A selection of canon Star Wars books that you should read

I have read the vast majority of the Star Wars books published up until 2014, which were previously called Expanded Universe (EU) and are now called Legends.  I even slogged all the way through to the end of the Fate of the Jedi series. For evidence, please see my bookshelves.

For some reason, I have not read nearly as many Star Wars books since they became canon.  Probably a couple of things are contributing: less time for reading, less patience for bad books, moving on to other series like The Expanse.  Plus I’m just not as invested in new characters as I was in EU mainstays like Mara Jade.

But I’m slowly starting to get into more and more of the canon books.  Here are some I’ve read that I thought were worthwhile.

25067046Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

This was the first new canon book that got a lot of buzz.  It was published as part of the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” initiative in 2015 leading up to TFA.  Technically it is classified as Young Adult (Gray is a YA author, and the characters are young) but don’t let that deter you.  (Luke is only 19 in A New Hope after all, and no one worries about that being YA.)

It tells the story of two star-crossed lovers, one belonging to the Empire and one to the Rebellion.  I liked seeing the perspective of everyday Imperial citizens, and it helps the reader understand why young people might join the Empire even though it’s evil.  The story takes place mostly during the Original Trilogy but also goes all the way up through the Battle of Jakku (so that we can find out why there is a Star Destroyer crashed on the planet in TFA).

Thrawn and Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn

31140332I remember how excited I was when they announced at Celebration 2016 that not only would Grand Admiral Thrawn, the best antagonist of the entire EU, be appearing in Star Wars Rebels, but also that Timothy Zahn, his creator and one of the best EU authors, would be writing new novels about him.  The result is two solid new canon books that will appeal to new readers and EU fans as well (and particularly those who have enjoyed The Clone Wars and Rebels).

Thrawn serves as a kind of origin story for the future Imperial officer, showing how he initially came to serve the Empire.  I was disappointed that Pellaeon does not appear; instead his role is essentially filled by a new character, Eli Vanto.  There is also an interesting side plot regarding Governor Pryce of Lothal and Colonel Yularen, and a cameo from EU character H’sishi, a Togorian.

36385830Thrawn: Alliances also has some good payoffs for EU fans, including a joke about Force-sensitive animals (but no actual ysalamiri or vornskrs).  The flashbacks where Thrawn teams up with Anakin and Padmé to take out a Separatist operation feel like a good episode of TCW. It also provides an interesting contrast to the tentative partnership of Thrawn and Vader much later as they follow the Emperor’s orders to investigate a disturbance in the Force. (Plus we get a Noghri assassin!) Both storylines take place on/around Batuu, and specifically Black Spire Outpost, which will be featured in the upcoming Disney Star Wars theme park area, Galaxy’s Edge.

My only complaint about T:A is that it was difficult to read casually.  Because the story jumps between two time periods, and also occasionally between characters, it was sometimes hard to pick up the thread of the story when I was only reading a chapter at a time.

The conclusion of Zahn’s new Thrawn trilogy will be out later this year.

Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra by Gillen, et al.

Disney launched a bunch of new lines of comics with the new canon, and these two series feature the first breakout non-movie character of this era: Doctor Aphra, a mercenary archaeologist with two homicidal droids in tow.

Aphra seems like a new take on Indiana Jones, except as a queer woman whose illustration implies a mixed race heritage.  She ends up working for Vader and forming an interesting quasi-partnership with him, which is the most interesting part of the Vader story line.  (The less interesting part involves some Force-based science experiment characters that seem like they came from the bad part of the EU.)

Plus, did I mention the homicidal droids? BT-1 (“Bee Tee”) and 0-0-0 (“Triple-Zero”) may seem like an astromech and a protocol droid, but they actually are programmed for assassination and torture.  For me, they recall HK-47 from KOTOR, which is always welcome.  Plus it’s just nice to see snarky droids, whatever their allegiance or alignment.

Aphra eventually got spun out into her own series, plus a short story in the From a Certain Point of View anthology.  I look forward to seeing where she goes from here!

Star Wars Block Book

sw block book

This is the Star Wars book I currently read the most.  Every day, in fact. Sometimes multiple times.  My 1.5 yr old loves this book and can recognize Darth Maul (“Maul Maul”), the Death Star, Darth Vader, and R2-D2.  I am a proud mama!

But seriously, this book is beautiful with lovely cutouts and illustrations.  Plus it’s sturdy enough for toddler fingers.  It covers the prequels, OT, Rogue One, and TFA.

Have you guys read any of the new canon books?  What would you recommend?

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10 thoughts on “A selection of canon Star Wars books that you should read

  1. For Tyeth May 23, 2019 / 2:55 pm

    Hello Mei-Mei, guess what? I have actually read the two Thrawn novels so I can comment on them! I read “Thrawn” last year and while it was OK I found it contrived a little (I think I mean contrived) and felt as if it was running on rails to a predetermined conclusion. That and the fact Thrawn always had an answer for every situation…because “he has such vast tactical knowledge” bothered me. There never seemed to be any danger of him failing. (It also reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels that give you an impossible crime to solve then right at the end Hercule gathers all the suspects and solves it because he saw the headlines written on a newspaper that we the reader never get to see or read about! Convenient).

    T;A was a little better but I too found the time skips difficult to follow. Also I was a little upset because I found out that my FanFiction backstory I started writing 3 years ago revolves around the planet Bal’Demnic and the battle for Cortosis. I added my character into the story and had For Tyeth help close down/destroy a Cortosis mine and factory that made Battle Droids coated in the mineral (sound familiar?).
    But I did like the way Thrawn basically “played” with Vader and revealed he knew some truths but never actually said so. (p.s Noghri are cool too, if a little hard to spot!)

    All in all the Thrawn trilogy will be a good read for newcomers to the franchise. I am just going off to finish reading Aaron Allston’s Star Wars Conviction. Thanks for your recommendations!

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    • Mei-Mei May 23, 2019 / 9:25 pm

      Hi FT, I’m so glad you liked the Thrawn books well enough. I personally love Poirot, but I see what you mean about him and Thrawn being too perfect (I agree, but it doesn’t bother me). That was something a little different about the original trilogy: he was perfect…until he wasn’t. Thrawn is still on the rise here, so we don’t get to see any weakness yet. And that’s so funny that your fan fiction was so similar to T:A!

      Aaron Allston is probably my third favorite EU writer; I would read anything by him! I was very sad when he passed away a few years back, having just put out a new X-wing book. I liked Vestara in that series, but I never liked Callista or Daala so I didn’t like that they included them. Enjoy Conviction!

      Liked by 1 person

      • For Tyeth May 23, 2019 / 10:02 pm

        Hello again, I am liking Conviction already, it has that OT novel style to it and feels less “sterile” than some books nowadays (those with just shallow world building or text on what characters are thinking). I’ll let you know my overall thoughts on the book when I’ve finished it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bekah Irwin May 23, 2019 / 2:55 pm

    I love so many canon books. All of the ones Claudia Gray has written are stellar (these being Bloodline, Leia: Princess of Alderaan, Master & Apprentice, and Lost Stars). If you’re a Rebels fan, A New Dawn was a wonderful origin story for Kanan and Hera’s partnership. I agree that the Thrawn books are great! If you’re a huge Rogue One fan like I am, Catalyst was a FANTASTIC prequel, focusing on Jyn’s parents and how Galen Erso was roped into being a mastermind behind the Death Star. Rebel Rising is another Rogue One prequel that focuses more on Jyn. I enjoyed that one too. Honorable mentions go out to Queen’s Shadow and Ahsoka for giving us more perspective on and stories about badass prequel women! Clone Wars fans will enjoy those two books more than those who haven’t watched the Clone Wars. Speaking of the Clone Wars, Pirate’s Price features Hondo Ohnaka and is a romp of a tale. I recommend listening to that one on audiobook because the actor who plays Hondo reads it and the story is mostly narrated by Hondo himself. I loved Hondo in TCW and Rebels, so I thought the book was wonderful. 🙂

    Those are my favorites of the ones I’ve read! I didn’t read much of the EU/Legends books because I was raised in a SW purist family and by the time I was old enough to think for myself and get back on the SW hype wagon, new canon books were already coming out. I will say, I LOVED Kenobi, though!! And once I’m out of new canon books to read, I want to go back and read Timothy Zahn’s first Thrawn trilogy.

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    • Mei-Mei May 23, 2019 / 9:33 pm

      Wow, thanks for the rundown! I really like Claudia Gray’s writing; I’ve read some of her non-SW YA stuff, and I’ve been meaning to check out more of her SW stuff, too. I’ve really got to find that Hondo Ohnaka audiobook, sounds amazing!

      Kenobi is on my to-read list! I hope your enjoy the original Thrawn trilogy; they have a special place in my heart. Mara Jade is my favorite EU character 🙂 The X-wing books are also great if you are looking to dive into the EU.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Luther M. Siler May 25, 2019 / 8:13 am

    Second the rec for Claudia Grey’s Leia book. I haven’t liked most of the new continuity books but the ones you mentioned are definitely worth it.

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  4. sir albertus May 26, 2019 / 11:57 am

    I was wondering about canon books. thanks for the recommendation. I recognize Admiral Thrawn from Rebels. Did you like that series?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei May 26, 2019 / 8:07 pm

      Yes, I did like Rebels! I was glad they brought Thrawn in. I never got around to seeing the last season, though. Hopefully I can catch up sometime.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Michael J. Miller June 16, 2019 / 10:44 am

    My struggle with the Disney Canon novels is that they often introduce a lot of great ideas/have to much potential for future plot lines only to be sort of disregarded. For example, I ADORED Delilah Dawson’s ‘Phasma’ novel as well as the accompanying comic series by Kelly Thompson. It added so many dimensions to her character and gave me what I hoped we’d find in TFA in regard to this powerful new stormtrooper captain…but then all the core tenants of her character as outlined in those two works were thrown out in how she conducted herself in TLJ. Similarly, I loved ‘A New Dawn’ but everything it painstakingly developed about Kanan (how he refuses to use the Force as it would bring the Empire down on him) was tossed out in the first (and every subsequent) episode of ‘Rebels.’ After trying to read everything as it came out, I’ve started to keep my distance because the disconnect grows every more frustrating.

    But my favorites – as that was your question before I went into grumpy ranting XD – would be ‘Dark Disciple’ (which was developed from an unused arc of TCW), ‘Phasma,’ and probably ‘A New Dawn.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei June 16, 2019 / 9:52 pm

      I’ll be honest, I think it was a mistake to make everything canon. There’s no way they can live up to that concept. They already haven’t, as you said. It’s a bummer.

      Thanks for the recs! I’ll check those out. I didn’t really have any interest in the Phasma book before, but recs from other fans make a difference to me.

      Like

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