Long before any Star Wars fans dreamed of George Lucas continuing his epic space saga with a trilogy of prequels, and before other directors helmed a new trilogy that would conclude it, the Star Wars Expanded Universe was created with novels. Various authors penned exciting narratives in the Star Wars Universe featuring all your favorite characters and a bunch of new ones.
When the new trilogy debuted with Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the Expanded Universe was no longer considered canon. It was renamed Star Wars Legends, and considered sort of an “alternate timeline” to the main events of the Star Wars saga, similar to what happens in comic book series. But many fans consider the novels to represent the true essence of Star Wars, and for that reason, The Force will always be with them.
10 STAR WARS: DARTH PLAGUEIS
The mysterious Darth Plagueis was first brought up in Revenge of the Sith during an intimate moment between Chancellor Palpatine and an unhappy Anakin Skywalker. Young Skywalker has had a premonition his new secret bride, Padme, will die in childbirth. Palpatine mentions that one powerful Sith Lord, Darth Plagueis, discovered the ability to prevent people from dying and even create life.
Anakin has no idea that Palpatine is secretly the Sith Lord Darth Sidious who was, at one time, the apprentice of Darth Plagueis. Darth Plagueis by James Luceno, chronicles a young Palpatine as he learned the Dark Sith Arts from his master and then eventually surpassed him.
9 THE DARK LORD TRILOGY
For fans of Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, there isn’t a better collection of novels than The Dark Lord Trilogy by James Luceno. It follows the chain of events from the Revenge of the Sith film through Darth Vader serving under Emperor Palpatine in the ensuing years leading up to A New Hope.
The trilogy includes the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, Labyrinth of Evil, and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. For any fan of the Expanded Universe and those intrigued by the time period involving Anakin Skywalker transformation into the iconic Sith Lord, this collection is a must.
8 HEIR TO THE EMPIRE (THE THRAWN TRILOGY, V1)
With one of the most highly respected additions to Star Wars Legends, Timothy Zahn began his epic Thrawn Trilogy with the novel Heir to the Empire. Taking place five years after Return of the Jedi, it shows how the galaxy was reshaped after the Empire’s destruction with a Peace Treaty between the Empire’s remnants and the Rebel Alliance.
But some of the Imperial Fleet do not recognize it and form a coalition, led by the warlord Grand Admiral Thrawn. The story that restarted the Star Wars Universe long before The Prequels were made, is celebrated for Zahn’s deft approach to familiar characters as well as his inclusion of favorite new ones.
7 PATH OF DESTRUCTION (STAR WARS: DARTH BANE BOOK 1)
One of the most popular Sith Lords in Star Wars Legends is Darth Bane, recognized for his implementation of the Rule of Two, in which one master and one apprentice exist at any given time in Sith Society. It was in direct opposition to the infighting he witnessed among the Sith and he created it to channel the Dark Side’s power towards one singular goal: galactic domination but in secret.
Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn chronicles Bane from his journey Off World to fight the Republic and its Jedi Armies, his rise through the ranks of the Sith Academy, and his induction into the Brotherhood of Darkness, all a thousand years before Darth Vader and The Emperor.
6 SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE
A favorite among fans of Legends novels, Steve Perry’s Shadows of the Empire takes place between the events of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Han Solo is frozen in carbonite, and Luke and Leia must confront a sinister evil that lurks in the shadows of the Empire; Prince Xizor, an alien crime lord that seeks to rival the authority of even Vader himself.
This novel is full of intriguing plot twists, fun new characters, and the schemes of an enigmatic new villain. It’s also of particular note for showing just how the plans to rescue Han Solo came to fruition, and how Princess Leia got her bounty hunter disguise.
5 STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC - REVAN
For big fans of the Knights of the Old Republic game series as well as the Revan, this novel by Drew Karpyshyn expands on the circumstances and chain of events involved in Revan’s departure from the Jedi Order and induction into Sith Society. While initially serving in Old Republic Jedi Armies against the Mandalorian threat, Revan soon finds his purpose as a Sith Accolite.
In the vein of recent Dark Side users like Kylo Ren, Revan is a complex character, and his decision to embrace the Sith way of life is not black and white. This makes for a much more fascinating tale of the days of the Old Republic.
4 STAR WARS: JEDI TRILOGY BOXED SET
The Jedi Trilogy, by Kevin J. Anderson represents some of the most unique storytelling in Star Wars Legends. It features the twin siblings of Han Solo and Princess Leia (now generals in the Rebel Alliance and leaders of the New Republic) as they come into their Force powers under the careful guidance of their uncle, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.
The Star Wars Universe has changed in the decades since Return of the Jedi and the dissolution of the Empire. Luke trains a new generation of Jedi Knights, Han and Leia mentor the next generation of leaders, but all are haunted by the past.
3 STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC - DECEIVED
Paul S. Kemp, a prolific author of Star Wars Legends novels, situates many of his books in the era of the Old Republic and Deceived is no different. It focuses on Darth Malgus, another powerful Sith Lord often mentioned with the likes of other Old Republic pillars of Sith Society, Revan and Bane.
After storming the Jedi Temple on Coruscant and leaving with a massacre in his wake, he faces a longtime Jedi, Aryn Leneer, who teams up with a rogue smuggler to seek revenge against the Sith Lord for murdering her master.
2 SPLINTER OF THE MIND’S EYE
Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye will hold a special place in the hearts of Star Wars fans as the first attempt at “expanding” the universe of Star Wars beyond the movies that George Lucas created. It came out just a few years after Return of the Jedi, and features Luke and Leia on a secret mission to a mysterious planet, between Episode IV and Episode V.
They discover the planet Circarpous hides the Kaiburr crystal, which Star Wars fans today will notice is similar to the “kyber” crystals used inside Jedi lightsabers, as well as what “powered” the first Death Star. Leia is determined to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Empire.
1 STAR WARS: THE NEW JEDI ORDER - VECTOR PRIME
The New Jedi Order series features all of the familiar Star Wars characters facing a threat that is completely foreign to anything seen in the galaxy before; lifeforms that use biotechnology and pain tolerance to inflict unimaginable terror on unsuspecting populations. An invasion of this race, the Yuuzhan Vong, is the focus of Vector Prime.
R.A. Salvator takes the era, two decades after Return of the Jedi, and makes it a time of change and upheaval in the galaxy. At times it feels alien (as it should), and other times, it feels appropriate (Luke comes into his own with his Jedi Powers), but it’s a good start to his long series of books.
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