If there’s one thing that rankles about The Force Awakens, it’s that a lot of its world-building is left to the array of tie-in media that launched with the movie on December 18th. It’s a bummer that there are so many questions left unanswered, but we’ve combed through all these books for all the most important details about this new look at the Star Wars galaxy.
Naturally, there are going to be major spoilers for the entirety of Star Wars: The Force Awakens below.
Much of the information sourced for this article comes from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, a guidebook released by DK to coincide with the film’s release. Like several other tie-ins such as Alan Dean Foster’s novelization or The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it gives some fascinating insight into the world behind the movie, and it’s all straight from Lucasfilm’s story group, ensuring that everything sits right in Disney’s still fledgling reboot of the Star Wars canon.
Who the Hell Is Lor San Tekka?
Max Von Sydow’s mysterious character Lor San Tekka is barely in the film; he’s the old man who gives Poe Dameron the missing piece of the map to Luke Skywalker at the beginning of the film, and shortly thereafter he gets cut down by Kylo Ren in a fit of rage. Some of his dialogue (including some pointed remarks about Ren’s heritage that act as teasers for the eventual reveal of his real name) hints that Tekka was meant to be a big mystery, perhaps a connection to Star Wars’ past—many rumors pegged him as an elderly Boba Fett, or even a character from the prequels!—but the real answer is rather simple.
Since the fall of the Empire, Lor San Tekka has been a galactic traveler who eventually worked with the New Republic (and later the Resistance) mapping the remote fringe of the galaxy, before retiring to Jakku. Additionally, Tekka is also a religious man. He and most of the villagers he lives with are followers of the “Church of the Force,” a faith that gathered people who were not sensitive to the Force, but worshippers of Jedi codes and practices. The church operated in secret during the time of the Empire, but apparently flourished after Palpatine’s death.
Throughout his mapping expeditions, Tekka became intimate with the history of the Jedi and Sith orders, making him a prominent figure in the Church and giving him a reputation as a source for galactic secrets the Empire had clamped down on for decades.
The Resistance Is Much Smaller Than You Think It Is...
The Rebel Alliance was always meant to be seen as a plucky upstart group striking out at the big evil force, but by the time of Return of the Jedi, they’re massive: they’ve got capital ships, wings of fighter squadrons, the whole shebang. On the other hand, the Resistance is tiny.
Although the novelization emphasized Leia’s distaste for the New Republic, in The Visual Dictionary it’s pretty much acknowledged that the Resistance is an independent, private force “tolerated” by the New Republic, but not officially condoned or supported, due to a fear of conflict with the First Order.
This makes the Resistance’s actual military might incredibly small. In terms of ships, the organization has no capital vessels to call on, and its Starfighter corps is woefully light—two squadrons, Blue and Red, and Poe in the lead with his Black X-Wing. That’s it. On the ground, it fares slightly better, but there is apparently an emphasis on droid support, charged and used constantly to support what little the Resistance has in terms of ground crew, while the biological members often pull double duty as support and frontline staff.
...And the First Order Is Much Bigger
The First Order, on the other hand, is far bigger than the New Republic hopes it is. Hiding in a section of space called the Unknown Regions, the First Order has been building itself out of a group of dissident Imperial Admirals and Moffs who openly defied the signing of a peace treaty (dubbed “the Galactic Concordance”) after the Battle of Jakku 30 years ago, taking what soldiers and ships they could to the fringe of the galaxy to rebuild the Empire.