It's been a little slow for the Awakened Era. After the initial burst of material that was released around the same time as Episode VII, there hasn't been much story development in this time period. (An exception is the aforementioned Poe Dameron comic, which remains a favorite of mine.) Even so, some of the elements from Rogue One seem to combine with others from The Force Awakens to hint at elements that might be important for Episode VIII. In particular, I'm thinking of kyber crystals and that mysterious group known as the Whills.
Here are a few observations.
- The prologue to the novelization of A New Hope includes a brief history of the Old Republic and its downfall. It is attributed as “From the First Saga, Journal of the Whills.”
- According to the Star Wars Annotated Screenplays, George Lucas originally thought of the Whills as “...somebody watching this whole story and recording it, somebody probably wiser than the mortal players in the actual events.” He goes on to add, however, that “I eventually dropped this idea, and the concept behind the Whills turned into the Force.”
- At the start of the Episode VII novelization, Alan Dean Foster includes a bit of poetry: “First comes the day, then comes the night. After the darkness shines through the light. The difference, they say, is only made right by the resolving of gray through refined Jedi sight. --Journal of the Whills, 7: 477.”
- In the movie and novelization of Rogue One, the characters Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus are referred to as “Guardians of the Whills.” They guard (or used to guard) a holy city with a temple in it, the place from which the Empire is taking kyber crystals for use in the Death Star project.
- It's well established that, in addition to being used in the Death Star's superlaser, kyber crystals are also a necessary component in Jedi lightsabers.
- In the Clone Wars episode “The Gathering,” a group of Jedi younglings goes to the planet Ilum in search of crystals for their lightsabers; there they are tested by the caves in order to prove their worthiness.
- Apparently, in the novel Ahsoka it mentions that the Empire quickly despoiled Ilum after Palpatine established the New Order. I need to finish reading that novel.
- Here's an interesting development: On the map that comes with the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Beginner Box RPG, the planet Ilum is not listed; in its place is the origin point for Starkiller Base.
I don't know just what these details imply. Maybe it's an important plot point for Episode VIII; maybe it's not. Whatever the case, it struck me as curious.