One of Those Lists: Star Wars EU Characters Edition
(My Top 10 Favorites)
I grew up in a pretty small town in Indiana. There wasn’t much to do other than play baseball and go to the library, which meant that for half the year you could only do one of those two things. The library had a “reading contest” that you could take part in one summer that involved reading a list of books, which would result in a prize of a free book of your own. The first prize book that I chose after finishing my list was a Star Wars book. I hadn’t ever read any of the books, and though I had seen the movies, I wasn’t a huge fan or anything. But out of all the choices, that book seemed like the most interesting. It was the fourth book of a Young Adult series, and hooked me into reading Star Wars books ever since.
The characters that became part of what was known as the “Extended Universe” ended up being more interesting to me than those from the movies. I “grew up” with them as they progressed through the stories and series. I took my time reading them, as I didn’t want to rush through them all, and still haven’t completely caught up. But that is because when Disney bought the rights to the franchise, they declared that the Extended Universe was no longer considered “canon” was now known as Legends. It meant that those characters would “cease to exist” and wouldn’t have any more books written starring them. That means that I’m eventually going to get to the end of their stories, and I’m not sure I’m okay with that after so long. So I’m somewhere in the middle of Legacy of the Force series, with just a couple more to go after.
I’m sure that at some point I’ll finish the rest of the books, but in the meantime, here is a list of favorites from the old Extended Universe/Legends. I am especially fond of the Young Jedi Knights and New Jedi Order series. For the sake of the list, I’ll leave out characters from the movies.
10. Kyp Durron: It’s been a long time since I first read the Jedi Academy trilogy that introduced Kyp to the universe, but it’s still one of the best series in the EU. Kyp’s struggle with the dark side and the reclamation of the character at the end is great stuff. His role as a “not like the others” leader in the New Jedi Order series is interesting, as is the brief flirtatious moments with Jaina Solo. His carefree attitude and ability to question the other Masters is rare and a welcome inclusion.
09. Corran Horn: Overall, I find his character to be rather boring, but he makes the list simply for one reason: his showdown duel with a Vong commander on Ithor. It’s an incredibly written battle and one of the best parts of that entire series. It’s just a shame that he could never live up to it otherwise.
08. Alema Rar: Though she was never the focal point of any story, she was always interesting. She had a rather sad character arc all throughout, beginning with the loss of her twin sister during the early part of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. She was part of the Mrykr Strike Team, which resulted in the loss of a number of friends and her love interest. And though she was a great pilot that took part in many of the battles during that war, she would eventually fall to the dark side. I always felt bad for her as a character, and the struggles that she endured. Even when she was completely evil, there was still a part of me that was rooting for her.
07. Tenel Ka: She was always a strong, determined presence that fit in well with the rest of the Young Jedi Knight crew: the story in which she believes that her physical ability is more important than her Jedi training and construction of her lightsaber is perhaps the best in the first YJK series. It results in her first lightsaber malfunctioning and the loss of her arm, but instead of having it replaced with a cybernetic one, she decides to go without as a reminder of her carelessness. Her relationship with Jacen Solo is endearing and one of the more realistic in the EU, though it was never a continuous thing. She would end up Queen of an entire cluster and mother to a child with Jacen before his turn to the dark side.
06. Darth Revan: The only non-book character on the list, Revan is who you play as in the Knights of the Old Republic video game. There is a canon version of the character, which could obviously differ from how you decide to play the game, but the first time I ever played the game I actually went along with much of the canon version choices. Revan was a Sith Lord, one of the worst in history in fact, who was betrayed by his Apprentice and eventually saved from the dark side by the Jedi. It’s a great game no matter what choices you make, but the “good guy” version that is canon is a great story and character.
05. Anakin Solo: I never read the Junior Jedi Knights series that starred Anakin Solo, Jacen and Jaina’s younger brother, but he made a big impact in the early parts of the New Jedi Order. Chewbacca sacrificed himself to save Anakin, and Anakin would eventually sacrifice himself to save the Mrykr Strike Team and finish the mission. He was being groomed as the next great hero of the universe, much like his grandfather Anakin Skywalker, before he met his end. He risked his life to save his childhood friend and love interest Tahiri, and his death was a pivotal moment in the series. He was coming into his own and his loss hit me hard as a fan, but it was done in such a great way that it was worth it. And it added depth to Tahiri’s character.
04. Tahiri Veila: As mentioned, she was Anakin’s childhood best friend and would eventually have deeper feelings for him as the two of them aged. He rescued her from being brainwashed completely by the Vong, which only made the two of them closer. He was the only person in her life that she considered family, and never truly felt complete after his death. She also had to handle a deeper part of herself as the brainwashing would sometimes come to the surface and influence her in a way that was totally out of character for her. She didn’t do much in the Dark Nest Crisis series, but would eventually turn to the dark side and join up with Darth Caedus, before being saved by Ben Skywalker.
03. Nom Anor: The only Yuuzhan Vong character that survived the entire series (until the final book, anyway) and also the only one with any real depth. He didn’t act, think, or speak like the rest of his species and his scheming ways were always interesting. By the end of the series, he went from one of the main protagonists to a bit of an anti-hero. He broke the mold of “bad guys” in the Star Wars universe fitting a very small set of common standards, which was a good thing.
02. Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus: Jacen was such a happy-go-lucky character when he was younger, cracking jokes and collecting animals. He loved his family and doing the right thing. This would eventually lead to him questioning the Jedi’s role during the New Jedi Order series and him meeting up with a character that would eventually put him through a trial of sorts. His maturing and eventual fall into darkness is one of the best continuing story-lines throughout the entire EU. I haven’t yet reached the finale of his time, but I do know how it ends, and I feel as though it couldn’t have gone any other way.
01. Jaina Solo: Growing up, I always connected with Jaina’s character personality wise. She was independent, headstrong, and knew that doing the right thing was important. She was strong, determined, and often found herself in tough situations that tested her. Her roles as a Jedi and as a pilot were more important to her than anything, but still found herself the object of affection from many different characters. Very rarely would she ever have moments of weakness, but when she did, she would find ways to overcome and “save the day” when others couldn’t. The brief moments of grief and tease of falling to the dark side after Anakin’s death were important to her evolving as a character, and I was glad that she was able to stay on the right path as "Sword of the Jedi". It made the most sense that she would be the one that finally put an end to Darth Caedus, though I am sure it’s a sad moment for those of us who had known the two of them since they were kids. (Someday I’ll get to that, but I am in no rush.)
Honorable Mentions: Ganner Rhysode (None shall pass!), Raynar Thul, Shedao Shai, Vergere.
Dishonorable Mentions: Mission Vao, Cal Omas, Jagged Fel.