George Lucas originally planned nine Stars Wars films. In addition to the prequel trilogy, there were supposed to be three episodes that take place after Return of the Jedi. He forgot about them. Or he got tired. Perhaps it took too long to make the prequels. Whatever. Mr. Lucas gave up on making a nine-part saga.
Instead, we have a growing universe of novels of varying legitimacy written by authors of varying ability for fans of varying fanaticismability. Okay, I just made up a word, but it was fun. And I like fun. That’s why I loved episodes IV, V, and VI, and enjoyed several scenes from episodes I, II, and III. My love of fun is why I have largely stayed away from the many less-fun novels.
If memory serves, the Star Wars novel craze started with this trilogy. Their strength is Mr. Zahn’s well-constructed story that mixes colorful new characters with established icons. The trilogy’s weakness is that it brings to life a post-Empire galaxy where life is realistically tedious, plagued by the bureaucratic business of founding a New Republic.
But the biggest letdown of all? This trilogy forces me to imagine a galaxy where Han Solo and Princess Leia settle into a realistic marriage--their delightfully flirtatious movie feuding now a distant memory. On second thought, I realize why Lucas abandoned the idea of making episodes VII, VIII, IX. He must have realized how less fun sequels are when they take place the morning following “Happily Ever After.”