Read a long-lost, never published Star Wars novel meant to follow Return of the Jedi

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Jun 8, 2015, 5:43 PM EDT

It’s taken a few decades, but a long-lost Star Wars novel has finally found the light of day — and it aims to tell one interpretation of what happened after the original trilogy.

Way back in the early 1990’s, author Kenneth C. Flint was tasked to write a novel that would have been set in the wake of Return of the Jedi. He finished the manuscript, did some editing, and sent it in to Bantam Spectra, the publisher who commissioned the piece. Then: nothing. The novel, dubbed Star Wars: The Heart of the Jedi, disappeared into editorial purgatory and was never heard of again.

As for what actually happened to Heart of the Jedi, it sounds like quite a sordid tale. Long story short, at least according to Flint, is that his editor apparently promised that 1993 publishing slot to a friend. So Flint’s novel languished until that other piece was finished … and Flint's book stayed on the shelf forever. With little recourse, Flint just wrote the project off and moved on.

Now it’s finally escaped. The folks at Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline plan to publish the novel in multi-chapter chunks, and the first installment is officially online. As for what the book is actually about? Here’s what the author had to say about his efforts:

“I was given pretty much free rein on developing my plot, other than that it should take place immediately after the second Death Star is destroyed. I up front figured it would be most logical to deal with a defeated but not destroyed Empire, its military desperately trying to regroup and retaliate against the Alliance, while other elements sought to make peace. Along with this was my assumption that I had to deal with what Luke Skywalker had become, and where he was going as a Jedi.”

The first four chapters can be read right here, but check out the opening paragraphs below and let us know what you think:

The vast silence of that planetless sector of space was pierced through with the sizzling noise of laser fire as a huge craft glided suddenly into view.

It was a Victory-class Star Destroyer of the Empire, and it was engaged in a savage fight.

The powerful battleship was a massive, sharply angled wedge of metal. The keen spear-tip of its long prow thrust far into the empty dark ahead. The sides of its broadening hull bristled with rows of turbolaser batteries.

These were all firing frantically now, spewing out a blazing network of ruby colored bolts. But those bolts were not directed at some target ahead. They were all being fired toward the rear, and other bolts of a brilliant emerald hue were being returned, crisscrossing the Imperial fire.

And then the source of this other fire hove into view close astern. The Star Destroyer was not giving chase. It was being hotly pursued.

The pursuer was an MC80 Liberty type Mon Calamari Star Cruiser, another battleship, but one of pelagic design with a blistered oval hull.

Though an organic-looking and well-designed craft in contrast with the hard-edged bulk of the Imperial ship, it was still a fair opponent for the other man-of-war.

(Via io9, Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline)