Today at San Diego Comic-Con, Lucasfilm assembled a panel of its authors to preview the next crop of Star Wars books and comics. With Episode IX yet to begin production, the next couple of novels will focus on the prequel era.
Ever since Timothy Zahn wrote Heir to the Empire in 1991, books have been a major part of the larger Star Wars franchise, expanding the story beyond the films and introducing new characters. When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, the past books and comics — the Star Wars Expanded Universe — were rendered non-canon. But ever since, publisher Del Rey has worked with the Star Wars Story Group to coordinate all the franchise’s new stories across its various media to ensure that everything fits together and collectively tells a consistent and much bigger story.
The first new book announced at the panel will be all about Padmé Amidala. Queen’s Shadow will be written by E.K. Johnston, who wrote 2016’s novel Ahsoka, which followed the Clone Wars character after the end (at the time) of the animated series. Like Ahsoka, this book will follow one of the franchise’s best-known female characters, which Johnston describes as “the story of Padmé changing from a queen to a senator,” and the other women in her orbit. The book will presumably be set in the period between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, exploring a period of time that was barely covered even in the Expanded Universe.
The second novel will come from Lost Stars, Bloodline, and Leia: Princess of Alderaan author Claudia Gray. Master and Apprentice will focus on Obi-Wan Kenobi and his master, Qui-Gon Jinn, prior to Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The publisher didn’t reveal any details about what the story will cover, or when it will hit stores, but on her Tumblr page, Gray noted that it will hit stores in 2019.
Because Solo: A Star Wars Story was released back in May, there’s an 18-month gap ahead between Star Wars films, rather than the film-a-year cadence that Lucasfilm has been following since The Force Awakens. It’s too early to really begin leading up to Episode IX, since it hasn’t even begun shooting. (Although some of the comics announced during the panel will begin making those steps.) Still, these new books seem like a good opportunity to delve into a period of Star Wars history that’s been traditionally underserved.
Update July 20th, 7:13PM PT: Updated with information from Gray about her book’s release date.