So, you want more action in a galaxy far, far away…
Luckily for fans, the Star Wars universe is huge. Generally referred to as the Expanded Universe (EU), there are literally hundreds of books for you to dive into.
Yes, you read that right: hundreds. Even diehard Star Wars fans that have been loyal to the franchise for decades can get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of content. What order should you follow? Is it Canon or Legends? Where do you even begin?
If you’re trying to dip your toes into the EU and you’re confused on where to start, you’re in luck — I’ve got a few suggestions. Because picking up something you enjoy can make all the difference on whether or not you keep reading!
May the Force be with you…
Canon vs Legends
I know that most Star Wars fans already know the difference, but we can’t proceed until we talk about the difference between Canon and Legends. I’m not going into detail here, just the short and sweet: Legends material is all the stuff published before Disney purchased Star Wars in 2012, while Canon is anything that comes after.
If the material is Canon, it can’t be contradicted anywhere else in the Star Wars Universe. For instance, if someone croaks in a movie, they can’t magically reappear in a book that takes place later in the timeline.
Anything considered Legends doesn’t have to adhere to Canon continuity. Think of Legends like its own alternate universe.
If you’re super concerned about telling the difference when picking up a new book, Legends material will have a gold banner on the cover. If you’re looking at used books, you’re probably going to have to google it.
Where to Start
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… where do you start in the Expanded Universe?
I’m not going to get into which order you should read Star Wars books. First of all, there’s something like 200 novels, so it’s quite a feat to read them in the order they exist on the timeline. And reading them based on publishing date will have you hopping all over the timeline, while also still reading those 200 novels.
Instead, I suggest you read whatever you want to read. Start with something that piques your interest, and go with it. There’s no wrong way to explore the Expanded Universe!
If you do want a few suggestions, read on. Here are my top picks for anyone trying to figure out where to start in a galaxy far, far away…
The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
This Legends adult-fiction novel trilogy consists of Heir to the Empire (1991), Dark Force Rising (1992), and The Last Command (1993). The series is set in 9 ABY (five years after Return of the Jedi), and follows the campaign of Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn. Aside from introducing Thrawn, it also introduces other notable EU characters that will go on to appear in other works, like Mara Jade.
Lost Stars by Claudia Gray
This novel is Canon and begins eight years after Revenge of the Sith. It continues to span the events of the original trilogy but follows brand new characters Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell. It gives a fresh take on major plot points that fans already know. It also tells a love story that rivals Anakin and Padme, as the two find themselves on opposite sides of the war.
The X-Wing Series by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston
This Legends series consists of 10 novels, so go ahead and get comfortable! If you’re looking for action, think of this series as a sort of Star Wars/Top Gun mashup. There are plenty of X-Wing fights, espionage, and action, as the series follows the efforts of the New Republic X-Wing pilots taking on the Empire.
Kenobi by John Jackson Miller
This Legends stand-alone novel focuses on — you guessed it — Obi-Wan Kenobi. It covers events during his exile on the planet Tatooine, which is great for Obi-Wan fans who want to see what happened after he vanished from the galaxy (along with all the other Jedi) but before and re-emerged as the old hermit Ben. Plus, this might help tide you over until Disney+ finally drops that Kenobi TV series.
Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover
For anyone who was less than impressed with the prequel trilogy, this is the book for you. It’s a Legends novelization of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Every Star Wars movie has an accompanying novel, but this one is exceptional — mostly because it not only tells the story of the film, it adds to it in unexpected ways. As someone who is personally fascinated with Anakin’s arc and ultimate fate, I could be a little biased here. In any case, the book tells an important story in the Star Wars universe that plays a huge part in the original trilogy, and I think we can all agree it’s 1000% more enjoyable in novel form.