Three years ago, the "Journey to The Force Awakens" gave us our first tentative steps into fertile new ground for Disney's Star Wars canon: The three-decade period between Return of the Jedi and the time of the new sequel trilogy. Three years later, with The Last Jedi mere weeks away, we know so much more.
A litany of books, comics, games and other information have slowly but surely begun to fill in one of the most fascinating and important eras in Star Wars history that hasn't gotten a movie (yet). There's still so much left undiscovered - especially thanks to the fact that much of the information released so far falls into two camps: The period immediately after Return of the Jedi, chronicling the continued fall of the Empire, and the events which set up the galaxy we see in The Force Awakens, over a handful of years before the events of the movie.
But if you haven't been keeping up with the utter behemoth that's the tie-in universe of Star Wars media, there's an awful lot to dig through. Here's everything you need to know about the major events of Star Wars' post-Return of the Jedi history, as well the source material that covered those events, in case you want to explore them for yourselves.
Note: For simplicity's sake, we'll be using the standard Star Wars "BBY/ABY" calendar, which simply refers to "Before the Battle of Yavin/After the Battle of Yavin" - AKA the events of A New Hope. Return of the Jedi is set four years after A New Hope, so it took place in 4 ABY, The Force Awakens occurred in 34 ABY, and so on.
4 ABY: The Galactic Empire Falls
- After staging a distraction over the Imperial-occupied planet of Sullust, the Rebel Fleet gathers over the forest moon of Endor, successfully destroying the under-construction Death Star II. Both Emperor Palpatine and his enforcer Darth Vader perish in the ensuing battle, dealing a mortal blow to the Empire's order of rule across key star systems. (MOVIE: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)
- In the celebratory aftermath of victory on Endor, Princess Leia Organa and Alliance General Han Solo are married in a private ceremony. (NOVEL: Aftermath: Life Debt, NOVEL: Aftermath: Empire's End)
- Luke Skywalker travels to the planet Pillio in search of artefacts held in secret observatories by Palpatine. Encountering Inferno Squad agent Del Meeko, Luke recovers a compass from Palpatine's observatory on the planet. (GAME: Battlefront 2)
- Palpatine's death activates a contingency plan among remaining Imperial admirals known as Operation: Cinder, targeting key worlds - including Naboo, Vardos and Commenor - with climate-disrupting satellite weaponry designed to ravage worlds and instil fear among Imperial citizens. After Cinder's successful implementation on Vardos, Inferno Squadron members Iden Versio and Del Meeko defect to the Rebel Alliance, helping to defeat Operation: Cinder above Naboo alongside Princess Leia Organa. (GAME: Battlefront 2, COMIC: Shattered Empire)
- The Rebel Alliance dissolves, formally reorganising itself into the New Republic. (NOVEL: Aftermath)
- Governer Adelhard of the Anoat Sector instigates the Iron Blockade, locking down transport in and out of the system and cracking down on the dissemination of outside information. Discontent insurgents on the worlds within the sector begin open rebellion. (GAME: Uprising)
- The planets of Akiva, Sterdic IV, Bespin and Malastare are liberated from Imperial rule. Riots that broke out following the Emperor's death on Coruscant flourish into a planetary civil war. (NOVEL: Aftermath)
- The Galactic Senate is restored on the planet Chandrila, and Mon Mothma is elected Chancellor. Mothma announces her plans to relinquish the emergency powers granted to the Chancellor's office during the outbreak of the Clone Wars nearly three decades earlier, as well as moves to reduce the size of the New Republic military by 90 per cent in the aftermath of the Galactic Civil War. (NOVEL: Aftermath)
Image: Marvel. Shattered Empire #4 art by Marco Checchetto.
5 ABY: The New Republic Era
- On a mission to the planet Vetine, Luke Skywalker and Shara Bey recover two fragments of the Great Tree that once sat at the heart of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant from a secret Imperial facility. One fragment is kept by Skywalker, and the second is offered as a gift to Bey and her husband, Kes Dameron, who plant it on Yavin IV after retiring from the New Republic military to raise their young son, Poe. (COMIC: Shattered Empire)
- A force of smugglers and bounty hunters recruited by Han Solo and Chewbacca, along with assistance from Rebel operatives and the New Republic Fleet, successfully liberate the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk from the Empire's rule. His life debt to Solo fulfilled, Chewbacca retires to Kashyyyk with his family. (NOVEL: Aftermath: Life Debt)
- Peace talks between the Empire and the New Republic on Chandrila disintegrate when former Imperial prisoners, unknowing sleeper agents controlled by secret implants, open fire on Imperial and New Republic ambassadors, killing and wounding several. The Galactic Senate temporarily relocates to the planet Nakadia in the aftermath. (NOVEL: Aftermath: Life Debt)
- The Imperial Remnant gathers its military forces over the desert world of Jakku under the command of Gallius Rax and Moff Randd. After voting to take military action, the Galactic Senate sends New Republic forces to engage the Remnant fleet. Vastly outnumbered in the wake of a string of crushing losses across the galaxy, the Empire is totally defeated in the skies and on the ground at Jakku, losing multiple ships and the Super Star Destroyer Ravager, their derelict hulls left to decay after crashing down into on the surface, creating a region on the planet that would come to be known as the Starship Graveyard. (GAME: Battlefront, GAME: Battlefront 2, NOVEL: Lost Stars, NOVEL: Aftermath: Empire's End)
- After being extracted out of conflict zones on Coruscant, Imperial Grand Vizier Mas Amedda contacts Mon Mothma and sues for peace, initiating talks that culminate in the signing of the Galactic Concordance. The Empire relinquishes several worlds to the New Republic, including Coruscant, and is given strict borders for its own territories. According to the Imperial Articles of Surrender, the recruitment and mobilisation of Imperial armed forces is ended, and the Imperial Government at large is dissolved, leading to the creation of an internal government within the Empire's newly-established territories. The Galactic Civil War concludes, five years after it officially began at the Battle of Scarif. (NOVEL: Aftermath: Empire's End, NOVEL: Lost Stars, BOOK: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary)
- Ben Solo, the son of General Leia Organa and Han Solo, is born on Chandrila. (NOVEL: Aftermath: Empire's End)
- Surviving Imperial forces lead by Admiral Rae Sloane continue to engage the New Republic in various holdouts on Jakku, before retreating into the Unknown Regions on the deathbed orders of Gallius Rax. She helps to slowly but surely rebuild the Empire in secret, an entity that eventually renames itself the First Order. (NOVEL: Aftermath: Empire's End, BOOK: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary)
Image: Del Rey
The Wilderness Years
- 11 ABY: Finn is born, and soon separated from his family to be raised under the designation FN-2187 by the First Order. (BOOK: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary)
- Approximately between 13-19 ABY: First Order General Brendol Hux crashlands on the low-tech world of Parnassos, encountering a warrior of the Scyre tribe named Phasma. Phasma helps Hux leave Parnassos, joining him as a member of the First Order's leadership. (NOVEL: Phasma)
- 15 ABY: Rey is born. (BOOK: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary)
- 21 ABY: Working in secret with a political subgroup within the Galactic Senate, the First Order reaches out to criminal cartels and the mercenary group known as the Amaxine Warriors to begin securing funding to rebuild its navy. (NOVEL: Bloodline)
- Approximately between 23-28 ABY: After sensing the potential lure of the Dark Side of the Force in her son, Leia Organa sends Ben to train in the ways of the Force with her brother and his fledgling next generation of Jedi Knights. (NOVEL: Bloodline)
Image: Del Rey.
28 ABY: The Rise of the First Order
- The Galactic Senate begins discussions to create the office of the "First Senator" to replace the Chancellor's role and heal growing divides between two emergent factions within the Senate: The Populists, who are advocating for New Republic member worlds to maintain their sovereignty, and the Centrists, who want a strong centralised government and an increased military force in the wake of Mon Mothma's demilitarization pact. (NOVEL: Bloodline)
- The Amaxine Warriors, led by a former Imperial, launch several terrorist attacks against the Senate, targeting Populist leaders. Senators Leia Organa and Ransolm Casterfo are tasked with investigating the group. (NOVEL: Bloodline)
- Acting on information provided by Centrist senator Carise Sindian, Casterfo publicly exposes Leia Organa as the daughter of Darth Vader, to the shock and dismay of the Galactic Senate. In light of the revelations about her parentage, Leia exits the election to become First Senator and resigns from the Senate. (NOVEL: Bloodline)
- Shortly after her resignation, Leia Organa officially forms a paramilitary group dubbed the Resistance alongside former New Republic Admiral Gial Ackbar to combat the threat of the Empire's return when the New Republic will not. (NOVEL: Bloodline)
- Carise Sindian reveals plans for Centrist Senators to formally secede from the New Republic, joining with First Order military forces in the Unknown Regions. (NOVEL: Bloodline)
- Approximately between 28-34 ABY: Ben Solo falls to the Dark Side, betraying his uncle, destroying the emerging new Jedi Order, and taking the name Kylo Ren before joining the First Order. Horrified by the slaughter, Luke Skywalker goes into exile, in search of the location of the first Jedi Temple. (NOVEL: Bloodline, MOVIE: Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Image: Disney. Before the Awakening art by Phil Noto.
34 ABY: A New War
- Following altercations with First Order forces at Suraz and OR-Kappa-2722, New Republic Commander Poe Dameron defects to the Resistance alongside members of his X-Wing team, Rapier Squadron. (NOVEL: Before the Awakening)
- Captured by First Order forces, former New Republic soldier Del Meeko is tortured at Kylo Ren's hands, and reveals that the explorer Lor San Tekka took a fragment of a map leading to Luke Skywalker's location to the planet Bayora. Meeko is killed shortly after. (GAME: Battlefront 2)
- On a mission to the planet Taul to gain information about captured Resistance Admiral Gial Ackbar, C-3PO loses his left arm, replacing it with a red one scavenged from a First Order droid. (COMIC: C-3PO: The Phantom Limb)
- General Leia Organa tasks Poe Dameron with searching for Lor San Tekka and the map to her brother. Dameron forms the ace pilot team known as Black Squadron for the operation. (COMIC: Poe Dameron)
- Resistance forces secure part of a map leading to the location of exiled Jedi Master Luke Skywalker from Lor San Tekka, and a cold war turns hot as the First Order, striking from the hidden planetary weapon known as Starkiller Base, eradicates the New Republic Senate on Hosnian Prime. Former Alliance hero Han Solo is killed during a Resistance mission to cripple Starkiller, and Rey sets out to the planet of Ahch-To to learn the ways of the Force. (MOVIE: Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
- Escaping the destruction of Starkiller Base, Captain Phasma tracks down and executes First Order Lieutenant Sol Rivas for treason and allowing the planetary shield around Starkiller to be lowered, covering her own involvement in the assault, before retreating into First Order space. (COMIC: Captain Phasma)
- Rey encounters Luke Skywalker, returning his father's lightsaber to him. The Resistance, fearing retaliation after the destruction of Starkiller Base, flees its formerly-hidden base on D'Qar. With the New Republic's seat of power turned to ash, the First Order emerges from out of the Unknown Regions of the galaxy to enter open war with the remnants of the New Republic and the forces that would resist its complete dominance. As for the rest... well, you'll have to wait till December 14 to find out, won't you? (MOVIE: Star Wars: The Last Jedi)