If there's one hot topic of debate and discussion within the Science Fiction community, it's gotta be Star Wars. Whether it's which Episode is better, what are the best prequel memes, or who's the greatest Sith to ever live... the Star Wars canon and extended universe (Legends) can provide hours of entertainment. And while the movies are fascinating in themselves, some of the best stories come elsewhere. So that being said...
What are the best Star Wars books? In this article, I'll share with you our favorites here at TopSciFi Books.
If you want to check out any of these titles for free, you can do so with Audible's one month free trial.
Heir to the Empire (LEGENDS)
- Audible Audiobook
- Timothy Zahn (Author) - Marc Thompson (Narrator)
- English (Publication Language)
- 09/06/2011 (Publication Date) - Random House Audio (Publisher)
There's no way we're going to just mention Thrawn just one time on this list. This book kicked off what is now known as the original Thrawn trilogy--not to be confused with the first selection on this list.
Heir to the Empire takes place five years after the Battle of Endor. The Empire is all but defeated, Vader's butt's been kicked, and a new republic and Jedi order are being ushered in led by Luke Skywalker.
But that doesn't mean the Empire's finished. Light-years away where skirmishes are still ongoing between with the Empire, the last great military mind of the Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn, makes a few discoveries that can bring the Empire back to its former might.
Star Wars: Thrawn (CANON)
Okay. You knew this was going to be on this list. Written by Timothy Zahn--one of the main reasons Star Wars continues to thrive today IMO--this book expands upon the legacy of Thrawn. A once exiled Chiss warrior, Thrawn manages to join the Imperial Navy. Against all odds, Thrawn claws his way up into the highest ranks of the Empire at blazing speeds through his cunning and brilliant tactics.
Now, Thrawn isn't exactly new to the Star Wars universe. As a matter of fact, he's been a key character in the Heir to the Empire trilogy written years before. And Thrawn has even been made canon through the CGI-animated TV show Star Wars Rebels.
Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan (CANON)
Long before the time of Palpatine, the Skywalkers, and Han Solo, there was The Old Republic. The Old Republic was constantly at odds with the Sith Empire. And those troubles only increased during the onset of the Mandalorian Wars. In later Star Wars series, Mandalorians are known as the top bounty hunters in all the galaxy. But before that, they were a fearsome collective of warring clans hellbent on honor and glory.
It was during the Wars against the Mandalorians that a young Jedi Knight known as Revan rebelled against the Jedi Council's decision of pacifism and apathy. He led a special-trained faction of Jedi rebels and Republic forces ultimately leading to the stopping of the Mandalorians. Shorty after though, Revan's ambitions had taken hold of him and he fell to the dark side and obtained the highest title within the Sith ranks: The Dark Lord of the Sith.
But Revan didn't stay Sith for long. Through a strange intervention by the Jedi Council, Revan left the dark path and helped to demolish the very fleet he had created but was under command of his apprentice, Darth Malak.
This book takes place two years after Malak's defeat where a nightmare-riddled Revan struggles to remember his Sith past and to reclaim the Mandalorian heritage he previously destroyed.
Lords of the Sith (CANON)
Paul S Kemp
When you hear the words Star Wars, what's the first image that pops into your mind. I can bet nine times out of ten, it's the brooding image of Lord Vader. But that's not too surprising. Darth Vader is a household name worldwide--even by those who haven't seen a single movie. But those of us who are in the know...Darth Vader isn't just some cybernetically-enhanced power tripping dark lord. He's one of the most powerful force users to ever exist within the Star Wars universe--canon or not.
And what about his master? Emperor Palatine aka Darth Sidious? To control a being such as Vader, you gotta be one bad mamma-jamma. But were they always this way?
We only really see the Vader and Emperor in their later days. The ones where they're literally holding the galaxy by their throats. Were they always that way? In Lords of the Sith, Kemp explores the early days of the dark lords. In this best Star Wars book, it talks about the difficulties they experienced in their rise where it was just the two of them against a revolutionary planet and each other.
Star Wars: Scoundrels (LEGENDS)
This is the third addition to our list written by Timothy Zahn. In all reality, he'll probably get his own list in the future...
Star Wars: Scoundrels is a stand-alone adventure that takes place between Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back which follows Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian in an exciting heist-caper. Zahn openly stated that the book drew lots of inspiration from the movie Ocean's 11--almost leading the book to be named Solo's 11. Honestly, thank goodness it wasn't.
Now looking back to A New Hope... Just because Han bbq'ed Greedo doesn't mean Jabba's just going to let Solo off the hook for his debts. Hutts are notorious gangsters and won't rest until they receive what they're owed. So when some mysterious stranger offers Han one last job to pay off everything he owes plus some...he jumps at the opportunity.
Jedi Academy Trilogy (LEGENDS)
Kevin J Anderson
- Star Wars: (Star Wars: Jedi Academy Trilogy)
- Kevin J. Anderson (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 10/06/1997 (Publication Date) - Del Rey (Publisher)
Written by Kevin J Anderson--who we're pretty sure is the Grand Master of the Jedi Academy at this point--this trilogy chronicles Luke Skywalker's attempt to rebuild the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV.
It goes through several different stories including one that sounds eerily similar to the one told by Luke concerning Kylo Ren in Episode 8. I'm almost positive they drew direct inspiration from Anderson.
Since the first book of this trilogy was posted back in 1994 with no relation to the movies, the entire trilogy is considered to be part of the EU Legends. However, don't let that discourage you. These are some of the best Star Wars books you'll ever read.
Darth Maul (CANON)
Honestly, the prequels were a huge roller coaster of emotions. A yin and yang sort of situation. And I can only be so happy to say that for every Jar Jar Binks *shutters*, there's a Darth Maul.
Darth Maul is pretty much one of the most badass characters from the Star Wars movies. The horns, tattoos, lightsaber moves... I'm mean he's freaking red and menacing. Unfortunately, he dies at the end of the movie after being cut in two by Obi Wan. Right?
Well, in this canon story... Darth Maul miraculously survives. Now, it's up to you go read and figure out how and what happened next.
As you probably know, Star Wars isn't just a bunch f movies or books. There's all sorts of departments that fall under the Star Wars brand. One of those happening to be CGI-animated series. In the series The Clone Wars, Ahsoka is the former apprentice of Anakin Skywalker--you know, back before the Vader days.
In this book, we get to see what befalls Ahsoka after Anakin succumbs to the dark side. It involves Jedi hunters, Black Sun gangsters, and the mess that is the Organas.
Following the April 2014 Rule of Canon, this novel can be officially considered Star Wars Canon due to its publication in 2016.
Dooku: Jedi Lost (CANON)
- Hardcover Book
- Scott, Cavan (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 480 Pages - 10/01/2019 (Publication Date) - Del Rey (Publisher)
I don't know about you, but I really enjoy the character of Count Dooku. He's a sneaky, weaselly, conniving individual. Not to mention, Darth Sidious's (aka Palpatine) second apprentice--Darth Tyranus. But Dooku wasn't always that way. In fact, he was an esteemed member of the Jedi order. He was even a member of the Jedi Council itself! So what happened?
In Dooku: Jedi Lost, Dooku's story is explained. It tells how someone so dedicated to positive change within the Republic became one of its most terrible foes.
This book is amazing, and one of the latest releases to the Star Wars universe--extended or otherwise. And here's the kicker... This is also available as an audiobook. So, if you haven't gotten your Audible subscription yet...Check down below to find out how!
What's the glory that is Star Wars?
This answer isn't as simple as you may think.
Star Wars is shining example of a space opera rife with epic adventure, romance, and interpersonal conflict. Created by George Lucas, the first film debuted in 1977 that being Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Lucas soon went on to produce Episode V and VI--The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi respectively. In the early 80s, Lucas actually explained his reasoning for starting with Episode IV. Despite the latest three episodes in the saga (VII, VIII, IX), Lucas wanted to end the story at episode VI. But Disney now owns the rights and...Disney gonna Disney.
But Star Wars is more than just a movie series. Since its inception, the story has exploded into a worldwide phenomenon being showcased in every medium imaginable. It even has its own expanded universe (from which all of the books on this list are derived) to continue the amazing tales portrayed on the Silver Screen.
What's the difference between Canon and Legends?
If you walked into any tar Wars convention, comic hop, or general gathering of nerds and asked this question... You may have potentially triggered WWIII.
Ever since the rise of the Star Wars franchise, there have been other authors and creators adding onto the legacy created by George Lucas. Lucas himself is known for saying that the Star Wars universe he created is far too big for any single story. He told his through the films with a particular set of characters. But there were still thousands of stories left to be told.
But what makes something canon? A good rule of thumb is that if they mention it in the movies... It's canon. If not, it's part of the EU (extended universe)--or legends. But... that's not necessarily always the case. There's now a "rule" floating around that everything made after 2014 is now officially canon.
With so many different stories across the vastness which is Star Wars, I highly doubt the debate between what's canon and what's not is going to clear up anytime soon.
How were these books chosen as TopSciFi's Best Star Wars Books?
Let's get real here. There are going to be those of you who read this list and find a few picks on our best star wars books list controversial--minus the two Thrawn trilogies, haven't met a single Star Wars fan who disagrees here. These two trilogies have everything you could ever want for in a space opera. An ousted alien warrior rising to Grand Admiral of a pompous, elitist, alien-hating empire. Throw in some absolutely insane writing by Timothy Zahn, and you've got yourself a great time.
Now let's talk about the Revan book. First off, we're huge sci-fi nerds here and that doesn't just mean books. And when BioWare and LucasArts got together and created the Knights of the Old Republic RPGs... we definitely got our hands on them. So much so, that even many years later the games still haven't lost their replay value. And even non sci-fi fans agree. This is mostly because you play through the story of Revan and it kicks ass. So when the Old Republic books came out and answered questions that we had after playing through the games in a way that was amazing... It's gotta be on the list. Oh BTW, he's now canon.
Another controversial pick on this list would be Lords of the Sith. This book is great because it gives you that much needed back story for the relationship between the Emperor and Vader. Sure, the prequels gave us how they came to be master and apprentice, but there's no substance following that. You go from the end of Episode III and Anakin getting that shiny black helmet to boom.... Vader kicking down the door of Leia's starship 20 years later. Lords of the Sith helps to fill that gap and demonstrate the meteoric rise of the two dark lords.
And Scoundrels... just super fun to read. While it doesn't necessarily dig into some deep Star Wars controversies or mysteries, it doesn't need to. As a matter of fact, it being a standalone Han Solo adventure is exactly what makes it great. Scoundrels is perfect for even casual Star Wars fans, but still provides the background that us diehards really love.
How to Get Into the Star Wars Legends Extended Universe
There are literally soooo many books in the Star Wars Legends Expanded Universe. So how should you start reading them? Star Wars Explained gives a great intro into how to do just that.
Get These Best Star Wars Books for Free!
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