The sheer number of books and comics set in a galaxy far, far away can be a bit overwhelming.
In 2012 Disney bought Lucasfilm and the company restructured the extensive and beloved Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU). Disney decided to render the entire existing storyline non-canon, renaming it Legends. It was an upsetting decision for those who loved the EU.
Anything published before April 2014 is classified under Legends, while anything published since is official canon, which means the stories fit into the timeline established by the films and can be influenced by them.
Most of Legends, especially content that occurs after Return of The Jedi, are now considered “what if” style stories. If you’ve been wanting to dive into Star Wars stories old and new, the Edmonton Public Library has recommendations on where to start reading Star Wars based on what characters you like from the franchise.
If You Want to Read More About the Adventures of Han, Luke and Leia
1. Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
Heir to the Empire is part one of the Legends-branded Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn. These three books—Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command—started the Expanded Universe and were originally written as a third trilogy.
They introduce some remarkable characters such as Grand Admiral Thrawn and former Imperial assassin Mara Jade. Zahn reproduces the structure of the original trilogy while ensuring that the dialogue and tone of the characters remains consistent. A great starting point for Star Wars books.
2. Star Wars Vol. 1 by Jason Aaron
This ongoing comic focuses on our favorite Star Wars trio in a series of adventures against the Empire, with the opening story arc set shortly after the destruction of the first Death Star.
The flagship title of the Marvel’s Star Wars comic line, this excellent introduction to the new continuity sees acclaimed writer Jason Aaron collaborate with artist John Cassady and colourist Laura Martin to tell new stories exploring the adventures Han, Luke and Leia.
With some surprising twists and unexpected character developments, it’s one that shouldn’t be missed! Marvel has also published a number of entertaining miniseries focusing on specific characters such as Chewbacca, Darth Maul and Lando that are worth checking out too.
If You Want to Read More About Darth Vader
3. Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp
Lords of the Sith focuses on Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, establishing their relationship during the early days of the Empire.
Set 14 years before the Battle of Yavin, the book follows Palpatine and Vader after they’re ambushed and crash on the planet Ryloth. It’s a dynamic standalone story that ties into the new canon.
4. Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen
An in-depth exploration of Darth Vader’s self-loathing and ferociousness, this series introduces some exciting new villains including Doctor Aphra and explores how Vader feels about his transformation from Anakin Skywalker into the Dark Lord.
The first story arc finds Vader trying to get back on the Emperor’s good side following the destruction of the first Death Star.
If You Want to Read More About the Rebels
5. Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed
This novel takes a surprisingly dark look at the Star Wars universe around the time of The Empire Strikes Back. It focuses on the 61st Mobile Infantry of the Rebel Alliance while depicting political intrigue and futuristic combat.
Despite being a video game tie-in, if you enjoyed the front-line perspective of Rogue One and are interested in the everyday world of the average Rebel soldier, this book is an excellent starting point.
6. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole
Rogue Sqaudron is the first book in the Legends-branded Star Wars: X-Wing series, which focuses on the military side of the Star Wars universe. This novel details the creation of a new Rogue Squadron by Wedge Antilles and culminates with a dramatic attack on an Imperial-held planet.
Classic characters are used sparingly with a focus on complex new characters. The series does an excellent job of incorporating military and espionage elements with a sci-fi twist. All of the stories in this series include powerful and unforgettable action, including World War II-style dogfights.
If You Want to Read More About the Galactic Empire
7. Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
This book takes a fan-favourite character introduced in the Legends title Heir to the Empire and establishes him within the new canon. You'll be reintroduced to the enigmatic Grand Admiral with a new origin story while also diving into the bureaucracy of the Galactic Empire.
The novel takes place over the course of several years, beginning with the first time Thrawn encountered the Empire. The book works well as an entry point to the canon, but also as a precursor to the original Thrawn trilogy—a great book for new and old fans alike!
8. Tarkin by James Luceno
This story digs deeper into a character who isn’t explored much in the movies. Taking place shortly before A New Hope, it explores how Tarkin reached the rank of Grand Moff.
Tarkin details the titular character’s rise through the ranks of the Republic, the mutual respect between him and Darth Vader and his relationship with Emperor Palpatine. Learn about a man who was willing to destroy entire planets and his role within the Empire.
If You Want to Find Out What Happens After the Original Trilogy
9. Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
Aftermath is the first book of a trilogy that explores the period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. This series introduces new heroes, led by pilot Norra Wexley, who come together to pursue the remnants of the Empire.
Though the trilogy focuses on new characters, they interact with the old stars including Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. The novels explain how the Empire fell and reveal some of the major battles hinted at in The Force Awakens.
The first book details the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Endor, as the Rebels chase the Imperial Forces to the Outer Rim. The second installment focuses on the liberation of Chewbacca’s home world Kashyyyk. The final volume focuses on the Battle of Jakku and the last stand of the Empire.
10. Shattered Empire by Greg Rucka
Shattered Empire links The Force Awakens to the original trilogy, detailing the first four years after Return of the Jedi. The graphic novel begins with the Rebels’ celebration after the Battle of Endor, introducing new characters Shara Bey and Kes Dameron.
These characters join Luke, Han and Leia in defeating the remaining Imperials and recover a Force-strong tree. Shara and Kes are the parents of a major Force Awakens star. For those looking to fill the void between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, Shattered Empire is a well-written and beautifully illustrated installment available in a single standalone volume.
Shattered Empire is available from the Edmonton Public Library as a book.
11. Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray
Taking place right before the start of The Force Awakens, this novel follows Leia Organa as she negotiates a political crisis while working to manage the rise of the First Order and establish the Resistance.
The book acts as prequel to The Force Awakens and details the beginnings of the break in the Solo/Organa marriage. It’s an excellent starting point for readers new to the Star Wars canon.
If You Want to Read More About the Clone Wars
12. Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover
One of the strongest Legends novels set during the Clone Wars is Shatterpoint. It focuses on the early days of the Clone Wars, with fan-favourite Mace Windu as the primary character.
The novel does an effective job of diving into Windu's character, providing some context for his actions in the prequel trilogy. The book also includes information about different forms of lightsaber combat. Shatterpoint incorporates elements from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness resulting in a dark novel about the seductive nature of power.
Shatterpoint is available from the Edmonton Public Library as an eBook.
If You Want a Different Star Wars Perspective
13. Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray
This young-adult novel takes place over an extended period of time, starting before A New Hope, taking readers through the original trilogy and ending with the Battle of Jakku, the source of the wreckage that we see in The Force Awakens.
It follows two childhood friends, Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree, on their diverging paths as war engulfs the galaxy. The book does an excellent job of showing different perspectives from the Rebels and Empire. Despite the genre, this novel is accessible for adults and is one of the highlights of the new canon.
If the whoosh of lightsabers and cries of “pew pew” are common in your house, then look for more Star Wars recommendations in our Padawan Picks blog post. Don’t have a library card yet? It takes less time to sign up for one than it does for a fight to break out in Mos Eisley Cantina.