The Star Wars Reading Universe – How to Get Started

Things in the Star Wars universe have calmed down a bit after last year’s release of the motion picture Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the Star Wars: Battlefront II video game. But, Star Wars fever really never dies down for fans. Perhaps you loved The Last Jedi and Battlefront II and want more Star Wars stories expanding on the movie and game? Maybe the movie and game left you disappointed, and you crave some more satisfying Star Wars tales? My answer for both types of fans: Star Wars novels.

This article is my first for Mulehorn Gaming, and I’m glad to have the chance to write about my passion for reading and collecting books. I own thousands of books, and a large portion of them are science fiction and fantasy books. Video games and movies often cross over nicely with my reading habit. Many gaming and movie franchises have a series of novels that allow fans to dig deeper into the universe, and few franchises have a deeper set of novels than the Star Wars universe.

The Star Wars novels are a wonderful way to enjoy the franchise. Writers have been publishing Star Wars titles since the late 1970s, and about a wide variety of topics and characters. The vast number of Star Wars titles – well over one hundred – can be intimidating to a new reader looking to break into the novels. Before I make some recommendations, I first need to cover the two categories of Star Wars novels: Legends and Canon.

Legends (aka Expanded Universe)Star Wars Splinter of the Mind's Eye Legends Cover

Most Star Wars titles you see on the shelves today were published before Disney purchased LucasFilm in 2012. Until a re-branding in 2014, these novels were referred to as the “Star Wars Expanded Universe.”

Dozens of titles all across the Star Wars timeline were published, reaching thousands of years “BBY” and decades “ABY” (“Before the Battle of Yavin” and “After the Battle of Yavin”)

Time in the Star Wars universe is frequently expressed in years before or after the Battle of Yavin. For fans new to Star Wars, the Battle of Yavin was the battle resulting in the destruction of the first Death Star at the conclusion of Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope.

Canon Star Wars Novels

In 2014, Lucasfilm announced that all Expanded Universe books were no longer canon, meaning that the stories and developments in those novels may—or may not—have occurred moving forward. (Star Wars canon also includes all of the motion pictures, The Clone Wars movie and series, and the Star Wars Rebels series.)

For example, if an Expanded Universe book told the tale of a Jedi Knight’s son turning to the Dark Side, future movies and books are not tied to this story. In terms of novels, only books published after the announcement would be considered canon. Additionally, Lucasfilm announced that all of the books previously known as Extended Universe would now be referred to as “Star Wars Legends.”

Where to Begin

The first question to ask yourself is whether it is important to you if a book is part of the current canon. If it is, then you should ignore books published before 2014. Plenty of quality canon novels have already been published that tie in to Episodes VII and VIII and Rogue One, and many more are planned for the coming years. Most of the current canon titles stay close to the universe of the recent movies and Star Wars Rebels. You are not going to find (yet) any titles about The Old Republic or Rey’s great-grandchildren.

Canon publishers are also giving attention to younger readers, due in no small part to Disney’s ownership of Lucasfilm. Several children’s and Young Adult genre books are out and are a great way to introduce younger readers interested in Star Wars to the joys of reading. Note that although many books are labeled as “Young Adult,” they are also enjoyable reads for adult readers. I recommend three particular canon titles:

 

Star Wars Novels Thrawn Timothy Zahn

Thrawn, by Timothy Zahn (2017). Timothy Zahn created one of the classic Star Wars Legends characters with his original Thrawn trilogy. In 2017, he reintroduces Thrawn in the new canon. This book is one of the better canon Star Wars books that I have read and is a good starting point, particularly for fans of his character in Star Wars Rebels.

Star Wars Novels Ahsoka E K Johnston

Star Wars: Ahsoka, by E.K. Johnston (2016; a Young Adult novel). This novel tells the story of Ahsoka’s journey after the infamous Order 66. Although this book is classified as Young Adult, and is certainly appropriate for teen readers, adult Star Wars fans will enjoy it, too.

Star Wars Novels Battlefront Twilight Company Alexnader Freed

Battlefront: Twilight Company, by Alexander Freed (2015). Loosely tied to the first Battlefront game, this book is a great read for fans of military science fiction. It has little to do with the major characters of the Star Wars universe. Instead, it focuses on a small squad of  Rebel Alliance soldiers in the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry soon after the events of Episode IV.

Star Wars Novels The Old Republic: Revan Legends coverIf canon is not critical to you, then the entire Legends universe opens up, and it’s a deep universe. Legends stories touch on many areas of Star Wars. The easiest way to start is to narrow down your favorite characters and events and look for relevant novels. Chances are there is at least one book that will cover what you like. Are you a lover of the Dark Side and the Sith? Consider “The Lost Tribe of the Sith”, a ten-book series that takes place thousands of years BBY. Are you a Jedi fan? Then you have the “Tales of the Jedi” series (5000 – 4000 BBY), “The Last of the Jedi” series (18 BBY), and many more. There are series about Darth Bane, Han Solo, X-Wing squadrons, Princess Leia, and Lando Calrissian.

There is no need to read the entire Legends universe in chronological order. Just pick an area of interest and start reading. Personally, I highly recommend Timothy Zahn’s original Thrawn trilogy. This trilogy is one of the most highly regarded and popular of the Legends. I plan to write a separate article on the Thrawn books in a future article, but in my opinion, you cannot go wrong with the Thrawn trilogy.

I also recommend any Legends books written by Drew Karpyshyn. Karpyshyn is a great writer, and his books draw you in. His impressive resume includes writing for the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect games.

Legends books are relatively easy to find in libraries and used bookstores and on sites like eBay. Many titles have been re-released in ebook format.

Book Lists

If you are looking to start reading Star Wars novels, I recommend finding a complete list to help you find books or series of interest. You can find many lists online, arranged by series, publication date, and chronological order. I recommend The Star Wars Book List site. It is easy to read and clearly arranges the Legends and Canon books in chronological order. Goodreads is another good resource for details about particular titles.

In future articles, I plan to expand on the Thrawn books and the recent canon novels that tie into the Battlefront games.

–Happy reading–

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AlamoJack

I grew up playing games on my Atari 2400 and Commodore 64. I now play a wide variety of games on my Xbox One, primarily RPGs and games with solid single-player campaigns. I am also an avid reader and book collector, and I enjoy reading books that tie into video games. I'm a Texas expatriate living far, far away, and I miss Whataburger.

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