When Disney bought the Star Wars franchise for $4 billion back in 2013, nobody knew what to expect. Sure, they were certain that the House of Mouse was going to implement Lucasfilm's characters into their branding through theme parks/merchandise and that they were going to make more movies, but what about all the old canon that had been built up over the years?
As far back as the 1980s Lucasfilm had allowed writers to create their own stories within the galaxy far, far away via novels, video games, and comic books. These tales varied in quality, but for the most part they were accepted and praised by fans for continuing the adventures of their favorite characters while also adding in new ones that were memorable. Who could forget fan favorites like Grand Admiral Thrawn, Prince Xizor, or Mara Jade Skywalker?
In a move that caused fans to suddenly cry out and then be silenced, Disney wiped out many of these stories and started a new "official canon" for the franchise. The company rebranded the old EU under the moniker of "Legends," aka stories that exist as tall tales told by people within the Star Wars universe. This muddied continuity can get confusing at times, but any true Star Wars fan should be able to recognize the difference between what's canon and what's now "Legends." Let's play is this Star Wars story Legends or canon?
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Fans were devastated when Disney announced the cancellation of The Clone Wars in 2013. Everyone remained hopeful that the company would carry over this epic story about the titular war over into their lineup, but the Mouse had other ideas. Instead they cancelled the beloved cartoon and replaced it with one of their own; this was the show that brought us Ahsoka Tano, the Mandalorians, a competent Gungan army, and the return of Darth Maul. To this day it is still considered one of the greatest pieces of Star Wars lore to exist.
Heir To The Empire Trilogy
This is like, the quintessential piece of Star Wars fiction out there! Timothy Zahn's trilogy of books took place in the aftermath of Return of the Jedi, when the Empire was crumbling, but not yet defeated. It introduced us to the legendary character Grand Admiral Thrawn (a staple of the lore even today) as well as Mara Jade and Jorus C'baoth. The series reached #1 on the New York Time's best seller list, and remains as arguably the most popular book series in the franchise.
The Last of the Jedi
Set between Episodes III and IV, The Last of Jedi derives its name from Yoda's famous last words- "When gone I am, the last of the Jedi you will be." The series starts off with Obi-Wan Kenobi as the protagonist; he lives as a hermit on Tatooine before learning that the former Jedi apprentice Ferus Olin is still alive. He hunts down the former Padawan and the two swear to find any remaining members of their order. After the second book, the series shifts its focus onto Ferus as the main character, and Obi-Wan plays a background role.
The Darth Bane Trilogy
Set in the pre-Episode I days, this series focuses on Darth Bane, a powerful Sith Lord who was responsible for the famous "Rule of Two." Drew Karpyshyn trilogy follows Bane from adolescence through his death at the hands of his own apprentice while also teaching readers about the ways of the Sith; in these books we learn how and why the order is the way it was when Palpatine rose to power. All three books are a cohesive series, but each of them works on their own as well.
Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
Everyone at Lucasfilm knows that you can't go wrong with Darth Vader. The character is the icon for the entire Star Wars franchise; even the Sequel Trilogy is finding ways to make sure they name drop the Sith Lord and include him in their merchandising! Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader tells the tale of Anakin Skywalker as he adjusts to his new role in the Galactic Empire and as a Sith Lord in general. The book shows him hunting down some of the remaining Jedi in the wake of Order 66.
Star Wars: Dark Forces
The graphics may be laughable by today's standards, but Star Wars: Dark Forces was the bomb back in the day! The video game was all about Kyle Katarn, a mercenary hired by the Rebel Alliance to steal the plans to the Death Star from an Imperial base. Though the player gets the plans in the very first mission, delivering them back into the hands of the Rebels proves more difficult than it should be; the Empire releases the powerful Dark Troopers to hunt Katarn down.
Star Wars: Rebels
This series acts as a prequel to the original Star Wars Trilogy. The show tells the story of Ezra Bridger, a young boy who gets pulled into the new and fledgling rebellion against the Empire. An orphan, he joins the crew of the Ghost, featuring a Twi'lek, a Mandalorian, a funny robot, a Lasat, and one of the last Jedi. During his adventures Ezra discovers the power of the Force and has encounters with larger than life characters like Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Princess Leia.
Star Wars: Catalyst
This book spans the period between Attack of the Clones and Rogue One. It follows the tale of two scientists employed by the Republic (and later the Empire) as they try to construct the ultimate weapon before it can land in the hands of the Separatists. Of course, the war ends with the events of Revenge of the Sith, but the new Empire continues to push the scientists to build the Death Star as a means to keep dissenting systems in line.
Star Wars: Bloodline
In this novel, we get something that everyone seemed to criticize the Prequel Trilogy for including and lament The Force Awakens for lacking: Intergalactic politics. In the aftermath of the Galactic Civil War Princess Leia is part of the effort to rebuild the Republic to its former glory. However, her political career gets a wrench thrown in it when one of her opponents reveals to the public that her father is really the Sith Lord, Darth Vader. There's also a plot to destroy the New Republic, but that's almost a given in these books!
Star Wars: Darth Vader
The Star Wars: Darth Vader comic book series did to the iconic character what fans hoped the Prequels would do. Though Episodes I-III were great in showing Anakin Skywalker's rise and fall, the amount of screen time Darth Vader himself got was pitiful. These comics explored the complexity of the character in much greater detail, forcing the audience to reevaluate their opinions on the Sith Lord time and time again. Yes, he's a badass. But he's also pure evil. But then he's also conflicted about it, so does that make it better?
Ever wanted to see a horror film set in the Star Wars Universe? Here's your chance! Death Troopers poses the question: What would happen if Han Solo and Chewbacca got swept up into a zombie apocalypse? An Imperial Star Destroyer comes across a prison vessel floating out in the depths of space. When they board the ship, they discover that the majority of the crew have been wiped out, Han and Chewie (prisoners on the vessel) aid the rest of the survivors as they try to fend off zombie Stormtroopers.
The comic book series Crimson Empire tells readers everything they have ever wanted to know about the Emperor's Royal Guards and then some! Kir Kanos is perhaps the most loyal of all of Emperor Palpatine's royal guards. However, the Guard is betrayed by member Carnor Jax; several of the elite force are wiped out, and Kanos must go on the run from the entire Empire. He reluctantly allies himself with Rebel forces in order to find and kill his sworn rival.
Poor Asajj Ventress. When people talk about either of the Clone Wars series, she is always one of the last villains people mention. Perhaps it's just because her character has never appeared on the big screen, or maybe it's just because she's been overshadowed by more popular characters like General Grievous or Cad Bane. This book (based off of an abandoned Clone Wars story arc) saw Ventress teaming up with the rogue Jedi Quinlan Vos in an effort to assassinate Count Dooku.
New Jedi Order
Set twenty years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the New Jedi Order series of books showed us Luke's efforts to rebuild the Jedi back to their former glory. With the Empire defeated and new Force users (including Han and Leia's offspring) popping up all over the galaxy, Jedi Master Skywalker sets about restoring the Jedi Order. However, a new threat emerges in the form of the Yuuzhan Vong; these aliens are a species that uses organic technology and are invulnerable to the Force.
The Force Unleashed
This epic video game series follows the exploits of Galen Marek, aka "Starkiller." During a mission to the Wookie planet of Kashyyyk Darth Vader stumbles upon a young boy who is stronger in the Force than anyone he has ever seen before. He takes Marek and keeps him hidden from the Emperor; someday, when he is strong enough, Vader and Starkiller would kill Palpatine and rule the galaxy together. However, Galen turns to the side of good over the course of the game and helps kickstart the Rebel Alliance.
Star Wars: Empire
As the title may suggest, this was a comic series that took place during the height of the Empire's reign. Though it jumped around from place to place and time to time, the theme remained the same- Don't mess with the power of the Empire. The anthology included Boba Fett going on secret missions, Vader tracking down a Jedi that he thinks is his child, and pre-Episode IV Princess Leia delivering supplies to the Rebellion. Even characters like Biggs Darklighter got their time to shine in this comic!
The Aftermath Trilogy
After the Battle of Endor, many Star Wars fans assumed that the Galactic Civil War was all but over. Darth Vader and the Emperor were dead, and the Empire had suffered a blow that couldn't be recovered with the destruction of the second Death Star and a defeat at the hands of the Ewoks. However, like most real wars, the fighting doesn't stop with a singular decisive victory. The Aftermath Trilogy follows Wedge Antilles and his Imperial rival, Rae Sloane.
Labyrinth of Evil
Love it or hate it, Revenge of the Sith was a confusing movie to those who didn't consume any Star Wars media outside of the cinematic films. Where did General Grievous come from? Why did they skip the Battle of Coruscant? The novel Labyrinth of Evil tries to bridge the gap between Episode II and III by providing us with the exploits of Anakin and Obi-Wan in the days leading up to RoTS. The book also reveals how Chancellor Palpatine orchestrated his own kidnapping at the hands of Grievous and Dooku.
Star Wars: Chewbacca
This comic book series is one of the few pieces of the Star Wars lore that focuses extensively on everyone's favorite Wookie minus Han or any of the other main characters. At first, fans were skeptical that the character could be done justice on his own- The audience can't understand Chewy, after all! Luckily the series handled this by including new characters who could translate the Wookie's language and some masterful visual storytelling on the writer's part that didn't require any dialogue.
Lords of the Sith
For as powerful as they were during their reign, fans never really got to see Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader interact outside of the last half hour of Return of the Jedi. Sure, there was the Prequel Trilogy and the Clone Wars series, but that was Anakin Skywalker, not Vader. In Lords of the Sith, the two villains get stranded on a hostile planet with a small band of Imperial forces. The coolest part about this book is that we finally got to see the two Sith Lords fight side by side at their maximum power level.
The New Rebellion
Set in the years after the Galactic Civil War, The New Rebellion starts off with a literal bang when Luke and Leia sense a powerful disturbance in the force akin to what Obi-Wan felt at the destruction of Alderaan. Meanwhile, Han Solo is framed for an assassination plot while a powerful evil works behind the scenes to spark a new civil war and install himself as Emperor of the New Republic. Luke, Han, and Leia have to try and stop this dark force from wiping out all that is good in the galaxy.
After the cringeworthy acting performances in Attack of the Clones, fans cringed at the prospect of a young adult romance novel set in the Star Wars Universe. Thankfully, Lost Stars was met with fairly positive reviews when it was released (for a teen novel, of course). Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree are two teenagers living on the Outer Rim of the galaxy who are recruited to join the Imperial Academy and eventually fall in love. However, Thane is eventually pulled away from the Empire by Wedge Antilles and joins the Rebel Alliance. This creates a Romeo & Juliet-style dilemma for the two.
Star Wars: Battlefront: Twilight Company
Acting as a companion to the popular Star Wars: Battlefront series of games, this book follows a force of Rebels nicknamed Twilight Company as the fight their way through the Galactic Civil War. Along the way, the group encounters several prominent figures in the universe; they provide asylum for an Imperial Governor as they embark on their dangerous missions. Darth Vader makes an appearance in the most terrifying way possible, and we finally get to learn a little bit more about minor Star Wars character Nien Nunb.
Legacy of the Force
Nothing seemed to be off limits for the Legacy of the Force series of novels. The New Republic was once again dealing with the threat of a Civil War with the secession of Han Solo's home planet of Corellia. Thinking that he can take on the world on his own, Han and Leia's son tries to solve the issue on his own at the dismay of his Uncle Luke. The boy's actions cause a rift within the Jedi Order, leading to much worse things...
Star Wars: Uprising
The hit game Star Wars: Uprising takes place in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Endor. As Imperial forces scramble to pick up the pieces of their shattered empire, small bands of forces across the galaxy begin to push back against their rulers. In the Anoat Sector, the Emperor's death is withheld from the public by the hard-nosed Governor Adelhard. The player takes on the role of one of the band of rebels trying to bring freedom back to their home planet and expose Adelhard's lies.
Star Wars: X-Wing
The X-Wing fighter is one of the most iconic ships in the Star Wars series. Though they are mostly absent in the Prequels, by the time the Galactic Civil War rolled around the old, worn, outdated ships were a symbol of the Rebel Alliance and (later) the Resistance. In the hit X-Wing book series, we follow the adventures of the newly-established Rogue Squadron led by Captain Wedge Antilles. The series takes place during and after the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Star Wars: Lando
Well what have we here? A comic series about Lando Calrissian? Sign us up! The character (played by Billy Dee Williams) has been a fan favorite for decades after his treacherous introduction in Empire Strikes Back. Though he's been a major character in several Star Wars novels and comics, this was the first time he had ever been the main protagonist of his own comic series. The comics act as something of a prequel for the character, showing us his backstory as he rises through the ranks to become the Ambassador of Cloud City.
A New Dawn
Things looked grim for the forces of good after the fall of the Republic and the Jedi Order. Emperor Palpatine and his regime looked to keep their constituents in line through means of fear and intimidation. A New Dawn is the story of the crew of the Ghost prior to the events we see in the hit TV show Star Wars: Rebels. It introduced the characters of Kanan, Hera, and the future Aftermath villain Rae Sloane into the Star Wars lore.
Shadows of the Empire
If the Heir to the Empire novels were the most popular books in the Star Wars lore, this one can't be too far behind. Shadows of the Empire was a major crossover event; the book, a series of comics, action figure lines, and a video game of the same name all came out simultaneously in a massive marketing campaign. The story itself took place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and followed our heroes as they tried to track down Boba Fett. Along the way they cross paths with Darth Vader and the evil Prince Xizor.
Star Wars: Kanan
For being a major character on one of Star Wars' bigger forms of media, Kanan's backstory was relatively unknown for awhile. All we really knew was that the young Jedi was a Padawan who survived Order 66. In Star Wars: Kanan we learn just how that happened. The series delved into two main arcs- "First Blood" and "The Last Padawan." The latter dealt with the character and his master during the great Jedi purge. The former was more about the young Jedi's role in the Clone Wars.
Star Wars: The Old Republic Series
The topic of the Old Republic is still a popular one to fans of the Star Wars franchise. It is the only time period not to even come close to getting touched on by the films. The period referred to takes place 25,000 years before the Battle of Yavin, long before any of our favorite characters were even born. Even so, the heroes and villains to come out of this series (Darth Revan, Darth Bane, Meetra Surik, etc.) have risen to insane levels of popularity over the years.
Picking up three years where The Phantom Menace left off, Obi-Wan Kenobi and his young apprentice Anakin Skywalker are sent on a mission by the Jedi Council to investigate a Trade Federation deal to attain super-fast ships. As the story unfolds, Kenobi tries harder and harder to make a connection with yous Padawan, while Anakin tries to find balance in the Force and within himself. This was the first Prequel-era introduction we had to Grand Moff Tarkin (though he was a simple Captain at the time).
Star Wars: Dark Empire
Set years after Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Dark Empire was one of those series that took a bunch of interesting ideas and cobbled them together into something that wasn't really coherent. The story saw the return of Emperor Palpatine, who revealed that he had several clones hidden across the galaxy just in case he was ever killed. It also saw the creation of a new mega weapon that could destroy entire galaxies and Luke accepting the role of Palpatine's apprentice so that he could save his friends.
Guardians of the Whills
Guardians of the Whills is a novel that focuses on fan favorite characters Baze Malbus and Chirrut Îmwe, inhabitants of the planet Jedha. The two friends share in the protection of the Kyber Temple and all those who worship there. However, in the aftermath of the great Jedi Purge the Empire took over the planet and began persecuting all who worshiped at the temple. Baze and Chirrut team up with a mysterious man named Saw Guerra to try and resist the Imperials the best they can.
The Bounty Hunter Wars
The Bounty Hunter Wars series of novels was unique in that it was a book that took place at two different points in time. The first was in the post Return of the Jedi world, where the bounty hunter Dengar had just rescued Boba Fett from the depths of the Sarlacc. The second was to the period just after A New Hope, in which Prince Xizor and Darth Vader launch a plan to turn the members of the Bounty Hunters Guild against each other.
Things looked bad for Ahsoka Tano in the first season or so of Star Wars: Rebels. Anakin's apprentice started off as a way to appease the younger crowd, acting extremely immature and constantly calling R2 "R-towie." As the series went on, however, Tano became a HUGE fan favorite, so much so that she was brought back for Star Wars: Rebels and was the subject of her own book. This story tries to fill in the blanks on what Ahsoka was up to between Episode III and Episode IV.
Fans may still be clamoring for an Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off movie, but anyone who's well versed in the Star Wars lore knows that there are dozens of great tales out there about the legendary Jedi. This particular stand-alone book gives off a Spaghetti-Western type of vibe as it follows Obi-Wan as he protects a band of farmers against a ruthless Tusken Raider warlord. Meanwhile, Old Ben tries to keep low and watch over young Luke Skywalker. It's a story ripped straight out of a Clint Eastwood film!
Splinter of the Mind's Eye
This novel was an adapted version of George Lucas' original plan for a low-budget Star Wars sequel had A New Hope failed at the box office. Obviously it didn't, and this idea was scrapped for what became The Empire Strikes Back. Splinter of the Mind's Eye is a story about Luke and Leia as they travel to a distant mining planet in search of support for the Rebellion. Of course, who else follows them but Darth Vader and his cronies? Suddenly the two are locked in an epic race for their lives.
The Republic Commando series was an insanely popular piece of Star Wars lore that took the form of a couple books and video games. The goal of these stories were to show us the Clone Wars from the common soldier's point of view, rather than the Jedi and wealthy bureaucrats in charge. The players follow Delta Squad, an elite group of Clone Troopers trained by Mandalorian mercenaries, as they embark on the most dangerous missions the Republic can find against the Separatist forces.
This comic book series is a spinoff of a character introduced in a previous piece of Star Wars lore. Though she only played a secondary role (in which she seemingly met a terrible end), Aphra was so well-liked by readers that she was given her own book. Barely escaping with her life, Aphra tries to stay hidden from her Imperial enemies that still think that she is dead. Much like Boba Fett, she finds herself playing both sides of the Alliance and the Empire.
After a ridiculously long absence from the pages of Star Wars books, Grand Admiral Thrawn made his triumphant return in the prequel book simply entitled "Thrawn." Written by Timothy Zahn (the same author who created the character), the novel tells the story of the Chiss officer's rise to the rank of Grand Admiral. Along the way, Thrawn makes powerful political rivals within the Empire and takes on a mentor role to a young officer named Eli Vanto. The book was universally praised by fans of Zahn's original work.
Star Wars: Dark Times
The time between Episode III and Episode IV has always been rife with speculation. There was an entire twenty year period that was left as a blank slate by George Lucas, and writers of Star Wars lore tried to fill it with whatever stories they saw fit. This particular comic book series is in lieu of what we saw in the Darth Vader books, showing the Empire tightening its grip on the old Republic and the Sith Lords hunting down the last remaining Jedi.
Much like the period between Episodes II and III, the time immediately after Return of the Jedi is one that many writers touch upon. Shattered Empire does just that; it focuses on our heroes just after the Battle of Endor, when the Empire's defeat looks imminent. However, the Imperial Fleet is able to retain their stronghold on key planets, leading the main characters to split up and try to find a way to bring down the Empire once and for all.
During the Clone Wars, Jedi Master Mace Windu was one of the greatest generals the Republic had ever seen. In the book Shatterpoint, he demonstrates his prowess as a diplomat, warrior, and military strategist all at the same time. After he receives a message that his former apprentice has potentially fallen to the Dark Side, Windu takes a faction of soldiers to his homeworld to investigate. While there he gets swept up in the planet's civil war, culminating in a battle with his former apprentice in which Mace must tap into the Dark Side to win.
Heir to the Jedi
Surprisingly, Heir to the Jedi takes place between Episode IV and Episode V, one of the least-used periods of time in the Star Wars lore. The book tells the adventures of young Luke Skywalker, who is still trying to get a grasp on the Force and being a Jedi with no master. Luke is sent on his first solo mission for the Rebel Alliance alongside R2-D2, where he must rescue a brilliant hacker from the clutches of the Empire. This story is unique in that it is told completely through Luke's first-person perspective.
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir
Despite not really doing much, Darth Maul is considered to be the coolest character from the Prequel Trilogy. The young Sith apprentice is seemingly killed off after only two lines of dialogue and is never seen again in the movies. However, Maul was resurrected during the initial run of the Clone Wars TV show and continued on into Star Wars: Rebels. When the former was abruptly cancelled, fans were afraid they would never see the conclusion of Maul's story. Son of Dathomir was the comic series that finished out the character's Clone Wars arc.
Star Wars: Clone Wars
Created by Genndy Tartakovsky (the creative mind behind Samurai Jack), the 2-D Clone Wars series is still highly regarded by fans of the Star Wars saga. It blended a unique artistic style with characters we all knew and loved while also introducing us to new and unique ones. The General Grevious that made his debut in this series is still the most intimidating and powerful version to ever be put on screen! Likewise, it really gave viewers the scope of the Force's powers and took the story right up to the opening crawl of Episode III.
As the title suggests, Tarkin is a novel that focuses mainly on Grand Moff Tarkin, the villain of A New Hope. Not much has been written about the Grand Moff during his Imperial days; he was a recurring character on The Clone Wars series, but everything that needed to be said about his career in the Empire had already been said in Episode IV. That is, until James Luceno's book came out! Tarkin gave readers more insight into the politics behind the Imperial reign as well as how the Moff viewed the Emperor and Darth Vader.
Obi-Wan & Anakin
Surprisingly, the time period between Episode I and Episode II isn't one that is heavily explored by writers of Star Wars fiction. Maybe it's just because authors don't want to associate themselves too much with The Phantom Menace (seeing as it's arguably the worst film in the series), or maybe they just feel that any Star Wars story worth telling would happen when Anakin is an adult. This comic book series deals with the complicated father/son/friend relationship between the Jedi Master and his young Padawan.
Have you ever heard the tale of Darth Plagueis the Wise? We thought not, it's not a tale the Jedi would tell you...For those curious to know about the ominous story the Palpatine told Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, this book is for you. It acts as a prequel to the entire Star Wars saga, explaining how Darth Sidious grew to be so powerful, how he manipulated Darth Maul into doing his bidding, and even suggest that Darth Plagueis was the one to create Anakin Skywalker!