Stuff We Love: A beginner's guide to the Star Wars galaxy

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The text messages started the weekend Rogue One hit theaters. If this was the next Star Wars movie, where was Rey? Wait, is that the Death Star?

Most found my answers vague and unconvincing. By the time we were done, I was sketching diagrams to explain the history of the war between Separatists and the Republic and leaving more questions than answers.

So when I saw Star Wars Made Easy was hitting shelves on Force Friday II, I considered pre-ordering a case of them.

The beginner’s guide to the galaxy somehow manages to boil down nine films, two animated TV series, and hit all the high points from characters and quotable quotes to pronunciations in under 200 pages. With easy to follow diagrams and a charming tone that's as accessible for children as it is adults who are still kids at heart, the guide effortlessly simplifies epic battles and sprawling story arcs.

Plus, it's written as if author Christian Blauvelt were transcribing a conversation with a particularly puzzled new viewer with sections like “Palpatine is the Emperor,” a phrase I've uttered more times than I can count, along with plenty of attention to Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side and eventual redemption. (Because, let's face it: the surprise plot twist from The Empire Strikes Back is common knowledge even among the uninitiated. Luke, he is your father.)

There's even a choose-your-own-adventure style breakdown for first-timers to decide if they want to watch films in the order in which they were released (a very confusing concept for friends who don't see why Episode IV is the beginning when Episode I is a thing that exists), chronologically in universe, or by saving the third trilogy for last.

What's surprising is the book manages to provide interesting tidbits for a vast array of readers, be they total newbies who have never even heard of a nerfherder or those who have spent decades immersed in George Lucas's space opera lore. There are no major spoilers for The Last Jedi, which hits theaters in December, but there is a primer that introduces the plight of the Resistance, the graceful creatures of Canto Bight, and asks the question on all of our minds: Sure, porgs are adorable, but are they also delicious?

As with any Star Wars tome, the constantly expanding universe means this book will quickly become outdated. (Scratch that. Has already become dated. Just flip to page 11, where Colin Trevorrow is still listed as the director of Episode IX.) But the bulk of it will remain intact for future revised versions.

And yes, there is a chapter to address all those confused moviegoers from last December. Turn your textbooks to page 176 where we'll explore the section aptly titled “Rogue One was released after Episode VII, so...why isn't this Episode VIII?”

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