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Star Wars Reading List (EU Novels)

Updated: May 18, 2020

So the sequel trilogy is over but you're still itching for more Star Wars? There are tons of video games, shows, comic books and of course novels so it might be hard to figure where to start. An article offering suggestions for the games, shows and comic books, this article will largely be about the Star Wars published expanded universe and current canon publishing initiative. This article by no means will be a comprehensive list of all Star Wars novels but instead give starting points and suggestions of some of the novels worth checking out.

Star Wars novels started getting published shortly after A New Hope originally came out but the original published expanded universe, now known as Star Wars Legends, really kicked off in 1991 when Del Rey published the first of Timothy Zahn's many contributions to the Star Wars mythos, Heir to the Empire. This novel is one of, if not the most popular book from all the EU content. The book picks up 5 years after Return of the Jedi and establishes some of the elements that continue through many years of EU material such as, Han and Leia's marriage and Leia's pregnancy with the twins , Admiral Thrawn and of course Mara Jade (who will become an important recurring character in future books). Even now, so many years later the book still holds up and Zahn does such a fantastic job of capturing the voices of the original cast. Arguably the real accomplishment of the Thrawn trilogy is establishing such a compelling villain that manages to be as menacing as Vader and Palpatine before him but in a completely different way. While Heir to the Empire is definitely the place to start, check out the whole Thrawn trilogy as it's mostly great (We're looking at you Luuke, you suck).

Next up, Tales from Jabba's Palace. While not officially a series, there are a variety of "Tales From" books that follow the same basic structure of a variety of short stories that are unrelated in some books and in others follow a loose narrative. Tales from Jabba's Palace, by Kevin Anderson, is the follow up to Tales from Mos Eisley Cantina and contains 19 short stories that follow a variety of characters we see at Jabba's Palace from their own perspective. Some of the stories take place during or shortly before scenes in the original trilogy, others are more silly and standalone. While not as pivotal in establishing or continuing the EU continuity like the Thrawn trilogy, the Tales From books are just good entertaining fun and definitely recommended for fans that are curious about seeing a different side of Star Wars.

If you were intrigued by Palpatine explaining to Anakin the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the wise, this next book is definitely for you. Darth Plagueis by James Luceno follows Plagueis on his journey as a sith and on his search for immortality. The book has a dryer more historical approach to the story of Plagueis that definitely differs from the other books/series mentioned in this article but the real gem of this book is that as the book goes along, the focus transitions to Palpatine and how he learns from Plagueis and eventually surpasses him. I mean c'mon, we all knew what Palpatine was alluding to at the end of his speech in Episode 3. While technically not in official Star Wars canon, this really is more of a grey area so if you were ever curious where Palpatine came from, definitely check this one out.

Of course this next book had to be included on this list. If you remotely liked Star Wars and are at least 34, you definitely have heard of the massive multi-media push from Lucasfilm in the early 90s with Shadows of the Empire. It was a video game, a comic book, multiple novels, a soundtrack, trading cards, board games, posters, model kits, and tons of other things. It was a massive push to reinvigorate interest by the general public in Star Wars in 1996, leading up to the release of the Special Editions of the original trilogy in 1997. The book takes place between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and although it ultimately is inconsequential to the film continuity or the old expanded universe continuity, Steve Perry does a fantastic job of creating an entertaining and interesting story. While not quite the accomplishment that is Admiral Thrawn, Prince Xizor like Thrawn, is a proper villain that manages to be interesting while also being a drastically different villain than Vader and Palpatine. Xizor serves Palpatine and tries to position himself as Palpatine's right hand by trying to out maneuver Vader which leads to some really tense and exciting scenes between the three of them. Since Han Solo was in carbonite during this time frame Lucasfilm needed to introduce another loveable scoundrel, enter Dash Rendar; a cross between Han Solo and 80s action star which is pure magic in the worst way possible.

In 2003, Lucasarts gifted all of us with what is probably the most universally loved Star Wars entry outside of Empire Strikes Back, the absolutely wonderful game by developer Bioware, Knights of the Old Republic. Now without spoiling the story of the KOTOR because a) there are rumors that it might be being remade and b) some people somehow haven't played it even though you can literally get it on your phone nowadays, if you were ever curious how Revan's story continues after the game ends, this is definitely up your alley. The best part of the books set during the Old Republic era is that writers have far more freedom to expand on the mythos of the Sith and Old Republic era Jedi and also come up with some insane set pieces or backstories to new characters. Revan remains the interesting layered character that we saw in the KOTOR game but now searching for a new purpose after he walked away from the Jedi order. We also get some insight on how the Sith Empire society worked to get parts of the story from the perspective of a Sith warrior named Scourge. Their two paths eventually collide and while the ending doesn't quite stick the landing, this is a great book for anyone interested in finding out more about how things were during the height of the Old Republic.

There are tons of other series and one shot books that are definitely worth your time but these few books are good starting points for Star Wars fans that are itching for some more Star Wars stories of differing tones and flavors. Different aspects of the greater Star Wars lore speaks to individuals differently so I'd recommend you check out a couple of these books and see what kind of story speaks to you and search for similar lists out there because regardless of what you like, there are definitely more Star Wars stories out there for you.

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