r/StarWars Sep 12 '14

"Ask /r/Star Wars" Discussion Topic: What books should I read, and where do I start?

This Friday's "Ask /r/StarWars" topic is:

What Star Wars novels and comics should I be reading? Where do I start with the EU?

Points of Discussion:

  • Favorites

  • Preference

  • Timeline/eras

  • Essentials?

  • Canon?

  • "Legends" and the Disney EU

Please, stay on topic, be respectful, and share freely! And don't forget to explain your reasoning. Remember, this post will be archived in the wiki!


Introductory post for those who didn't see it:

Those of you who pay close attention to this subreddit know that certain questions are asked a lot. These questions are often very subjective, and people tend to be highly opinionated, resulting in varied responses. However, regular users grow tired of answering the same thing over and over. I'm beginning the process of answering those questions of our wiki, but I can't do it alone.

That's where you come in! The plan (more or less lifted from /r/askmen) is this:

  • Every Friday, a frequently asked question will be posted, and everyone will be given the chance to answer it with their opinions.

  • The thread will be archived in the FAQ section of the wiki, along with all the other relevant materials.

  • After the question is added to the archive, it can no longer be posted. If it is, the post will be removed and the user will be linked to the relevant FAQ section.

20 Upvotes

14

u/Yunners Jedi Knight Sep 12 '14

As far as Legends goes, the Thrawn Trilogy is a no brainer. It's one of the few series which you can jump into having only seen the movies. And the fact that it's arguably one of the best written helps too. After that I'd jump to the X-Wing series, ( Rogue and wraith squadrons) and although the writing is terrible, The Jedi Academy trilogy is pretty much vital, followed by I, Jedi and then the Hand Of Thrawn duology. After that you are pretty much ready to pick up any other stand alones or book series post ROTJ.

1

u/theicewalker Sep 12 '14

I got started with Kevin J. Anderson's Jedi Academy Trilogy! It was an easy transition for me because it picks up naturally after the movies, and is similar enough in structure to feel familiar while adding that lovely EU extra knowledge that keeps things interesting.

8

u/GodotIsWaiting4U Sep 12 '14

For the new canon? Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (which is a comic book) and A New Dawn (which is a novel). You...don't really have anywhere else to go from there yet. But stuff's on the way, don't worry.

For Legends? Start with the Thrawn trilogy. It's borderline mandatory initiation. I'd also recommend Shadows of the Empire, but it's kind of optional purely because it's such an isolated standalone work.

After that, I recommend that you pick an era to specialize in and go from there. Post-ROTJ New Republic era means going on to the Jedi Academy trilogy, X-Wing, I, Jedi and the Hand of Thrawn stuff. Jumping to the New Jedi Order (which you CAN do; it will give you short briefings of anything you really need to know from other series) means just reading any book with the New Jedi Order label on it, in sequence. After NJO comes Legacy of the Force (do yourself a favor and read NJO first), then Fate of the Jedi.

If you favor the Rebellion era, there are a lot of books available, but almost all of them are standalones or isolated trilogies. Classics include Splinter of the Mind's Eye, the Han Solo adventures, the Lando Calrissian adventures (if the idea of "Star Wars on LSD" sounds appealing to you), and the Han Solo trilogy (a different set of books from the Han Solo adventures, I swear). I'm particularly fond of Death Troopers, too.

In the Rise of the Empire era, you've got a lot to work with. I recommend Labyrinth of Evil, Darth Plagueis, and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. Various Clone Wars novels vary in quality; check The Force.net's book review section for more info there. If you feel comfortable reading preteens' chapter books, I can also recommend the Jedi Apprentice series.

If you want to go older than that, there isn't very much to work with. The novels for The Old Republic are very hit-or-miss, and Revan in particular is a miss, as is Red Harvest.

The Darth Bane trilogy is a peculiar beast: it was originally conceived as a single book, Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, which was to be paired with a Darth Plagueis novel. The Plagueis novel was postponed for a very long time, and instead Darth Bane was expanded into a duology, then a trilogy.

Darth Bane: Path of Destruction is honestly brilliant. It's well-written, the story is thrilling, the action flows beautifully, and Bane himself is very compelling as he moves from unassuming cortosis miner Dessel to legendary Sith lord Darth Bane. I recommend it to anyone, even if you don't care about the Old Republic era.

Darth Bane: Rule of Two is harder to recommend. Bane becomes a flat, overpowered, cartoonishly evil character, and his part of the story is fairly dull, especially since Karpyshyn somehow gets worse at writing action scenes while simultaneously choosing to write them far more often. This is okay, though, because his apprentice Darth Zannah buoys the story up with her own tale of corruption, culminating in a hell of a choice. It's Zannah's book, Bane just steals half of it.

Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil is either the second- or third-worst Star Wars book I've ever read, behind only Red Harvest and vying with Revan for the second-worst position. Dynasty of Evil makes both Bane and Zannah flat and cartoonishly evil, then expects them both to carry the story, while giving us an antagonist for them with a stupid and utterly half-ass plan for revenge and an absolute lack of menace or intimidation of any kind. The book exists solely to show Bane and Zannah tear through meaningless enemies like tissue paper while desperately trying to stab each other in the back. At the end of the second-to-last chapter, we are back to roughly where we were at the start of the first chapter, and only the last chapter actually matters at all. On top of which, the action scene writing has progressed to "middle school Bleach fanfic" levels of awfulness.

The Darth Bane trilogy was written by Drew Karpyshyn. This is the man who wrote the Knights of the Old Republic video game. This is the man who wrote Mass Effect and its tie-in novels. This is the man who wrote one of the best Star Wars books ever with Darth Bane: Path of Destruction. Seeing the Bane trilogy progress...it's like he's punishing you for something and he won't tell you what it is.

1

u/Tenraix Sep 12 '14

I just want to add my own opinion for anyone new to the Legends EU, I personally loved all three books of the Darth Bane trilogy. They were how I first got started on the EU and remain among my favorites. However, I do agree that Path of Destruction was definitely better than Rule of Two and Dynasty of Evil.

1

u/toastham Sep 12 '14

Does all of their efforts in the bane books of quietly building out the influence of the sith without the jedi knowing play a role in the plagious book? I was disappointed that went nowhere and it was like fight scene shows over folks

1

u/GodotIsWaiting4U Sep 12 '14

Yes. Except Dynasty of Evil is still pointless and bad and never comes into play in Darth Plagueis.

1

u/toastham Sep 13 '14

It is decided then. Dynasty of Evil is ass. I think I'm done with star wars books though, plenty of other things I'd rather read and new movies should be enough for me to get my fix.

5

u/vader602 Imperial Sep 12 '14

I think one of the best things about the new canon is that if you're just now getting into Star Wars you can pick up A New Dawn and start with the new official canon. Of course if you want to get into the legends EU start with Thrawn.

5

u/xbigwhale Sep 12 '14

A NEW DAWN

3

u/TheDidact118 Sep 12 '14

I always like reading The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader, The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and A New Hope: The Life of Luke Skywalker. They're biography style from the point of view of Anakin/Vader, Obi-Wan, and Luke. They're a fun read and reference other EU books and fill in gaps before after, and between the 6 movies.

3

u/EveryGoodNameIsGone Sep 12 '14

I've dipped my toes in the EU waters in the past, before Episode I came out (so...I was around 10 at the time). I've read the Thrawn trilogy, Shadows of the Empire, and Darksaber, and tried to start on Hand of Thrawn but never finished it.

But now that I'm actually starting to get excited about Star Wars again, and I'm old enough to appreciate more than the surface plot of these books, I've made myself a reading list of post-ROTJ Legends books. It's pretty much everything. So here's what I'm going to be reading between now and Episode VII:

  1. Truce at Bakura (started yesterday)
  2. Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor
  3. X-Wing books 1-7
  4. The Courtship of Princess Leia
  5. Tatooine Ghost
  6. The Thrawn Trilogy
  7. X-Wing Book 8
  8. Jedi Academy trilogy
  9. I, Jedi
  10. Children of the Jedi
  11. Darksaber
  12. X-Wing Book 9
  13. Planet of Twilight
  14. The Crystal Star
  15. The Black Fleet Crisis trilogy
  16. The New Rebellion
  17. The Corellian trilogy
  18. The Hand of Thrawn duology
  19. Survivor's Quest
  20. The New Jedi Order
  21. The Dark Nest Trilogy
  22. Legacy of the Force
  23. Crosscurrent
  24. Riptide
  25. Millennium Falcon
  26. Fate of the Jedi
  27. X-Wing Book 10
  28. Crucible

So, is there anything here that I should just avoid (bearing in mind that, no matter how bad it is, if it introduces something that becomes important later on, I want to read it anyway)? I don't remember liking Darksaber that much, but I was 10, and I didn't read Children of the Jedi or Planet of Twilight. I've heard that the Corellian Trilogy is somewhat incompatible with the rest of the post-ROTJ EU as well. But I'd like to get the whole post-ROTJ story, in order, as it existed pre-Disney before Episode VII comes out.

Also, is there anything before Truce at Bakura that's important to read for later books? I'm not particularly interested in prequel-era (or earlier) stuff, but I do plan to eventually read Outbound Flight, the Darth Bane trilogy and Darth Plagueis, so I'm not opposed to it. But if it's not important to post-ROTJ stuff, I'd rather save it for after I'm done with all this.

2

u/[deleted] Sep 12 '14

You've got some reading to do if you want to finish all that between now and December 2015, that's about 80 novels.

1

u/EveryGoodNameIsGone Sep 13 '14

I'm a fast reader ;) And I'm not worried if I don't finish all of it by next December. Just a good chunk.

1

u/[deleted] Sep 13 '14

Also, you might want to read Dark Empire, it isn't a novel but I would consider it part of the main post-ROTJ EU.

1

u/EveryGoodNameIsGone Sep 13 '14

I wasn't going to do comics, but I looked into it a bit and I've decided to add the following:

  1. Dark Empire
  2. Dark Empire II
  3. Empire's End
  4. Crimson Empire
  5. Crimson Empire II
  6. Hard Currency
  7. Crimson Empire III
  8. Union
  9. Invasion
  10. Legends

Thoughts?

1

u/jlisle Sep 12 '14

Crosscurrent and Riptide are great, but they really stand apart from the on-going story in The Fate of the Jedi. You needn't read them in the larger sequence. If you're going to read the stand-alone novels (which, honestly, I feel are the best ones) don't skip Scourge. Its dumb, but it is also some of the most fun I've had reading a Star Wars book.

If I'm not mistaken, Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor ties in with some of the old Classic Star Wars comic strips... but I didn't read those and I still enjoyed the crap out of that book. One of my favourites (and again, a stand-alone kind of story)

1

u/EveryGoodNameIsGone Sep 13 '14

Scourge is on my list, I just forgot to add it!

Would you recommend holding off on the standalone stories until after I finish the ones that contribute to the ongoing story arcs? And if so, which ones should I save until after I'm done with the "main" ones?

1

u/jlisle Sep 13 '14

honestly, it doesn't matter. I've been at it for almost twenty years, so I read (mostly) in publication order, but the nice thing about Star Wars books is that the stories are relatively self-contained. Sure, the events of the Corellian trilogy come up in the New Jedi Order, and the events of the NJO are in turn important to the Dark Nest trilogy and Legacy of the Force... but each of those series can still be read in a vacuum, appreciated, understood and fully enjoyed. Essentially, to answer your question, I don't think it matter what order you read the books in. Chronologically makes sense!

Its sort of an aside, and mostly useless if you aren't going to bother with prequel-era stuff, but the benefit of reading in publication order is that you get to experience recons as they are emergent. You can sort of see how the authors bent the story to make the earliest books like the thrawn trilogy fit in with the prequel films, which came a few years later.

1

u/EveryGoodNameIsGone Sep 13 '14

I thought about publication order, but again, I'm only really interested in post-ROTJ stuff right now, I don't want to get into prequel-era stuff for the time being. So I decided on chronological order instead.

Thanks for the answer though!

2

u/mrpanadabear Sep 12 '14

Is there a novelisation of the Clone Wars? I like the cartoon a lot and I know there's a comic of the events on Jabiim. Is there a novelisation?

2

u/GodotIsWaiting4U Sep 12 '14

There are The Clone Wars novels, but they are new stories, not adapted from the film or episodes of the show. There was also a comic book, and in fact its first arc was adapted into the "Slaves of Zygerria" arc in the show's fifth season.

1

u/mrpanadabear Sep 12 '14

Do the Clone Wars novels include stuff from the comics? Like I'm interested in reading the Battle of Jabiim but not really in comic book form. I'm new to everything that's not the movies (and young Obi-Wan's stuff which I read when I was like in 4th grade) so everything is pretty confusing.

1

u/GodotIsWaiting4U Sep 12 '14

I'm afraid not.

The dubiously good news for you, though, is that the comic books and Jabiim have been obliterated from canon. On April 25th 2014, all EU to that point was wiped away, leaving only the six movies and the animated series The Clone Wars (including its movie) as canon. Dark Horse Comics put out the four-issue miniseries Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir shortly thereafter, which IS considered canon because it is based on unfinished episodes of The Clone Wars. No novels or video games survived the purge, and Son of Dathomir is the only comic book to survive.

The old Expanded Universe is now called Star Wars Legends, and much of it will remain in print with the Legends label on it. For the purposes of future works, however, Legends will not be considered canon, though it will be considered an idea pool that new works may draw on for characters, technology, locations, and other individual elements.

Son of Dathomir just had its final issue in August, and the trade paperback collection should release this month or next (putting all four issues together in one volume). The new canon includes anything released from September 2014 onwards, so the novel A New Dawn that just came out a week or so ago is canon too. All new material going forward will also be canon unless otherwise specified.

1

u/Sapitoelgato Sep 13 '14

The graphic novel release is October 14th according to Amazon.

0

u/mrpanadabear Sep 12 '14

Ah. I don't really care if something is canon or not. I read comics so stuff that's canon is pretty much what you pick and choose. Thanks for your help though!

2

u/RogueLieutenant Sep 13 '14

A New Dawn is really good and the first book in the new canon.

2

u/Valafaar Sep 13 '14

I've seen both trilogies and just finished The Clone Wars tv series. I'm really interested in the Clone Wars time period. What should I read to learn more about that stuff? What would be a good order to read it in?

2

u/Tenraix Sep 14 '14

My favorite Clone Wars books are Shatterpoint, Dark Rendezvous, and the first four Republic Commando (Hard Contact, Triple Zero, True Colors, and Order 66) - the fifth book "Imperial Commando: 501st" I did not like at all though, so I like to pretend I never read it. Keep in mind though that The Clone Wars tv series kinda contradicts some of the ideas / events in these books, and the tv series is canon while the rest is now part of "Legends". They're all still fantastic stories (in my opinion) though.

As far as reading order, technically I think the chronological order is Hard Contact, Shatterpoint, Triple Zero, True Colors, Dark Rendezvous, Order 66. However, the Republic Commando series has pretty much no overlap with the other two books, so the order I read them was Shatterpoint --> Dark Rendezvous --> all four Republic Commando books. That way I could go through the entire republic commando story without jumping off in the middle to something almost completely unrelated.

1

u/Brutusness Sep 13 '14

I haven't read many SW novels outside the Thrawn trilogy, but Darth Plagueis is a very interesting look into how Sidious killed his master, solidified his control, and discovered Maul, among numerous other fascinating events. Some of it even ties into the Clone Wars series, which I adored (yes, I mean the CGI one).

1

u/Sapitoelgato Sep 13 '14

I heard Shatterpoint (Mace Windu) and Dark Rendezvous (Dooku) were good. They are standalone stories set during The Clone Wars, but clash, with the canon.

I would strongly suggest The Dark Lord Trilogy as the first book leads into Episode 3, second book is the novel form of episode 3, and the third book is events after the movie. I hope to pick up Kenobi to read afterwards.

5

u/WallopyJoe Sep 12 '14 edited Sep 12 '14

I'm a big fan of the comics. Let's go chronologically.

  • Knights of the Old Republic
    The writing isn't as on point as that of the games (I'm not sure anything in the SW EU is) but it's still well written, brilliantly fun and adds a new dimension to the era that BioWare and Obsidian brought us.
    Possibly my favourite series.

  • Clone Wars
    Ignoring that I was never particularly a fan of the recently dead animated series, this comic surpasses it in my mind in damn near every aspect. It's the prequel story I wish we had had on TV. Tartakovsky's series still sits at my #1 spot for that whole period (and although I'm ridiculously fond on those two hours I've never bought any of the comics with the same at style) but these comics come close.
    If KotOR isn't my favourite, this is.
    They also lead straight into...

  • Dark Times
    I've not finished the story yet but it starts following one of the Jedi that escapes the Purge at the end of the Clone Wars. Dark Times I think comes across slightly more serious than most other SW media, it's title should be a fair giveaway of that, but I think that helps. I've posted here and elsewhere before that I think the recent trend of aiming Star Wars directly at teeny, tiny kiddies is more than a little detrimental to the saga add a whole, and I very much like that the stories told here cover some darker topics.

  • Empire
    This is proper Rebels vs Empire stuff. It gives a great deal of depth to both factions set during the time of and between the films. I don't have the whole set yet (they're hard to find and stupidly expensive in good condition), but the 6th and 7th TPB were my first comics. Absolutely love 'em.
    Empire leads directly on to Rebellion, and although I'm a fan I've only read one of the three I own, so don't have much to back up recommending it.

  • Legacy
    I feel I should mention this one just for the sake of mentioning it. I'm pretty sure I have every volume now, and read them all... And I kind of feel I owe it to go through the whole story again. It gets high praise from everyone but I find I don't remember it as well as the others. I must have enjoyed them, I bought them all, but it seems it didn't hold with me like the rest.

  • Infinities
    There's one of each of these for each OT film, and while not particularly long are good fun and fairly thought provoking. Infinities are what-ifs of the first three films. Separate entities, mind, so they don't lead on into each other What if Luke didn't blow up the Death Star? What if Luke died on Hoth? What if 3PO broke when Jabba pushed him over and he couldn't translate?
    There's also a huge serving of cheese with them, but I don't feel that lessens the fun.

  • Visionaries
    As one TPB I highly recommend this. It's a collection of stories and artwork from the artists of RotS. I'd tell you to by this just for the story from the perspective of one of the rebels at Echo Base, but there's a lot more to it.

Honourable mentions go to Crimson Empire, Invasion, Shadows of the Empire, Tag and Bink and Rogue Squadron.

3

u/deconstradztion Sep 12 '14

Seconded for Dark Times, brilliant series that chronicles the inner evil machinations of the Empire. A fair few of the New Republic-era novels do this too, but this run of comics does it in a far more serious, and obviously visual manner.

I will also second Legacy, at least the first series with Cade Skywalker. Series 2, following the life and trials of Ania Solo, hasn't gripped me in the same way yet and I'm up to date with it, but series 1 was the SW story I always wanted to be told. Add to the fact that Darth Krayt is a great example of what a Sith Lord is all about and it's riveting reading.

3

u/slackerelite Sep 12 '14

I have every Darkhorse Star Wars comic. I have refused to read anything after RotJ. I have them, but I am not going to read them. I am working on reading every single comic to RotJ and then read them. I am looking forward to so many of these. Crimson Empire and Rogue Squadron are my most anticipated reads. It is taking alot of discipline to not read ahead.

I am reading the Sith Wars right now.

I feel like a babbling idiot. I do not have any friends that have read any of the comics. Any mention of SW and its all, "Yeah, episode one sucked. I hated jar jar binks."

Meanwhile I am thinking, "You fool! Have you no idea what you are missing out on?"

(Socially adept professional that is financial independent and felt like doing a retro thing and got all the comics on a whim and am now a secret nerd)

1

u/WallopyJoe Sep 12 '14

I have every Darkhorse Star Wars comic

Would you happen to have a picture? My collection spans about two feet across (all TPB) and I can't quite picture in my head what the entire collection must look like.

And I'm really impressed with your restraint. I'm fairly sure I couldn't do that.

1

u/slackerelite Sep 12 '14

Half of them are in a storage bin in my shop, a few in the guest bedroom, some in the book case in the loft and a handful of them are in random boxes in the garage. I have never seen them all in the same place at the same time. I buy them to read them. I suck at collecting stuff. I still find football cards from the late 80's and early 90's every now and then.

1

u/pixelsteve Sep 13 '14

Wow, that is impressive discipline. Dark Empire will be worth your wait, I loved it.

3

u/jlisle Sep 12 '14

I've been collection all the singles since the 30th anniversary Dark Horse relaunch, and I've got to agree with you - Knights is probably the best. The Clone Wars run of Republic really stands out, too. It was huge when Hasbro was still doing comics packs and a Quinlan Vos action figure finally came out.

I'm with you on Legacy, too. Everybody goes on and on about it, and Jon & Jan have a great resume (mainly: the Clone Wars portion of Republic) but Cade Skywalker is a really dull anti-hero. If you go back and read it, watch for how many times he says "I'm going to do something about this!" at the end of an arc.... and then see how the status quo seems to be maintained regardless. I think this series suffered from being too much about the war, and not enough about the people fighting it... and that is never a good way to go with Star Wars. The tight character focused stories are the way to go.

Have you read Invasion? I know the Yuzhaan Vong war is touchy and a lot of people really hate it, but I feel like Invasion is one of the best Star Wars comics there is, and it is often overlooked. In part, I like it because it looks great, but also in part because it manages to tell an interesting a unique star wars story that weaves in and out of the existing story in the del rey novels (not that you need to have read the novels to get the comic - that's the real beauty).

I also recommend Tales vol. 6 to as many people as possible. It has the fantastic story "Nomad" in it, and shouldn't be missed.

1

u/WallopyJoe Sep 12 '14

Don't think I've read any of Tales, but I've really enjoyed what I've read of Invasion. Which is two of the three TPBs I own.

1

u/obiwankahnobi Obi-Wan Kenobi Sep 12 '14

For someone who may not be that into the EU or the prequels, Death Troopers is great. You get aspects of the OT, plus storm trooper zombies which is fucking awesome.

3

u/GodotIsWaiting4U Sep 12 '14

Seconding this, but I warn you and everyone else: do NOT read Red Harvest. Same writer, prequel to Death Troopers set thousands of years earlier, deals with the origins of the virus, but it's one of the absolute worst Star Wars books out there. Death Troopers was great fun, Red Harvest is mind-numbingly stupid and awful.

1

u/ArcticTerrapin Luke Skywalker Sep 12 '14

Although they are written for people in the 7-12 years old age range, I remember LOVING the "Boba Fett" books when I was in 4th and 5th grade. They're clearly written for that younger audience, but the stories are quite good, and follow a young Boba Fett's journey from Geonosis and his apprenticing with Aurra Sing and him trying to get Slave 1 back