She's a big old galaxy, and there's a lot of Star Wars lore to get your head around. If you fancy a refresher before seeing The Rise of Skywalker, here's Karl Puschmann's alphabeticised primer.
A – Alderaan
The earth-like home planet of Princess Leia Organa. Most notable for being completely destroyed by the Death Star's super laser in
A New Hope
B – Boba Fett
A feared bounty hunter who became a fan fave because he wore a dope suit and didn't say much. He captured Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back but later fell into the carnivorous Sarlaac Pit – a sort of giant Venus Fly Trap in the ground – in Return of the Jedi.
C – Clones
Highly trained soldiers engineered from the DNA of bounty hunter Jango Fett, Boba's old man. They fought alongside the Jedi against the Separatists' droid army, until Senator Palpatine revealed himself as an evil dude and issued Order 66 in
Revenge of the Sith
, which saw the clones massacring any Jedi in the area.
D – Darth Maul
The Phantom Menace
who certainly looked the part, but whose flashy and overly acrobatic fighting style was not hugely effective. Yes, he bettered Qui-Gon Jinn but was then almost immediately cleft in twain by Jinn's apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
E – Ewoks
Mistaken for cutesy little teddy bears, the Ewoks are actually vicious creatures who should be feared and respected. A real world military expert declared them "the most tactically advanced fighting force in Star Wars" due to multi-domain operations that "force enemies to respond to a variety of threats simultaneously". Their guerilla tactics in
saw them best Empire forces and capture Han and Luke Skywalker. Both of whom they planned to barbecue and feast on. Cute!
F – Force
On the rebel side Obi-Wan reckoned, "The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us." Over on the Death Star, Admiral Motti churlishly dismissed it as unfrightening "sorcerer's ways". His lack of faith was found to be disturbing and he was thusly Force-choked by a peeved Darth Vader.
G – Greedo
The alien bounty hunter behind the most argued-over Star Wars controversy of all time: In the Cantina bar did he shoot at Han first, or did he not? The answer greatly affects the very essence of Han's character but sadly does not affect Greedo's fate in the slightest. Regardless of who shoots first (Ed's note: Han, obviously), Greedo's still getting chumped with a laser blast to the chest.
H – Han Solo
Roguish if scruffy looking smuggler with a quick wit, sharp vest and heart of gold. He saved the day in
, got frozen in
and then saved the day again in
. Married into royalty and had a son with Leia. Sadly their boy would grow up to be a bad apple causing strain on their marriage and seeing Han and his best mate Chewbacca return to the swinging life of smuggling. He would rejoin the rebellion in
The Force Awakens
, with less than ideal consequences.
I – IG-88
A rickety looking yet incredibly deadly bounty hunting, assassin droid whose programming went haywire, causing him to go rogue and operate independently. The merciless machine was considered second only to Boba Fett in the bounty hunting stakes. The two were not friendly.
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J – Jedi
Sworn enemies of the Sith, the Jedi are sort of like space priests who can also bring the pain with laser swords and magic when the need arises. Committed to peace and justice in the galaxy their numbers dropped dramatically after Palpatine's Order 66. The fictional order has spread into the real world, with 51,000 Kiwis listing it as their religion in the 2001 census.
K – Kylo Ren
The Dark Side alter-ego of Ben Solo, son of Leia and Han. A reckless, emo hothead whose idolisation of his gramps, Vader, led him to kill both his father figure, the Sith Lord Snoke, in
The Last Jedi
, and his actual father in
. Pretty evil, eh.
L – Luke Skywalker
An eager and idealistic farmboy from the ass-end of nowhere who dreamed of leaving his aunt and uncle's moisture farm to go off and embark on grand space adventures. Those dreams would come true after the rellies were assassinated by Empire stormtroopers in
. He left the farm with Obi-Wan to become a Jedi.
M – Midi-chlorian
Unheard of till
, midi-chlorians singlehandedly ruined the concept of the Force forever by transforming it from a matter of faith and training and into a scientific concept. So what are they? Microscopic intelligent life forms that live in your cells and allow you to communicate with the force. Apparently.
N – Nien Nunb
The funky looking, red jumpsuit-clad, ace pilot who, alongside Lando Calrissian, piloted Han's spaceship the Millennium Falcon to lead the attack against the Death Star II in RotJ.
O – Obi-Wan Kenobi
, he was a hermit who had gotten too old for this s**t . He was hiding out in the hills until his past as a Jedi Knight was revealed by an eager young moisture farmer. Having been roped in for one last mission to save the galaxy from the dark side of the Force, he was fatally struck down in a lightsaber duel with his old apprentice. However, Vader's fatal blow only made him more powerful than you could possibly imagine.
P – Padme Amidala
A queen who became a senator and then put her career on hold for love. She married Anakin Skywalker in
and had twins, Leia and Luke. Sadly, severe plotholes claimed her life during childbirth. Still, she delivered what is easily the most powerful - and eerily prescient - line of the whole prequel trilogy when she, upon witnessing the rise of Palpatine's fascism, said: "So, this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause."
Q – Qui-Gon Jinn
Representing the hippie side of the Jedi Order, Qui-Gon was highly respected while still considered a maverick among his more stoic peers. He trained Obi-Wan and, in
, rescued 9-year old Anakin from a life of slavery after sensing his tremendous, latent powers. He believed the boy to be the chosen one who would bring balance to the Force. Had he taken a few moments to rescue the young lad's dear mum as well, the whole saga could have turned out very differently.
R – Rey
Rey was living the quiet life of a junk scavenger before getting embroiled in the ongoing battle between the good of the Resistance and the bad of the First Order in
. After discovering her own Force powers, in
she convinced Luke to come out of retirement, engaged in a fierce battle with Snoke for the soul of Kylo Ren and went on a spirit journey to discover her true identity.
S – Snoke
The former Supreme Leader of the First Order remains a shadowy and mysterious figure. Aside from a penchant for giant holograms little is known about Snoke because the sequel trilogy has - so far - skirted over his history altogether. We do know he trained Kylo Ren in the dark side of the Force in a power gambit that would prove fatal when his apprentice sliced him in half in
T – Tattooine
The planet farthest from the bright centre of the universe. This remote and desolate desert world was home to hard-working moisture farmers like Luke, pod racers like Anakin, crime lords like Jabba the Hutt and your more general scum and villainy like that dude in the Cantina Bar who got his arm sliced off by Obi Wan after mouthing off to the wrong Jedi.
U – Utility Droids
Utility droids are basically the successors to robot vacuum cleaners and precursors to the more advanced Astromech droids, like old mate R2. Whereas Artoo could handily repair spaceships on the fly, be entrusted with top secret messages and generally be relied upon to save the day, utility droids were pretty much only good at keeping the corridors clean.
V – Vader, Darth
Very emo in his early years, Anakin would eventually become the big bad of the original trilogy, after his Jedi Master, Obi-Wan, removed his limbs from his body and left him to burn up and die on a volcano. As a villain he excelled, overseeing the terrorist attack that destroyed Alderaan, eventually getting revenge on his former mentor and cutting off his son's hand in a lightsaber duel. However, faced with Luke's unwavering belief in him, Vader eventually had a change of heart and renounced the dark side, sacrificing himself to kill the Emperor in RotJ. Some believe this fulfilled Qui-Gon's prophecy and restored balance to the Force.
W – Wampa
Big, fluffy and cuddly these carnivorous predators aggressively stalk the snowy plains of the ice world Hoth, launching vicious ambush attacks on their victims before stringing them up in their ice caves to feast on at their leisure.
X – X-Wing
The Rebel Alliance's iconic star-fighter is designed to balance speed with firepower and good looks. Yes, they're outmanoeuvred and outpaced by the Empire's rival TIE fighters, however the TIE's fragility in the face of the stronger X-Wing means neither has an inherent edge, making their battles tense, tactical affairs.
Y – Yoda
A mischievous yet incredibly powerful and wise Jedi Master who fled to the boggy swamp planet Dagobah after Palpatine's betrayal. Fond of riddles, less so of syntax.
Z - Zuckuss
Like Boba Felt and IG-88, part of the motley crew of bounty hunters Vader assembled to find Han in ESB. Zuckuss is the one who looks like a fly.