The Ultimate Guide to Star Wars Books

Books Lists Star Wars
The Ultimate Guide to Star Wars Books

When Alan Dean Foster’s novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, first published in 1978, it was written as a sequel to the original Star Wars in case the film wasn’t deemed successful enough to warrant a big-budget follow-up. Obviously, these fears were allayed, and Star Wars went on to become a behemoth of both cinema and pop culture—but Splinter of the Mind’s Eye still existed, and it represented the first step into a larger world for so many fans: books.

Star Wars literature is a rich text. It exists within the confines of the Skywalker Saga and the characters we know like old friends, but it also stretches far beyond those stories to bring new life, new figures, and new ideas to a galaxy far, far away. Foster’s initial foray into Star Wars fiction was soon followed by other authors and more and more stories set around the events of the original trilogy sprang up. But it wasn’t until Timothy Zahn’s 1991 classic, Heir to the Empire, that the idea of the Star Wars Expanded Universe first came into being. Stories that could be seen to tie into the pre-existing films, while continually expanding the world around them, creating an even grander universe for fans to enjoy.

This continued for another twenty years, with books of the highest quality (and some that are best left forgotten), until Disney purchased Lucasfilm for a cool $4.05 billion in 2012. After this, Disney and the minds at Lucasfilm wanted to clean up the timeline, so to speak, and swiftly de-canonized the Star Wars Expanded Universe, designating those stories as Legends canon moving forward. And in its wake came the New Canon—books, comics, shows, and of course, films, all of which blend together to tell a (mostly) cohesive whole.

The books themselves since the establishment of the New Canon contain some of the high points in Disney’s ownership of the Star Wars franchise, from The High Republic publishing initiative to the delightful From A Certain Point of View series, giving fans short story insights into key events across canon from the perspective of peripheral characters. Even Zahn himself returned with two trilogies focused on his literary muse, Grand Admiral Thrawn, 

The galaxy of Star Wars literature is vast, populated by stories that appeal to everyone. With titles ranging from adult fiction to YA novels and even a handful of middle-grade books, these stories feature everything from romance and politics to in-depth military action, dark character studies, and poignant examinations of the Force. These books have expanded our relationships with longtime favorites like Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Luke Skywalker, while also introducing us to new characters to fall in love with, such as Stellan Gios, Vernestra Rwoh, Iskat Akaris, and so many more.

 Here are our picks for essential Star Wars must-reads across both Legends canon and New Canon. 

Star Wars Legends insert

Star Wars: Essential Legends Books

20 – Cloak of Deception by James Luceno

A quiet sleeper within the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Cloak of Deception is a neatly crafted political thriller set before the events of The Phantom Menace. It gives greater insight into Palpatine as a character, while continuing the popular trend at this time of writing him and Darth Sidious as separate characters. It also fleshes out the political landscape of the ailing Republic, and even more so, the beleaguered Chancellor Valorum.

Throw in Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan working to protect the Chancellor from an assassination attempt and the potential destabilization of the Republic, and you have an excellent precursor novel to Star Wars Episode I.

19 – The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers

Look, sometimes we just want Star Wars to be weird. It’s all well and good to have stories that cover ideas of found family, the Force, or any of the other staples we’re all familiar with in this galaxy. But sometimes we just want space dinosaurs invading a distant world, and our rebel heroes coming to the rescue. 

Taking place right after the Battle of Endor, our heroes receive a transmission meant for the Empire, calling for aid to a distant planet: Bakura. Luke assembles a force to defend the world, and what follows is one of the more bizarre stories of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, but one that deserves a place on your bookshelf.

18 – Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void by Tim Lebbon

Dawn of the Jedi might not be the best book within Legends canon, but it is undoubtedly one of the most interesting. Set 25,000 years before any of the stories we’re accustomed to, the book presents a clean slate of a world. You’re transported to a new era with new cultures and conventions, and it’s fascinating to dive into.

The story follows Lanoree Brock, a ranger from the Je’daii Order on Tython, who is assigned to stop a fanatical group from completing their sinister goal. Ultimately, Lebbon’s novel sets itself apart from other installments of Legends storytelling through the ways it diverges from established canon, and while it doesn’t always land, it’s a worthwhile read.

17 – Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber

 Joe Schreiber’s 2009 novel was Star Wars’ first foray into the world of horror, and it’s a riot from start to finish. Death Troopers is quite literally zombies in space. Throw in Han Solo and Chewbacca, and I’m not sure what else you could want from a book.

As with some of Schreiber’s other work within Legends canon, Death Troopers is a gnarly, visceral story not for the faint of heart, but there’s an infectious passion for the world throughout that makes it impossible to put down. It’s not the most consequential in terms of galactic stakes;  there’s no expansion of Force lore here, or major acts of rebellion. But it’s a delightful addition to the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

16 – Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno

A sleeper within Legends canon, Labyrinth of Evil sees Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi on the hunt for Darth Sidious after they stumble onto possible evidence of his whereabouts and identity. 

While the chase for Sidious is full of all the twists and turns you might expect, the book’s best accomplishment is how well it shows Anakin’s flirtation with the dark side of the Force, leading to his eventual break-bad moment in Star Wars Episode III. It’s a great companion book for when you next revisit Revenge of the Sith.

15 – New Jedi Order Series by R. A. Salvatore, Michael A. Stackpole, James Luceno, Kathy Tyers, Greg Keyes, Troy Denning, Elaine Cunningham, Aaron Allston, Matthew Stover, Walter Jon Williams, and Sean Williams & Shane Dix

 The New Jedi Order series deserves a place on this list, not for its spotty quality which varies from outstanding to forgettable, but for its immense ambition to expand the Star Wars universe further than ever before. Taking place sometime after Return of the Jedi, the series navigates a new threat to the galaxy in the shape of the Yuuzhan Vong – a new alien species with a fascinating cause – and it’s up to Luke and his young Jedi to protect their way of life.


Most notably, the series places Luke and all of the characters we love at the forefront, but for the most part, the series is about the new characters of the Star Wars Expanded Universe like Jacen Solo or Jaina Solo. Seeing new Star Wars stories revolve around the next generation of characters is pretty delightful, and some of the arcs they undergo, particularly Jacen, are some of the Star Wars Expanded Universe’s most intriguing. The New Jedi Order series isn’t the most accessible, taking place across 19 novels, and it requires significant knowledge of the Expanded Universe to that point, but they are worth the grind.

14 – Fate of the Jedi by Aaron Allston, Christie Golden, and Troy Denning

There are issues with the Fate of the Jedi series, but it deserves its place as an essential read for what it means to the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The Fate of the Jedi series is the last major story initiative before the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm shifted this era of storytelling into Legends canon.

It’s a celebration of the Star Wars Expanded Universe in many ways, as Luke Skywalker and his son, Ben, journey through the galaxy on a nostalgia-esque tour. The main thrust of the series’ plot is the Jedi Order being infected with a psychosis-like state, and the subsequent scramble for power from a new power in the galaxy. This does leave some jarring shifts as the adventure of Luke and Ben doesn’t always balance well with the darker story at the heart of the series. There’s also, much like New Jedi Order and Legacy of the Force, an issue of approachability. To gain the most from this series of books, you need to have read about a dozen other series within the Expanded Universe. Having said that, the Fate of the Jedi series is a fitting send-off to the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

13 – Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover

Mace Windu has never been a particularly sympathetic character. Samuel L. Jackson is a phenomenal actor, and there’s certainly something cool about him and his “bad motherfucker” purple lightsaber. But as a character, there’s a certain coldness to him that’s hard to overlook.

Shatterpoint sought to, if not make him a fan-favorite, at least make him a more engaging character for Star Wars fans to care about. And it’s a task it more than succeeds at. Telling a story set during the height of the Clone Wars, as Windu returns to his homeworld in search of his former Padawan turned Jedi Master, Depa Billaba, Shatterpoint explores Mace’s singular connection to the Force, namely his ability to see the titular shatterpoints—fractures in the Force representing figures and moments of significance. It’s a fascinating bit of worldbuilding that has thankfully been reincorporated into New Canon and will be explored further later this year in The Glass Abyss, New Canon’s first Mace Windu novel.

12 – Coruscant Nights Trilogy by Michael Reaves 

Maybe the most underappreciated series in Legends canon, and possibly even within Star Wars literature as a whole. The Coruscant Nights TrilogyJedi Twilight, Street of Shadows, and Patterns of the Force—takes place in the underbelly of the galactic capital of Coruscant during the reign of the Empire.

Fleshed out through a full cast of original characters, the Coruscant Nights Trilogy is basically a noir-style detective story following Jax Pavan, a Jedi Knight who survived Order 66 and hid himself away in the slums of Coruscant, working as a private investigator. Matching Pavan up with a crew of memorable eccentrics including I-Five, an all-timer of a character, the book dives into themes of resistance and survival, and balances a tightrope of humor and anguish. The downside of the trilogy is the shared world created by Reaves himself, who ties in characters from past and future books, making Coruscant Nights a challenging read for a beginner.

11 – Legacy of the Force by Aaron Allston, Karen Traviss, and Troy Denning

 Spanning nine novels, the Legacy of the Force series picks up the baton from the New Jedi Order and continues the stories of Luke, Han, and the rest of our heroes, while putting Jacen Solo, Jaina Solo and the new breed of characters front and center. The difference is that there’s a far more consistent quality to the Legacy of the Force series when compared to the New Jedi Order books.

The series is full of bold storytelling, plenty of twists, and a particular character arc that still holds weight with fans of the Expanded Universe today. There’s a real effort from the three authors in the series to muddy the concepts of light and dark, good and evil, an idea that works really well in a world like Star Wars. Much like the New Jedi Order series, there is a question of accessibility, but the stories are worth it.

10 – Republic Commando Series by Karen Traviss

 Loosely based on the video game series of the same name, Traviss’ Republic Commando series has a serious following among Star Wars fans. Taking place across five novels (Hard Contact, Triple Zero, True Colors, Order 66, and Imperial Commando: 501st), the series gets into the nitty-gritty of warfare and military tactics in a way few other Star Wars books can match. 

This does restrict their accessibility somewhat, as it’s a style of prose that can be quite difficult. But there’s plenty of action, some really fascinating characters among the clone commandos, and a deeper explanation of the clone psyche that the Prequel Trilogy often lacks. Traviss deliberately confronts how the clones were used, and ultimately manipulated, by the system that created them, adding a heartbreaking edge of pathos to the series. 

9 – Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter by Michael Reave 

Your mileage may vary when it comes to this book depending on how you feel about Darth Maul himself. If you’re in the camp that views him as an overexposed and overrated character, maybe this isn’t the novel for you. If you’re in the other camp that loves his characterization across the saga, Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter might be your new favorite book.

Set just prior to The Phantom Menace, the book follows a game of cat-and-mouse as Maul chases down key information for his master, Darth Sidious. It’s a fascinating insight into Maul’s way of thinking, driven solely by anger and hatred of the Jedi, and stands out as one of the key texts to understanding Maul’s journey.

8 – The Han Solo Trilogy by A. C. Crispin

By far one of the most popular installments of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the Han Solo TrilogyThe Paradise Snare, The Hutt Gambit, and Rebel Dawn—gave fans an origin story for everyone’s favorite scoundrel. The three novels are as perfect a precursor as you could ask for to the Original Trilogy, covering Han’s life pretty much right up until the moment we see his winning smile in the Mos Eisley cantina. 

Crispin’s prose is a delight, blending charm with pathos as she weaves a tale of memorable original characters and returning favorites, without shying away from the grit and grime of the galactic underworld. Of all the essentials within the Legends canon, The Han Solo Trilogy might be the most accessible entry point.

7 – X-Wing Series by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston

It’s hard to break down the X-Wing Series, as there are multiple series within it, as well as a few standalone stories. Comprised of ten novels that chronicle the adventures of Rogue Squadron, and later, Wraith Squadron, in the aftermath of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, the story follows their fight against Imperial remnants and crime lords that threaten the security of the New Republic.

Cast your mind back to the first time you saw an X-Wing swoop down over the first Death Star and make that death-defying trench run, and then imagine that feeling across a series of ten delightful novels. There’s so much charm in Stackpole and Allston’s writing, and the human element of their stories only adds to that. There are no Jedi here, just people who want to make a difference. It’s hard not to love this series.

6 – Outbound Flight by Timothy Zahn

Though it’s likely an impossible task, everyone should strive to find someone who loves them as much as Timothy Zahn loves Grand Admiral Thrawn. Outbound Flight saw Zahn return to his beloved Chiss to explore how Thrawn came into contact with the Galactic Republic.

Weaving multiple plotlines, characters, and conspiracies into a cohesive whole, Zahn’s total understanding of this world allows Outbound Flight to progress seamlessly into the far reaches of the Unknown Regions. Following the titular Outbound Flight mission led by Jedi Master, Jorus C’baoth, as it searches the far reaches of the galaxy for intelligent life, the mission becomes entangled with the Chiss Ascendency, a reclusive, but powerful militaristic society.

5 – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover 

Widely considered one of the greatest installments in Legends Canon, Matthew Stover’s novelization of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith seamlessly expands on the film, fleshing out the narrative to provide a clearer picture of the motivations of every character, from Anakin Skywalker to Count Dooku.

His writing style feels unique among other Star Wars novels, utilizing declarative statements to provide incredible emphasis on the way he characterizes our heroes and villains, while simultaneously filling in the plot gaps of the movie and expanding on key scenes that don’t have the room to breathe on film that they do on the page. 

4 – Darth Bane Trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn

 The greatest expansion of dark side lore in all of Star Wars. Drew Karpyshyn’s Darth Bane TrilogyPath of Destruction, Rule of Two, and Dynasty of Evil—-chronicles the titular character’s rise to Sith Lord, the implementation of the Sith ‘Rule of Two’, and Bane’s search for immortality.

The writing exudes a power that feels perfectly in balance with the characters occupying the pages. There’s a propulsiveness to the story that makes the whole trilogy feel like an effortless read, leaving you as hungry for the next page as a Sith is for unlimited power. There’s politics, there’s action, and there’s the eternal struggle between light and dark. If you’re drawn toward villains and anti-hero-esque stories, this is a trilogy for you.

3 – Darth Plagueis by James Luceno

As is often the case with James Luceno’s Star Wars novels, the action that is so prevalent in other stories is here replaced by political tension through the galaxy’s corridors of power. In Darth Plagueis, Luceno delivers a masterpiece focused on the eponymous Sith Lord and his tutelage of future Emperor and all-around bad guy, Sheev Palpatine, as they explore the depths of the dark side and shape the galaxy to their grand design.

Its flawless pacing, crackling dialogue, and elegant worldbuilding when it comes to Force lore make it one of the best books across either canon. It seems likely that Lucasfilm will want to reintroduce Darth Plagueis at some point in the future, but honestly, topping this career-best of Luceno’s will be no easy feat.

2 – Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

Obi-Wan Kenobi really is the best of the Jedi. You feel that throughout the Prequel Trilogy, and if you’ve read John Jackson Miller’s beautiful examination of the titular character post-Order 66, it will only cement that view. Set after Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan, now going by Ben, is on Tatooine keeping a watchful eye on Luke Skywalker, but finds himself wrapped up in a local conflict between settlers and Tusken Raiders.

 Miller’s characterization of Kenobi is flawless, as a man who can’t turn his back on the creed he’s followed his entire life and who is still seeking to understand all points of view and work for a peaceful solution through diplomacy. He also navigates the gray morality of characters within the local conflict with ease, presenting both sides as heroes to some and villains to others, while also presenting the world from their point of view, grounding you in their ideals.

1 – Heir to the Empire Trilogy by Timothy Zahn

It’s hard to put into words how important Heir to the Empire, along with its sequels, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command, are to Star Wars as a whole. The first stories to be set after Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, they ushered in a new era of canon, while also introducing characters like Talon Karrde, Mara Jade, and of course, Grand Admiral Thrawn, all of whom have left significant impressions across Legends canon, and in Thrawn’s case, New Canon as well.

Set during the dawn of the New Republic, our original trio of Luke, Leia and Han face-off against political maneuvering, Thrawn and his imperial remnant, and Joruus C’baoth—a mysterious Force-user with grand plans for Luke and Leia. Even without the incredible story that spans the three novels, the Heir to the Empire trilogy played a huge role in showing how much of an appetite there was for more Star Wars; and the success was at least one of the factors that led to us getting the prequel trilogy years later.

Star Wars Books New Canon

Star Wars: Essential New Canon Books

20 – The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis 

Just a really enjoyable post-Return of the Jedi novel that will appeal to both Star Wars fans and romance lovers. The story is pretty straightforward, with Han and Leia heading off on their honeymoon. Naturally, shenanigans ensue involving remnants of the fallen Empire, as well as Han and Leia’s personal histories coming to the forefront.

It’s the characterization of Han and Leia that really elevates The Princess and the Scoundrel though, with Revis masterfully writing their romance, their chemistry, and their clashes. It doesn’t possess the high stakes of the Thrawn Trilogy, or Light of the Jedi for instance, but it’s a delightfully charming adventure that’s a breeze to read.

19 – From A Certain Point of View Anthology Series by Various Authors

It’s hard to think of a more original idea in the New Canon than the From A Certain Point of View anthologies. One for each of the Original Trilogy, with each containing forty short stories that provide new POVs for moments within and surrounding their respective films. Ranging from tear-jerking pathos to sheer hilarity, there’s something for everyone within each book.

Written by titans of the Star Wars book scene like Claudia Gray, Charles Soule and E.K. Johnston, as well as wider industry figures like Matt Fraction and Will Wheaton, the level of talent within the bindings is remarkable. Exploring the fringes of the canon can be a tricky exercise, but all three books pull it off with ease. Here’s hoping there are six more installments on the way.

18 – Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston

Ahsoka presents a strange case within the New Canon, in that it was written as the bridge between her arc in Star Wars: Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. However, Clone Wars would return for its final season after the publication of this book, and the Tales of the Jedi shorts on Disney+ filled out the rest of the story. All of this means there are a lot of discrepancies between the story of this book, and the story told within the animated series.

With that said, Johnston’s Ahsoka is still a delightful YA novel and deserves a place on your bookshelf. Taking place after Order 66, with Ahsoka Tano hiding away in the Outer Rim as she mends her broken connection to the Force and rediscovers her purpose in a galaxy under tyrannical rule. There’s something about explorations of the Force that work so well on the page, and Ahsoka purifying a kyber crystal to create her iconic white lightsabers is a defining moment in New Canon.

17 – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Expanded Edition by Rae Carson 

Let’s get the negative out of the way first: if you have to read a movie’s novelization to fully understand one of the major plot points of the film itself that’s a problem. The return of Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker wasn’t handled with the thought it deserved, with the simple line of “Somehow Palpatine returned” essentially acting as the only explanation. 

Thankfully, Rae Carson’s excellent novelization cleared up much of the confusion, while also fleshing out so many other aspects of the movie’s plot that fell short on the big screen. Her characterizations of both Rey and Kylo/Ben, as well as their shared connection, soar off the page in a way the film itself never truly tapped into, and it’s a must-read book for anyone who felt let down by the final installment of the Skywalker Saga.

16 – Most Wanted by Rae Carson

Solo: A Star Wars Story gets a bad rap. It’s a fun movie, the characters are interesting, its larger themes tie into the characterization of Han Solo really well, and it looks great. The only downside is the relationship between Han and Qi’Ra is ever-so-slightly underserved. Luckily, Most Wanted exists, and it does a good job of filling in those gaps. 

The book plants you squarely in the underworld of Corellia and takes you through the evolution of their relationship as they embark on a mission together. It’s an absolute breeze to read, with plenty of twists within the adventure to propel the story forward, but with enough focus on the relatively small-scale story so as to hold your interest.

15 – Queen’s Trilogy by E. K. Johnston

 Comprised of Queen’s Shadow, Queen’s Peril, and Queen’s Hope, E. K. Johnston’s trio of novels follow Padmé Amidala and her handmaidens through events adjacent to the Prequel Trilogy, fleshing out both her character and those that surround her, far more than the films ever had a chance to do.

Elaborating on Naboo culture, the role of the Queen, and how Padmé came to be surrounded by capable body doubles is the original premise, and the story elegantly moves forward through the Nemoidian occupation of the planet, Padmé’s marriage to Anakin Skywalker, and her move from Queen to Senator, while further building on her handmaidens persona’s and their relationships with Padmé herself.

14 – Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson

 There are plenty of criticisms you can level at the Sequel Trilogy, but none are quite as glaring as the treatment of Captain Phasma (and Gwendoline Christie), whose unique look is ignored and who is treated as mostly inconsequential throughout. While that’s a huge waste of potential, Delilah S. Dawson’s excellent Phasma does provide that fix you’re looking for when it comes to the shiny Stormtrooper. 

We see more of the First Order’s inner workings which is always of interest, but the book is most memorable for its titular character. From her frankly terrifying/bad-ass origin story and her initial induction into the First Order, through to the plot that drives the story itself, we never fully get the full picture of her, but we glean enough to appreciate her more as a character.

13 – Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a masterpiece of a film, elevating Star Wars storytelling into a darker and more ‘adult’ stratosphere than it previously occupied. James Luceno’s outstanding prequel novel provides further context to the film, enriching the experience further.

 Catalyst depicts the relationship between Galen Erso and Orson Krennic, from the Death Star-shaped shadow that lurks in the background to the ultimate reason why Erso had sought a life of solitude by the time Rogue One begins. Like most of Luceno’s novels, action is eschewed for world-building and political maneuvering as we see the transition from Republic to Empire, and it only adds to the richness of Catalyst as a text.

12 – Aftermath Trilogy by Chuck Wendig

 While the first novel of this trilogy, simply titled Aftermath, is a perfectly fine book, its two sequels, Aftermath: Life Debt and Aftermath: Empire’s End, are some of the finest books in the New Canon. Taking place after Return of the Jedi, the trilogy follows an original cast of characters (and a few returning favorites) as Imperial remnants are dealt with following the Battle of Endor.

The series also tackles the Imperial side of the conflict, looking at the Emperor’s contingency plans, exploring a fan-favorite character in Admiral Rae Sloane, and providing an interesting insight into the machinations of their war machine. Wendig crafts an excellent narrative throughout the series, guided by original characters with heart and humor. If you can power through the admittedly weaker first installment, the series is a rewarding experience.

11 – The Living Force by John Jackson Miller

Only released last month, the latest addition to New Canon comes from long-time Star Wars author, John Jackson Miller, and it has immediately cemented itself as an essential novel. Taking place before The Phantom Menace, The Living Force sees the Jedi Council journey as a single body to the planet of Kwenn, in a show of solidarity to a galaxy that is rapidly losing faith in the Jedi.

It’s a truly fascinating look at the Jedi just prior to their fall, as well as some of the reasons behind that fall. But the reason the book works so well is John Jackson Miller’s work in fleshing out every single member of the Council, as we see the world through each of their perspectives. We’re accustomed to the wisdom of Yoda, or the power of Mace Windu, but getting extended time with characters like Plo Koon, Yaddle or Oppo Rancisis is a real delight.

10 – Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Maybe the most critically acclaimed book in all of Star Wars literature. Gray’s seminal YA novel, Lost Stars takes place during the height of the Empire, tackling the general events of the Original Trilogy from the perspective of two original characters: Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell.

It’s not unfair to say that it’s essentially Romeo & Juliet, but in a galaxy far, far away, as a tragic love story blossoms between Ciena and Thane, two figures who hail from opposing backgrounds and find themselves on opposite sides of the Galactic Civil War. But it isn’t just the romance that makes Lost Stars so popular. Gray expertly weaves in the ideals of the Rebels and the Empire, building out the world for the characters, while providing some excellent context on the politics of the galaxy from new perspectives.

9 – Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray has done a lot of work to establish herself as one of the premier voices in the New Canon of Star Wars, and Bloodline is another notch on her résumé. Following on from the James Luceno school of Star Wars writing, Gray takes Bloodline down a wholly political narrative, with just a light peppering of action sprinkled throughout. 

Dealing with the rise of the New Republic, and frankly, the inherent failings of neoliberalism, Gray’s writing soars as we see the post-Empire world and its incessant political infighting through the eyes of Leia Organa. Legacy plays a huge role in Bloodline, as Leia comes to grips with her own heritage after Return of the Jedi, and it plays out with some beautiful development for one of Star Wars’  most iconic figures.

8 – ​​Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn

Grand Admiral Thrawn’s debut in Star Wars: Rebels was accompanied by the first installment of this trilogy, simply titled Thrawn. Zahn’s canonical introduction of his greatest creation sees his rise through the Imperial ranks, explores his relationship and history with Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker, and delves into his loyalty to both the Empire and the Chiss Ascendancy. 

The Thrawn trilogy has its detractors, with a few Star Wars fans arguing it doesn’t hit the heights of Zahn’s other contributions to both New Canon and Legends lore. I’m not sure I buy this argument and think it has more to do with sky-high expectations than anything else. In hindsight, it’s a phenomenal trilogy that pairs perfectly with the Thrawn Ascendency trilogy.

7 – Dark Disciple by Christie Golden 

Romance isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Star Wars. You think of lightsabers, droids, binary suns or hyperspace. But love stories play a huge role throughout the history of Star Wars: Han and Leia, Anakin and Padmé, even Rey and Ben Solo to a certain extent. Dark Disciple adds the heartbreaking tale of maverick Jedi, Quinlan Vos, and former Sith, Asajj Ventress, to that list.

Set during the height of the Clone Wars, Christie Golden’s stellar book is based on an unused eight-episode arc from the animated TV show, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which sees the Jedi Council task Vos and Ventress with hunting down and assassinating Count Dooku. What follows is a tale of passion and self-discovery, packed with more twists and turns than a pod-racing circuit. As gorgeous as it is gut-wrenching.

6 – Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray

 While it certainly makes sense from a narrative perspective, whenever I rewatch Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, I always come away with the same thought: we really didn’t get enough time with Qui-Gon Jinn. A Jedi not constrained by rules, but by his unrelenting faith in the ultimate good of the Living Force.

Thankfully, Claudia Gray’s Master & Apprentice is there to scratch that particular itch, with a story set a few years before A Phantom Menace. Focusing on the bond between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, their differing opinions on the Force, and their turbulent relationship as Master and Apprentice, the story follows the pair as they navigate a conspiracy on the distant planet of Pijal. Gray really taps into their relationship, building wonderfully off the chemistry between Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor in A Phantom Menace and crafting an organic relationship that makes perfect sense for where the duo finds themselves.

5 – Thrawn Ascendancy Trilogy by Timothy Zahn

 The Thrawn Ascendancy TrilogyChaos Rising, Greater Good, and Lesser Evil—is an author working at the peak of their powers. Zahn and Thrawn are symbiotic within Star Wars, and the Thrawn Ascendancy books provide further proof. Set before Thrawn’s rise within the Galactic Empire, the story finds us following the titular character as he navigates military conflicts and political infighting within the Chiss Ascendancy, a society that lives within the Unknown Regions of space that they refer to as the Chaos.

Walking a tightrope between action and political thriller, the Thrawn Ascendancy books weave multiple character arcs within the web of mysteries posed to you as the reader, tying it all back into Thrawn. It’s a fascinating backstory to one of Star Wars’ most popular figures, and pairs perfectly with Zahn’s other Thrawn trilogy within the New Canon.

4 – Inquisitor: Rise of the Red Blade by Delilah S. Dawson

Inquisitor: Rise of the Red Blade feels like a unique installment within the world of Star Wars. It’s deeply reflective about aspects of the world like the Force, the dark side, the hubris of the Jedi Order, but it’s also unafraid to tackle the harsh realities of more real-world issues like loneliness, depression, and even suicide.

Delilah S. Dawson’s fearless prose holds nothing back as she explores the depths of her protagonist, a Jedi named Iskat Akaris, who is struggling to find her place in both the Order and the larger world around her. When the Jedi fall after Order 66, Iskat finds herself in a world better suited to her talents, but one in which she still doesn’t truly belong, as she continually searches for a reason to keep going. Thoughtful, powerful and darkly poignant, Inquisitor: Rise of the Red Blade has been a beautiful addition to New Canon.

3 – Alphabet Squadron Trilogy by Alexander Freed

New canon’s answer to the X-Wing Series from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, with a cast of original characters that immediately charm their way into your heart. Taking place after Return of the Jedi, Freed’s series sees the eponymous Alphabet Squadron—an eclectic taskforce of New Republic fighter pilots—tasked with hunting down remnants of the fallen Empire.

 Freed’s writing demonstrates a level of deliberate care throughout, which is a big part of why these stories succeed. He loves these characters, and that feeling shines on each page. The action is stellar, the chemistry between the ragtag squad is sublime, and the emotional storytelling hits incredible heights. Freed’s trilogy has a huge following among Star Wars fans, and it’s rightly seen as one of the strongest trilogies in New Canon.

2 – Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher

Adam Christopher’s meaty Shadow of the Sith is one of the more consequential novels of New Canon, expanding on Luke’s knowledge of Palpatine’s survival, the idea of the Sith Eternal, and the planet of Exegol, while simultaneously fleshing out Rey’s heritage. Oh, and it’s masterfully written, exploring the dark side of the Force in a way that few novels have, even as it focuses on the theme that pervades through almost all of Star Wars: hope.

Shadow of the Sith serves as a sort of connective tissue between the Original Trilogy and the Sequel Trilogy, seamlessly blending into the established world of Star Wars, while building on the knowledge that wegleaned from the films. It’s an exceptional read, and one that pairs perfectly with Rae Carso n’s Rise of Skywalker novelization.

1 – The High Republic: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule

You could write a thesis on the richness of the storytelling in The High Republic saga, and it could easily make up multiple entries on this list. But the magic all started with Light of the Jedi, the opening installment of Lucasfilm Publishing’s first major initiative. Set 200 years before Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Light of the Jedi introduces a whole cast of original, beautifully imagined characters as the Jedi Order tackles a new galactic threat following an event known as The Great Disaster.

Light of the Jedi is, in itself, a masterful piece of storytelling, immediately transporting you to a new period in Star Wars history, while simultaneously making you feel as if you’ve been there all along. But it’s just as significant for what it started. The High Republic initiative has seen Star Wars at its very best, whether that’s through the inclusivity of its characters or the engagement with fans, and it stands out as one of the greatest evolutions of canon since the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012. We’re nearing the end of the saga as a whole, with only a handful of novels left, but the quality has rarely been short of supreme.

o questions of accessibility, given the time frame the saga takes place in, and if you’re looking to start your Star Wars book journey, there’s honestly no better place to start than Charles Soule’s masterpiece.

Jack Francis is a freelance TV, film and culture writer based in Nottingham. For more of his thoughts on TV and film, or his obsession with Star Wars, you can follow him @jackfrancis94

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