The Story Behind the Ultimate Star Wars Lightsaber Book

The book cover.

The book cover.
Image: Insight Editions/Lucasfilm

Star Wars fans are about to get a book all about lightsabers and they have Harry Potter to thank. It’s called Star Wars: The Lightsaber Collection, a slick, wide-format, hardcover book that features exclusive images and information on almost 60 different lightsabers in the Star Wars universe. None of which would’ve happened if not for the boy who lived.

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“Insight Editions had published a previous book called The Harry Potter Wand Collection and so that is the inspiration for this book,” Lightsaber Collection author Daniel Wallace told io9 over the phone recently. “[It’s] pages and pages of the wands that were created for the films, which are very detailed and very unique. And then the obvious idea was, ‘Oh, you could probably do that with lightsabers, right?’” Yes. Yes, you can.

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Scheduled for release October 20, the 156-page book doesn’t feature every saber in Star Wars history, but it does include most of them, from all available media. So the sabers from the films, of course, but also the animated shows, comic books, video games, and more. When Wallace, who’d previously written Star Wars books like The Jedi Path, Book of Sith, and The New Essential Guide to Droids, came on board, there was already a master list of sabers being considered.

“It went back and forth because there’s only so many that we could cover in there,” Wallace said. Of course, there are numerous iconic film sabers that had to be in there, but quickly everyone realized if the book was wholly comprehensive, it would become boring. “There are a lot of ones created for the prequels for the members of the Jedi Council. But some of them are very similar,” Wallace said. “There’s actually a style to some of them. So it was like, ‘Well, you know, we want to show a lot of variation.’”

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This saber is from the VR game Vader Immortal.
Image: Insight Editions/Lucasfilm

That’s how sabers from all the other mediums ended up making it in, from the video game Jedi: Fallen Order, which was just being released as Wallace was writing, to the VR game Vader Immortal, all the way to The High Republic, the new era of Star Wars storytellingwhich was originally going to begin months before this book, in August, but now won’t be out until January. That means The Lightsaber Collection suddenly became an unofficial, unplanned preview to a whole new Star Wars saga.

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“Everything going on in 2020 threw a wrench into [The High Republic], so maybe we ended up lucking out a little bit with that,” Wallace said. “But I think it works as a nice setup for that era, too. This book gives a sense of the style of that era. [Stellan Gios’ saber] looks like a photo-real hilt in this book and, as such, I think it conveys a sense of the elegance of [The High Republic].”

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All of those photo-real illustrations, from the sabers to the characters, are a crucial component of the book as well. Lukasz Liszko illustrated the lightsabers and Ryan Valle illustrated the characters. Their work, and collaborations with the teams at Lucasfilm, helped set a crucial tone for the project. This book would take lightsabers very seriously.

“This wasn’t a book about the Jedi and it wasn’t a book about the Force,” Wallace said. “It was specifically a book only about lightsabers. So that was really fun, I thought, because the restrictions of it, the laser focus of that direction made it more interesting.”

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The saber of sabers.
Image: Insight Editions/Lucasfilm

Within that focus though, Wallace found something rather important. While several of the sabers had loads and loads of material on them, from movies and comics to making of books and more, many of the sabers did not. In fact, some sabers were only partially visible because they were often covered by a hand in a single comic panel or two. That created some issues but helped the book broaden its scope a bit. The write-ups would contain information about in-universe mythology as well as real-world design and background.

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“It was a balance, but it was I think the goal was less about balance between those two factors and more about what is cool,” Wallace clarified. “Sometimes it’s in-universe more, like who designed this and why did they carry it? And then sometimes it’s more about style and the happy surprises of building something.”

For example, Qui-Gon Jinn’s lightsaber has quotes from Liam Neeson about picking his saber on the set of The Phantom Menace. Asajj Ventress’ two entries— one from her days as a Padawan and another as an assassin—have quotes from actress Nika Futterman about the character’s motivations. For something older and better known, like the Skywalker saber, there are quotes from set designer Roger Christian about the literal building of it. And something we haven’t seen much of, like the saber of the wookiee Gungi from The Clone Wars, focuses very much on the story where the saber appears, because there isn’t that much more to tell.

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One of the book’s newer sabers.
Image: Insight Editions/Lucasfilm

If the book has a page devoted to Gungi’s saber in The Clone Wars, as well as works that aren’t even out yet, yes, The Lightsaber Collection goes deep. Sifo-Diys, Cin Dragllig, cursed sabers of Darth Atrius deep. At one point, there were even discussions of the sabers fans can make at Savi’s Workshop at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge being included, which they are, but only an explanatory chapter on design. Plus, the book is very up to date, even including a few of the new, more mysterious sabers such as Rey’s and Leia’s from The Rise of Skywalker. For those though, there was only so much Wallace could say.

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“[The events of the movie] were all I had to work with at the time because there definitely might be more lore to come with that,” Wallace speculated. “But if so, it wouldn’t be the kind of stuff that would be spoiled by a book like this. It would be tied up in the larger storytelling project.” 

A book like this, though, is pretty incredible on its own. It will please fans of deep Star Wars mythology, as well as actual Star Wars history, all while celebrating just how far the galaxy far, far, away has come. “One thing that I was thinking about was I didn’t want it to entirely be a prop book,” Wallace said. “Star Wars is broader than that. It’s a multimedia saga. And so we wanted to include bits of the multimedia.”

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You can grab a copy of The Lightsaber Collection here.

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