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So You Want to Read A Star Wars Book…Now What?

How to navigate the new Star Wars canon library

Read a Star Wars Book

I hear it all the time. “I want to read a Star Wars book, but I don’t know where to start!”

Many of us have grown up not knowing a time when Star Wars wasn’t a cultural phenomenon. My first movie in a theater was the original Star Wars in May 1977. I was nine months old. My parents went to a movie theater in Beaumont, Texas, looking for something new to watch. They didn’t have a babysitter, so they decided to suck it up and take the baby to the movie. They decided to check out something called Star Wars. They had no idea that it would become what it is today. They had no idea that their baby girl would grow up to be a massive Star Wars fan.

I grew up with the movies. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I decided to explore the world of Star Wars novels. Desperate for more information on my favorite fandom, I read Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn books (pre-reset) and loved them. I would still recommend any of those books, even if they are now relegated to the world of Legends. I read a few other authors, and always enjoyed getting more behind-the-scenes information, whether it was a Lucas-idea or not. There were so many extended universe (EU) books out there, its hard to even know how many.

On April 25, 2014, the world changed when Disney reset the Star Wars Universe. At that time, only the six original films, The Clone Wars television series and movie, and a short story, Blade Squadron remained in the official canon (or Gospel according to Star Wars). Everything else (including the elusive and terrible Star Wars Holiday Special) was moved from the EU to “Legends.” This was done, assumedly, to allow for new stories that would all have official blessing, to maintain continuity. As the new books have been released, some old favorites from the EU (including Zahn’s Thrawn) have reemerged into the official light.

When this change happened, we already knew there would be new movies coming, and like a kid in a candy store…I wanted it ALL. I had to know everything! So, I set out to read every new novel that Star Wars could throw at me. Now, I am going to share my knowledge with you on how to dive in to the books! There are a couple of ways you can get started.

By release date

Since I started when the canon officially reset, I started at the beginning, with every new novel release. I have worked methodically through the past few years reading each new book as they were released. This can lead to some interesting “huh” kind of moments, since they did not release books in order throughout the actual Star Wars timeline. This means that a new book can pretty much pop up anywhere in history, from pre-Clone Wars to Last Jedi. New characters can come and go easily, and chances are if it is an in-between book (something that falls in-between two things you already know), and you have never heard of that character, they may meet an unfortunate end. Or not. Depends on the book.

The biggest advantage to this method is being able to easily track which books you have read and which ones are still waiting for you. The biggest downside is potential spoilers you weren’t quite ready to read.

Title Author Release Date Star Wars Timeline
John Jackson Miller
September 2, 2014
11 BBY
James Luceno
November 4, 2014
14 BBY
Kevin Hearne
March 3, 2015
0 ABY
Paul S. Kemp
April 28, 2015
14 BBY
Christie Golden
July 7, 2015
19 BBY
Claudia Gray
September 4, 2015
11 BBY - 5 ABY
Chuck Wendig
September 4, 2015
4 ABY
Alexander Freed
November 3, 2015
6 BBY - 3 ABY
Claudia Gray
May 3, 2016
28 ABY
Chuck Wendig
July 12, 2016
4 - 5 ABY
E.K. Johnston
October 11, 2016
18 BBY
James Luceno
November 15, 2016
21 – 17 BBY
Chuck Wendig
February 21, 2017
4 - 5 ABY
Timothy Zahn
April 11, 2017
11 – 1 BBY
Beth Revis
May 2, 2017
13 - 0 BBY
Christie Golden
July 25, 2017
0 ABY
Claudia Gray
September 1, 2017
3 BBY
Delilah S. Dawson
September 1, 2017
28(?) ABY
Various Authors
October 3, 2017
0 BBY - ? ABY
Ken Liu
October 10, 2017
ABY
Various Authors
December 5, 2017
unknown
Daniel Jose Older
April 17, 2018
7 ABY
Timothy Zahn
July 24, 2018
?? BBY

By Star Wars timeline

Another way you can approach the new canon is to start from the beginning! Or at least the beginning as chronological time dictates. I am a firm believer that the first thing to watch in any first-time screening is the 1977 original movie, followed by it’s 80s counterparts (New Hope, Empire, and Jedi—starting with the prequels takes all the fun out of the BIG reveal in Empire, in my opinion). But for the sake of argument, you can begin at the beginning and go from there.

Star Wars time is measured in BBY – ABY dates (think B.C./A.D. for the real world). This is “Before Battle of Yavin” (blowing up the first Death Star) and “After Battle of Yavin.” For example, The Phantom Menace is 32 years before Luke and his gang blew up the Death Star, and Luke managed the coolest Force trick in the universe on Ahch-To 34 years after.

The biggest advantage to this method is avoiding spoilers for things you haven’t seen or read yet (minus that one BIG spoiler I mentioned earlier).

Title Author Star Wars Timeline Release Date
Catalyst: A Rogue One Story
James Luceno
21 – 17 BBY
November 15, 2016
Dark Disciple
Christie Golden
19 BBY
July 7, 2015
Ahsoka
E.K. Johnston
18 BBY
October 11, 2016
Lords of the Sith
Paul S. Kemp
14 BBY
April 28, 2015
Tarkin
James Luceno
14 BBY
November 4, 2014
Rebel Rising
Beth Revis
13 - 0 BBY
May 2, 2017
Thrawn
Timothy Zahn
11 – 1 BBY
April 11, 2017
A New Dawn
John Jackson Miller
11 BBY
September 2, 2014
Leia, Princess of Alderaan
Claudia Gray
3 BBY
September 1, 2017
Thrawn: Alliances
Timothy Zahn
?? BBY
July 24, 2018
From a Certain Point of View
Various Authors
0 BBY - ? ABY
October 3, 2017
Battlefront II: Inferno Squad
Christie Golden
0 ABY
July 25, 2017
Heir to the Jedi
Kevin Hearne
0 ABY
March 3, 2015
Battlefront: Twilight Company
Alexander Freed
6 BBY - 3 ABY
November 3, 2015
Lost Stars
Claudia Gray
11 BBY - 5 ABY
September 4, 2015
Aftermath
Chuck Wendig
4 ABY
September 4, 2015
Aftermath: Life Debt
Chuck Wendig
4 - 5 ABY
July 12, 2016
Aftermath: Empire's End
Chuck Wendig
4 - 5 ABY
February 21, 2017
The Legends of Luke Skywalker
Ken Liu
ABY
October 10, 2017
Last Shot
Daniel Jose Older
7 ABY
April 17, 2018
Bloodline
Claudia Gray
28 ABY
May 3, 2016
Phasma
Delilah S. Dawson
28(?) ABY
September 1, 2017
Canto Bight
Various Authors
unknown
December 5, 2017

By recommendation

Since I have already read all these books, I am happy to share some of my favorites that I believe are good starting places. I am making these recommendations based on story, characters, and where they fit into the grand scheme.

  • Dark Disciple: If you were a fan of The Clone Wars, this may be a great place for you to start. Asajj Ventress was former apprentice to Count Dooku before he cast her aside, and she is now on her own. The Jedi council has had enough of Count Dooku and the Separatists, so they have devised a plan to take this player off the board…permanently. They enlist the help of a rogue Jedi to bring their plan to fruition. I love this book because Ventress is one of the first strong female characters we see since Princess Leia. When the TV series was cancelled, Ventress was MIA, so this gives a nice wrap-up to her storyline.
  • Thrawn: As I mentioned before, Thrawn was one of my favorite EU characters and I am delighted that he has officially returned to the fold. Timothy Zahn is an excellent writer, and you forget that Thrawn is in the employ of the evil Empire, and you really want to see him succeed. You also get a good sense that people are just people, regardless of which side of the Force they walk.
  • A New Dawn: This was the first book released after the canon reset in 2014. It follows the story of Kanan Jarrus, who we know becomes the star of the latest TV series, Star Wars Rebels (animated). It’s a good place to see where the Empire stands after the fall of the Republic, but before the rise of what we know is to come.

Now that you have an idea of where you are going, it’s time to dive right in and enjoy! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @geeksofgalaxy or contact us at Hello@geeksofthegalaxy.com to let us know if this was helpful and which book is your new favorite!!

*Note: This list of canon books is limited to novels ONLY. There are also plenty of movie novelizations, comic books, young adult books, and video games that are considered part of the current Star Wars universe. You can check Wookiepedia or dozens of other sites online to find those and see where they fall into the timelines.

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Written by Elizabeth Serna

Podcaster, photographer, writer, retired corporate trainer, and overall Geek who lives near Houston, Texas with her husband Paul and their two fur-babies, Lucy and Daphne. She is co-host of Nerdy B’s Podcast, a show where two geeky ladies podcast their way through pop culture, and owns and writes Self Saving Princess, a blog about her journey to take back her life when it took a very long series of wrong turns.

Liz has been a geek ever since her parents took her to her first movie – Star Wars (1977) – when she was just nine months old. Since then, her passion for geek culture has included all things Star Wars, Shark Week, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, and a general love of reading, writing, singing, and cooking.

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