As you may have noticed, the geek world has unofficially declared 2015 the Year of Star Wars. With a brand new movie coming out in December, and the existing saga being released in digital format for the first time, there’s plenty to get excited about. My coworker and fellow geek Joe has been valiantly covering the latest news on the new movie, and led an excellent trivia session for our Free Comic Book Day event here at the library.

What you might not know is that Star Wars is a lot more than just movies.

last command  tarkin

Since the early 1990s, there has been a growing collection of supplemental material–books, graphic novels, video games, television series, etc.–connected to the Star Wars universe, and it hasn’t shown any signs of stopping.

Some of this material is accepted as “canon” by the franchise owners (meaning they agree that, yes, it’s a thing that happened in this fictional setting, as opposed to something they’re going to ignore), and some of it isn’t. Fans have a habit of cherry-picking their favorite parts of any huge franchise, and this one is no exception. Some of us will continue to pretend characters like Mara Jade are still out there in the galaxy somewhere, refuse to accept the existence of Midichlorians, and no amount of editing magic will ever convince me that Greedo shot first. You’ll choose as you will. Meanwhile, there’s a new set of novels that has come out since the franchise was bought by Disney, and a new set of expectations around the upcoming movie. The older books were rebranded as “Star Wars Legends,” and the new books are the new “canon.”

The sheer volume of entertainment in so many different formats in this universe is so vast that it’s nearly impossible to know where to start. I have dipped my toe into the novels once or twice, but it’s largely unexplored territory for me. So, since this is the Year of Star Wars, I decided it’s time to fix that. With Joe’s help, I’ve put together a reading list of what I consider the “highlights” of the Star Wars novels:
Episode IV: A New Hope, by George Lucas
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, by Donald F. Glut
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, by James Kahn

Episode I: The Phantom Menace, by Terry Brooks
Episode II: Attack of the Clones, by R. A. Salvatore
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, by Matthew Stover

The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn:
Heir to the Empire
Dark Force Rising
The Last Command

Darth Plagueis, by James Luceno
Kenobi, by John Jackson Miller
Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, by Matthew Stover

New Dawn, by John Jackson Miller
Lords of the Sith, by Paul S. Kemp
Tarkin, by James Luceno

Heir to the Jedi, by Kevin Hearne
Aftermath, by Chuck Wendig
I haven’t read most of these books before, so this should be an interesting journey for me both as a reviewer and as a fan. If you want to join me, just search “Star Wars” in our library catalog and see what’s available in your neighborhood!

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2 thoughts on “Star Wars Read-A-Thon: In a Library Not So Far Away

  1. Laurel,

    I look forward to your insight on the titles you have selected. My knowledge of the Expanded Universe (EU) is fairly limited so I am excited to read some of these along with you. I am not entirely familiar with the Thrawn Trilogy, so that is my starting place. I have heard great things, so hopefully my expectations do not exceed the reality of the situation.

    I am equal parts excited and saddened for the loss of the EU as canon, but slowly certain aspects have been leaking back into official canon. Often from places or novels one would not expect. One such example is the recent comic for Kanan: The Last Padawan by Marvel, which seemed to re-canonize the novel Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover.

    The idea that all of the new novels “count” is really exciting though, since the old EU, now known as Legends were always debatable whether they were part of canon or not. So now the casual reader can consider all of these new stories as being extensions of the Star Wars Universe. I encourage everyone that has a passing interest in Star Wars to join you on your quest leading up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

    Exciting days ahead.

  2. The Thrawn Trilogy is a lot of fun–very fast-paced even with the background political stuff, which is unusual for sci-fi. It’s also where Mara Jade is introduced, and she’s probably my favorite character in the EU.

    Shatterpoint I have not read, but everything else I know about Matthew Stover suggests he’s one of the best Star Wars writers out there. I came to appreciate Revenge of the Sith a lot more after reading his novelization.

    I’m torn about counting the new novels as “canon,” regardless of where the franchise is going over all. Some of the stories are really great, some are forgettable, and some are somewhere in between, just like the Legends series. I’m excited to see what the new books have to offer though, since they don’t have to keep to the threads and stories laid down by the old ones.

    I know we still have to wait for it, but the one I’m most excited about is Aftermath–partly because it’s the last one leading in to the next movie, but also because it’s Chuck Wendig, and I know that guy can write a good story.

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