Hello and welcome to day six of my Star Wars challenge! For the next 31 days, I’ll be posting once a day with a Star Wars themed post. Some days I’ll be talking about just one thing, other days it’ll be about 5 things based on the prompt of the day.
The challenge is open to everyone and can be completed at any time. I thought that May, being home to May the 4th, sounded like the perfect time. If you’d like to join me this month then please do! You can find all the details over here.
DAY 6 – Fiction
Today’s prompt is ‘fiction’ and I’m a massive fan of the larger Star Wars universe especially the printed word. I’ve already covered my favourite and most recommended Star Wars Comics so today is focused on books! Specifically, the Expanded Universe now referred to as ‘Legends’. The reason for this is that I’ve only read a couple of books in the new canon (and I’ve not been that impressed which is a whole other story). Once I’ve read more I’ll be able to put together a post like this, for now, please enjoy my ramblings about some of my favourite books as I take you on a trip through the wider Star Wars universe.
Anything by Timothy Zahn
That is a broad range I admit, but it was either do this or most of this list would be Timothy Zahn books. I’m not kidding. I’ve not had a chance to read the new Thrawn series yet, although I expect it to be as brilliant (if not more so) than Zahn’s previous work. His books do have a continued storyline and characters so I would suggest starting with The Thrawn Trilogy which started everything off. The first book is called Heir to the Empire and introduces the legendary Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade and Talon Karrade (see day 1 of my challenge!).
Following on from the events of The Thrawn Trilogy, 10 years later the heroes are called upon to revisit the same events in order to save the fledgeling New Republic and banish the remnants of the Empire for good. The Hand of Thrawn duology brings back familiar faces from the first trilogy in an all-new adventure where the odds are even higher. The first book is called Specter of the Past and the concluding book is called Visions of the Future. Without giving too much away I will say that if you enjoyed the Thrawn Trilogy and thought that was fantastic I personally considered this sequel to be even better. Each time I read a Timothy Zahn novel I feel they get even better.
After this Zahn swaps to standalone novels focusing on his characters and important events established in his previous work. One of my favourite novels ever, and by far my favourite Star Wars novel, Survivor’s Quest, is a Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade novel. It focuses on their relationship and is an emotional roller-coaster kickass adventure. They’re alone, outmanned and outgunned and all they have is each other. We get to see Mara Jade dip into her arsenal of talents from her days as an Emperor’s hand and see what two Jedi can really do with the Force as their ally.
Connected to Survivor’s Quest is the prequel adventure Outbound Flight which finally tells the full story of the mysterious Outbound Flight project that features in the previous novels. The project took place in the days of The Republic just before the Clone Wars broke out and the novel features Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
The last book I wish to highlight by Zahn is Scoundrels that was described as Star Wars’ version of Ocean’s Eleven. Having read the novel I can confirm that it safely checks that box. Set just after A New Hope Han is still heavily in debt to Jabba the Hutt and he realises that he needs a really big score to get the bounty off his head. Flying high from helping destroy the first Death Star he decides to do something unimaginable; break into the super fortified stronghold of a Black Sun crime boss. To do that he’s going to need a team of expert criminals. With Lando and Chewie by his side, nothing can go wrong… right? As we know from the films he doesn’t get the bounty paid but the fun is in finding out how spectacularly things go wrong.
The Darth Bane Trilogy is not only a great read it’s also a must-read for anyone who wants to know more about Sith lore. In The Phantom Menace, Yoda says “Always two, there are. No more, no less. A master… and an apprentice” and throughout the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars we watch as Darth Sidious carefully sticks to this rule. The rule is called the Rule of Two and it was created by Darth Bane. The Darth Bane Trilogy tells the story of the Sith apprentice Dessel who joins the Sith academy and embraces his new identity: Bane. Over the course of the Trilogy, he grows in power and develops the Rule of Two as a way to stop the Sith power base from becoming stagnant. “One to embody power, the other to crave it”, meaning that once an apprentice grows more powerful than their Master they are to take that power ensuring that the Sith are always as powerful as they can be.
The first book is called Path of Destruction.
Shadows of the Empire
Shadows of the Empire is set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and tells the story behind the Rebels daring rescue of Han Solo at Jabba’s Palace. It introduces a new character and antagonist, Prince Xizor, an ambitious Black Sun crime lord and mastermind who sets himself up to topple Darth Vader. As Vader searches for his son following their meeting on Cloud City Xizor is working against him, all the while the Rebels are working their own angle as they try to track down their missing friend.
It’s a great story that gives us a chance to see how the plan came together while really giving some of the characters a chance to shine. Leia, in particular, gets a chance to show how well she can handle herself.
I, Jedi introduces one of my favourite Jedi who I’ll be gushing over in tomorrow’s post; Corran Horn. Corran is one of Rogue Squadron’s best pilots and a former Corsec agent, but he’s also the grandson of a legendary Jedi hero. He’s from a long line of Correllian Jedi and this book explores his history, the traditions of Correllian Jedi and the differences between Jedi lineages. Corran’s family line, for example, has a weakness with one particular force power and a stronger affinity with others. What works for others doesn’t work for him.
I, Jedi follows Corran’s story as he joins Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy and learns about his family’s history so that he can use his abilities to find his wife. However, Skywalker’s methods don’t work for him and he quits in frustration leaving him to rely on his Corsec experience to infiltrate a ruthless organisation to save his wife.
Unlike most Star Wars books, I, Jedi is also written from the first-person perspective. In doing so it also repeats a lot of content from other books, namely the retelling the events of Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy from Corran’s perspective.
The New Jedi Order represents a complete change in the Star Wars universe. Up until this point, everyone was safe and the plots revolved around the same thing; the New Republic fighting the Empire or some remnant of it. Within the first book, Vector Prime, it became clear that nothing would ever be the same when fan favourite Chewbacca died saving Han and Leia’s son Anakin. The galaxy was never going to be the same; a terraforming alien race called the Yuuzhan Vong had invaded.
This 19 book series is written by 12 Star Wars authors and is much darker than anything else before it. Set 21 years after Return of the Jedi, the next generation are all grown up and are joining their parents on the front line. While it is a very difficult series to read in many respects I would include it in my must-reads. It’s a series that changes everything and it’s needed for context for the books that come after. There is a lot of good writing, new characters and fantastic moments even amongst the darkness.
Legacy of the Force
Twenty years after the events of the New Jedi Order the galaxy is still reeling from the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. It doesn’t take much for a war to break out between Corellia and the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances (formerly The New Republic). As one of their own falls to the dark side the Skywalker/Solo family will suffer tragedy as the force shapes the galaxy once more.
Legacy of the Force is a brilliant series that I can’t say more about without giving away major spoilers. It brings back some old characters and has so many surprising twists. The series starts with Betrayal.
Fate of the Jedi
Following on from the events of Legacy of the Force, Luke Skywalker the Grandmaster of the Jedi is arrested for failing to prevent one of his Jedi turning into Darth Cadeus and reign of terror throughout the galaxy. It’s just the start of an anti-Jedi backlash as young Jedi began to fall prey to a mysterious illness that causes them to hallucinate.
With no choice but to strike a bargain with the new leader of the Galactic Alliance, Luke Skywalker must give up everything to keep his freedom and stop history from repeating itself. Forbidden to intervene in Jedi affairs, Luke is determined to find out how his student fell to the dark side and prevent history from repeating itself. With his son Ben at his side, he sets off on a pilgrimage to learn more about the force.
I’ve yet to finish the Fate of the Jedi series, and I still consider it one of the best series I have read. There is a lot happening in these books including relationships being made, healed and broken after everything that has happened in the past few decades. It really delves into a lot of force lore and I’m interested to see where it goes. Unfortunately, this was the last series before Disney took over which is why I’m taking it slow; whatever happens at the end there will never be a follow-up.
There are 9 books in this series and 1 of The Fate of the Jedi is called Outcast.
Tatooine Ghost is a one-off novel that deals with Leia’s feelings towards her father’s identity and coming to terms with who he was. On a mission to save an important Alderaanian painting from falling into the hands of the Empire Leia stumbles upon a holographic image of her father as a child winning the Boonta Eve Podrace. Unable to reconcile that image with the Sith Lord she knew him as Leia is plagued with worries about starting a family with Han.
As their mission continues she ends up learning more about Anakin and his life before he became a Jedi. It’s a heartwarming story that connects the Prequel and Original trilogies as well as giving a wonderful insight into Leia and Han’s early relationship.
Set after the events of Legacy of the Force, Han and Leia are travelling the galaxy with their granddaughter Allana who has been given into their care. When Allana finds a mysterious device hidden on the Falcon she starts a fact-finding mission to retrace the ship’s history. Of course it’s never that simple and Millenium Falcon is a galaxy crossing adventure filled with all sorts of havoc and the usual crazy stunts you expect from the Solos.
The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force
Unlike the other books on this list, The Jedi Path isn’t a novel and is an in-character guide. It’s a manual written for Jedi and annotated by characters of note as seen in the image above. The entire book is fascinating as it goes into so much detail, however, the annotations are absolutely fantastic and are all written perfectly in-character complete with sarcasm.
There is a Sith equivalent, The Book of Sith, which I have also read and recommend. There are other in-character manuals which I’ve not had a chance to read and they are:
Over To You
As you may have noticed there was a lot more than 5 there 😉 I couldn’t possibly just talk about 5 books! Whether you’re familiar with the Star Wars Expanded Universe or you’re new to it I hope this post was informative or gave you a place to start. Honourable mention goes to the X-Wing series which I already gushed about on Day 1 and didn’t want to bore you with by repeating myself again!
Have you read any of these Star Wars books? What’s your favourite book/series? Have you read any of the new canon yet? Let me know in the comments 🙂
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