Star Wars fans saw the growth of Luke Skywalker from a whiny farm boy to a powerful, confident Jedi Knight over the course of the original trilogy. The character appeared only as a baby at the very end of the prequel trilogy, and then again only at the very end of the first movie of the sequel trilogy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Seriously, he didn’t even speak. So heading into Star Wars: The Last Jedi, not much is known about how Luke has grown as a character over the last 30 or so years.
Ken Liu’s recent novel, The Legends of Luke Skywalker, has shed some light on the man that has become known as the last Jedi. In the book, six different legends are told from varying points of view. Some of it is likely true, some of it is clearly hogwash. We took a look at those legendary tales and tried to determine what they mean for Luke Skywalker heading into The Last Jedi.
Luke learns about the ‘Tide’
Luke arrived on a water-covered planet with natives that believed in the will of the “Tide,” which pretty quickly became clear was just the name that the people used for the Force. Skywalker began the story by saving a young girl from drowning, returning her to her people. From there, Luke pleads with the girl’s grandmother – an elder of the group – to tell him everything she knows of the Tide.
She initially declines, but after much pleading from Luke she decides to put him through a series of tests. This involves a grueling final test, where Luke had to circumnavigate the planet over the course of several days on a massive, gliding, bird-like creature.
In the end, Luke’s biggest lesson from his time on this planet is that he works too hard at attempting to control the Force, but instead must surrender himself to its will. One key thing that stands out from the story is that the woman tells Luke that she hopes he will also someday have a student persistently trying to get him to tell them what he does not wish to teach. Is this foreshadowing Luke’s reluctance to teach Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi?
Luke at the battle of Jakku
Shortly after the death of Emperor Palpatine on the second Death Star, the Empire came down in one final major battle – known as the Battle of Jakku. This, Star Wars fans may recognize, is also the planet where Rey is found in The Force Awakens.
The story is told from the point of view of an Imperial officer. The Star Destroyer he was stationed on went crashing down to the planet’s surface, killing and mangling everyone on board but himself. Through his hazy memories, he describes a man he believes to be Luke Skywalker using nothing but the Force to pull massive spaceships out of the sky and crashing them to the ground.
The officer is saved from certain death by what would end up being none other than Luke. And not only does Luke rescue this reluctant Imperial, who desperately tries to get away from him to die slowly and painfully in the desert, but he helps rescue a bunch of stranded scavengers surrounded by a massive lake of fire.
Luke as a weird, traveling con artist
By far the weirdest legend told about Luke Skywalker is the very first one. This legend was told in a bar over a few glasses of blue milk and some weird, foreign appetizers. An engineer named Redy told stories that she had pieced together over the course of many years, supposedly reading between the lines to discover the real truth about Luke, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, and the rest.
They were actually a group of traveling con artists, known as Luke Clodplodder, Benny “Wiseman” O’Kenoby, Hansel “Lightning Hands” Shooter, and Chewie Baccarat. They’d go planet to planet, performing staged magic tricks to con people out of money. Eventually, the group got involved in the Rebel Alliance and cut a deal with Princess Leia.
The story, as it’s told, is absolutely absurd. But the big reveal at the end is that Luke was one of the people in the bar, quietly listening to Redy spin the tall tale.
Luke saves a whole bunch of droids
The next legend is a story of Luke saving a bunch of droids put into slavery. R2-D2 found himself taken as a slave and on a ship headed to a harsh planet known for its acid rain. Luke disguised himself as a protocol droid – like C-3PO – to break into the factory with the intention of saving his favorite droid.
This one was told from the point of view of an enforcer droid, set on keeping Skywalker from messing with the construction. One of the key moments in this story is that during the fight, Luke’s right hand dips in a puddle of acid. The droid recalls that it must have been synthetic skin, because as it melted away the only thing left was metal skeleton and wires. This explains why Luke’s mechanical hand is exposed in The Force Awakens.
In the end, Luke frees thousands of slave droids by using the Force to shut down the enforcer droids.
Luke, Jabba, the rancor, and a flea
This story is told from the perspective of a sentient flea that lived on Salacious Crumb, otherwise known as the annoying little guy that sits next to Jabba the Hut during Return of the Jedi. The flea describes Crumb as a jester, and how it helped create a good comedy routine for him to perform. It lived on Salacious’ head and helped guide him through the different acts, keeping in the shadows while the cackling clown entertained the disgusting slug-like gangster.
The legend moves on to the day that Luke Skywalker showed up at the palace, leading into the whole first act of Return of the Jedi. The flea moved from Crumb over to Leia’s hair during the whole process, speaking to her about the mind games that Jabba liked to play with his enemies. It later moved to Luke and helped tell him how to escape the clutches of the rancor.
Essentially, this entire story made it sound like the flea had a major role in how Luke defeated Jabba and rescued his friends.
Luke and the Mist Weavers
The last story begins with a description of a biologist that was attempting to research the inside of space slugs. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Han, Chewie, Leia, and C-3PO ended up inside the belly of a space slug during Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The biologist hitched a ride with none other than Luke Skywalker, who took her down to a massive asteroid to explore.
Luke and the biologist actually became trapped inside the belly of one of the space slugs, officially known as exogorths. Luke and the biologist came across several living creatures inside, and he told her of how he had gone looking for the lost knowledge of the Jedi. There they discovered others that had become lost long ago. The group of women were called Mist Weavers, and believed in what they referred to as the “Luminous Mist” – again, the Force but by another name.
The Mist Weavers made the ultimate sacrifice to save Luke and the biologist, taking us back to the sacrifice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in his battle with Darth Vader on the Death Star. Again, Luke learned an important lesson about accepting the sacrifice of others as the will of the Force.
What’s actually true?
The Legends of Luke Skywalker is ambiguous about which stories are true, or even which parts of the stories are true. Some of them are told from a first-person perspective, while others are passed along in a game of telephone. There are times when information, such as mentions of Yoda’s teachings, could not have been sourced from anywhere but Luke. That lends credibility to the stories.
In the end, they’re all just legends. An even better word to describe them is parables. What happens in the stories isn’t what’s important, for the most part, but the lessons learned. It helps us better understand the frame of mind of Luke heading into The Last Jedi. Has he changed his view on the Force, now succumbing to its will? Or is he still desperately seeking control?
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