Star Wars: An Expanded Universe Guide to Understanding The Last Jedi

If you're looking for answers after watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Expanded Universe is a good place to start!

This Star Wars article contains spoilers.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has arrived, and with it come plenty of new mysteries to decipher. In fact, the movie doesn’t even answer all of the questions left over from The Force Awakens. That said, some of the answers – such as how Captain Phasma managed to escape Starkiller Base – can be found in the Expanded Universe. 

Looking for more information about The Last Jedi after seeing the film? Like Rey with her Jedi texts, you can explore the Star Wars Expaned Universe for more clues about Episode VIII with these canon books, comics, and games!

The Last Jedi Novelization

There’s no better place to start than with Jason Fry’s excellent novelization. Not only does the book expand on several key scenes in the movie, but it also introduces a few moments we never saw in the movie. The most important of these scenes is the opening prologue, which presents an alternate timeline in which Luke Skywalker never became a hero of the Rebellion and saved the galaxy. It’s too horrid to think about what might have happened to the galaxy had the Empire continued to rule unchecked, but Fry delivers this nightmare scenario and then some. You can tell he really enjoyed writing about a complacent Luke still farming on Tatooine. 

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Canto Bight 

Finn and Rose’s search for a codebreaker to help the Resistance fleet leads them to the casino city Canto Bight, where weapons dealers gamble at high roller tables. The novella collection Canto Bight introduces some of the aliens seen in The Last Jedi, including the gaunt, wide-faced card player and the three little reptilian aliens at a game table. As it turns out, they’re only lucky when all three are together. 

The most significant connection, though, is the fathier races and the children who work with them. One of the main characters in “Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing” is a girl who works at the stables, where indentured children under harsh conditions take care of the fathiers and dream of being jockeys. This story is also most closely connected to the epilogue of The Last Jedi, showing how stories of the Jedi bring hope to a Force-sensitive child.

Buy Canto Bight

Leia, Princess of Alderaan

The young adult novel Leia, Princess of Alderaan fleshes out an important character from The Last Jedi: Leia’s friend, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. Poe Dameron resists Holdo’s plans and even fights against what he believes are her traitorous actions (in true Rebellion fashion). Readers who know Holdo from the novel can be reassured that her friendship with Leia is the entire crux of this plotline. In the novel, Leia and Holdo work together to find the planet Crait, even while suffering the slow destruction of their fleet. Decades later, Holdo is able to use Crait to the Resistance’s advantage, even if Poe doesn’t understand the plan at first. 

The novel doesn’t talk very much about Leia’s latent Force sensitivity, which she displayed in a big way in The Last Jedi, but it does show how she learned to be resilient and survive in inhospitable places. The novel also reinforces Luke’s arc in The Last Jedi, paralleling both Skywalker twins and showing why Leia jumped into the fight with the Resistance while Luke hid away. Leia learned as a teenager that failure might be part of her journey, since she messed up her father’s plans several times in an effort to help people. Luke, the golden child who moved from a quiet life to the glory and tragedy of his time in the Rebellion, was bruised more deeply by his own failures. Both The Last Jedi and Leia, Princess of Alderaan show why Leia is so resilient and how the Original Trilogy heroes cope with failure. 

Buy Leia, Princess of Alderaan

Cobalt Squadron 

Rose Tico is at the heart of The Last Jedi. A brand new character, she’s introduced wth an immediately sympathetic story. Her sister was killed in battle, and while she’s a competent mechanic, she isn’t the type of hotspot pilot character we’ve often seen before. Cobalt Squadron begins by showing Rose and her sister Paige before the events of The Force Awakens, when the Resistance and the First Order are both working undercover. The book explains why Rose and Paige joined the Resistance, as well as the sisters’ similarities and differences. If you liked Rose in The Last Jedi, Cobalt Squadron is a good look at her history.  

Buy Cobalt Squadron

Bomber Command

This middle grade book focuses on Paige Tico, Rose’s sister, who sacrifices herself during the bombing run in the beginning of The Last Jedi. Including journal entries and starship schematics, it gives an inside look at what Paige’s life was like in the Resistance.

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Buy Bomber Command

Phasma 

Although Phasma’s role in The Last Jedi is relatively small, she has not been forgotten when it comes to canon tie-in books and comics. The Phasma novel shows Phasma’s origin on the postapocalyptic world of Parnassos, where she and her family lived with their backs to razor-sharp cliffs and an inhospitable ocean. The novel shows that Phasma is just as craven as General Hux, but also how she tries to protect her family. When she has nothing left to lose, she joins the First Order for their promise of technology that can ensure her own survival. 

The comic answers more direct questions about The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but the novel shades her fight in The Last Jedi with the memory of Parnassos. Phasma now lives in a starship far more technologically advanced and more powerful than anything she could ever have imagined when she was a child, able to destroy or save entire planets just because of the resources on board. From hardscrabble beginnings, Phasma has risen to the leadership of the First Order — and therefore gets her comeuppance.

Buy Phasma

Marvel’s Captain Phasma 

Phasma’s appearance in The Last Jedi might seem surprising if the last time you saw her was when she headed to the trash compactor. The four-issue comic series shows that Phasma escaped the trash compactor easily. Much more difficult was hiding the fact that she lowered Starkiller Base’s shield. She tracks the only witness to her act of treason to the wastelands of Luprora and kills everyone who might expose her — including the TIE pilot she had started to befriend. If you were disappointed with Phasma’s quick surrender in The Force Awakens, the book and comic provide plenty of action that shows what she can do when she’s properly motivated.

Buy Marvel’s Captain Phasma

Battlefront II

While this video game mostly sticks to what happened directly after Return of the Jedi, we do get a brief Luke Skywalker section that sheds light on how the Jedi Knight began his quest for Ahch-To. It’s revealed that Luke visited a planet called Pilio after sensing something in the Force coming from the world’s surface. The Force was in fact leading him to a secret Imperial vault that contained some of the Emperor’s most precious artifacts. Among the trinkets was a sort of compass device, and it’s heavily implied that Luke used this gadget to find the first Jedi temple. Read more about this here.