Twilight, Explained

Here's your guide to Bella and Edward, Bella and Jacob, vampires versus werewolves, and all the details you need to get swept up in listening to the Twilight Saga.

Welcome to Forks, Washington, and the world of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga. These stories are filled with vampires, werewolves, action, drama, and, of course, romance. If you're new to everything Twilight and looking to find out more, you've come to the right place. We're going to walk you through everything you need to know about the popular series, from the setting to the characters to the storylines.


Where is Twilight set?

The Twilight Saga takes place in Forks, Washington. Some fans of Twilight may not know that Forks is a real town in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. (The town's economy used to be fueled primarily by the timber industry, but since the release of the Twilight films, tourism in Forks has tripled.) Forks is one of the rainiest locations in the United States—which explains why Stephenie Meyer chose it as the perfect haven for Edward Cullen and his family, who happen to be vampires. Because vampires sparkle in the sunlight, the overcast weather is ideal for covering their identity. At the beginning of the series, Bella Swan moves to Forks to live with her father, Charlie, and attends Forks High School. (And yes, Forks High School is a real school in the town that you can see if you visit.)


What inspired the Twilight books?

Author Stephenie Meyer was inspired to write the first Twilight novel after having a particularly vivid dream in which an everyday teen girl and a sparkling, beautiful vampire with complex feelings for one another were having an intense conversation in a wooded meadow. And just like Meyer's dream, the Twilight Saga is a complicated love story of two people who are drawn to each other, in spite of the practical aspects of their lives that should drive them apart. Beyond a challenging romance, the novels explore the importance of family, the power of temptation, the meaning of right and wrong, and the fight between good and evil.


What is The Twilight Saga about?


The novels are told in the first person from Bella's point of view. The series starts when Bella moves to Forks to live with her father. On her first day at Forks High, she encounters a mysterious boy named Edward Cullen and finds herself inexplicably drawn to him. As she learns more about Edward, she discovers that he's a vampire, but he doesn't believe in hurting humans and survives off of animal blood. Bella and Edward fall in love, but their love story is complicated by the fact that he is a vampire and she's a human. A clan of vampires targets Bella, and she goes back to Arizona to stay with her mother and evade the vampires that want to drink her blood. But James, one of the vampires hunting her, is able to track her down and attacks her at a ballet studio. Thankfully, Edward and the rest of the Cullen family come to her rescue. The novel ends with Bella returning to Forks. (2020’s Midnight Sun is a retelling of Twilight from the perspective of Edward Cullen.)

New Moon

After Bella's 18th birthday, Edward realizes that their relationship is putting her in danger, and he can't risk it anymore. So, Edward and the rest of the Cullens leave Forks to distance themselves from Bella. Without Edward, Bella falls into a deep depression, and she develops a close friendship with Jacob Black. Later, Bella discovers Jacob is actually a wolf shape-shifter. Meanwhile, Victoria, James's mate, is hunting down Bella in search of revenge. After a series of miscommunications, Edward believes that Bella has died. Edward journeys to Volterra, Italy, to see the Volturi (a counsel of peace-keeping vampires) and end his life. Alice Cullen, Edward's sister, foresees his plan, and she and Bella journey to Italy to stop him. Alice, Bella, and Edward are all brought in front of the Volturi for judgment. The three are allowed to leave under one condition: Bella must be turned into a vampire. 


In Eclipse, Bella is still being stalked by Victoria, who has now created an army of newborn vampires to help her. Newborn vampires are terrifying because they have yet to learn how to control their thirst, and they tend to be incredibly violent. A rivalry between Edward and Jacob is introduced in this novel, and Bella is forced to choose between her friendship with Jacob and her romance with Edward. But to defeat Victoria and her army of vampires, Jacob's werewolf pack and Edward's vampire family will have to put aside their differences and join forces. Before the battle, Edward proposes to Bella, and she accepts. After the werewolves and vampires defeat Victoria and her newborn vampires, Bella breaks the news to Jacob that she is marrying Edward, which means she has to end their friendship. Jacob is devastated. 

Breaking Dawn

The final novel in the main Twilight Saga starts with Edward and Bella's wedding. On their honeymoon, Bella discovers she's pregnant. The couple rush home, believing that Bella should have been unable to get pregnant since Edward is a vampire. Meanwhile, Jacob has broken from his werewolf pack and started a new pack with Seth and Leah Clearwater. Jacob goes to visit Bella and is surprised to find that she is extremely pregnant. Bella gives birth to her daughter and nearly dies in the process. To save her life, Edward must finally make her a vampire. Edward and Bella name their daughter Renesmee after their mothers, Renee and Esme. When Jacob sees Renesmee, he feels an instant connection and imprints on her. Renesmee starts to age at a rapid pace. When someone from another coven sees Renesmee, she mistakes the young girl for an immortal, which is outlawed. As a result, the Cullens must answer to the Volturi for Renesmee's existence. Ultimately, the Volturi realize that they've been misinformed about what Renesmee is, and the Cullens are allowed to live their lives. 

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

This novella takes place during the events of Eclipse. It tells the story of Bree Tanner, one of Victoria's newborn vampires. Bree and her friend Diego discover that they've been made into vampires for a purpose they don't fully understand. They also discover their existence is forbidden by the Volturi. But Bree is unable to escape the battle before Diego is already dead. Carlisle Cullen discovers Bree and offers her asylum if she surrenders. Then the Cullens try to defend Bree and save her from the Volturi's execution. Although their attempts fail, Bree gives Edward all the information she knows about Victoria and the Volturi before her death.


Who are the main characters of the Twilight Saga?

Bella Swan 

  • Bella Swan is the main character of the Twilight series and the first-person perspective for most of the series. Bella is described as clumsy and awkward. She falls in love with Edward Cullen, a vampire. 

Edward Cullen 

  • Edward Cullen is a "vegetarian" vampire who lives on animal blood rather than human blood. In 1918, Edward nearly died from the Spanish flu, and so Carlisle turned him into a vampire to save his life. Edward has the supernatural gift of telepathy. Only Bella is immune to his powers, which is one of the reasons he's initially so attracted to her.  

Jacob Black 

  • A wolf shape-shifter and a member of the Quileute tribe, Jacob Black is interested in Bella romantically, but she sees him as a dear friend. Jacob later imprints on Edward and Bella's daughter, Renesmee. 

Carlisle Cullen 

  • Carlisle is the patriarch of the Cullen family. He works as a doctor at Forks Hospital and is around 360 years old

Esme Cullen 

  • Esme is the matriarch of the Cullen family and Carlisle's wife. Carlisle turned Esme into a vampire in 1921, after she nearly died by suicide following the loss of her baby.

Alice Cullen 

  • Alice, Emmett, and Edward pose as biological siblings, though they are not related by blood, and all share the surname Cullen with Carlisle and Esme. Alice is Jasper Hale's soulmate. She has the supernatural ability to see the future. 

Emmett Cullen 

  • Emmett is Edward's brother and Rosalie Hale's soulmate. He is known for his superhuman strength. 

Rosalie Hale 

  • Rosalie and Jasper pose as biological siblings in the same way as the Cullens, which is why they share the last name Hale. Carlisle and Esme act as their adoptive parents. Rosalie is Emmet's soulmate. She is turned into a vampire in 1933 by Carlisle after a group of men—including her husband—beat her and leave her for dead. After turning into a vampire, she kills the men who tried to kill her.

Jasper Hale 

  • Rosalie's brother and Alice's soulmate, Jasper has the ability to sense and influence the emotions of those around him. 

Renesmee Cullen 

  • Renesmee is Edward and Bella's daughter who is half-human, half-vampire. She is able to show people images by touching their faces. Jacob imprints on her the first time he sees her. 

The Volturi 

  • The Volturi are the largest and most powerful coven of vampires in the world. They serve as enforcement for vampire laws. 

James, Victoria, and Laurent 

  • James is the leader of a coven of nomadic vampires. Once they catch the scent of Bella, they hunt her for her blood. The other members of the coven are Victoria and Laurent.

Bree Tanner 

  • Bree was one of the newborn vampires illegally created by Victoria. She is eventually executed by the Volturi. 

Sam Uley 

  • Sam is a member of the Quileute tribe and a shape-shifter. He is the Alpha of his pack and has imprinted on his fiancée, Emily Young. 

Quil Ateara 

  • Quil is a shape-shifter and a member of the Black pack, Jacob's pack that forms after the Quileutes attempt to kill Bella and Renesmee. Unlike some shape-shifters, Quil is excited about finally being able to turn into a wolf. 

Leah Clearwater 

  • Leah is the Beta of the Black pack and the only female shape-shifter in Quileute history. She is Seth Clearwater's older sister and Sam Uley's ex-girlfriend. 

Seth Clearwater 

  • Seth is one of the youngest members of Sam's wolf pack before joining Jacob's Black pack.



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