You want to know a super cheap way to expand your lore? Novels. You don’t need to tie up 200 people for eight months shooting a movie. You can use the same characters, and you can tell big, bombastic stories without having to adhere to a pesky budget. All of these factors make novelizations perfect for the Star Wars Universe. For years, there have been many stories in the galaxy far, far away — some good, some bad.
I have read most of these for free thanks to my local library. You can even get them as audiobooks through certain library apps. Here are some of my personal favorites, divided into two sections, the Canon books (post-Disney buyout) and the Legends books (old EU books that no longer “count”).
The Aftermath Trilogy
This trilogy starts up shortly after the end of Return of the Jedi, and it follows a smattering of new and old characters. Leia and Mon Mothma start rebuilding a democracy for the galaxy on Chandrilla, and we are introduced to Nora and Temmin Wexley — the main mother and son pair we follow throughout most of the series. Oh, and Temmin’s fantastic sidekick, a psychotic reprogrammed Battle Droid with a shaved down head that makes him look like a plague doctor named Mr. Bones. The final big set piece of the trilogy? The Battle of Jakku. It is a great look into what happened in the large time-frame between the two films, and it even touches on the forming of the First Order thanks to Rae Sloane.
The Rise of the Empire Era Books
Both Ahsoka and A New Dawn take place after Revenge of the Sith and focus on two on-the-run former Jedi, Caleb Dume and Ahsoka Tano. Both of them end up on different planets, trying to stay under the radar of the Empire. Caleb has taken on the name Kanan and is working in a mining facility trying to keep his head down and make a living. After a few accidents in the mines, the workers start to revolt and Kanan is looking for a way off the planet before the revolution takes place. The only pilot available though, Hera, wants to stay and fight. It is a great prelude to their relationship in Rebels.
Ahsoka takes a different path. Her plan isn’t to hide in plain sight, but to get as far away from the Empire as possible, with the idea that if she is out of sight, she is also out of mind. After posing as a mechanic and going from planet to planet, she realizes that running is no longer an option, and she even faces down an inquisitor, stealing their lightsaber and … get this, she purifies the kyber crystals in the lightsabers to turn them white. As a bonus, the audiobook is narrated by Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano herself.
The Thrawn Series
This is the holy grail for Star Wars fans. After Thrawn appeared in Star Wars Rebels, Disney, Tor Books, and Lucasfilm brought back the original creator of one of the EU’s fan favorites for a brand new trilogy. The third book, Thrawn: Treason, is due out later this year. These first two books are great for a couple of reasons. The first book, simply titled Thrawn, details his climbing through the ranks of the Empire thanks to his masterful use of tactics. Thrawn: Alliances offers a sort of team-up book between Vader and Thrawn. Complicating matters, though, is a secondary plot-line, where Thrawn teams up with a young Jedi named Anakin Skywalker. Another fun thing about Alliances is that it takes place at the Black Spire Outpost, which you can visit at your local Disney park at the end of the month.
The Prequel Era Books
Both of these books are the latest to be released. Queen’s Shadow is the best Jack Ryan book I have read in a while, but with far more costume changes. It details the first couple of months of Padmé’s transition from Queen to Senator, and there is hardly a Jedi in sight. It is a nice palette cleanser from all of the lightsabers and prophecies. Master & Apprentice follows Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to a planet looking to join the Galactic Republic, and it focuses on Obi-Wan’s growth as a Jedi. There is lots of good character detail added to Qui-Gon, too, who we can all agree got the short stick in the movies.
The Absolute Best Star Wars Novel, and bonus, the Manga Version
Look, I am not gonna sugar coat it. Lost Stars is amazing. It follows the love story of two pilots: Thane Kyrell and Ciene Ree. But … one joins the Republic, and the other signs up with the Empire. It is a very Shakespeare-ian and obvious story, but it is so good. It takes place throughout the original trilogy, so you get to see these characters grapple with things like the destruction of Alderaan, the battle of Endor, and more. It is all just added texture to the stories you already know and love. It is written so well, and I love it, and I desperately want a sequel.
The Original Thrawn Trilogy
This is the highly coveted original Thrawn trilogy. Old guard Star Wars fans swear by it. And while it was the original follow up to Return of the Jedi, it hasn’t aged well at all in a post-Force Awakens world. Sure, you get Thrawn and Mara Jade, but you also have to put up with Talon Karrde, Jorrus C’baoth, and Luuke. Luuke is, I shit you not, a clone of Luke Skywalker. Some of these ideas are great, and by and large the trilogy is a good beta test for sure! But not everything needs to make it out of this trilogy into canon. The one thing I would like to see make it into canon from this trilogy, after Thrawn, is the mythical Katana Fleet, which is a fleet of networked starships that jumps to a random point in the universe after coming under attack, never to be found again. It is a cool concept for a space opera.
The Old Republic Series
Not gonna lie, super biased about these books. I am very much into this era of Star Wars, and to see these books recognize this timeline is awesome. A lot of these characters come from The Old Republic MMO, but Revan focuses on Darth Revan himself, telling his story post Knights of the Old Republic and Knights of the Old Republic II. Granted, it is all set up for for The Old Republic, but it is great to see some fan-favorite characters from the game revisited. Fatal Alliance is pretty standalone, and it can be read as just a Star Wars adventure without having to play any of the games, but both Deceived and Annihilation need a little bit of pre-text from the games to get full enjoyment out of them.
- Canto Bight
- Battlefront II Inferno Squadron
- The Legend of Luke Skywalker
- Solo: Most Wanted
- Darth Plagueis
Of course, these are just my favorites out of the four dozen or so I have read over the course of my lifetime. That is what makes Star Wars books so great! There is something for everyone. So grab a blanket, get some snacks, and snuggle up with a book about a galaxy far, far away.