Star Wars fans, even with all the great content available, might be looking for even more Star Wars-related entertainment. If you have burned through all your Star Wars movies, the original series, and even the video games, it is time to pick up a few Star Wars books and lose yourself in a galaxy far, far away. There are many Star Wars books available, so knowing where to start or where to go next can be daunting. That is why we put together a list of the best Star Wars books to read right now.
The list below is a comprehensive list of the best Star Wars books. It is divided more-or-less equally and is in no particular order between the best canon Star Wars books and the best Star Wars Legends books. For the uninitiated, the best Star Wars canon books were released after Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise in 2014. These are considered part of the official timeline and storyline of the movies that Disney now owns and is continuing to create.
The best Star Wars legends books were released prior to 2014. These books are considered the legends of the Star Wars universe so the events within them may or may not have any relation to the actual events of the universe. Both branches of this best Star Wars books tree are equally entertaining and engaging but readers need to know what they are getting into with each series. Here are the best Star Wars books to read right now.
1. Splinter of the Mind’s Eye – Alan Dean Foster – 1978
Believe it or not, there was a time when Star Wars was not a massive hit franchise and George Lucas and company were not sure that it ever would be. This book about Luke and Leia being marooned on the planet Mimban was written following the release of the first Star Wars movie with the intention of adapting the novel into a low-budget sequel to A New Hope if the movie failed to find the success that would warrant another big-budget blockbuster. A New Hope did OK, as we all know, so instead of becoming Part II of the original Star Wars trilogy, it became Part I of the Star Wars expanded universe. Even though this is now considered legend, it was the first Star Wars book, making it a great place to start your journey.
2. Heir to the Empire – Timothy Zahn – 1991
We are coming up on the 30th anniversary of the first book in one of, if not, the most influential series in the expanded Star Wars universe, the Thrawn trilogy, written by Timothy Zahn. This series, which starts with Heir to the Empire followed by Dark Force Rising and The Last Command in 1993, starts about 5 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. The series introduces several new, important characters including Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, and of course, Grand Admiral Thrawn. In this first book, the brilliant and devious grand admiral is determined to take revenge on the New Republic for the vanquished Imperial Starfleet. To do this, Thrawn enlists the help of lizard-like creatures who are able to disrupt the Force and sends a team of killers to kidnap Luke and Leia, who is pregnant with her and Han Solo’s twins.
3. I, Jedi – Michael A. Stackpole – 1998
Set about 7 years after Return of the Jedi, I, Jedi is unique among the best Star Wars books because it is the only one written in the first person. Corran Horn, one of the best and most skilled members of Rogue Squadron’s elite fighting force, narrates the book. He joins the Jedi Academy but eventually quits when he becomes frustrated with his teacher, Luke Skywalker. His wife, Mirax, disappears on a mission and Horn must go undercover to infiltrate an evil organization where he may ultimately have to surrender to the dark side. It is not only one of the best Star Wars legends books because of the story, but also because of the unique way it is told.
4. The Courtship of Princess Leia – Dave Wolverton – 1994
Many people love Star Wars because of the battles, the tech, and the testosterone. However, there are plenty of other Star Wars fans who love the softer side of the series. The relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia is at the core of this softer side. Nowhere in Star Wars is the relationship dealt with in such great detail as in this 1994 New York Times bestselling book by Dave Wolverton. In this story, Princess Leia has to make a tough decision. Should she marry Prince Isolder, the heir to the ruler of the Hapes Consortium of 63 worlds for the good of the Republic or will she choose the hero Han Solo, who makes a desperate attempt to win her love? This galactic love story is what makes this one of the best Star Wars legends books ever.
5. Aftermath – Chuck Wendig – 2015
If you want to start with one of the best canon Star Wars books around, Aftermath is a good place to jump in. It is the first book in the first trilogy of books in the new canon series. After this book came Aftermath: Life Debt in 2016 and Aftermath: Empire’s End in 2015. These books were all part of a greater project called “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” which explored the period of time between the Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens films. This book starts in the time just after the 1983 movie ends and tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance – now the New Republic – must travel to outer planets and defeat the remaining remnants of the Empire who are still fighting despite the fall of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.
6. Bloodlines – Claudia Gray – 2017
This book is one of the best canon Star Wars books as well as another great Princess Leia story. Written by a writer who has written some of the best Star Wars books in recent memory, this Princess Leia-focused book reads more like a political thriller than your average Star Wars novel. About 20 years after the fall of the Empire, the lasting peace Leia had hoped for has not quite turned out as she had thought it would. Now a 40-year-old Senator, Leia is forced to navigate a political minefield where her enemies are out to use her secrets against both her and her group, The Populists, as they fight for the autonomy of planets against the central government-loving Centrists. The book goes from the halls of power to taking readers all around the Star Wars universe Making it one of the most complete looks at that world ever.
7. The Paradise Snare – A.C. Crispin – 1997
Along with the two novels that precede this book, The Hutt Gambit and Rebel Dawn, The Paradise Snare is part of the trilogy of books about one of the series most beloved characters, Han Solo. Although this story may no longer be canon, it is still a fantastic Han Solo origin story that fans who love this character will enjoy immensely. This first book starts from the very beginning, when Solo was just a street kid doing the illegal bidding of crime lord Garris Shrike. As Solo gets older, it chronicles his journey from petty thief to Imperial Navy pilot and all the challenges and adventures along the way. His past catches up to him in the end but with some quick thinking and deadly skills he has learned along the way, Solo is able to live to fight another day.
8. Ahsoka – E.K. Johnston – 2016
This is a standalone novel about one of the favorite newer characters in the Star Wars universe, which is why many fans place this novel among the best Star Wars canon books. Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan apprentice, is all over the more recent Star Wars universe. She is the main character in 2008’s animated feature Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the TV series that followed. She will also reportedly be in the next season of the Disney+ series, The Mandalorian where she will be played by actress Rosario Dawson. The book is set just after the events of Revenge of the Sith, where the character first appears, and tells the story of Ahsoka becoming a resistance leader and thus a target of a Jedi hunter known as the Sixth Brother.
9. Battlefront: Twilight Company – Alexander Freed – 2015
So far, we have talked about the best Star Wars books that are companions to movies, shows, and other stories. This book is meant to enhance the story of the great Star Wars video game, Star Wars: Battlefront. As the name suggests, this is the story of Twilight Company, officially known as the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry. This group of soldiers is made up of men and women and humans and nonhumans. They are fighting on the front lines of the great Galactic Civil War. The company reluctantly falls back, following orders to do so, when it turns out they are outmanned and outgunned. However, the company will find an unlikely ally that leads them to make one last heroic charge against the Empire.
10. Thrawn – Timothy Zahn – 2017
One of the biggest issues Star Wars fans had with the switch from legend to canon books is that they lost some of the best characters from the history of Star Wars. One of these cases involves one of the most beloved villains in the entire universe, Grand Admiral Thrawn. He was the subject of Timothy Zahn’s seminal early 90s trilogy, the Thrawn trilogy. What makes this one of the best canon Star Wars books is that it takes Grand Admiral Thrawn from his home in legend to his rightful place in canon. This book sees Zahn revisit one of his most iconic characters and tells the tale of how the ruthless and cunning Thrawn rises through the ranks of the Imperial Starfleet to become one of the New Republic’s most feared enemies.
11. Star Wars: Darth Plagueis – James Luceno – 2012
It is interesting to look at the divide between the legend and canon books. One of the best ways to see where Star Wars books stood at the end of the legend period and the beginning of the canon period is to check out two books from the same author that straddled this line. Two years before Disney, James Luceno would write what is now considered one of the best Star Wars Legends books, Star Wars: Darth Plagueis. Hego Damask II, aka Darth Plagueis, is a Sith Lord whose story in the book spans a fifty-year+ period or so that goes through the end of the events in The Phantom Menace. Darth Plagueis’ story includes overthrowing his master, Darth Tenebrous, and his rise to become the master of Emperor Palpatine.
12. Star Wars: Tarkin – James Luceno – 2014
Two years (on earth) after Star Wars: Darth Plagueis, author James Luceno wrote one of the first and best Star Wars books from the beginning of the canon era, Star Wars: Tarkin. Reading both these books that chronicle the life and times of Star Wars villains will allow you to look for subtle and not so subtle differences between the two eras of Star Wars literature. In this book, Luceno again takes a legendary – and in this case, a somewhat controversial and mysterious – bad guy from A New Hope and turns him into a real, 3-dimensional character. Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks and eventually becomes Grand Moff Tarkin in this in-depth look at a once smaller character.
13. Path of Destruction – Drew Karpyshyn – 2007
For all the Star Wars ancient history buffs out there, Path of Destruction is a great tale from days of yore that is set 1,000 years before A New Hope. This book takes its place among the best Star Wars books about the history of the galaxy by telling the origin story of the incredibly dark and powerful Darth Bane. Bane starts out the story as Dressel, a miner who works his way up the ranks of the Sith army in the early days of their battles with the Republic. Dressel becomes much more than a Sith soldier and Darth Bane ultimately becomes much more than your average Sith Lord. This is a very interesting book because of its great story and its chronological position within the legend timeline. If you like this storyline, there are two more books in the Darth Bane trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn, Rule of Two, and Dynasty of Evi
14. Dark Disciple – Christie Golden – 2015
Just as TV has gone away from classic battles of good versus evil and turned more toward telling tales of lovable anti-heroes, so have certain segments of the Star Wars universe. This 2015 novel by Christine Golden is one of the best Star Wars books of this genre. The anti-hero, in this case, is Asajj Ventress. She is a former Sith apprentice turned bounty hunter. The book takes place in the time of Star Wars: Clone Wars. During the war, Sith Lord Count Dooku directs his armies to commit brutal massacres and war atrocities. Fed up and desperate, the Council decides to enlist the unlikely pairing of Quinlan Vos, a brash Jedi Knight and Ventress to hunt down and stop Dooku. The story takes many twists and turns. Ventress and Vos develop feelings for each other and Ventress tries to get revenge for her Sith past. It is a great novel and Ventress has quickly become one of the most beloved strong female characters of the entire Star Wars universe.
15. Lando’s Luck – Justina Ireland – 2018
Each Star Wars fan has his or her own favorite character but no matter who is your favorite person in this universe, there is no debating who is the coolest character in the galaxy. That would be Baron Landonis Balthazar “Lando” Calrissian III. Whether he is portrayed on the page or by Billy Dee Williams or Donald Glover, you can’t take your eyes off Lando Calrissian. This book is no exception. Although it is targeted towards younger Star Wars fans, older fans will enjoy this easy read just as much. Here, Calrissian and his droid co-pilot L3-37 get caught smuggling on Hynestia. As a punishment, they must take Princess Rinetta and the Solstice Globe back to their home planet which needs the globe to survive. This book is one of the most fun reads in the entire Star Wars canon universe and is a great companion for the recent Solo: A Star Wars Story film.
16. Deceived – Paul S. Kemp – 2012
This is another Star Wars companion book to a video game based on the franchise. Star Wars: Old Republic is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that was released in 2008 and is based in the Star Wars universe. The game was one of the most expensive video games ever to be developed but a million players subscribed in the first week it was released. Having garnered almost $1 billion in revenue since, the game is a massive success. This novel is a great supporting document for the game. The story in the book deals with Darth Malgus who is forced to confront a nearing Sith/ Republic peace agreement as well as Aryn Leener, a Jedi Knight out for revenge.
17. Lost Stars – Claudia Gray – 2018
This is another installment of the Return of the Jedi to The Force Awakens bridge, Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and has been described by many as “Romeo and Juliet in space”. The book is by the excellent and prolific canon Star Wars writer, Claudia Gray. In this 2015 book, Gray writes about Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell, who grew up together on the Outer Rim planet of Jelucan. Ree bebetter than a classic love story in a galaxy far, far away though, right? If it sounds like this is up your alley, you will love this novel because, as always, Gray nails it.
18. The Rising Force – Dave Wolverton – 1999
This is book #1 in an 18-book series known as The Jedi Apprentice. The series is about the life and times of the beloved Star Wars character, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and his Master and mentor, Qui-Gon Jinn. The series starts with a 12-year-old Obi-Wan and goes all the way up to the events of The Phantom Menace. In addition to being a gripping series and a fun read, this book is interesting because it is the only one written by Dave Wolverton. After this book, the next 17 installments were picked up and written by Jude Watson. The story here is of the very early days of Obi-Wan and how Qui-Gon Jinn initially rejected him as an apprentice because he was aggressive and unpredictable. However, when their ship is attacked by pirates, Qui-Gon sees the young Jedi’s future potential.