Cozy up with this collection of holiday-themed midwinter stories from throughout the galaxy far, far away!
From George Mann and Grant Griffin, the same team that brought us the stunning Star Wars: Myths & Fables and Star Wars: Dark Legends—with the addition of best-selling author Cavan Scott—this collection of eight myths and fables told around winter fires and high-tech heating pods across the galaxy will bring holiday joy to young and old Star Wars fans alike.
From Jedi in the city to Ewoks in the forest, from Wookiees to droids, in this charming collection you will find holiday feasts, ghostly apparitions, snowy adventures, and much more. Ultimately these are stories of hope in the darkest of days. Of family, found and otherwise. Of kindness. And of love.
Life Day was of course first introduced to us in the now infamous The Star Wars Holiday Special that aired on TV in 1978. In that special, Chewbacca and Han Solo visit Kashyyyk to celebrate the Wookiee holiday along with Chewie’s wife Malla, his son Lumpy, and his father Itchy. Being the Rebel scum that they are, they’re followed to the planet by Imperials and chaos ensues. Unfortunately the special is more well known for it’s poor quality, musical numbers, and comedy routines by such celebrities as Jefferson Starship, Diahann Carroll, Art Carney, Harvey Korman, and Bea Arthur. I know time breeds affection but, yeah, no.
But, it’s not without its charm and did give us some memorable moments from the main film cast who all appeared in one way or another. And it also gave us Life Day, that wonderful Wookiee holiday full of merriment and cheer where kith, kin, pups, and other types of furry humanoids can get together and eat and drink themselves into oblivion. It’s not the holidays without that, right?
“A time of joy, this is. Of friendship. Of family.”
But seriously, Star Wars and its countless species and cultures have many of their own unique traditions, holidays, and celebrations, so, it was only a matter of time before fable experts George Mann and Cavan Scott got together to let us in on some of them.
Thanks to Mann’s in-universe/folklore whimsical style and Grant Griffin’s incredible art, you might be surprised to learn that Star Wars: Life Day Treasury was actually the brainchild of Scott, with Mann and Grant coming onboard later. Regardless of who gets dibs, the book seamlessly fits alongside previous titles Myths & Fables and Dark Legends, and I suspect it’s Cavan and George’s BFF status that has a lot to do with it from a storytelling perspective. And since Grant has now provided illustrations for all three (four if you include the Galaxy’s Edge edition), you get the warm and fuzzies before you even get to the first short.
If you’ve read those other two, then you’ll understand the aesthetic and overall shape of this book immediately. If you haven’t, then basically, and as the summary states, Life Day Treasury is a series of in-universe canon adjacent fairy tales, folklores, myths, legends, and fables that in this case focus on a winter holiday of some type. Yes, I said winter, and yes, in Star Wars, there are seasons. Think of it as Star Wars’ version of roasting koja nuts over an open fire, with a Corellian rum Mudhorn Eggnog infused relative regaling you with stories from Life Day’s past.
Since these books aren’t necessarily beholden to any part of the timeline, this is about as “What if…” as it gets for this group, giving writers like George and Cavan the chance to stretch a little, or a lot. And the end result once again, I’m happy to say, is a very fun read from cover to cover. It’s much more playful than Mann’s previous book’s, which of course has everything to do with the yuletide nature of it. The details (like in many campfire yarns passed from one generation to the next) are often murky, and that’s because they don’t necessarily matter, as long as the messaging gets across so who cares if the storyteller gets the name write. What is important is that these fables manufacture some form of moral teachings to the listener, or rather the reader. It’s the telephone game Star Wars style, and as long as you know who called by the end then it’s all good.
What’s most enjoyable about these books is that the words on the page and the art run shoulder to shoulder. These books, as pleasing to the eye as they are, aren’t simply a spectator sport, you are being asked to open your mind a little and build on the ingredients. Grant gives you one image, and one image only, and it’s up to you to expound on that, hopefully creating a tapestry of ideas in your mind as you wrap yourself in the words that immediately follow. It’s not that difficult a proposition because Mr. Griffin’s art is fucking stellar and shows much more than it tells. And Mann and Scott, who as I said earlier are mates, use their god-given talent and chemistry to make a very effective use of the low word count. Both are well versed and experienced comic book/short story scribes so it should come as no surprise that the end result here is good, often great.
When you have anthologies it’s fun to pick your favorites and compare them to others, and that’s part of the magic of these books, there’s something for pretty much every type of Star Wars fan. Whether your focus is timelines, planets, characters, eras, whatever, you should find something that scratches your particular itch. With that image in your head, here’s three that scratch mine in the order in which they appear…
I’m a sentience/droid nut so the second tale, An Old Hope is right up my alley as we follow a lost and scared astromech droid named LA-R1 on Tatooine. And we know that anything not tied down on the planet furthest from the bright center of the universe gets scooped up by Jawa’s in pretty quick fashion, either to be employed in some gruesome fashion or sold for parts. For our hero LA-R1, he was kidnapped and thrown in with an equally desperate lot of fellow restraining bolt’ers onboard a sandcrawler. Once the twin suns set and their captors turn in for the night however, the droids have a chance to swap stories of longing, heartbreak, and desperation, each with a sad tale to tell.
It’s here we learn about a human called the “Oil-Bringer”, a magical person who can travel the entire galaxy in a single night, bringing tune-ups and 30-weight oil to all the good droids in the galaxy, sound familiar? I mean, he’s not keeping a datapad and checking it twice, but there’s no doubt who this “Oil-Bringer” represents. And whether it’s true or not (the much to puritanical 9R-NC scoffs at such things), it’s a story meant to insert hope into a life or situation void of any. And in the case of LA-R1, as kind a heart as you’re likely to find anywhere, mechanical, or organic, it is inspiring.
And the title is interesting for a couple of reasons, I won’t say why, but it works on two levels, both kinda depressing, although not their intention I imagine. Either way, this is a wonderfully heartfelt story that despite the nuts-and-bolts nature of it, is probably the most human.
Listen, I’m basically Ewok-averse, it’s the just the way it is and it’s not likely to change at this point in my life (I’m old). And if you had told me before I started reading this book that the Ewok focused short was going to be my favorite well, I would’ve probably scoffed at you. So, after being a 40+ year Star Wars fan I find myself in unfamiliar territory here, thinking seriously for the first time about the comings and going of Ewoks. I know, I’m scared also.
The Kroolok is the fourth in the lot and is in many ways the most recognizable of the bunch, since it’s basically an episode of Ewoks, the ill-fated animated series that ran for two seasons in the mid-eighties. If you’ve seen that show, then names like Kneesaa and Weechee will be familiar to you, and the short story format really pairs well with an episodic formula, driving that point home. And no, this isn’t Kneesaa and Weechee’s canon debuts, that happened in Forces of Destiny.
“I couldn’t see my spear in front of my face.” , uttered by Weechee, Wicket’s older brother, is perhaps one of the cleverest and well-intentioned bits of figurative language in a Star Wars book as it’s both fantastically absurd given the context, and obviously grounded in reality at the same time. It’s a Star Wars idiom for god’s sake! What it also does is speak to the type of language Scott and Mann give the Ewoks who, for our benefit, are speaking basic, not Ewokese.
Of all the shorts in this book, this is one I got the most kick out of and would love to see a full-length Middle Grade or even Young Adult novel featuring this cast going through regular everyday teenager type stuff. Doubtful, but one can hope.
Finally, and in a book full of them, the most forlorn story award goes to The Song of Winter’s Heart, the book’s fifth. And not because it’s sad necessarily, but because it’s depressing, and those are two different things. Why is it depressing you ask? Simple, because war is depressing, and when you (Rel) realize your best friend growing up (Max) with whom you lost contact with is on the opposite team, well, that just plain fucking sucks. Especially when he joined the team that destroyed your shared home planet of Alderaan (spoiler alert)! Max of course didn’t know it at the time of his enlistment because it hadn’t happened yet. But, I mean seriously, once you learned of that fact, you’d quit, wouldn’t you?
Anyways, their reunion happens on a moon called Shard in the Outer Rim as Rel is sent on a scouting mission and runs into a Stormtrooper (who is alone for some reason), and who is humming a song they sang as youths. Luckily neither has a shoot-first-ask-questions-later type of instinct and the reunion is under way. Yes, Imperial Max and Rebellion Rel find themselves on opposites sides of this galactic war, simply disposable cogs in this machine the Emperor calls a good time.
I found this to be the most allegorical short in the book, putting a face to both sides of this conflict, the Empire and the Rebellion, reminding us that sometimes people fight for good reasons, and sometimes they fight for no good reasons at all. Like I said, depressing. These men are just that, men, not soldiers, not symbols, not machines, who shouldn’t be referenced for political gain or laws. But here they are, talking about the good old times each with a weapon of war in their hands and insignias on their chest (or wherever). I think we can all agree that war, regardless of the side you’re on, and negating any virtue signaling, just plain fucking sucks.
So, those are my three favies, what are yours? Let me know!
Here’s the bottom line…
I really only have two beefs with this book, the first is on the art side; more specifically the artist; even more specifically how the artist is treated. All hell would be raised if a comic book nowadays was printed without the artists name on the cover, and so we can all agree in that case, the art is as important as the script. I would argue strongly that the same goes for these books, with Grants art not only setting the tone the story requires, but absolutely going shoulder to shoulder with the script as far as story immersion is concerned. So, having said that, Grant Griffin’s name should’ve been on the front cover alongside Mann and Scott, this is an unfortunate oversight on the part of Disney/Lucasfilm Publishing.
The second issue has to do with the actually size of the book. I know for a fact that the folks on the publishing side of things understand full well how important this issue is to us Star Wars book nerds. You’ll understand if/when you get a copy for yourself, but the physical size of the book, which DOES NOT jive on my bookshelf alongside Myths & Fables and Dark Legends, will drive me crazy to the day of my death!
So, aside form those two criticisms, Star Wars: Life Day Treasury is another wonderful collection of canon adjacent tales surly to please the masses. It’s full to the brim with yuletide, soul, emotion, and joy, and in an IP that tends to skew dire, this is a welcome gaggle of tales that should make your heart grow a size or two.
Happy Life Day everyone!
Star Wars: Life Day Treasury is out now, click HERE to get a copy today!
About the Artist/Authors:
Grant Griffin’s work spans across games, publishing, and advertising. He has been carving out a niche in the fantasy and science fiction genre since 2013. His work has been featured in numerous games and can be found on covers published by Lucas Film Press, Becker&Mayer, The Black Library, Green Ronin Publishing, and Centipede Press.
George Mann is a Sunday Times bestselling novelist and scriptwriter. He’s the creator of the Wychwoodsupernatural mystery series as well as the popular Newbury & Hobbes and Tales of The Ghost series, two of which are in development as television shows. He’s written comics, novels and audio dramas for properties such as Star Wars, Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, Judge Dredd and Dark Souls. He’s currently part of the writer’s room on a forthcoming genre television show. George lives near Grantham, UK, with his wife, children and two noisy dogs. He loves mythology and folklore, Kate Bush and chocolate. He is constantly surrounded by tottering piles of comics and books.
Cavan Scott is a number one UK bestselling author who has written for such popular worlds as Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Assassin’s Creed, Transformers, Pacific Rim, and Sherlock Holmes. He is the writer of Star Wars: Dooku: Jedi Lost, The Patchwork Devil, and Shadow Service and is one of the story architects for Lucasfilm’s epic multimedia initiative Star Wars: The High Republic. He has written comics for Marvel, IDW, Dark Horse, Vertigo, 2000 AD, and The Beano. A former magazine editor, Scott lives in Bristol with his wife and daughters. His lifelong passions include classic scary movies, folklore, audio drama, the music of David Bowie, and walking. He owns far too much LEGO.