Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. The official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was “The First 10 Books I Randomly Grabbed From My Shelf” which actually sounded like a ton of fun. However, I might try and revisit that at a later date because it is time for my annual list were I highlight one of the coolest and awesome franchise out there, Star Wars.
As many of you may be aware, this week contains the annual celebration of all things Star Wars with May the Fourth, better known as Star Wars Day. I am a pretty massive fan of the Star Wars franchise (just check out my extended Star Wars category on the side of this page), and in recent years have really fallen in love with the various aspects of its extended universe, including the films, television shows, animated series, comics and of course the tie-in novels. Each year, a ton of cool novels, intense comics, and even some epic audio dramas are released with impressive connections to the extended Star Wars universe, covering various periods of the canon and beyond. I have had an absolute brilliant time reading some of the very best of these tie-in novels and comics over the years, and there are some excellent and powerful adventures featured within them. Due to how much I have enjoyed these books and comics, I have decided to celebrate the upcoming May the Fourth this year by once again highlighting my absolute favourite Star Wars novels and comics. This is a continuation of several lists I have done in recent years, however this year, rather than splitting the novels and comics in separate lists, I am instead going to one giant list capturing all pieces of literary Star Wars media.
To pull this list together I looked at all the Star Wars novels and comics I have read (or listened to as an audiobook) over the years and tried to determine what my absolute favourites were. I slightly cheated in places by featuring whole trilogies and series, particularly those with really well-connected storylines, as a single entry, although I don’t feel too guilty about that. This allowed me to pull together quite a comprehensive list, which I expanded out to 20 entries to really highlight the awesome range of fiction surrounding this franchise. I will admit that there isn’t a great deal of difference between this list and some of the previous ones I have featured, mainly because I’ve been a little light with my Star Wars reading in the last few months. Still, I am pretty happy with how this list came together, and I think that this list fully highlights my absolute favourite Star Wars tie-in novels. So let us see what makes the cut.
Top Twenty List (no particular order):
Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn
Let’s start this list off with the epic trilogy of books that follow one of the best characters in the Star Wars extended canon, the Thrawn trilogy. Made up of Thrawn, Alliances and Treason, these amazing books follow the Imperial career of Grand Admiral Thrawn in the current Disney canon. Written by the legendary Timothy Zahn, who reinvents his greatest fictional creation for a new age, this series featured a brilliant central character, impressive storylines, and some intense and well-written space battle sequences. It is so much fun to see the ultimate tactician go against the very worst the galaxy has to throw at him, and this ended up being a particularly awesome trilogy. This trilogy also stands as essential reading before the Ahoska series comes out later this year, which will finally see the live-action debut of Thrawn (nerd squeal).
Star Wars (2015)
You really cannot talk about Star Wars comics without mentioning this awesome long-running series, which was the centrepiece of the Star Wars comic franchise between 2015 and 2020. Set between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, this series features the joint adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, C-3PO and R2-D2 as they attempt to overthrow the Empire. Filling in many gaps between the films, this series contained some clever and unique storylines that explore the Rebellion and the harsh battles they fought. This series started off big with an epic first volume, Skywalker Strikes, which not only had some awesome opening issues as the team faces off against Vader for the first time but which also shows the first time that Vader found out that Luke was his son (a very epic scene). There is an immense amount of talent behind these comics, with several awesome writers, including original writer Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen and Greg Pak, as well as an outstanding array of artists, such as John Cassaday, Salvador Larroca and Phil Noto. The different teams produce a little variability in the series, but they all managed to produce an excellent and clever array of stories and big moments that make this series an absolute treat to read from one end to the other.
Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy by Timothy Zahn
Zahn followed up this initial Thrawn trilogy in a big way with the epic Thrawn Ascendancy prequel trilogy. Featuring three great books, Chaos Rising, Greater Good and Lesser Evil, the Thrawn Ascendancy novels showcase a younger Thrawn as he battles to save his home system from a relentless and multi-pronged alien invasion. Containing all the best elements of the Thrawn trilogy, as well as some intensive and detailed universe building that bears noticeable connections to the author’s previous work in the Legends extended universe, this is another exceptional trilogy that is well worth reading.
Darth Vader (2015)
While I did read some other Star War comic series first, this would be the one the really made with fall in love with the genre. Created by the awesome team of Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca, this great comic follows Darth Vader after A New Hope and sees Vader set out to gain more power and influence after discovering the true identity of Luke Skywalker. Teaming up with his new subordinate/prisoner, Doctor Aphra, Vader smashes through the galaxy while coming to terms with the fact that he has a son. An epic and powerful series that is consistently awesome from start to finish, this is one of the absolute best Star Wars comics out there and all four volumes (including Vader and Shadows and Secrets) are five-star reads.
Alphabet Squadron trilogy by Alexander Freed
Alexander Freed has probably had one of the strongest and most emotionally charged Star Wars trilogies in recent years with his exceptional Alphabet Squadron books. Made up of Alphabet Squadron, Shadow Fall and Victory’s Price, this incredible trilogy followed five unique New Republic fighter pilots in the aftermath of Return of the Jedi, as they attempt to finish off the Imperial remnant. This trilogy perfectly follows its five damaged and despairing central characters, as well as several morally grey Imperial characters, as they all seek redemption and deliverance in their own unique way. Featuring some blistering and epic fighter combat sequences, as well as some of the best Star Wars character development you are ever likely to see, the Alphabet Squadron novels are extremely good, with Victory’s Price (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2021) serving as an intense and unbeatable finale.
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith
I really had to highlight one of the first Star Wars comic series I ever read fully on this list with the epic and insanely intense Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith. Written by the legendary Charles Soule and drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli, this series follows Darth Vader in the aftermath of his transformation from Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith. This comic catches Vader at his rawest emotional period, and I loved the complex and powerful stories that Soule weaved around this iconic figure. This comic had the perfect blend of emotion, action and character development, and every single entry (including Volume 2: Legacy’s End and Volume 3: Burning Seas), was exceptionally well written and intensely addictive.
Darth Plagueis by James Luceno
There was no way that I couldn’t feature the very intriguing and comprehensive Star Wars Legends novel, Darth Plagueis on this list due to how damn interesting it is. Written by the talented James Luceno, Darth Plagueis tells the entire story of the mysterious Darth Plagueis the Wise, including his complex relationship with his ambitious apprentice, Darth Sidious. A clever novel that connects to multiple parts of the now defunct Legends canon, Darth Plagueis is a must read for all hardcore fans who love detailed Star Wars lore, and a potential source of great inspiration for anyone attempting to bring Plagueis to life in the future.
Doctor Aphra (2016)
Spinning off from the Darth Vader (2015) series, this comic chronicles the wild adventures of the titular protagonist, Doctor Aphra, as she attempts to con everyone she comes across, be they family, former lover, deadly droid or Dark Lord of the Sith. Initially produced by the character’s original creators, Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca, this long-running series was later written by Simon Spurrier, who produced some outstanding storylines with support from an excellent cast of artists, including Kev Walker, Andrea Broccardo and Emilio Laiso. I absolutely loved this great series from its first issue, and it has some extraordinary storylines to it. Both volumes I reviewed, Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon and A Rogue’s End got five star reads from me, and I would definitely give the same to most of the earlier volumes in this epic and extremely entertaining series.
Dark Disciple by Christie Golden
Prepare to dive into the Dark Side of the Force with the excellent Dark Disciple from tie-in fiction extraordinaire Christie Golden. Serving as a follow-up to The Clone Wars animated series (it is based on several unproduced episodes), this novel follows two fan-favourite characters from the extended universe, Quinlan Vos and Asajj Ventress, as they attempt to assassinate Count Dooku. Containing an intense character-driven narrative that sees both protagonists at their very worst, Dark Disciple provides some intriguing closure to fans of The Clone Wars, as well as an exceptional story.
There was absolutely no way I could exclude this fantastic limited series off this list as it is the very definition of pure awesomeness. Vader Down is a clever and memorable crossover between the 2015 Star Wars and Darth Vader series and features the creative teams from both comics coming together to create a joint story. This cool limited series sees Vader forced down on a Rebel controlled planet while trying to capture Luke. Facing off against a horde of Rebel soldiers and vehicles, Vader does what he does best and annihilates everyone he comes across as he hunts his prey and the people who betrayed him. At the same time, Han, Leia, Doctor Aphra, and the entire supporting cast of both series get drawn into an epic showdown as they all try to escape with what they want. An outstanding and action-packed comic with some amazingly clever inclusions to it, this is an incredible piece of Star Wars fiction to check out.
While Zahn is best known for his epics around Thrawn, he has also written some thrilling standalone novels, such as the excellent Star Wars Legends novel Scoundrels. Essentially a Star Wars heist novel, Scoundrels sees Han, Chewie, Lando and several of their villainous compatriots attempt to pull off the ultimate theft, while also facing gangsters, Imperial agents and multiple betrayals from within. An outstanding novel that showcases just how good a crime fiction novel in the Star Wars universe can be, this is an exceptional read I cannot praise enough.
Star Wars (2020)
Following the coordinated end of the original range of Star Wars comics, Marvel immediately started a new assortment of series in 2020, set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The flagship series of this new range is the Star Wars (2020) comic, written by Charles Soule and featuring art by Jesus Saiz, Ramon Rosanas and Jan Bazaldua. This series has been pretty incredible since the first volume, The Destiny Path, I am deeply enjoying this fantastic narrative which follows the key original trilogy protagonists (with the exception of Han, because he’s frozen) as they come to terms with their defeats in The Empire Strikes Back. Some of the major storylines include Luke’s journey to become a Jedi master after finding out his father is Vader, Leia’s attempts to bring the Empire down and save the man she loves, a determined Imperial officers plot to destroy the scattered Rebel fleet, and Lando’s quest for redemption. This series has been pretty incredible so far, especially with its connections to some of the big comic tie-in events (which are also usually written by Soule) and it is one of the stronger newer entries in the canon.
The High Republic: The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott
While Light of the Jedi serves as a great introduction to the High Republic books, and there have been some excellent later books, such as The Fallen Star, I think that the current best entry in this fantastic sub-series is the intense and captivating The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott. Continuing many great storylines from the first book, The Rising Storm sees the villainous Nihil raid the high-profile Republic Fair in a brazen public attack. Containing scenes of utter chaos, as well as some outstanding character development, The Rising Storm serves as a perfect middle novel for the first High Republic phase and was a deeply captivating and powerful read.
Darth Vader (2020)
Another great addition to this list from the current range of comics is the excellent Darth Vader (2020) series by Greg Pak and Raffaele Ienco. Set directly after Luke refuses to accept him as his father, this series contains an epic and powerful narrative about Vader as he comes to terms with his rejection in the most destructive way possible. The first volume in this series, Dark Heart of the Sith, was one of the best things I read in 2020, and the rest of the series, which has focused on Vader’s relationship with the Emperor, as well as the discovery of someone from his past, has turned into quiet the incredible and powerful thrill ride.
An intriguing and unique Star Wars Legends novel that was hopefully on everyone’s to read list after a certain epic 2022 television series, Kenobi is a key addition to this list, and one that is very well deserved. Written by the insanely talented John Jackson Miller, Kenobi follows the titular character in the immediate aftermath of Revenge of the Sith, as he attempts to settled down on Tatooine. However, trouble is always around the corner for this former Jedi, and Kenobi soon finds himself involved in a brewing war between the Tuscan Raiders and local farmers. Containing a great, outside look as this iconic character during his darkest days, Kenobi is an impressive read that serves as an alternative to the Obi-Wan Kenobi show, and many readers will be interested to see the previous Legends take to Kenobi’s time on Tatooine.
Charles Soule is currently the MVP of the Star Wars comic community, and I had to include another one of his key series with the Poe Dameron comics. Working with artists Phil Noto and Angel Unzueta, Soule did an incredible job of making Poe and his cohorts in the Resistance compelling and complex protagonists in this series, which is something the films struggled with. With fascinating connections to other Star Wars comic series, this great work is set in the lead-up to The Force Awakens and examines the complex shadow war between the Resistance and the First Order. I deeply appreciate how much extra depth that Soule and his team gave these characters and this series is a must read for fans of the franchise as a result.
Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp
An indisputable fact about the Star Wars universe is that some of the very best stories are all about the franchise’s amazing villains, and Lords of the Sith is an impressive example of this. Following the characters of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, Lords of the Sith pits these legendary Dark Side users against rebels, monsters and traitors, all of whom are set on killing them. Featuring an addictive story and some entertaining depictions of the Sith Lord’s destructive powers, skills and malevolence, Lords of the Sith is a brilliant read that will try to tempt you to the Dark Side.
Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray
I am a major fan of this awesome novel from a few years ago by Claudia Gray. Master & Apprentice tells a powerful story of the early relationship between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as they investigate strange occurrences around an upcoming coronation. Providing a deep dive into both these key characters, this was a moving and intense novel that is really worth checking out especially in its epic audiobook format.
Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence by Zoraida Córdova
One of the newer entries on this list is Convergence by rising author Zoraida Córdova. Set in the current phase of High Republic fiction, Convergence is an emotionally powerful and character driven narrative that sees the Jedi attempt to bring peace to warring planets through a political marriage. However, the intense hatred of the planet’s citizens, as well as malign influences from other interested parties, result in all manner of chaos and heartbreak, especially when some of the twists are fully revealed. This was probably one of the strongest Star Wars novels of 2022 and it ended up being one of my top audiobooks of the year as a result. I look forward to seeing what contributions Córdova makes to the Star Wars universe in the future, and I am sure she will make more appearances on this list when she does.
Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber
The final entry on this list is the extremely cool and epic Star Wars prison novel, Maul: Lockdown. Following a young Darth Maul in the Legends canon as he infiltrates an infamous prison that broadcasts death matches between its prisoners, Lockdown was an outstanding and highly entertaining read. I was already a big fan of Schreiber before reading Lockdown thanks to his excellent Star Wars zombie novel, Death Troopers, but this is probably his best novel in the franchise. A highly recommended read and a great book to finish off this list with.
Overall, this latest version of the list looking at my favourite Star Wars tie-in novels and comics contains some fantastic reads and really covers the full spectrum of what a Star Wars story can achieve or contain. All the entries above are very epic reads and come highly recommended to anyone who wants to get into the Star Wars genre. I am going to have to make an effort to read more Star Wars books in the next year or so, as there are some really cool upcoming novels, as well as a few older entries, that I have my eye on. Let me know which Star Wars tie-in novel or comics is your favourite in the comments below and as always, May the Fourth be with you!