The Star Wars universe lived on in the form of novels and comics for years, before Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm meant that this expanded universe was wiped out, branded Legends, and was replaced with a whole new host of canon stories.
Whether it’s part of Legends or Canon though, there are some fantastic narratives from the galaxy far far away that audiences can explore in these Star Wars books. Some of the best writers in the world have put together emotionally compelling and action-packed stories that introduce new characters and revisit familiar faces all with the backdrop of this critically acclaimed franchise.
Updated on January 24th, 2022 by George Chrysostomou: With so many new additions to the Star Wars universe thanks to the Disney+ series, it seems appropriate to revisit the classic books that both inspired them and interlink with these shows. There are so many fantastic reads amongst the entries into the expanded materials, with some even introducing new characters who could play larger roles down the line.
Written by John Jackson Miller, it’s a shame that this book is now Legends considering how much it did to contribute to the overall characterization of Obi-Wan Kenobi. There are a lot of questions surrounding what the Jedi Master did while on Tatooine.
This book effectively covers that time period and Obi-Wan’s slow movement into becoming Ben Kenobi. The upcoming Disney+ show is sure to take a lot of inspiration from this work, especially in regards to the conflicts he had to face to protect Luke.
Path Of Destruction (Legends)
The Legends and Old Republic Star Wars book by Drew Karpyshyn really introduced Darth Bane to plenty of new readers and helped to cement his legacy amongst the Sith. Bane’s history is a violent one, but he is the master of the Rule of Two which now defines the dark order.
This book demonstrates how he eventually came to that lesson and how powerful the Force user really was in his early days. It’s a master class in character building and a major part of its trilogy. It’s a crucial piece of the overall Old Republic lore too!
Bloodline is a major part of the Canon timeline for Disney and Star Wars and vital in understanding the political situation within the galaxy, before the rise of the First Order. This book is centered largely on Leia and her quest to bring about democracy.
Written by Claudia Gray, the threats to this newfound senate and the society that’s growing around it are numerous. Not all of them can be solved through diplomatic methods as the former princess quickly learns. It’s both a fantastic character study and a brilliant read for those who love Star Wars politics.
Rogue Squadron (Legends)
Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole is a classic of the X-Wing series and has really gone on to inspire both video games and a potential movie adaptation as well. It focuses on the legendary fighter pilots who operated under the Republic against the Empire.
The Squadron is of course an iconic piece of Star Wars love and this is a fantastic way to explore each of the members of the team, even if it is in a Legends capacity. Fans of the original trilogy will surely love this throwback tale of adventure and heroism as it really is amongst the best Star Wars books.
Alphabet Squadron (Canon)
Some of the best pilots in the galaxy happen to be in the Alphabet Squadron, which leads the narrative in Alexander Freed’s trilogy, which begins with that very title. The canon series introduces fans to a brand new range of fighter pilots tasked with protecting the galaxy.
As they hunt down remaining Imperials it gives fans an intriguing look at the state of things now that the Empire has begun to collapse. With familiar faces and a range of well-crafted protagonists, comic book fans can even enjoy a crossover with Marvel’s graphic novels.
Rebel Rising (Canon)
Rogue One was the first solo Star Wars film to be released by Lucasfilm in the new Disney era of the brand. The military tones of the film certainly divided audiences, but the prequel novel Rebel Rising managed to set up a lot of themes that enhance the cinematic experience.
Author Beth Revis has taken a deep dive into the history of Jyn Erso from her childhood with her family, to her life growing up with the extremist Saw Gerrera. It fleshes out the character and her relationship with the terrorist further and brilliantly finishes exactly where the movie picks up with the character.
Darth Plagueis (Legends)
Palpatine’s story of Darth Plagueis The Wise is certainly an intriguing one, but audiences never got to learn too much about the former Sith Lord. Indeed, James Luceno’s novel begins with the death of the dark force wielder at the hands of his apprentice Sidious.
The novel then traces the life of Plagueis and his rise and fall. It contains a fascinating insight into Sith mythology and is of course crucial for understanding the path that Darth Sidious himself would eventually find himself on. It’s a must-read for any Star Wars fan and may one day return to canon.
I, Jedi (Legends)
There’s a number of different original characters introduced across the expanded universe yet I, Jedi was actually the first novel to have the protagonist be someone that fans hadn’t previously seen in the films. The Michael A. Stackpole novel was quite groundbreaking, therefore.
Corran Horn is the main character of this book and interestingly enough it ties in heavily to Kevin J. Anderson’s trilogy of books from the Jedi Academy series. Horn is on a mission to become a Jedi, under the tutelage of Master Skywalker, trying to fulfill the duties passed down from his force-wielding ancestors.
Outbound Flight (Legends)
It was a big project for the Republic. Sending a ship of civilians, Jedi, and scientists in the unknown regions to explore the galaxy and perhaps spread their society further afield. No one quite expected the trouble they could run into with the trip though.
This mysterious and thrilling tale, written by Timothy Zahn, sees Palpatine sabotage the plan, and the ship runs into Thrawn and the Chiss Ascendancy. The novel ties in so brilliantly to the expanded universe and essences of the piece can be seen in Zahn’s later work.
Dark Disciple (Canon)
Asajj Ventress was one of the most complex characters introduced into The Clone Wars. The Nightsister and Sith assassin was Count Dooku’s apprentice before she fell out of favor. Her life would take a very different turn as a Bounty Hunter.
The cancellation of the animated show meant that her story was not finished. Author Christie Golden does a great job of wrapping up Ventress’s life, with a shocking romance with the Jedi Quinlan Vos and a heroic final fight against the forces of darkness. It’s one of the best Star Wars books out there.
The High Republic: Light Of The Jedi (Canon)
The High Republic is a brand new initiative from the Lucasfilm publishing division that has allowed talented writers to explore a whole new era in the Star Wars galaxy. Light Of The Jedi is the first significant novel of the series and beautifully sets up the overall premise of this narrative arc.
Charles Soule has created a mysterious and unique plot that certainly brings a number of fresh ideas and familiar concepts into play. At the height of the Golden Age of the Republic and the Jedi, a great disaster strikes which throws the galaxy into absolute chaos.
X-Wing: Rogue Squadron (Legends)
The Rogue Squadron brand could perhaps be a franchise considered unto itself. This is the group of pilots that was founded by Luke Skywalker and have become cinematic icons. There’s been a great video game franchise based on them and Patty Jenkins is currently working on a film adaptation on the group.
The first of the Michael A. Stackpole books really sets the stage for this critically acclaimed series. The story begins with the Rebel hero Wedge Antilles gathering together this squad. It demonstrates the ups and downs of being a pilot and is one of the best Star Wars books to experience space combat on the page.
Aftermath: Empire’s End (Canon)
The Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig might just be the most influential set of novels from the new canon era on the Star Wars franchise. From the characters it fleshes out like Rae Sloane, to the impact it has on the sequel trilogy with the rise of the First Order and the development of a new Republic; each novel has an important part to play in the expanded universe.
However, the final novel of the trilogy Empire’s End is a perfect conclusion to the multiple arcs that have been set up and even contains a nod to the future with Palpatine’s eventual return on Exegol. Plus, it’s got a much-discussed Cobb Vanth appearance, who debuted in the trilogy and would later appear in The Mandalorian.
Timothy Zahn is one of the most talented writers to have ever contributed to the Star Wars universe. His work in the brand is legendary but he is most well known for creating the character of Thrawn, who was reintroduced into Disney’s canon.
The first Thrawn novel managed to bring this legendary Chiss into the new Disney universe so successfully that to date it’s spawned another 4 sequel and spin-off books, allowed the character to star in Rebels, and perhaps even be the villain of the Disney+ Ahsoka show. His work here brought the character back to prominence in a way no other writer could and could arguably be one of the best Star Wars books.
Heir To The Empire (Legends)
Heir To The Empire is really where it all started though. Considered one of the definitive Legends books and kicking off the famous Zahn Thrawn trilogy, this is where the character first rose in the public consciousness.
The writing here created a character that was unlike anything seen in Star Wars before. The power of Heir To The Empire created a legacy that’s still going on today, as Thrawn made his impact on the expanded universe and indeed the Empire in a massive way.
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