Every franchise has its ups and downs. Generally, good franchises have few major downturns but some people swear by their favorite installments in a franchise no matter how many disappointments they have. After the prequel movies came out, fans of the franchise were left wanting more in order to redeem themselves for their past mistakes. Then came out these books which were characterized as Star Wars Legends, separate from what it means for something to be canon or not.
The Star Wars Legends is an expansive and diverse world full of characters and stories. There are myriad ways to get lost in this world so we’ve selected the best Star Wars Legends books for you!
What are Star Wars Legends?
In 2012, Disney bought Lucasfilm. They decided to clear up the Star Wars timeline. Also, they wanted to better define content that was aligned with the films.
Books published before April 2014 are now Legends. This means that they don’t follow the same continuity as the films. These stories can be thought of as myths and fables, and legends about your favorite characters.
However, all publications after 2014 are officially called Canon. They fall under the same continuity as films and TV programs.
This article explains the differences between Star Wars Canon and Legends in more detail.
Although Lucasfilm may have enacted Order 66 for the pre-2014 novels it does not mean that these stories are no longer relevant. These stories are still great reads, and many inform Canon works.
The gold Legends banner on the cover’s front is a great way to distinguish between Legends or Canon. If you are looking for used books without the banner, the Youtini can be used to toggle between Legends or Canon lists.
What is the Star Wars Expanded Universe?
Star Wars content was not always available in the galaxy, despite what you may think.
There are no yearly movies, long-running TV shows, or a large library of media tie-ins. It is difficult to imagine in the current mediascape everything Star Wars, from spin-off movies to theme parks to high-quality live-action shows.
Star Wars was a huge success in 1977. However, the credits left a void in popular culture. Fans clamored for more adventures in the galaxy far and away but didn’t get their next taste until 1978 when Alan Dean Foster’s novel Splinter the Mind’s Eye was released.
Foster’s novel was the first Star Wars book. It also ushered in what would become the Expanded Universe, a collection of content that includes stories not included in the Original Trilogy. Star Wars comics and novels transformed the EU into a real, living galaxy for Star Wars fans to explore in the years that followed.
With decades of content, including hundreds of comics and books for children, why does the new trilogy not reference them? Great question. That’s because these stories are set in the Legends timeline.
Best Star Wars Books To Read
Darth Bane Trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn
Karpyshyn takes readers back to a thousand years prior to the Clone Wars and tells the story of Darth Bane in the Old Republic via this masterful trilogy. Bane rebels against the Sith Order in a time when a Sith army vies for power. Have you ever wondered where the Sith’s Rule of Two originated? It is here that Bane explains it.
The world of the dark side users is revealed to readers. They can also explore Korriban’s Sith Academy and see Bane’s influence over later villains. This Star Wars Legends novel is a standout among Star Wars Legends novels because of its epic scope and rich Sith history.
Titles in Darth Bane Trilogy Series:
- Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
- Darth Bane: Rule of Two
- Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil
Darth Plagueis by James Luceno
In Revenge of the Sith, the mysterious Darth Plagueis was first mentioned during a private moment between Chancellor Palpatine (an unhappy Anakin Skywalker) and Chancellor Palpatine. Young Skywalker had a foretaste that Padme, his secret bride, would die in childbirth. Palpatine mentions Darth Plagueis as a powerful Sith Lord who discovered the power to stop people from dying and create life.
It also serves as a prequel for the actual Prequel Trilogy, as it depicts Palpatine’s rise to power. Anakin doesn’t know that Palpatine, who was once an apprentice to Darth Plagueis, is the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. James Luceno’s Darth Plagueis chronicles the story of a young Palpatine learning Dark Sith Arts from his master and eventually surpassing him.
Kenobi by John Jackson Miller
Best Modern Star Wars Legends Novel
John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi, released just before the transition from Canon and Legends in 2013, makes it a modern Legends story. Obi-Wan Kenobi is forced to come out of hiding in order to bring justice to an alliance of morally bankrupt settlers. Kenobi is Miller’s Star Wars story that mixes action, adventure, and romance.
Our staff loves Kenobi so strongly, that we made it one of our Foundational Five Books.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover
Matthew Stover’s Revenge of the Sith, a film novelization, is the best place to begin if you have never read one.
Wait, isn’t the novelization of Revenge of the Sith Canon not?
Stover chose to adapt the story rather than making it a film. George Lucas allowed him to allow Stover to make minor changes in the plot.
These include the deletion of Kashyyk’s sequence, the alteration of Anakin’s emotions when he falls to his dark side, and a more detailed account of Mace Windu’s attempt to arrest Chancellor Palpatine.
Stover’s prose is a revelation. It combines character with beautifully written actions. The characters will make you feel a connection with you, and then the last pages will blow your mind.
Revenge of the Sith has been praised so much that it is one of our Foundational Five Books that every Star Wars fan should read.
Star Wars: The Old Republic – Deceived
Paul S. Kemp is a Star Wars Legends novels prolific author. Deceived is no exception. It is centered on Darth Malgus who is another powerful Sith Lord, often mentioned along with Revan, Bane, and other Old Republic pillars in Sith Society.
This book is tied to BioWare’s huge MRPG The Old Republic. It is set more than 3,000 years prior to A New Hope, during the Republic’s time and the Sith Empire.
After storming the Jedi Temple of Coruscant, leaving behind a massacre, he confronts Aryn Leneer (a long-time Jedi), who joins forces with a rogue Smuggler to take revenge on the Sith Lord for her murder.
Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
This novel by James Luceno, a fan of Darth Vader and the Prequels, is a must-read. This novel is almost immediately after Anakin Skywalker’s official inauguration as Darth Vader.
The novel portrays a Vader who is different from the one in the movies. The novel follows his journey as he is overwhelmed by emotions and doesn’t know if he made the right choice. It will be a story about his quest to kill all surviving Jedi after Order 66. Although it has a predictable ending, it is a fantastic story.
The Dark Lord Trilogy
The Dark Lord Trilogy, by James Luceno, is the best collection of novels for fans of Darth Vader and Dark Lord of the Sith. It covers the sequence of events starting with the Revenge of the Sith movie through Darth Vader’s service under Emperor Palpatine during the years that led up to A New Hope.
The novelizations of Revenge of the Sith and Labyrinth of Evil are included in the trilogy. Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader is also included. This collection is essential for fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe as well as those who are interested in the time period that saw Anakin Skywalker transform into the legendary Sith Lord.
The Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy (Series)
Michael P. Kube McDowell’s Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy is a different story. It does not focus solely on one character, but it is more military- and politically focused. The story takes place 16 years ago and introduces the Yevethan Forces, ex-Imperial slaves, as well as their genocidal campaign against the Koornacht Cluster.
This occurs at a time our beloved characters are being separated. Chewbacca is at Kashyyk with his family. Luke is on an enlightenment trip to his mother’s homeworld. Leia is in a personal crisis.
This trilogy introduces some new elements to the lives of some of our favorite characters, and also adds much to the lore regarding character origins and force power.
Titles in The Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy:
- Before the Storm
- Shield of Lies
- Tyrant’s Test
Heir to the Empire & Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
Best Old School Star Wars Legends Novel
The 1991 release of Timothy Zahn’s Histories to the Empire saw the EU reach new heights. It began the Thrawn trilogy, introduced beloved familiar characters like Mara Jade, Solo twins, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and many more.
It takes place five years after Return of the Jedi and shows how the galaxy was rebuilt after the Empire’s demise with a Peace Treaty signed between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire.
Zahn’s work has been credited for revitalizing the EU, and ushering into the “old school” era Star Wars stories.
Thrawn was so influential in the Star Wars universe, he returned to Canon with Star Wars Rebels. He is now featured in Zahn’s new Canon Thrawn trilogy.
Many still consider the Thrawn series the crowning achievement in Star Wars storytelling. We will forever be grateful for its role as a formalization of the entire Expanded Universe.
Titles in the Thrawn Trilogy:
- Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
- Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn
- The Last Command by Timothy Zahn
Legacy of the Force series by Troy Denning, Karen Traviss, and Aaron Allston
The nine-book Legacy of the Force series focused on Jacen Solo’s descent to the dark side, and another major galactic conflict. This Star Wars series stands out because of its personal elements more than the space battles.
The story centers on Jacen’s fallout from following in his grandfather’s footsteps. There are many heartbreaking and surprising character deaths in the books. The family must come to terms with the fact that Jacen is following his grandfather’s footsteps. It’s a fascinating chapter in the Star Wars saga, especially when you add Boba Fett and his Mandalorians.
The Jedi Academy Trilogy (Series)
Kevin J. Anderson’s trilogy of three books follows Luke Skywalker’s attempts to revive the Jedi Order and establish a Jedi Academy on Yavin IV. This is the main focus of the trilogy. However, there are many other stories that involve Han Solo and Chewbacca as well as the ongoing war between the Galactic Alliance (the new Galactic Alliance) and the remaining forces of the Empire.
It is safe to assume that the Sequel trilogy of movies was inspired by this series of books. This book shares a lot in common with Kylo Ren’s story, making it even more valuable.
Titles in The Jedi Academy Trilogy
- Jedi Search
- Dark Apprentice
- Champions of the Force
The Corellian Trilogy: Ambush at Corellia, Ambush at Selonia, and Showdown at Centerpoint by Roger MacBride Allen
In this New Republic-era trilogy of books, Han Solo returns home to his planet. It sees the Corellian Sector in turmoil. The New Republic wants the sector to be independent and take control. They threaten to use the powerful Centerpoint Station to stop them. Han and the other characters must stop them in a story about Centerpoint. Han also introduces Thrackan Sal-Solo to us, who will be a frequent antagonist in Star Wars books in the future.
X-Wing Series by Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston
Think of a Star Wars ship that is more iconic and amazing than the X-Wing. We’ll wait.
X-Wing was a relatively new entry in the Expanded Universe. It was the first series to drop the heroic trio of Luke Han and Leia. X-Wing instead features original characters such as Tycho Celchu and Corran Horn. It also introduces readers to the Rogue Squadrons and explains the Alliance’s military achievements at the start of the New Republic era.
Shadows Of The Empire by Steve Perry, George Lucas, John Wagner
Fans of Legends novels love Steve Perry’s Shadows of the Empire. It 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 face a sinister evil lurking in the shadows of the Empire: Prince Xizor. This alien crime lord seeks to surpass Vader’s authority.
The novel is filled with intriguing plot twists and fun new characters. It also features the schemes of an unknown villain. It is also notable for revealing how Han Solo was saved and Princess Leia disguised as a bounty hunter.
The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton
This is the RomCom of Star Wars Books. It follows the love story between Princess Leia (and Han Solo) and ultimately leads to their marriage. Hank discovers that Leia is considering marriage to Hapan Prince Isolder. This sets off a series of events that lead to a trip to Dathomir and a confrontation with Zsinj, the warlord. The book introduces the Hapes cluster, the Nightsisters, and witches of Dathomir, and both end up appearing repeatedly in the Expanded Universe.
The New Jedi Order (Series)
This series contains 19 books by 12 different authors. It will take you a while to read. However, not all books are equally well-written and enjoyable. The series tells an epic and epic story set in Star Wars that can easily be compared to the Skywalker Saga.
The invasion of the Yuuzhan Vong from the Unknown Regions is the greatest threat to the galaxy’s history. Many new characters will be introduced to you, while many familiar faces will return. You’ll also see the evolution of some old favorites. It is a long-held dream of many hardcore fans to finally see the Yuuzhan Vong in cinematic form.
This period of Legends lore can be safely said to be among the most important and must-read if you have the patience to read 19 books.
Titles in The New Jedi Order series:
- Vector Prime by R.A Salvatore
- Onslaught by Michael A. Stackpole
- Ruin by Michael A. Stackpole
- Hero’s Trial by James Luceno
- Balance Point by Kathy Tyers
- Jedi Eclipse by James Luceno
- Conquest by Greg Keyes
- Rebirth by Greg Keyes
- Star by Star by Troy Denning
- Dark Journey by Elaine Cunningham
- Rebel Dream by Aaron Allston
- Rebel Stand by Aaron Allston
- Traitor by Matthew Stover
- Destiny’s Way by Walter Jon Williams
- Remnant by Sean Williams, Shane Dix
- Refugee by Sean Williams, Shane Dix
- Reunion by Sean Williams, Shane Dix
- The Final Prophecy by Greg Keyes
- The Unifying Force by James Luceno
The Hand of Thrawn (Two-Book Series)
You may be familiar with the Old Canon and have heard of Grand Admiral Thrawn, the fan-favorite character. These books will be at the top of any Star Wars list if you know the meaning of that name.
The Hand of Thrawn is a duology of two books. They are set ten years after the original Thrawn Trilogy. We will discuss them below. We won’t spoil the best parts of the story, so let’s just say Grand Admiral Thrawn is resurrected from the dead in a strange and deceitful manner at a time when Imperial forces are trying to make peace with the New Republic.
These books will explain how and why it happens. These books were exactly what made me fall in love again with Luke Skywalker, Mara Jade, and his wife.
Titles in the Hand of Thrawn series:
- Spector of the Past by Timothy Zahn
- The vision of the Future by Timothy Zahn
Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye
Foster’s novel was the first after A New Hope. However, it wasn’t considered canon as Empire replaced it as the sequel.
Star Wars fans will treasure Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye as the original attempt to “expand” the Star Wars universe beyond the films that George Lucas made. This movie, which was released just a few decades after Return of the Jedi’s, features Luke and Leia on an unannounced mission to a mysterious planet between Episode IV and Episode 5.
They find the Kaiburr crystal on planet Circarpous, which Star Wars fans will recognize as similar to the “kyber”, crystals used in Jedi lightsabers, and what “powered” Death Star. Leia vows to stop it from falling into the Empire’s hands.
Star Wars: Jedi Trilogy Boxed Set
Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Trilogy is some of the best Star Wars Legends storytelling. This story features Han Solo and Princess Leia, the twins of Han Solo and Princess Leia, who are now generals in Rebel Alliance and leaders in the New Republic. They enter their Force powers under the guidance of their uncle Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.
In the years since Return of the Jedi, the Star Wars Universe has seen a lot of change. Luke instructs a new generation Jedi Knights. Han and Leia guide the next generation of leaders but they are all haunted by the past.
- Star Wars: (Star Wars: Jedi Academy Trilogy)
Fate of the Jedi (Series)
Fate of the Jedi was a series of nine books that were co-authored by Troy Denning and Christie Golden, three of the most prominent Star Wars authors. It’s interesting that the last book was published just as Disney bought Star Wars in 2012.
The books tell the story between 43.5 ABY & 44.5 ABY. (ABY stands For After the Battle of Yavin). It follows a turbulent time for the Galactic Alliance following Jacen Solo’s conversion to the Dark Side. The Galactic Alliance takes Luke Skywalker into custody and sends him to exile, having lost trust in the Jedi. Curious?
The series is about the mysterious and exciting journey of two characters on a quest for answers to Jacen’s fall. We meet new characters, including an ancient Sith tribe, and learn about the Force in a different way.
Titles in the Fate of the Jedi Series:
- Fate of the Jedi: Outcast by Aaron Allston
- Fate of the Jedi: Omen by Christie Golden
- Fate of the Jedi: Abyss by Troy Denning
- Fate of the Jedi: Backlash by Aaron Allston
- Fate of the Jedi: Allies by Christie Golden
- Fate of the Jedi: Vortex by Troy Denning
- Fate of the Jedi: Conviction by Aaron Allston
- Fate of the Jedi: Ascension by Christie Golden
- Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse by Troy Denning
Cloak of Deception by James Luceno
Luceno’s novel takes place before The Phantom Menace and highlights the problems that Chancellor Valorum faced in the Republic. As trouble arises around Valorum, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn get involved. Palpatine, a senator, is busy manipulating the galaxy. This is a fascinating look at the political landscape leading to the demise of the Republic.
Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves
Although Darth Maul did not say much in The Phantom Menace it didn’t stop him from being one the most fascinating characters in the prequels. This book reveals more about Darth Maul’s activities as Darth Sidious apprentice. His master sends Maul on a mission to find anyone who has been given information that could help him end the Sith Lord’s plans. This action-packed story allows us to see more of Episode I’s events.
The Republic Commando Series by Karen Traviss
The Republic Commando series is for you if you enjoy Star Wars battles and tactical military operations. This spinoff of the hit Republic Commando game follows Omega and Delta Squads as they embark on dangerous missions through the Clone Wars, all the way to Order 66.
Karen Traviss is well-known for her extraordinary development of Mandalorian culture. She may have contributed more to the lore than any other creator. This series really shows it off. The series was abruptly ended after the fourth book. Readers will never know what happened to their beloved characters, but they will have a complete story.
Dark Disciple by Christie Golden
Dark Disciple is set after the conclusion of The Clone Wars series. It continues Asajj Ventress’ story as well as the Jedi Quinlan Vols’. They embark on a dangerous mission in order to kill Count Dooku. Fans know they won’t succeed, but the novel manages to hold the reader’s attention with its intriguing storyline. Quinlan and Asajj are a formidable team. Their complex, fascinating relationship is captivating.
While we have now finished our list of series and books, many more novels will be worth your time. Disney may have their canon, which will grow over time, but the Expanded Universe is just as important.
You can’t rule out all Star Wars Legends books or comics, but these are the top titles that you need to be aware of. We’ll continue to update this list as new novels are released, but our goal is to help you navigate the waters! Do you think we missed a great SW Legends book or series? Feel free to share in the comments below! Happy reading!
Last update on 2021-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API