A COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE NEW STAR WARS CANON BEFORE THE FORCE AWAKENS

Note: Years in the Star Wars galaxy were previously designated "BBY" or "ABY" to designate time before / after the Battle of Yavin, when the first Death Star was destroyed. It's not clear whether the new canon will adopt this designation, but for ease of reading, in this case we'll use The Phantom Menace as year zero.
  1. 0 ABN | Episode I: The Phantom Menace
    Sent to the planet Naboo to broker a series of astoundingly boring trade disputes, Jedis Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn find Anakin Skywalker, an eight-year-old who's ultra-strong in the Force thanks to — ugh — his huge number of midichlorians. Darth Maul takes time off from fronting his black metal band to kill Qui-Gon Jinn and get sliced in half by Obi-Wan, but the real threat is Naboo's nefarious Senator Palpatine. Watch out for this guy, he's kind of a dick.
  2. 3 ABN | Obi-Wan & Anakin (comic)
    Obi-Wan and Anakin, now Jedi and Padawan — that's Jedi for "intern" — get into a decade of unspecified scrapes together, before rolling right into Episode II. The comics won't see the light of day until early January 2016 but we can assume it's around this time Anakin Skywalker morphs from Jake Lloyd to Hayden Christensen and grows a horrible rat tail of hair.
  3. 10 ABN | Episode II: Attack of the Clones
    Anakin, now grown from bratty kid to bratty teenager, falls in love with Senator Padmé Amidala of Naboo, and the existence of the Republic's secret clone army is revealed. Those clones then attack, and the Clone Wars start proper. On one side, the Republic's army of clone soldiers, dressed up like retro stormtroopers. On the other, the droid forces of the Separatists. The Jedi, traditionally the peacekeeping force of the galaxy, step into roles as generals.
  4. 10-13 ABN | The Clone Wars (TV)
    The Clone Wars rumble on for two years, as detailed in six seasons of The Clone Wars animated TV show, one of the few things from before Disney bought Star Wars to remain in the official canon. Anakin gets his own Padawan — a teenage Togruta named Ahsoka Tano — who teaches him about humility and respect by being super irritating and running straight into fights she can't win.
  5. 13 ABN | Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
    The war ends with a victory for the Republic soldiers, but a devastating loss for the Jedi. Palpatine initiates Order 66, which sees the clones turning on their Jedi masters and slaughtering them all. The movie ends with Palpatine taking control of a new Galactic Empire, and finalizes Anakin's shift to the dark side, as he kills a room full of defenseless younglings, has most of his limbs sliced off by Obi-Wan, gets bundled into his Darth Vader suit, and moans an infamous "noooo."
  6. 13-14 ABN | Kanan: The Last Padawan (comic)
    Order 66 was supposed to eradicate the Jedi but Obi-Wan manages to get a message out ahead of time, allowing some Force users to slip away from their would-be murderers. Caleb Dume is one such individual. Dume escapes from clone forces, hides on the planet of Kaller, rejects his Jedi background as a liability, and takes a new name — Kanan Jarrus.
  7. 18 ABN | Lords of the Sith (novel)
    Now well-and-truly dark side, Anakin Skywalker is put through a battery of tests by his new master. The Emperor's got a lot riding on Darth Vader — so much that he willingly orders a Star Destroyer into a trap laid by Twi'lek freedom fighters. The Twi'leks successfully blow up the Star Destroyer, but are unable to kill both Palpatine and Vader, who crash-land on the planet of Ryloth, climb into a nest of monster bugs, and murder a village of Twi'leks, just to show how evil Anakin has become.
  8. 18 ABN | Tarkin (novel)
    In the meantime, Imperial Moff Wilhuff Tarkin is climbing the ranks to become the man to command the soon-to-be-complete Death Star, deftly destroying a group of dissidents after they strike at a few Imperial outposts. The group isn't big, well funded, or well organized, but they're not the only beings in the galaxy organizing to shake off the Emperor's control.
  9. 21 ABN | A New Dawn (novel)
    Kanan Jarrus has transitioned from baby Jedi to an itinerant life of drinking and brawling his way across the galaxy. During a stop on mining planet Gorse, he has a chance meeting with Hera Syndulla, the politically aware daughter of Twi'lek fighter Cham, who's visiting the world to spy on Imperial industrialist Count Vidian. The two start a fruitful partnership and Vidian — more metal than man after his face was eaten off by a horrible disease — has to face off against a coordinated assault.
  10. 27-28 ABN | Star Wars Rebels (TV)
    Now flying together, Hera, Kanan, and their crew start with small-scale sabotage operations on the planet of Lothal, annoying Imperial forces. They soon graduate to a larger operation, and joined by Force-sensitive youngster Ezra Bridger, they meet up with Ahsoka Tano, 15 years older but still alive after being booted out of the Jedi Order. Together they form a guerrilla cell that looks like the Rebels you'll recognize from Episode IV, with orange jumpsuits and weird helmets.
  11. 32 ABN | Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
    The first Star Wars spinoff movie will show how the burgeoning Rebel Alliance is able to procure the plans for the Death Star that the Empire is building in secret. Very few details have been released so far, but based on the name alone, it's a good bet legendary X-wing group Rogue Squadron will have a part to play.
  12. 32 ABN | Episode IV: A New Hope
    Luke Skywalker finds himself wanting adventure, and ends up single-handedly destroying the Death Star — but not before he meets Han Solo, helps rescue Princess Leia, and watches Obi-Wan Kenobi get cut down by Darth Vader. The peaceful planet of Alderaan is the movie's biggest casualty, billions of souls blown to bits by the power of the Empire's fully operational battle station.
  13. 32 ABN | Princess Leia (comic)
    Princess Leia leaves Yavin IV to round up those Alderaanians lucky enough to be off-world when the planet was blown up by the Death Star, teaming up with pilot Evaan Verlaine to scout the galaxy for others left alive from her home planet.
  14. 32 ABN | Chewbacca (comic)
    Chewbacca crash-lands on an Imperial-held planet and has to team up with a local to avoid patrols, stay safe, and conquer the language issues you'll have when you can only speak in weird growls to get flying again.
  15. 32 ABN | Darth Vader (comic)
    The destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope prompts Emperor Palpatine to reconsider the Darth Vader experiment. He takes control of the Imperial military away from Vader, who in turn discovers that his master has tasked a mad scientist in a secret Imperial facility to trial possible replacements as his main henchman. Vader wins his master's trust back after he defeats his potential replacements, but not before he becomes aware of Luke Skywalker's existence.
  16. 32 ABN | Skywalker Strikes (comic)
    The four major characters — Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie — combine for another offensive push, striking out at an Imperial weapons factory on Cymoon 1 and successfully blowing up a TIE fighter assembly line. Things don't go so smoothly afterwards, though — Luke meets Boba Fett, the infamous bounty hunter having been hired by Vader to bring in his Force-sensitive son. Han and Leia — who have been looking for a new site for a Rebel base — are forced into hiding on a far-off world.
  17. 32 ABN | Showdown on the Smuggler's Moon (comic)
    Solo and the Princess finally get off-world, but not without help from an unexpected source — Han's wife. At least, she says she's his wife. Sana Solo — given name Sana Starros — claims she married Han years before. Han says the ceremony was a ruse, but the couple definitely share a few tricks — Sana visits Tatooine and shoots one of Greedo's friends in the knees to find out where her erstwhile partner has gone. Leia copes admirably with the revelation that Han was maybe secretly married.
  18. 32 ABN | Showdown on the Smuggler's Moon ctd. (comic)
    Luke himself is on Tatooine, where a journal written by Obi-Wan Kenobi sends him on a mission to find out more about the Jedi — and himself. On a trip to the smuggler's moon of Nar Shaddaa, Luke ends up captured by Grakkus the Hutt, a Jabba-sized slug whose major is in Jedi artefacts. Luke ends up facing off against something called "Kongo the Disemboweler," a bigger, nastier, lightsaber-proof version of Return of the Jedi's rancor.
  19. 32 ABN | Heir to the Jedi (novel)
    Fresh off his victory over the Empire's most fearsome battlestation, Leia and Admiral Ackbar send young Luke out on a mission to break out a cryptographer who could become a Rebel spy. Luke uses the experience to learn more about the Force, to chat to the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and to calm his ego, raging after blowing up the Death Star. But to the rest of the Rebellion, he's no Jedi — they're all dead, remember? — just a farm boy that got lucky with his proton torpedo.
  20. 32-35 ABN | Lando (comic)
    After his introduction in Star Wars: Rebels, Lando Calrissian also gets his own comic book adventure. The five-issue Lando series sees the smooth-talking swindler and smuggler steal Palpatine's personal space-yacht, winking and talking his way out of trouble, and becoming head of Cloud City's mining operation just in time for The Empire Strikes Back.
  21. 35 ABN | Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
    Episode V sees Darth Vader confronting Luke with the news he only learned shortly before — that the whiny farmboy who likes boasting about shooting defenseless rodents with laser weaponry is his son. Luke gets his hand lopped off, Han Solo gets frozen in carbonite, and the Rebels lose their base on Hoth, the icy planet Leia settled on as the home of the Rebel operations after her previous mission.
  22. 36 ABN | Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
    The Empire Strikes Back ends with the Rebel Alliance reeling, but Return of the Jedi sticks the lightsaber into the heart of the Empire. After years of menacing breathing and youngling massacres, Vader is finally redeemed by his son, after Anakin overpowers the Emperor and throws him into a brightly lit tube. As Luke and Anakin come face to horribly scarred face for the first time, Rebel and Imperial forces battle above and on the forest moon of Endor — with the help of way too many Ewoks.
  23. 32-37 ABN | Battlefront (video game)
    You can play that withdrawal from Hoth — turning it into a canonically correct victory, or helping the Empire crush the Rebel scum in one fell swoop — in Star Wars: Battlefront. The game spans the gamut of the movies, with maps set on Return of the Jedi's Endor, Tatooine, volcanic Sullust, and other worlds, the constant conflicts showing the regular battles between Rebel and Imperial forces that took place in the background of the Civil War.
  24. 26-35 ABN | Battlefront: Twilight Company (novel)
    The escape from Hoth forms part of a wider fallback later called "the Mid Rim retreat," as the Empire gets serious about the Rebel threat, and starts to push enemy forces off worlds across the galaxy. The Twilight Company novel — a tie-in to Star Wars Battlefront — shows this process from the gritty perspective of Rebel ground soldiers fighting across Hoth, as well as Coyerti, Haidoral Prime, and the volcanic planet of Sullust.
  25. 36 ABN | Shattered Empire (comic)
    Rebel Lieutenant Shara Bey is chosen to protect Leia in the immediate aftermath of Endor, while her husband — a man named Kes Dameron — joins Han Solo's commando team as the Rebel Alliance tries its best to dismantle the Empire. With the Emperor's death comes the start of Operation Cinder, a failsafe scheme set up by Palpatine in the event of his death that sparks a series of disasters on his home planet of Naboo, one last dick move for the Sith lord on this plane of existence.
  26. 36 ABN | Aftermath (novel)
    A number of Imperial remnants fall back to the galaxy's outer rim, where they try to plan for the future — whether to consolidate an autocratic regime in a few sectors, or seek out a mythical "wellspring" of dark side power. Before they can make a decision, however, the New Republic fleet strikes, pushing them even further into the Outer Rim. Imperial boss Grand Moff Randd squanders the Imperial fleet, superior New Republic forces sending vast Star Destroyers smashing into desert world Jakku.
  27. 21-37 ABN | Lost Stars (novel)
    Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree meet 11 years before Episode IV and become fast friends. But where Ciena resolves to change the Empire from the inside, Thane defects and joins the ranks of the Rebels. Years later, with Thane a respected commando, Ciena in charge of her own Star Destroyer, and the Emperor dead, the two meet over Jakku. Thane leads a boarding party to knock the huge capital ship out of orbit and succeeds, almost dooming his lover to go down with her command.
  28. 36 ABN | Star Wars: Uprising (video game)
    In the wake of the Emperor's death, Governor Adelhard initiates "the Iron Blockade" to consolidate control of the Anoat sector. It's up to a network of Rebel smugglers — built up by iOS and Android players — to get supplies and news of the war through to beings on planets like Bespin, Mataou, and Burnin Konn.
  29. 66 ABN | Episode VII: The Force Awakens
    With the Empire apparently in tatters and the New Republic in the ascendancy after the Battle of Endor, you'd think the galaxy would be at peace. But with the appearance of The Force Awakens' First Order and the existence of the new Resistance, that doesn't seem to be the case. Did the Resistance form from the ashes of the New Republic? Certainly the presence of General Leia Organa among its military officials suggests that, as the Republic and Empire before it, that government has fallen, too.