Yes, of course there will be spoilers.
However, this writeup should in no case be used as a substitute for seeing the movies or reading the books.
Luke Skywalker and his twin sister, Leia, were born to Anakin Skywalker, a powerful but troubled Jedi from Tattooine, and Padmé Amidala Skywalker, the Naboo senator, approximately 20 standard years BBY*. At the time of Luke's birth, the galaxy was reeling from the Clone Wars and beginning to fall under the dark shadow of Emperor Palpatine. Luke's father, in fact, was already under Palpatine's influence and well on the way to becoming the dreaded Darth Vader. Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and the tattered remnants of the Jedi Council took great care to keep knowledge of the birth of the twins from Anakin, and hid them on separate planets, to be raised with no knowledge of their heritage in the hope that they could one day rebuild the galaxy and the Jedi. Luke was sent to Tattooine to live with his step-aunt and uncle, Owen and Beru Lars, on a moisture farm**. Obi-wan remained in seclusion in the nearby Juntland Wastes, to shield Luke from his father's searches, and to be ready to train him when the time was ripe.1
Luke's childhood was harsh, as a life eked from the desert usually will be. Owen and Beru were loving, if overprotective, parents. Luke's days consisted of hard work on vaporators and droids, punctuated with landspeeder racing, visits with friends to the nearby Tosche Station or Anchorhead, and dreaming of life among the stars. By the time he was nearly twenty, he was chafing hard under his adoptive parents' yoke.
All that changed abruptly when the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO, on the run from Imperial stormtroopers, fell into Luke's life. The droids led him to Obi-Wan, who gave Luke his father's blue lightsaber and began to instruct him in the ways of the Force. After the stormtroopers murdered Owen and Beru and destroyed the farmstead, Luke accompanied Obi-Wan and the droids on a mission to rescue Princess Leia Organa from Imperial captivity. This they managed to accomplish, picking up the scoundrel Han Solo and his Wookiee copilot Chewbacca along the way. However, Obi-Wan allowed himself to be killed in a duel with Darth Vader, a sight which troubled and inspired Luke for years to come.2
His rescue of the princess led Luke to his new home with the Rebel Alliance. He used his newfound Jedi skills to destroy the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin, and in the years to come was instrumental in many victories against the Empire. Sometime during his years with the Rebellion, Luke founded Rogue Squadron, an elite team of fighter pilots who became a legend in their own right.
Luke completed his formal Jedi training nearly 3 years ABY, in the swamps of Dagobah with Master Yoda. Though Yoda was afraid that Luke was too old to be trained, he eventually relented to Obi-Wan's persuasion. It was in a dark-side infused cave on Dagobah that Luke saw his first Force vision, one which would haunt him for the rest of his life: his defeat of Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel, only to discover that the face behind Vader's mask was his own. A later vision of his friends in danger led Luke to Cloud City, where in his first face-to-face encouter with Vader, he lost both his right hand and his lightsaber, and learned that he was Vader's son.3
After recieving his artificial hand, Luke retreated to Ben's hut on Tattooine, where he built his own green lightsaber and meditated on the revelations he'd received. He paused to rescue his friend Han from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt before returning to Yoda's deathbed on Dagobah, where he learned that he would be a true Jedi if he successfully faced Vader. He confronted the spirits of Yoda and Ben about the lies they'd told him regarding his parentage, and recieved very unsatisfactory answers - but he did learn that Leia was his twin sister, also strong in the Force. He lingered only shortly before returning to the Rebel Alliance, which was preparing a strike on the nearly-complete second Death Star, in orbit around the jungle moon of Endor.
Luke was promoted to General and co-led with Han a strike team to bring down the station's shield from the moon's surface. Halfway through the mission, however, Luke's proximity to Vader threatened to overwhelm him. Determined to find good in his father, he revealed their family ties to Leia, then left the strike team and turned himself in to the Imperial garrison. At first failing to penetrate his father's evil core, Luke was delivered by Darth Vader to Palpatine's throne room. The Emperor pitted father against son in a cruel battle aimed at turning Luke irreversibly down the path to the Dark Side. Luke faltered, and nearly gave in; but in the end, Luke's integrity held, and the Emperor began to gleefully kill him with forks of blue Force lightning. As Luke lay writhing in agony on the deck, some part of his screams reached the remains of Anakin Skywalker, for Darth Vader turned on his Master, tossing him bodily down a shaft into the core of the Death Star. Luke made peace with his father before the gravely injured Anakin breathed his last. Luke barely made it out of the Death Star before General Lando Calrissian's forces succeeded in hitting its reactor core, destroying the station and winning the war for the Rebellion.4
With the bulk of the Empire's forces destroyed, and the Emperor and Darth Vader both dead, Luke and his friends turned to to forging a New Republic out of the ashes of the Old Republic and the Empire. While assisting the military in mopping up the remains of Imperial government and supporting his sister in the political arena, Luke began to plan for the return of the Jedi order, searching everywhere for clues to the teachings and the actions of the old Jedi.
Luke Skywalker first encountered Mara Jade during the Thrawn crisis, when he was being held on the planet Myrkyr by Mara's boss, the smuggler Talon Karrde. Mara, a Force-sensitive, had been trained by the Emperor as his personal Hand, and his dying message to her had been a surge of hate for and imperative to kill Luke. She silenced Palpatine's voice when she destroyed Luke's clone during the battle with the Dark Jedi Joruus C'baoth, and Luke and Mara parted on cordial terms.5
Soon after defeating C'baoth, Luke apprenticed himself to a clone of Emperor Palpatine himself, thinking that he could learn about the Dark Side without falling. Despite all precautions, he gave in to anger, and it was only with the care and love of many good friends that he pulled himself back to the light.6 Fresh from that ordeal, he felt qualified to declare himself a Jedi Master, and set about creating a Jedi academy on Yavin 4, traveling the galaxy in search of potential candidates. His first class of Jedi was strong enough to defeat the centuries-old spirit of the Sith Lord Exar Kun. The future of the Jedi order seemed assured.7
A year later, Luke encountered the spirit of the Jedi Callista, who had given her physical life to defeat the Emperor's ship Eye of Palpatine. Callista acquired a body, and she and Luke were inseperable for the next year, even speaking of marriage, until serious doubts about Luke's methods forced Callista to break off their relationship. Luke never saw her again.8
Luke continued to scour the galaxy for potential students and Jedi teachings, encountering numerous adventures along the way. In 19 ABY, during the Hand of Thrawn/Caamas crisis, Luke and Mara Jade were thrown together again. With Mara's help, Luke finally recognized and repudiated the Dark Side influence that had clouded his actions and teaching since his apprenticeship to the clone of Palpatine. As the two fought side by side, they came to realize the depth of the bond they shared, and they were married some months later in both a Jedi ceremony and a publicly simulcast secular one on Coruscant. Some viewed the union as a symbol of the recently negotiated peace between the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant.9
Master Skywalker's role during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion consisted of trying to hold the two emerging Jedi factions together, and still find a way to defeat the Vong in the age-old Jedi role as Guardians of the Republic, in a Republic that seemed no longer to want the Jedi. As the galaxy and the Jedi were once again thrust into darkness, a ray of hope shone forth as Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker celebrated the birth of their son Ben, named for Luke's first teacher, in 26 ABY.10
*BBY/ABY = Before (After) the Battle of Yavin.
** Of course, now we are all reeling at the stupidity of hiding him from his father about twenty meters from his grandmother's grave ... but hey, it worked.
- My brain (so /msg me if I've had a memory lapse)
- Timelines at http://timeline.echostation.com/timeline/ and http://www.randomhouse.com/delrey/starwars/timeline.html
Events not cited are established as backstory in these and other books.
- Episode III (most likely)
- Episode IV: A New Hope
- Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
- Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
- Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command by Timothy Zahn
- Dark Empire I & II from Dark Horse Comics
- Jedi Search, Dark Apprentice, and Champions of the Force by Kevin J. Anderson
- Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly, Darksaber by Kevin J. Anderson, and Planet of Twilight by Barbara Hambly
- Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future by Timothy Zahn and Union from Dark Horse Comics
- the New Jedi Order series; Ben: Rebirth by Greg Keyes
This has been a production of the Rescue-Luke-Skywalker-from-Going-Down-in-History-as-a-Whiny-Farmboy Society. Thank you.
Since the other writeups here have been deleted, I suppose I should mention that Luke Skywalker is the main character in the original trilogy of George Lucas' epic Star Wars saga (that is, Episodes IV, V, and VI). He was portrayed by Mark Hamill. Many people consider Luke's on-screen character to be whiny, immature, hickish, and even somewhat annoying. I say yes, good job, that's the point.