10 Must-Listen Star Wars Audiobooks for Every FanIllustration by Nicolas Delort for The Force Doth Awaken Books Lists Star Wars
Between the Galaxy’s Edge experience opening at Disney parks this summer, the final season of Disney Channel’s Star Wars: Resistance, and the long-awaited debut of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on December 20, the Force is strong with 2019.
The Star Wars universe has exploded since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in in 2012. Yet for all the content Star Wars fans consume, there are always more expanded universe books—both pre-Disney Legends and post-Disney canon—for readers of all ages to check out. And like all things Star Wars, the audiobook versions of these titles pull out all the stops. That means beeps. That means boops. That means rich sonic soundscapes, mood-setting musical stings, and narrators who are the audiobook equivalent of ace rebel pilots.
You’d better believe those narrators understand the potential power in what they, through Star Wars, are doing. As Star Wars narrator January LaVoy told Paste back in 2018:
You know, at a Star Wars celebration a couple years ago, I had a mother with two sons come up to me, weeping, telling me how both her boys were severely dyslexic and feared books…until she started buying them Star Wars audiobooks. And now they both read! They’ve actually been able to overcome some of their difficulties because their attraction to the books, that was a shift. They didn’t even know what was in there, they didn’t know the extended universes were there for the taking, and the idea was just so thrilling to them. It’s very powerful stuff.
There are too many great audiobooks in the Star Wars publishing canon for us to highlight even a fraction of the gems. For anyone looking to explore the expanded universe this way, however, we’ve assembled 10 canon audiobooks you can listen to today, plus an upcoming one that will lead into the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. We’ve done our best to list the following titles chronologically, according to the timeline on Wookiepedia.
Happy listening, and may the Force be with you.
Position in canon chronology: [outside of timeline]
Narrated by: James Monroe Iglehart
Run time: 2 hours and 52 minutes
Having had decades to take root, the Star Wars universe’s mythology has blossomed into something complex. With George Mann’s new short story collection, Star Wars: Myths and Fables, that depth gains even more nuance. The physical version of this collection, with art by Grant Griffin, is lovely enough that many fans will want a copy for their shelves. But the audio version, as narrated with sweeping baritone warmth by James Monroe Iglehart, is just as worth adding to your digital shelves. Reading more like fantasy than sci-fi, this collection is scored with a harp-forward orchestration taking precedence over the clashing lightsaber sound effects heavily featured in many other Star Wars audiobooks. If you’re seeking family-friendly bedtime stories, this is a great place to start.
Position in canon chronology: Approximately 39 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin, which concluded with the destruction of the first Death Star at the end of A New Hope; this audiobook is pre-Phantom Menace)
Narrated by: Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton, Pete Bradbury, Jonathan Davis, Neil Hellegers, Sean Kenin, January LaVoy, Saskia Maarleveld, Carol Monda, Robert Petkoff, Rebecca Soler, Marc Thompson
Run time: 6 hours and 21 mins
Cavan Scott’s Dooku: Jedi Lost, which traces the events that pushed Count Dooku down a path of darkness, is for readers who love a villain’s backstory. The audio version, which features a rogue’s gallery of a full cast hamming their hearts out, is for listeners who love good audiobooks. Tensely produced and dramatically performed, this recording is also relatively quick, clocking in just over six hours. For many listeners, that’s barely a full week’s worth of commute time. What better way to get in the mood for more Kylo Ren than by revisiting another Sith icon?
Position in canon chronology: ~13 BBY (exact timing unclear, but post-Revenge of the Sith)
Narrated by: Soneela Nankani
Run time: 3 hours and 50 minutes
If you think there’s no such thing as too much of Lando Calrissian’s swashbuckling corner of the Star Wars universe, then Justina Ireland’s middle grade novel is for you. Following a young Lando and his droid L3-37 on smuggling adventures in the Millennium Falcon, Lando’s Luck is performed for audio by Soneela Nankani, whose rich character voices are a favorite of Young Adult listeners. Here, Nankani brings to life everyone from droids to old ladies in the marketplace to the swaggering Lando himself. Quick and fun, this is a perfect choice for long family car rides.
Position in canon chronology: 11-2 BBY (circa The Empire Strikes Back)
Narrated by: Marc Thompson
Run time: 16 hours and 56 minutes
Timothy Zahn’s original Thrawn Trilogy, the first of which was published in 1991, is widely recognized as the series that “reignited the entire Star Wars publishing phenomenon.” When Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney in 2012, everything written before 2014, including Zahn’s foundational take on the iconic villain, was pushed officially out-of-canon and recategorized as Star Wars Legends. This was disappointing to many fans, but Zahn brought the iconic villain back to the canonical fold in 2017 with the launch of a new Thrawn trilogy. The new trilogy is performed by Marc Thompson, one of the Star Wars audio universe’s most prolific narrators (he appears seven times on this list) and the narrator of the 20th Anniversary Edition of Zahn’s original series. Whether you’ve loved Thrawn for decades or are just discovering the character, you’ll enjoy Zahn’s new series.
5. From a Certain Point of View: Stories by 40 authors, including Kelly Sue DeConnick, Ian Doescher, Ken Liu, Griffin McElroy, Nnedi Okorofor, Daniel José Older, Daniel Mallory Ortberg, Greg Rucka and Chuck Wendig
Position in canon chronology: 0 BBY (concurrent to A New Hope)
Narrated by: Jonathan Davis, Ashley Eckstein, Janina Gavankar, Jon Hamm, Neil Patrick Harris (and many more)
Run time: 15 hours and 3 mins
This collection of short stories features dozens of talented voice actors bringing to life Episode IV: A New Hope—as experienced by the background characters. One of Paste’s Best Audiobooks of 2017, From a Certain Point of View contains stories that span every possible emotion, every possible mood, every possible genre gag you could want. Daniel Mallory Ortberg’s passive aggressive bureaucrat, as performed with affronted intensity by Jonathan Davis in “An Incident Report,” will make you laugh out loud; Rae Carson’s failing little droid, as read with heart-rending smallness by Marc Thompson in “The Red One,” will make you weep. (Both of these made our list of the 10 best stories from the collection.) You may think you know the narrative shape of A New Hope backwards and forwards, but the threads in From a Certain Point of View weave a shadow narrative so rich that you’ll find yourself coming back to it again and again.
Position in canon chronology: Varies; retellings of the main films
Narrated by: Jessica Almasy, Daniel Davis, Johnathan Davis, Ian Doescher, Jeff Gurner, Ralph Adriel Johnson, January LaVoy, Marc Thompson
Run time: 3 to 4 hours
Published: 2013 to 2017
Ian Doescher’s breezy Shakespearean revamps of the main Star Wars films are an utter delight. Performed by small casts, the four titles currently available as audiobooks (Verily, A New Hope, The Empire Striketh Back, The Jedi Doth Return, and The Force Doth Awaken) feature the same rich soundscape behind Doescher’s iambic pentameter as the rest of the Star Wars audio series does behind 21st-century prose. They also include fun Shakespearean flourishes, like a rowdy Elizabethan announcer introducing each play to an even rowdier Globe Theater crowd, and entertainingly dramatic stage directions read aloud between scenes. Plus, recording his parts for the original trilogy books apparently helped Marc Thompson learn to love Shakespeare. If that’s not (verily) a win, we don’t know what is.
Position in canon chronology: 4 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin; this audiobook is concurrent to Return of the Jedi)
Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld
Run time: 13 hours and 50 minutes
A Marvel/Del Rey crossover, Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron marks the start of a new trilogy about veteran New Republic pilots that follows the events in Return of the Jedi. A counterpart to Marvel’s TIE Fighters miniseries, the first book follows pilot Yrica Quell, an Imperial Army defector who joins a group of fighters on a mission to destroy the group of rebel TIE fighters known as Shadow Wing. Opinions from longtime Star Wars readers are markedly split: those who like the book, love it, while those who don’t like it seem baffled by its very existence. But between the high-flying narration of Paste favorite Saskia Maarleveld and the ominous fighter pilot soundscape, Alphabet Squadron is worth checking out if you love aerial dogfights and morally grey antiheroines.
Position in canon chronology: 7 ABY (circa Return of the Jedi)
Narrated by: Daniel José Older, Marc Thompson, January LaVoy
Run time: 11 hours and 12 minutes
We know that no one does Han Solo better than Harrison Ford, but Marc Thompson is no Solo slouch. Thompson’s narration would make Daniel José Older’s Last Shot entertaining no matter what, but the fact it highlights Han Solo settling into life as a new dad makes it fascinating. As a bonus, the audiobook also features one of the Star Wars audio world’s other mainstays, January LaVoy, as well as Older, himself. As an additional bonus, it is the only title on this list (and really, in the entire Star Wars series) that is currently DRM-free, and thus is available for purchase through your local indie bookseller via Libro.fm. Truly, a win-win-win!
Position in canon chronology: 34 ABY (circa The Force Awakens)
Narrated by: Sean Kenin, Saskia Maarleveld, Marc Thompson, Jonathan Davis
Run time: 11 hours and 5 mins
Nothing’s better than when a captivating short story collection is read by an equally captivating group of narrators. Canto Bight features Sean Kenin, Saskia Maarleveld, Marc Thompson, and Jonathan Davis, so the narratorial greatness is there. And what better place to set a short story collection than on a casino planet drenched in wealth and neon, cut off from the greater worries of the warring Star Wars universe by the power of greed? Canto Bight is a perfect listen for anyone seeking a bit of escapism from their escapism before Rey and Kylo Ren’s final battle.
Position in canon chronology: 34 ABY (circa The Force Awakens)
Narrated by: January LaVoy
Run time: 12 hours and 57 minutes
Following 2017’s Phasma, writer Delilah S. Dawson and narrator January LaVoy have teamed up again for Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire. A tie-in to the new Disney park area, the book follows General Organa’s best spy, Vi Moradi, as she hides out from the First Order in Black Spire Outpost on the galactic frontier planet of Batuu. It’s brimming with rogues, smugglers, sardonic droids, misfits, and Resistance fighters—all brought to life by the combination of LaVoy’s eclectic narratorial skills and the audio series’ rich signature soundscape. Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire has everything a fan could want in a Star Wars listening experience, and as a story leading up to The Rise of Skywalker, worth listening to immediately.
Position in canon chronology: Approximately 34 ABY (pre-The Rise of Skywalker)
Narrated by: Marc Thompson
Run time: 11 hours and 5 mins
Release date: November 5, 2019
Leading into December’s The Rise of Skywalker premiere, Rebecca Roanhorse’s Resistance Reborn is a “pivotal prequel” featuring The Last Jedi’s core heroes—Rey, Finn, Poe, Rose, Chewie, and Leia—as they cross the galaxy tracking down old allies, building new alliances, and getting ready for their final battle against the First Order. Roanhorse’s debut novel, Trail of Lightning, was a breakout fantasy hit in 2018, so the prospect of what she’ll bring to the Star Wars universe is exciting. As for narrator Marc Thompson, well, you read the rest of this list. Resistance Reborn is bound to be worth checking out (and if you want to do so literally, let your local library know now!)
Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. She can be found @AlexisKG.