Now that George Lucas has completed Episodes I, II, and III of the "Star Wars" saga, it is time to take a moment and put together all of the pieces into a comprehensive chronology that account for everything in the "Star Wars" universe from the Pre-Republic Era to the Killik Expansion (so the chronology goes 35-36 years beyond the end of the original "Star Wars" movie). The six movies are at the heart of everything, but there are all those novels, comic books, and graphic novels, not to mention references to historical events that can be fleshed out. Putting everything in order is what "Star Wars: The New Essential Chronology" is all about. With text by Daniel Wallace, with Kevin J. Anderson, this "new" version is updated for "The Phantom Menace," "Attack of the Clones," "Revenge of the Sith," and the new Jedi order. It also has dozens of full-color illustrations by Mark Chiarello, Tommy Lee Edwards, and John Van Fleet, who distinct styles certainly complement each other.
Ever since the hologram of Princess Leia named Obi-Wan Kenobi as her only hope and mentioned the Clone Wars fans of "Star Wars" have been trying to expand their knowledge of that galaxy far, far away in a time long ago. The history of the "Star Wars" universe is divided into a dozen parts: (1) Tales of the Ancient Republic; (2) The Fall of the Republic, which includes films I-III; (3) The Empire and the New Order; (4) Profiles in History of Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and the Skywalkers; (5) The Galactic Civil War, which covers the original trilogy; (6) Birth of the New Republic; (7) Empire Resurgent; (8) The Return of the Jedi Knights; (9) Uprisings and Insurgencies; (10) A Lasting Peace; (11) Generations of Jedi Knights; and (12) The New Jedi Order. The attempt by Wallace, with Anderson, is to write history rather than tell stories, although the result falls pretty much somewhere in between. If you want to now what happened before, in between, and after the two movie trilogies, then this chronology certainly does tells you what you need to know.
The dating convention employed in the chronology uses the Battle of Yavin as its zero point, treating the destruction of the first Death Star and the dawning of "a new hope" for the people of the galaxy as the symbolic beginning of the current society. Therefore events preceding that point in time are indicated B.B.Y., and those afterwards as A.B.Y. The only real complaint here is that you have to go to the "Star Wars" web site to track down the extensive list of historical resources, so unless you are as well versed in the various "Star Wars" novels, comic books, and computer games as you are in the twin movie trilogies, you are not going to know where Wallace and Anderson are getting all of the puzzle pieces. So you have a couple of hoops to jump through to even find out whether there is a story about the Battle of Dreighton or the death of Zsinj to track down let alone to read. There is a four-page index, so that if you already know about the Kaiburr Crystal or want to see everything there is to know about Chewbacca or Mon Montha, you can find what the chronology has to say about them.
The back of the book includes a map of the galaxy, so you can find Hoth and Bespin in the Outer Rim, trace the Corellian Run and the Perlemian Trade Route, and distinguish the Core Worlds from the Colonies and those of the Inner Rim. "Star Wars: The New Essential Chronology" is one of seven volumes in this series of reference books, the others being: "Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters," "Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Droids," and "Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons" (all of which are also written by Wallace), along with "Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Weapons & Technology," "Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Vehicles & Vessels," and "Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Alien Species." At face value this volume is the best of the bunch because it is the most useful in terms of putting all of the pieces together. Of course, if you are interested in adding your own stories to the "Star Wars" galaxy, you would probably need the entire library to make sure you have yourself covered. You would not want to have R2-D2 colored the wrong way or something.