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Star Wars has a massive fan base — as you probably already know — and, as is the same with many of the world’s largest pop culture franchises, the Star Wars universe has spawned many spin-off series, from animated series to stand-alone movies, comic book series to novels.
If you’re a bookworm with a penchant for Star Wars, you’ll be glad to know that your exploration of the Star Wars universe doesn’t need to end with the latest films. You can find dozens of other stories — both featuring your favorite characters and new ones — awaiting you in the pages of some of the best Star Wars books. And, no, we’re not talking about old-fashioned fanfiction. We’re talking real, professionally-written and edited novels, some of which are even considered canon.
So what are you waiting for? Here are 17 Star Wars books to add to your home library now.
Best Star Wars Canon (and Legends) Novels
What exactly is a “canon” novel? Canon refers to a Star Wars idea, storyline or fact that relates directly to the “officially” recognized Star Wars and Lucasfilm universe. Media included in the Star Wars canon includes all of the films, select television series and certain books released post-2014.
What about the work released pre-2014? That’s currently considered “Legends” material. This is all of the novels and comics that were released before Disney acquired the Star Wars license. You can usually identify Legends material by a special gold logo.
Technically, Disney has decided that all Legends material did not actually happen within the fictional universe, and everything that they deem canon is now, well, the new canon. However, you’ll find many classic Star Wars fans who disagree with this theory.
Whatever side of the argument you’re on, and whatever you want to believe actually happened in this fictional realm, here are some of the best Canon and Legends novels.
This is about as canon as it comes, as this novel is basically just the novel version of the movie by the same name.
Now, it should be noted that you’ll only really, truly appreciate this novel if you also really and truly appreciate Star Wars Episode III. Revenge of the Sith is loved by some, hated by others. But if you’re in the former camp, there’s a good likelihood that you’ll also greatly enjoy the novel.
Why would I want to read the novel when I can just watch the movie, you ask? Well, the novel slows the whole three-hour-or-so movie experience down — a lot. You get to explore every character and every setting, every plotline, and every piece of dialogue more thoroughly. Descriptions are fleshed out, and plot points move at a slower pace that allows you to appreciate the various storytelling nuances.
Additionally, when it comes to Star Wars novelizations, fans agree — this is probably the most well-written novelization of any Star Wars film.
This adult novel is technically “Legends” material.
For readers who enjoy characters who are morally gray (or maybe even a little darker), this is a good book to pick up. The novel follows Darth Bane and the development of the Sith and the dark side and offers a greater understanding of the Sith’s power when Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader come onto the stage.
Additionally, the book has a sequel, so if you’re not a fan of stand-alone novels, you’ll be pleased.
Another Legends novel, Heir to the Empire, takes place after the third classic Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi. It focuses on the beloved characters of Luke, Han and Leia, and their various new dangers that arise in a post-Empire world, following the plot of the original trilogy.
The book is an old-y, but a good-y, released in 1991, and it laid the groundwork for many Star Wars novels to come that dealt with George Lucas’s original characters. It’s also part of a trilogy. The following two books are Dark Force Rising and The Last Command.
A newer book that deals with newer canon characters brought about in the post-Disney takeover era, Dark Disciple by Christie Golden follows a former Sith lord apprentice, Asajj Ventress.
The anti-romance plotline is written in a modern format and will appeal to readers who like both the newer Star Wars films, as well as newer writing styles (because let’s face it — novels and the writing styles featured in some of the industry’s best sellers have changed significantly since Timothy Zahn’s days).
If we backtrack to another Legends trilogy, we’ll find The Jedi Academy series by Kevin J. Anderson. This is another older series, but one that classic fans love, because it again focuses on the adventures of Luke, Han Solo and Leia Organa after the destruction of the Death Star and where the last classic movie left off.
In this particular trilogy (which includes Jedi Search, Dark Apprentice and Champions of the Force), readers tag along with Luke Skywalker as he becomes a fully-fledged Jedi knight, master and teacher, but then also looks at the rise of the Solo bloodline through the Solo twins — popular characters of the Star Wars expanded universe that we didn’t see in the original movies, but that quickly became a part of Legends canon.
What happened to Obi-Wan Kenobi between the time he dumped poor Luke alone on Tatooine and then the same adventure-seeking teen found him years later, in A New Hope? This novel theorizes on the galactic adventures that one of the series’ most beloved characters could have had during those years and his backstory.
Even though Kenobi is relatively new, it came out just before Disney took over the Star Wars franchise, meaning it’s still considered a Legends novel. However, despite this, you’ll find that the writing style is pretty modern, which may make it appealing to readers who’ve found some of the older Legends novels (like those that came out in the 80s and 90s) not to their liking.
One of the most celebrated characters in the Star Wars universe is Grand Admiral Thrawn, despite absences from the actual films, and he appears in both canon books and Legacy works. Timothy Zahn has written the latest Thrawn series, thanks to Disney’s reboot efforts, and the series is still ongoing.
If Padme is your favorite Star Wars character and you love the prequel movies, you won’t want to miss Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston. This book follows Padme’s work after she resigns as queen of Naboo and takes over her role as a representative for her planet in the senate.
Best Star Wars YA Novels
YA is a growing genre of the publishing industry, and while YA stands for “young adult,” that’s not the only audience reading YA novels. Adults similarly enjoy YA material, simply because YA novels are known to be a little more fast-paced and filled with certain tropes and stylistic choices that appeal to their readers.
Similarly, YA novels are generally reliable when it comes to excluding graphic or sexually explicit content. If that’s a worry for you, or if you’re looking for a Star Wars book that you can read alongside your child, then YA can be a good choice.
This is a YA book, but it’s also canon, in that it was published after Disney took hold of the Star Wars license. However, it’s also widely known as one of the best Star Wars novels of all time, even though it was released in the last five years, and so it’s had relatively little time to build up hype, compared to some of the works that have been around for decades.
Lost Stars follows two new characters, never before seen in any Star Wars film, and some have compared the romantic elements to that of Anakin and Padme (meaning that if you have a teen reader in the house who ships that storyline, they’ll probably enjoy this one as well).
A great novel with teenage protagonists, Most Wanted by Rae Carson was released around the same time as the first Star Wars stand-alone movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and shows what happens in the aftermath of the film. Fans of Solo will like this deeper dive into young smuggler Han’s life, as well as how much attention it pays to one of the movie’s side characters, Qi’ra.
The book offers great pacing (a result of its YA branding), a tame romantic plot line and lots of fun for newer franchise fans.
Yes, another Star Wars YA novel by Claudia Gray.
Leia, Princess of Alderaan takes us back to one of the most beloved classic Star Wars characters but doesn’t merely show us Leia’s inner thoughts during the original Star Wars trilogy. Instead, it takes us back further, to Leia’s teenage years.
Readers follow Leia’s life as a royal, the development of her political intrigue and interest in the rebellion, and her first romances.
It’s a good pick for not only fans of YA literature, but for fans of Princess Leia in general.
Related: The Complete Guide to Disney+
This book brings in newer Star Wars canon characters. The YA novel follows Rey, Poe and Rose as they respond to a distress call coming from a far-away planet. It's a good pick for anyone who enjoyed The Force Awakens.
Ireland also wrote Lando’s Luck, which is suitable for not only YA readers, but many middle grade readers as well. The book has a lot of humor and spunk and follows some of Lando’s adventures with L3-37 following the events of Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Other Contenders for Best Star Wars Novels
This book, for example, is one of them. Twilight Company by Alexander Freed is based on the Star Wars: Battlefront video game, so it’s arguable whether or not it can really be considered cannon. Despite this, it’s still a great book and one that those who enjoy action and thriller novels will appreciate.
Twilight Company is another name for the Rebel Alliance’s Sixty-First Mobile Infantry and the novel by the same name follows this ragtag band of soldiers through the terrors and grim realities of warfare.
Another video game-inspired novel, Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, is written by the same talented author who produced Dark Disciple. If you like one, you’re sure to like the other.
This novel is set after Rogue One, and follows an Imperial group and their military and political drama.
Not really a novel, this book is still worth a spot on any true Star Wars fan’s bookshelf (or even your coffee table — the illustrations are certainly lovely enough to make it a good coffee table book).
More of a guide than a novel, Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy features 75 profiles of various women or nonbinary characters, along with illustrations and background info.
17. Star Wars: Darth Vader — Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 1: Imperial Machine by Charles Soule and Jim Cheung
If you prefer graphic novels, then you might want to check out one of the best in the Star Wars universe. This Marvel-produced graphic novel series explores Vader's lore and what exactly happened to him after Revenge of the Sith.
Exploring the Star Wars Literary Universe
With more than 400 books in the Star Wars literary universe, your reading options are nearly endless.
Whatever genre you like, whatever writing style appeals most to you, whatever your favorite characters in the franchise, you can find a Star Wars book (or a few!) that are sure to take top spots in your home library.
You might also be interested in: The 20 Best Star Wars Moments [Highlights From Our Favorite Space Opera]
The 17 Best Star Wars Books:
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover
- Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn
- Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
- Dark Disciple by Christie Golden
- The Jedi Academy Trilogy by Kevin J. Anderson
- Kenobi by John Jackson Miller
- Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
- Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston
- Lost Stars by Claudia Gray
- Most Wanted by Rae Carson
- Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray
- Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Spark of the Resistance by Justina Ireland
- Lando’s Luck by Justina Ireland
- Twilight Company by Alexander Freed
- Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden
- Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy by Amy Ratcliffe
- Star Wars: Darth Vader — Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 1: Imperial Machine by Charles Soule and Jim Cheung