By HypersonicHarpist, robotical712, Sprinkles, Pale and JoseyFish
The Legends of Luke Skywalker is structured as a series of stories being told within another story, known as a framing story. The framing story is entirely canon, the stories that the characters tell however exist as in universe legends. Like legends that exist in our world they are subject to error from exaggeration, romanticization, being altered slightly with each telling, or could be fabricated entirely. While their canonicity is questionable, the stories are worth examining because there is often a bit of truth in Legends.
Part of our Finding SkyMom series
The Framing Story
While the Framing Story is strictly canon its exact placement in the timeline is unknown. When asked Ken Liu, the author of The Legends of Luke Skywalker, said that the timeline of the framing story was something of a secret. One thing that is interesting about the framing story is that it is basically a longer, more in depth version of the scene of the boy with the broom at the end of The Last Jedi. The framing story features a group of children and other crew members aboard a ship called the Wayward Current who are tasked with taking care of Fathiers on the way to Canto Bight. The kids all tell stories about Luke and by the end they feel inspired by him and feel like they could be heroes themselves. The book even includes the phrase “each of them a Luke Skywalker” which is just how the boy with the broom felt. Also throughout the story the characters feel as though they are supposed to be telling stories about Luke that night. This could tie in with what Rian Johnson mentioned about how the scene at the end was supposed to show how Luke’s sacrifice had spread hope through the galaxy. It’s possible that the framing story takes place the night of Luke’s death and the characters feel they are meant to talk about him because the Force is inspiring hope in the galaxy by compelling people to think about and talk about Luke, even if they are unaware of what happened on Crait. Also at the end, the children ask Flux, a Force Sensitive stowaway, if Luke is there on Canto Bight and she says no. That parallels Rey telling Leia “Luke is gone”.
Another possibility for the placement of the framing story is not long after the end of The Last Jedi. The Wayward Current is possibly transporting Fathiers to Canto Bight to replace the ones that Finn and Rose freed. It’s possible that the Force is compelling the characters to tell stories about Luke to inspire the children to be compassionate and heroic like him so that they will help Flux along on her journey. Flux would have had difficulty not getting caught if it hadn’t been for the children helping her. If the Force is compelling the characters to tell stories about Luke to encourage them to help Flux it implied that she is someone of significance. It’s possible that she will play an important role later, possibly even making an appearance in IX.
The Myth Buster
In the first story, Dwoogan, the ship’s cook, tells a story about Luke that she heard in a Cantina at one point. Unbeknownst to her one of the other people listening to the story was Luke himself.
Sources of Error: The Myth Buster is the only story that is a first hand account. Dwoogan has no obvious motivation to lie or exaggerate about her experiences, she’s just relating a story she overheard in a cantina and an interaction with an interesting stranger. The only source of error in the story appears to be her memory. The story she overheard is riddled with error because it is being told by a conspiracy theorist who believes that the story told in A New Hope is a fabrication and Luke is a fraud.
Noticeable Error: Dwoogan says that the events she is relating happened after her ship had been chased around by Imperial patrols. This could be telling us two things: She ran into First Order patrols and didn’t know what else to call them and went with Imperial since that’s what they looked like to her or the story she is relating happened so long before that she is misremembering how long exactly.
Important things to note: This story gives the most detailed physical description of Luke out of all of the stories in the book. It describes him as older with a graying beard, a worn face and a gravelly voice. This means that the framing story has to be set closer to the ST as the only thing the author would need to to to make the timeline ambiguous would be to not include the physical description of Luke. Dwoogan also mentions the First Order while telling this story. The First Order wasn’t known throughout the wider galaxy until at most 6 years prior to the events of The Force Awakens.
Luke is shown to not be able to feel pain with his right hand when he touches a portable energy block that was still hot from being charged. In The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi it is shown that Luke can feel pain with his hand when the skin is intact. By the time that this story takes place Luke has already lost the skin on his hand. Luke mentions that he needs to get back to his droid (possibly who the portable energy block is for) so at this point Luke still appears to have Artoo with him.
During this story Luke appears to have adopted the philosophy of the Prequel Era Jedi. “The heroes of the New Republic didn’t think of themselves as heroes. They thought of themselves as ordinary men and women who did what had to be done to restore freedom and justice to the galaxy. For me to challenge her would have been giving in to fear, fear that their reputations, rather than their deeds, were what mattered. It would have led to anger, anger that they were not worshipped by everyone who benefited from their sacrifices. It would have led to hate, hate that the truth was not enough by itself. But that would have been giving in to the dark side.”
Here Luke is referencing Yoda’s line from The Phantom Menace, “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Luke’s demeanor throughout the story is somewhat somber but not by any means depressed. All together, this could mean that the storyteller likely ran into Luke while he was still actively training Jedi and that he was teaching them the philosophy of the Prequel Era Jedi.
Another possibility is that this story takes place after the massacre but before Luke has lost hope entirely. This is suggested by Luke’s graying beard and obsession with vanity. Plus, it’s rather strange for Luke to be traveling alone if he’s actively training. A counterpoint to this is that the graying beard could simply be due to Ken Liu only having access to the script for The Last Jedi not the movie itself, so he wouldn’t know how they styled Luke’s hair and beard for the flashbacks. We also don’t see Luke go to a ship, it’s possible this story takes place on the planet that was the home of Luke’s temple, but the temple didn’t have electricity so Luke popped into the cantina to recharge power cubes for Artoo from time to time.
Meta: The Story relayed by the conspiracy theorist Redy, is a very cynical telling of A New Hope, just like Luke was quite cynical about the Jedi in The Last Jedi. After the story, the kids complain that they didn’t want to hear a story about Luke like that, just like the fandom is currently having a conniption about how Luke was portrayed in The Last Jedi. Dwoogan tells them that they asked for a story and not to blame her if it wasn’t the story they wanted. “Every story is true to the teller,” said Dwoogan. “That doesn’t mean they’re all equally true in the larger sense. The only way to tell what is true in the grand scheme of things is to listen to lots of stories.” This should be the motto of everyone attempting to interpret The Last Jedi. The characters aren’t necessarily lying, but what they say might not be the objective truth. The only way to figure out the objective truth is to look at what they say in the context of the rest of The Last Jedi and the rest of canon. Redy’s comment about picking out the smallest nuggets of truth and understanding finding the true meaning of stories could also be taken as a subtle hint on how to read this book. The story also seems like it’s implying/hinting that unreliable narrators play a role in the story, and that if you want to find out the truth, you need to hear it from multiple sources.
Scattered throughout the story are meta references to the films and fan theories There are several references to the special editions vs. the theatrical editions. There is a reference to Han shooting first and a reference to the changes in the Death Star Explosion between the versions. There is also a reference to flickering displays and simple graphics (the special effects of the theatrical versions). There also is a reference to the Death Star design being sabotaged and the Rogue One team stealing the plans, and even a reference to the Darth Jar Jar theory.
In the story, Redy talks just like people theorizing on online fan forums. She appeals to her education as a source of her expertise on the matter, she claims to pay attention to details that everyone else misses, and she pieces together clues from a hodgepodge of sources mixed with her own speculation. Liu has stated that this depiction of Redy was intentional on his part:
“In some ways, she’s a Star Wars fan, and she’s come up with a fan theory. Fans love to come up with elaborate theories that actually happened. Like, “Jar Jar Binks is actually a hero of the prequels, and here’s why.” So here’s this character who comes up with this elaborate theory that addresses all kinds of details that we know about and then explains them in a way that makes sense, at least to her. She even explains things like changes in the films between different editions. So I think fans will have a lot of fun with that.”
The Starship Graveyard
In the second story, Ulina, the ship’s third mate, tells a story that had originally been told by an Imperial officer, though the story had been passed through many people before Ulina heard it. It tells of an Imperial Officer who is injured during the battle of Jakku and subsequently rescued by Luke. The man doesn’t trust Luke initially, but comes to trust and admire him after luke continues to help him and later leads a group of scavengers to safety.
Sources of Error: The original teller was injured and later becomes ill. The story itself implies that many of the more fantastical scenes are a result of the man’s delusions that came about due to his injury and illness. The story has also been passed around the galaxy from one teller to the next so details could have been changed in the telling. It’s also possible that this story could have merged with other stories about Luke that take place shortly after the Battle of Endor.
Noticeable Error: Luke leaping from starship to starship in space during the Battle of Jakku and using the Force in highly fantastical ways to bring down Imperial ships. This part of the story is implied to be a delusion on the part of the storyteller. Luke receiving the compass as a gift, which in canon he finds on Pillio.
Important things to note: This story draws clear parallels between Luke and Rey. We see who the narrator assumes is Luke scavenging the wrecks on Jakku, trading parts for food and sliding down a sand dune in a makeshift sled. It suggests that Luke lived like a nobody at this time in the story and, during this story at least, he could have been mistaken for a junk dealer. Further, given Luke’s faculty with machines (also brought up in I, Droid) and need to eat, it’s not unlikely he would have operated as a junker to make ends meet. This is further suggested by the ‘junker’ A-Wing in ‘Bigger Inside’. Of all the stories this is the only one where the narrator actually identifies Luke on his own. This shows that Luke, for all intents and purposes lived like a nobody between Return of the Jedi and the Force Awakens. Kylo says Rey’s parents were “junk dealers” and Rey says they were “nobody”. Given Luke’s life between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens it’s not impossible that both of those descriptions could have applied to him.
There is a reference to the Force being not right on Jakku. When the Imperial officer is found by Luke through more ordinary means he notes “Not magic then. Maybe this planet robbed him of magic just as it drained the life out of the starships that crashed into it.”
It’s likely that the Imperial is mistaken about the man who actually rescued him being Luke. “Luke” never uses the Force in this story, his dialog seems somewhat out of character for Luke, and he is described as having shorter hair than Luke. The “wanted poster” hologram of Luke becomes distorted before the Imperial can see his face, so the imperial doesn’t know exactly what Luke looks like. Also, as we know from Battlefront II, Luke actually got the compass from Pillio. This story is likely a composite of several stories about Luke that took place while the Empire crumbled between the Battle of Endor and the Battle of Jakku.
In this story, the narrator actually uses Luke’s reputation to inspire and save the people trapped in the compound. This is a theme of both the book and of The Last Jedi, that Luke is someone who inspires hope in others.
Fishing in the Deluge
The third story tells of Luke’s journey to the planet Lew’el. There he rescues a young girl named Aya and asks the Force Sensitive people of her tribe to teach him about their philosophy of the Force. The Elder assigns Luke three tests that he must pass in order to be considered worth of learning their ways. Aya is designated to be his instructor for the second two tests which involve a flight around the world on the back of a giant bird and fishing with an extraordinarily long spear. Ultimately, he fails the final test, but only out of compassion for their winged mounts.
Sources of Error: Flux, the narrator, is reluctant to tell this story and thinks long and hard before telling it, which suggests that she could be changing details to keep one or more secrets. She does not react when Luke’s name is mentioned and only seems to recognize him when Teal mentions his X-Wing. The story is literally a ‘fish tale’ and as such is riddled with exaggerations.
Noticeable error: The pole that Luke uses to spear fish is described as being over a half a mile long. Diving into water from 1000 meters up would kill a person on impact. The odds of them having enough water or food to stay aloft for the month it takes them to fly around the world are low.
Important things to note: The story is as much about Aya as it is about Luke and significant portions of it solely focus on her. The story also presents a compare and contrast between Aya and Luke: Lew’el is described as being as far from the bright center of the galaxy as possible just like how Luke describes Tatooine. Luke grew up on a world covered in sand where water was scarce. Aya grew up on a world covered in water where land was scarce. Luke flies an X-Wing with red stripes. Aya flies a bird with X shaped wings that happens to be blue. (her brother’s bird is red.) Both are Force sensitive, both want to leave their homeworlds and explore the galaxy because their homeworld is boring, . The whole setup complements Luke to an almost absurd degree. Even Aya’s name is well-chosen (“bird”, “To fly swiftly” in Hebrew)..
This story also shows Luke’s introduction to the philosophy of the Tide. He takes up an extremist version of this philosophy in The Last Jedi which suggests that it had a profound impact on him. The fact that it had such a profound effect on him suggests that he spent more than just a month of so on Lew’el and also suggests that the people of Lew’el, or at least one person from Lew’el, eventually decided to teach Luke their philosophy of the Tide in full. Given the mirroring of Luke and a female character from Lew’el and how much of an impact the philosophy of the Tide had on him, it’s likely that Rey’s mother was from Lew’el (whether she’s a character we’ve met already or not). It’s possible that Fishing in the Deluge is an altered account of the story of how Luke met Rey’s mother. It’s possible that Ken Liu either used Aya as a stand in for Rey’s mother or Aya is Rey’s mother but Liu wrote her much younger in this legend than she would be in canon to hide her importance. It’s interesting that the story cleverly avoids actually showing Luke and Aya’s first meeting.
Luke learns to spear fish on Lew’el in this story, which we see him do in The Last Jedi. The Last Jedi visual dictionary confirms that it is in fact canon that he learned to spear fish on Lew’el, so this story has a more confirmed basis in canon than the others. Flux is from Lew’el and follows the philosophy of the Tide so the Lew’elan philosophy as presented in the story is also likely very close to how it will be presented in canon if not exactly how it will be presented.
This is also the only story told in the third person and the only story not to call Luke by name. It should be noted the most descriptive and least exaggerated parts are when Aya’s brother is present. It’s probable that Flux’s account is actually second hand from him. Perhaps it wasn’t Luke that inspired Flux to see the galaxy, but Aya. It is apparent Flux has met Luke before, as she knows what his presence feels like. It’s possible that Flux is actually Luke’s niece (Rey’s maternal cousin) and actually looking for Rey’s mother.
The name of the ship the Framing story takes place on is the Wayward Current which seems to tie in with Flux, a wayward Lew’elan who follows the philosophy of the Tide.
The story is about a Z7 droid, called Zeta. Initially Zeta is a kind heroic droid who enjoys carving in her spare time, but she is abducted by slavers. The slavers install a new override chip in Zeta that removes her empathy and makes her cruel. Zeta is given the task of being an enforcer and her shovel hands are replaced with high voltage shockers so that she could keep the droid slaves in line and put down rebellions. She still remembers who she is but is helpless to resist the compulsion to do evil. Artoo was also been abducted by the slavers and forced to work in the mines. He insists that Luke will come to rescue him. Luke disguises himself as a protocol droid and gets the slavers to take him to the mines so that he can free Artoo. Zeta fights against him but also fights against her own urges to kill him which leads Luke to think that there is still good in Zeta. After defeating her, Luke and R2 remove the override chip and thus remove the evil compulsions from Zeta, but the process takes a while. The other enforce droids attack and Luke doesn’t think that he will be able to save them, but then Zeta tells him about a logic gate in the override chips that will disable the chips. Luke is able to deactivate the override chips that were compelling the droids to be cruel flipping the parity gates simultaneously. The rebel droids take over the station from the slavers and free the other droids.
Sources of Error: It’s a story passed from droid to droid and translated by Tyra. Droids should have perfect retention, but Trya says that many things in Binary don’t translate perfectly into Basic so she can only give a flavor of the story.
Noticeable error: Theoretically, despite being passed from droid to droid, the recounting should be unaltered. The accompanying picture is odd, though. Luke has the blue saber, yet he’s apparently already lost his hand.
Important things to note: Chronologically this is the first story where Luke’s hand is damaged. There is indication that his hand was damaged prior to the start of the story. Prior to going down into the mines Luke asks for a protective suit. He tells Zeta that she can leave his right hand uncovered, though. We’ve seen in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi that Luke’s hand is capable of feeling pain when the skin is present. He wouldn’t want it uncovered if he could still feel the pain of the acid burning through the skin and he doesn’t cry out in pain when the plating is melted away by the acid like he would have if it were the fake skin. This suggests that he has already lost the skin on his hand. The only other story to mention Luke’s damaged hand, The Myth Buster, portrays him as an old man and in, I Droid he seems much younger. His fighting style is certainly more acrobatic than what we have seen from when he is older.
The story is also a mixed allegory for the rest of the Saga. Zeta stands in for Anakin. Zeta is heroic and enjoys carving just as Anakin is shown to be heroic prior to his fall and once carved a pendant for Padme. Zeta is made an enforcer for the slavers tasked with putting down rebellions, just as Anakin became an enforcer for the Emperor and was tasked with putting down the Rebellion. Zeta fights Luke causing his hand to be damaged and the mechanical hand to be revealed just as Vader fought Luke and cut off his hand. Luke cuts off Zeta’s hand just like he cut off Vader’s. Luke realizes there is good in Zeta when she stops herself from trying to kill him just as Luke sensed there was good in Vader because he couldn’t bring himself to kill his son. Luke is able to “redeem” Zeta just like he was able to redeem his father.
There is also a reference to when Rey was taken. Artoo acts really out of character. Instead of being his little escape artist self, he stays and waits for Luke and keeps telling everyone that Luke will come for him. The droid in the story got taken in a raid, which is likely also how Rey got taken.
Luke is encased in a hardened shell and unrecognizable at first. As the story progresses, he loses pieces of it, exposing the man underneath. This is similar to Luke and Rey’s interactions in The Last Jedi. Luke starts off encased in a shell of bitterness. That shell cracks occasionally though and we see he’s still Luke underneath. By the end of the movie he has shed the shell entirely.
Luke disabling the parity gate of the enforcer droids is analogous to Luke reaching the good in his father, Rey (unknowingly) reaching him, or even possibly foreshadows Kylo’s redemption. Luke doing it on a mass scale is suggestive when paired with the “rot in the mist” from story 6 (as well as the nightmares the Acolytes of the Beyond had in Aftermath). It is to be noted that he was told about the parity gates by the first droid he redeemed. If the parallels hold Luke likely initially learned about the “rot in the mist” from Anakin.
Liu noted in a previous interview the Lords and ladies were meant to be metaphors for the Sith and Jedi respectively. The Lord gives grande speeches about the nobility of sacrifice while the Lady is the one that installs the override chips that make the droids cruel. The Jedi, the Sith, and the First Order all use children. The droids siding with Luke to storm the station and capture the lords and ladies could be foreshadowing a reverse Order 66 where the stormtroopers are redeemed and side with the Jedi to overthrow their First Order masters.
The Tale of Lugubrious Mote
This story is a humorous retelling of the scenes from Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi. Teal narrates a story she heard from a Kawakian Mole-Flea who claims she was responsible for Luke’s heroics by guiding his actions by biting him on the head.
Sources of Error: Obvious self-insert
Important things to note: The description of what happened in Jabba’s palace is accurate, except when the viewer’s vision would have been obscured. It’s likely the mote was on Salacious Crumb at Jabba’s palace as she claims, but only as an observer or that she had seen footage from Jabba’s palace which is shown to exist in the novel Bloodline.
While a fun and obviously fake story, it may also play the role of reminding the reader not to trust everything in the stories. It also serves as a reminder that deliberate alteration can’t be discounted as a source of error in these stories.
The flea biting Luke on the head and telling him that the bites he’s feeling are the Force is a reference to Luke tickling Rey’s hand with the leaf and telling her she was feeling the Force.
One thing Teal notes is that “the most important parts of stories aren’t always told in words.” This is true of The Legends of Luke Skywalker and The Last Jedi.
The final story is about a young biologist who hitches a ride with Luke from one planet she was researching to the next. On the way they become trapped in a Space Slug (like the Falcon almost did in The Empire Strikes Back). Together Luke and the Biologist explore the unique biome that is the Space Slugs digestive system. Inside they find several ancient Force users who had frozen themselves in time after being similarly trapped. The Force users sacrifice themselves so that Luke and the Biologist can escape.
Sources of Error: G’Kolu claims he heard it directly from the scientist who experienced it but he heard the story years after the events and it’s the type of story that might have grown with repeated telling. The scientist was trying to raise money for an expedition to go inside giant space slugs so she has plenty of motive to exaggerate what she had seen there. Her notes were also destroyed during the story so her account is purely from her recollections. Luke’s conversation with the Mist Weavers is also suspect given the narrator wasn’t part of it.
Important things to note: Luke is normally a fairly cheerful person but in this story he’s downright giddy. He’s also flying around in a two seat A-wing rather than his X-wing. Both suggest that his personal life is going very well (so the story is likely set close to Rey’s birth). Luke appears to be in his late 20’s/early 30’s based on the accompanying picture. The cobbled together nature of the A-Wing also fits with the idea Luke worked as a junker for a period of time. The narrator doesn’t recognize him even when he gives his first name and asks if she had seen anything related to the Jedi on her travels. It’s interesting that the narrator seems completely unaware of the stories about Luke. Luke truly is a nobody at this stage in his life.
Luke’s compassion and concern for all living things is on display here. His sudden enthusiasm for biology is amusing, though he seems to know a bit out ocean creatures by this point. There is also a reference to the Tide meaning that this story is set after Fishing in the Deluge.
Luke and the Biologist are lured into the Space Slug by sparks of light a reference to Luke’s sacrifice in The Last Jedi being the Spark of hope for the Resistance and the galaxy at large.
Also demonstrated is Luke’s continued difficulty letting things go and trusting the Force. As he walls himself off from the Force by The Last Jedi, it’s a good bet that flaw was what ultimately broke him.
The mention of a ‘rot in the mist’ is very intriguing. A long standing theory of Robotical712’s is that something is wrong with the Force and that is getting conflated with the natural ‘dark side’. There’s a taint (like in Wheel of Time) or wound that is corruptive in the fullest sense of the word. The Mist Weaver further suggests Luke or his family is destined to fix it.
Further speculation: It’s possible the Lew’elian’s ancient ancestors were the progenitors of this wound, making Rey the one to redeem her family on both sides.
All of these stories are in universe legends, but there’s often a bit of truth in legends. Reducing each of the stories that take place after Return of the Jedi to their bare essence and putting them in their most likely chronological order reveals something interesting:
The Starship Graveyard – Luke scavengers through the remains of the crumbling Empire for Jedi lore and artifacts.
Fishing in the Deluge – Luke meets a female companion who he considers his equal and they teach each other new ways of looking at the Force.
Big Inside – A very happy Luke and a female companion go on adventures where they discover hidden wonders of the galaxy and lost Force lore, but Luke still has trouble letting go.
I, Droid – Luke has lost someone precious to him who is now forced to into a life of hard labor on a world with grueling conditions
The Mythbuster – A more somber, more cynical Luke has taken up the beliefs of the Jedi of the Prequel trilogy
The stories of The Legends of Luke Skywalker might not be entirely canon, but at their core they appear to reveal a rough outline of the most important events in Luke’s life between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens:
Luke begins his search for Jedi Lore and artifacts by rescuing what he can from the Empire before it can destroy everything (this is confirmed in the Shattered Empire comics). Luke continues his search for Force lore after the fall of the Empire and his search eventually takes him to Lew’el (this is confirmed by The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary). There he meets a woman who is a perfect compliment to him. She joins him on his quest for lore and they teach each other new ways of looking at the Force. The result was a philosophy that merged the Tide philosophy of Lew’el and the philosophy of the Jedi. (This is the period of balance that Luke mentioned in The Last Jedi.) At some point they fall in love and later have Rey. At some point later, something horrible happens and Luke loses both Rey and her mother and Rey is abandoned on Jakku and forced to eke out an existence as a scavenger. The loss leaves Luke unbalanced. He first takes up an extremist Jedi position, following the dogma of the Jedi of the Prequels. After Ben’s fall and the destruction of his Temple, Luke takes up an extreme Lew’elan non-interventionist position. That’s where we meet him at the end of The Force Awakens.