Top 6 "Star Wars" Book Series Worth Reading
The Legends Timeline
As dedicated nerf herders know, ever since Episode 7 redid the Star Wars timeline, the older Expanded Universe stories have been erased from existence . . . right?
True, they don't occur in the same timeline, but they've been given their own universe called Star Wars Legends. So, as Obi-Wan might say, both the Episode 7 timeline and Legends are canon from a certain point of view!
The Expanded Universe
We're all looking forward to the future of Star Wars films, but there's plenty from the galaxy far far away to keep us entertained in the meantime. After all, we literally have hundreds of Star Wars books available, and many offer adventures of the quality we expect from the series.
Readers may be intimidated by the sheer volume of literature available; today, we'll help you learn where to spend your galactic credits by examining six impressive literary Star Wars sagas!
It's (not) a trap! No spoilers ahead, just basic descriptions of each series.
1. Jedi Apprentice
Author: Jude Watson (second book and onwards), Dave Wolverton (first book)
Setting: Takes place in the years leading up to Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Although The Phantom Menace heavily divided fans, it offered many interesting looks at the past—like glimpses of Obi-Wan as a young Jedi. Jedi Apprentice goes even further back, and offers glimpses of the challenges teenage Obi-Wan faces.
The books are geared towards a younger audience, but that doesn't mean they aren't quality writing . . . Find out about the fallen first apprentice of Qui-Gon (Obi-Wan's Jedi mentor), Qui-Gon's struggle to reconcile his love for a woman with his celibate Jedi life, and even Obi-Wan's departure from the Jedi path.
In short, Jedi Apprentice captivates audiences of all ages and is a good candidate for casual fans.
2. Jedi Quest
Author: Jude Watson
Setting: In the ten years in-between The Phantom Menace and Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
Jedi Quest is essentially a continuation of Jedi Apprentice. The eleven-part series was written by the same author and flows in a similar fashion to Apprentice. Obi-Wan is now a Jedi Knight, tasked with training the young and cocky Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker. Jedi Quest excels with exploring the complicated relationship of both care and frustration between Anakin and Obi-Wan, and there are some truly sad stories contained within.
There are even some unique tales that begin in the Jedi Apprentice timeline, then switch to the Jedi Quest period. It's interesting to see old villains reappear, and watch Obi-Wan transition from apprentice to master.
Essentially, if you liked Jedi Apprentice, you'll like Jedi Quest.
3. The Thrawn Trilogy
Author: Timothy Zahn
Setting: Five years after Episode 6: Return Of The Jedi
Here, we're making a leap to a time period after the end of the original saga. In this three-part tale, the Empire is weakened but under new leadership—the blue-skinned military genius, Thrawn, has taken command. Revisit favorite characters such as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca, and watch as they struggle to counter the brilliant tactics of Thrawn.
This is perhaps the most well-loved series by fans. It's deep enough to engage avid fanatics, but easy enough for casual fans to also keep up. Zahn is an excellent writer, and he introduces two incredibly popular characters—Thrawn and Mara Jade, the once personal assassin of Emperor Palpatine. Don't miss out on the thrilling tales from Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command.
4. The New Jedi Order Series
Author: Twelve authors; click here to view them.
Setting: 21 years after Return of the Jedi
The New Jedi Order spans over 20 books and introduces a brutal alien race (the Yuuzhan Vong) who enter a war with the New Republic. Also, Han and Leia's children are now young Jedi who desperately search for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
This series is notably darker than the prior entries. Planets will end, characters will die, families will fight. One of my few complaints is that with so many authors, the writing style can alter between books, which feels a bit odd, but there's plenty of enjoyment to be found here. For example, many thought-provoking questions are explored; when it comes to war, how far is it okay to go to end the fighting?
I'd recommend the series to hardcore fans, but this is the one to skip for casual partakers.
5. Legacy of the Force
- Authors: Aaron Allston, Karen Traviss, Troy Denning
- Set: 36 years after Return Of The Jedi
My personal favorite, Legacy of the Force, is a nine-book story set even further after Episode 6. Tensions are growing between Corellia (Han Solo's home planet) and the rest of the galaxy, and war threatens to break out. Additionally, a certain young Jedi resolves to do absolutely whatever it takes to bring peace—even if that means joining the Dark Side. It's hard to talk about the plot without giving it away, but I'll reveal the series wonderfully explores whether a Sith, a brutal, murdering Dark Side follower, can still be a good person. You'll get perspectives from dozens of characters, hearing their motivations, and inevitably experience grief as people you know and understand fight each other. If you're looking for a tragic, deep, action-packed story, read the few thousand of pages that is Legacy of the Force.
Boba Fett is also given a large role in this tale, and his sections are done incredibly well. It helps to have a knowledge of the New Jedi Order adventures when reading LotF, but it's not necessary.
6. Fate of the Jedi
- Authors: Aaron Allston, Christie Golden, Troy Denning
- Setting: 39 years after Return Of The Jedi
The final entry today is another nine-part series, written by two of the three authors who did Legacy of the Force. Luke Skywalker undertakes a journey across the galaxy to explore the causes of the events that took place in LotF, but he may end up finding far more than he bargained for. An ancient tribe of Dark Side users and a Force monstrosity beyond comprehension are only some of the dangers Luke will face . . .
The two complaints I have for this series are that the villains aren't as interesting as LotF or The Thawn Trilogy, and it takes time for the pace to accelerate, but I still highly enjoyed the Fate story. Tragedy happens here, too, but you'll also find thrills and joy. The story peaks at its climax and is currently where the Star Wars Legends timeline ends for Luke and friends.
Basically, if you liked LotF, you'll enjoy Fate.
Which series are you most interested in / do you favor?
We have so many great novels to explore, and I sincerely hope we receive more from both the Expanded Universe and the new timeline. With revived interest, fans are as eager as ever to experience Star Wars, so what better time to test some of its literature?
For now, feel free to vote for your favorite Star Wars books, and may the Force be with you!