The Star Wars Universe is not limited to just the films. Instead it has a rich Expanded Universe that is detailed in video games, comics, and especially novels. Here in no particular order are my top 5 favorite Star Wars novels.
If they were to make a new trilogy of Star Wars films, they should be based on the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn. These novels reinvigorated the Star Wars literary canon and provided some of the most enduring and significant characters and events in the Expanded Universe. One of the most popular and important is the titular character, Grand Admiral Thrawn, a magnificent bastard if there ever was one. Thrawn is an expert military commander and frankly one of my favorite characters in any story. This trilogy made a massive impact on the Star Wars Expanded Universe and is a must read for any fan.
Traitor by Matthew Stover is part of the New Jedi Order series, which details an invasion by an extragalactic alien race, the Yuuhzan Vong. In the novel, Jacen Solo, Han Solo and Princess Leia’s son, has been captured and tortured by the Yuuhzan Vong. What makes this novel so interesting is that it examines the nature of the Force itself. This is one of the first times that the duality of the Force is challenged. One of the characters makes a point that there is no Dark or Light side to the Force. What’s great about this novel is that it sets up for important events later in the Expanded Universe and it’s one of the first times that the Jedi are called into doubt by one of their own. That alone makes it an interesting read.
The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers is a direct sequel to Return of the Jedi. In this novel, the Rebel Alliance is forced to temporarily combine forces with the Empire mere days after the destruction of the Second Death Star to stop an invasion by a mysterious group of aliens. I like this novel because it’s a great standalone. The problem with many Star Wars novels is that they tend to be part of a series. The Truce at Bakura is a great novel for new readers of the Expanded Universe because it takes place directly after one of the films. You don’t need to know a lot of continuity, and is extremely well written.
Once again Timothy Zahn steps up to deliver a great Expanded Universe novel. Outbound Flight is essentially a prequel to his Thrawn Trilogy. It marks the introduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn and his people to the Galaxy and explains the backstories behind some of Zahn characters introduced in other series. I like this novel for many of the same reasons that I like The Truce at Bakura. It’s accessible to new readers and can be read on its own. Like Zahn’s other works, it’s an excellent piece of fiction. It demonstrates why after thousands of years of faster than light travel, no one has really tried to leave the Galaxy.
Tales from Jabba’s Palace by Kevin J. Anderson is a collection of short stories dealing with all those freaky background characters from Return. This book isn’t particularly important to the overall Expanded Universe, but it is highly entertaining. It does a great job of fleshing out characters that were essentially part of the set in the film and shows that even they have stories. It’s a good read and certainly makes you see the film in a new light.
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