historically important Jedi. The text makes it sound like the Jedi Order is borderline dead, and/or hated by the government in this future, mentioning how not too much time has passed since the last Jedi, Arabuskan, was executed on Coruscant. The New Jedi Order apparently has fallen at this point in time, despite the mention of a Knight that was sent by the Order to the catacombs under the Coruscant Temple.
Here's the part in question, translated into English:
When the knight, seconded from the Order, led us through the catacombs under the Coruscant Palace, where Leia Organa is buried, which is not open to the public, he said after a minute of remembrance on the sarcophagus: “Leia Organa, a great woman of the Republic ... "
The souvenir seller at Del Ahrid on Coruscant asked: "Were you shown the tower room where Skywalker lived?" And the innkeeper on Endor had detailed information about General Kenobi. These may have been accidental experiences without any claim to general validity, and yet on the long journey to the sites of the rebirth of the republic it seemed as if the memory of these people had not completely died out.
What one cannot say with a clear conscience about the core worlds. In any case, for our officials, who are usually so happy to celebrate their jubilee, the millennial return of the birth of Leia Organa was not important enough to commemorate her. The Jedi Knights, whose life for many historians is identical to the most glamorous epoch in Republican history, do not deserve so much disinterest. To mourn this lost paradise or to dream some dreams of ancient glory would be as idle as it is out of time. But that does not mean to suppress the past that has become history!
(...) Between the founding of the Old Republic and the execution of the last Jedi Arabuskan in Coruscant lie the millennia in which the steep rise and the deep 'fall of the Jedi order took place.
All of that is really interesting, and sadly the only information about this future we truly get in these books. But there is still some more fascinating stuff in here, but about the times of the Prequel era. Again, since these books came out in 1997, the author simply made up some stuff, based on what we knew about the Clone Wars at that point. And while some of it is kinda accurate to how things in the EU turned out, most of his ideas of how the Clone Wars went down are completely wrong.
These Informations can be found in the book titled Das Imperium (The Empire, duh), which is actually worthy of getting translated completely. I will only give you the big points this book makes, those being:
There is talk about Palpatine being born into a noble life (of course no mention of Naboo or anything), and how he started to get into Galactic Politics. No mention of anything really Sith related with him, just stating that no one knew that Palpatine knew "the secrets of the dark side".
The Republic is pretty much described like she was in Alan Dean Foster's Prologue from the OG novelization. Rotting from the inside from greed and corruption.
There is talks about the Republic having multiple Civil Wars, which lead to Palpatine, a charismatic fellow, to get into a strong position of power, becoming President of the Republic. He would later then demand to become Emperor, which the Senate agreed, because they thought, they could use and manipulate Palpatine.
Under the leadership of Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, and Garm Bel Iblis, the Jedi Knights grouped together, to fight against this new regime. But Palpatine's army and fleet soon proved to be too strong for the "Republic Jedi Task Forces". There weren't any open conflicts or anything, but Palpy soon had enough of the Jedi and so he and his new apprentice Darth Vader, along with a group of Dark Siders, started to hunt down the Jedi Knights.
Palpatine made a treaty with the Jedi, too keep his Imperial Fleet at a smaller size, he apparently didn't want a War with the Jedi Order (the books says Palpy wanted the Jedi to see how his Empire brought Justice and Order to the Galaxy), but they wanted to move against his regime. So Palpatine started the Clone Wars, in which he was sending hords of cloned troops into battles against the Republic and the Jedi. His Clones won, simply because there were so many of them. After some unsuccessful Peace Talks, and during the following Second Clone Wars, which lasted a couple of weeks, Palpatine destroyed all of the Republic fleet, and took over worlds such as Alderaan, now with his Empire being the only big Galactic Government. The Hunt for the surviving Jedi continued after that.
After this we only have two of the books left, but sadly, there is nothing like that in the Han Solo & Chewbacca book. But the last one, about Luke & Leia, does have some more of this extra content in form an entire chapter told from Obi-Wan Kenobi's POV. Again, here's the translation (done by Google Translate, because i was too lazy to do it myself):
The day promised to be beautiful. The morning mist had left a slight film of moisture on the sand dunes. This will help my brother's vaporizers, Obi-Wan Kenobi thought. The early morning sun animated Obi-Wan. The air enriched with moisture was good for his lungs, after all, he had spent the last few weeks in the artificial atmosphere of the most scrap-ripe spaceship he had ever known. Or rather, that he could remember, he corrected himself. Tatooine was not known for the good air, however. Actually, the desert planet was not even known because of it. Orbited by double suns, it was remote in the outer rim territories of the galaxy, very remote. But that came in handy for Kenobi. He sought the seclusion of his brother Owen's farm, and you could say what you wanted of Tatooine, the lump of sand was secluded. He had come a long way through the desert since leaving the city that night unnoticed. It was a long walk to his brother's farm for a pedestrian. But the baby in his arms had been quiet, slept all the way. The point that indicated the presence of other beings was now clearly visible and came towards him to his right across the great salt flat. It was not yet clear what it was, only one thing was clear: it was a vehicle controlled by intelligence. An ancient aphorism that Kenobi had once heard crossed his mind. As he remembered, it had been about two men, an old and a young. The younger one had said: “no news is good news”, and the other, an old Jedi master, had wisely replied: “That doesn't have to be true, my young friend. A fisherman does not consider himself happy if the fish do not bite ”. He wasn't entirely sure that this anecdote was a suitable analogy for the moment because he couldn't quite agree with the Master. In the meantime, the driver of the vehicle had also noticed Kenobi and was heading for him.
Kenobi realized that the vehicle was an old-fashioned glider. He made no attempt to escape; he couldn't have escaped the glider anyway. He just stopped and waited for the vehicle to come in a wide arc. The skid stopped abruptly and a low cloud of sand swept up to Obi-Wan's right. Then the howl of the land glider diminished to a low humming sound as the driver switched to idle. “Where are you going, old man? Are you lost? ”Asked the grim-looking man. The confrontation with a hostile environment seemed carved into his face. His graying hair was frozen in tangled strands, like plaster spirals. Dust covered his face, clothes, hands, and thoughts. But the body was still powerful when the mind wasn't anymore. Obi-Wan looked deep into the face of a man he had known since childhood. And yet he was not recognized himself. Had he changed so much over the years? Was he so different from young Obi-Wan? Admittedly, he had seen a lot. But when he looked in the mirror, there was no stranger there. There were a lot of wrinkles running through his face, but there was no concern in his blue eyes. Yet somehow he wasn't the same for his brother. How long was it since he last saw his brother? Had it actually been decades? The Fall of the Republi, the Clone Wars, the Rise of the Emperor and now the Jedi Pursuits. Now Obi-Wan only really realized that almost half a human life had passed since he and his brother had split up in an argument. Owen became a farmer and Kenobi joined the Jedi Knights. While Owen tried to earn a meager income from the sand, Obi-Wan rose in the hierarchy of the republic. But the days of the Old Republic were numbered. Kenobi was thrown into the turmoil of the Clone Wars, and his student, Anakin Skywalker, had fallen for the Dark Side.
The Clone Wars had gone bad for the Jedi Knights. In an emergency, Obi-Wan had broken the Jedi code and trained a student himself, Anakin. Too late, Kenobi realized his interest in the dark side, and the war was lost. But Anakin's wife was pregnant and had given birth to twins, Luke and Leia. Kenobi immediately sensed their sensitivity to power; she was as strong as her father's. But Anakin would seduce the children to the dark side or even kill them. That couldn't happen! So Obi-Wan decided to hide the children. He had given Leia to his friend Bail Organa on Alderaan, and he was holding Luke in his arms. The children should grow up with adoptive parents and not know about their past. That was the best protection against the attack of Anakin and the Emperor. Obi-Wan had chosen his brother for Luke, only he didn't know about his luck. Obi-Wan closed his mind to the memories. There was no more time to waste on such distractions, he told himself. He carried responsibility for the future of the galaxy in his arms. He hoped Luke was strong, growing up wouldn't be easy. "Protection and blessings," he finally called out to his brother. He hesitated for a moment, and then his eyes narrowed. "Ben?"
This is basically all the important stuff from these books; the rest is an okay retelling of EU stories, but really mostly the films. Would a kid actually understand anything in it? I guess, even though it reads like the opening paragraphs on Wookieepedia character articles, before you scroll down to the more detailed parts.
Now, finding information about these Denker books is hard; when i first learned about them, the fanpage that contained info about them only said 'probably unlicensed, fanfiction style YA books, written 1997, set in the Legacy era', and not really anything else. I don't know if Lucasfilm ever learned of their existence. I couldn't find out if these books just naturally stopped getting printed, or if Lucasfilm came in and told the publisher Heyne to stop. My guess would be that Heyne just printed a couple thousand copies, once, and then after they sold that was it.
Possible image of Oliver Denker
From what I've heard the guys who translated the Hungarian Han Solo novels are also working on translating these Denker books, so that non-German speakers also have a chance to check these out for themselves.