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 to provide one-word reviews the last 10 books I have read. While this was a rather interesting topic, I have done something a little different and instead decided to focus on something more Star Wars orientated.
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 multiple cool and complex novels 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 over the years and there are some excellent and powerful adventures featured in these awesome books. Due to how much I enjoy these books, I have decided to celebrate May the Fourth this year by once again highlighting my top ten favourite Star Wars novels. This is a continuation of several lists I have done in recent years, including two I did last year about Star Wars novels and Star Wars comics.
To pull this list together I looked at all the Star Wars novels I have read (or listened to in its audiobook format) over the years and tried to determine what my absolute favourites were. I slightly cheated in places by featuring whole trilogies, 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, as well as my typical generous Honourable Mentions section. I am pretty happy with how this list came together, especially as there are some interesting changes from my previous entries, and I think that this list fully highlights my absolute favourite Star Wars tie-in novels. So let us see what makes the cut.
A fun and terrifying Star Wars horror novel that features zombies chasing after Han and Chewie. An entertaining read best enjoyed in its audiobook format, which has some very disturbing sound effects.
A captivating and well-produced full cast audio production that looks at the unique and always amusing character of Doctor Chelli Aphra, the rogue space archaeologist and conwoman. An audio reproduction of storylines from the Darth Vader (2015) comic (see my reviews for Volume 1: Vader, Volume 2: Shadows and Secrets, and the Vader Down limited series), Doctor Aphra perfectly captures the titular character in all her conniving glory and it is an extremely amusing listen.
A brutal and action-packed prison story featuring a young Darth Maul involved in broadcast death fights. What is there not to love?
A brilliant and powerful introduction to the new High Republic sub-series, set hundreds of years before the Skywalker Saga. This was an excellent novel and a must read for anyone interested in checking out the current focus of the Star Wars extended universe.
Top Ten List:
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.
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.
Alphabet Squadron trilogy by Alexander Freed
Alexander Freed recently wrote one of the strongest and most emotionally charged Star Wars trilogies 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.
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.
An intriguing and unique Star Wars Legends novel that is probably going to get some more attention in the next few weeks, Kenobi is a new addition to this list, but 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 may serve as an influence for the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi show.
While Light of the Jedi serves as a great introduction to the High Republic books, 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.
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.
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.
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.
The final entry on this list is the intriguing and comprehensive Star Wars Legends novel, Darth Plagueis. 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.
This latest version of the list looking at my favourite Star Wars tie-in novels 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. This will probably be a list I come back to this time next year and it will be interesting to see how much it changes in the meantime. There are some outstanding Star Wars books coming out in the next few months (Brotherhood and Shadow of the Sith, for example), as well as some other great Star Wars books from this year I am yet to check out, all of which I could easily see being added to this list next year. There are also a ton of older Star Wars novels I need to read as I have heard some epic stuff about some of them (Battlefront: Twilight Company, A New Dawn, Outbound Flight, Razor’s Edge and Honor Among Thieves are all high on my to-read list). I could honestly see this list expanding out to a top 20 list in the future, which is a whole lot of Star Wars books. Let me know which Star Wars tie-in novel is your favourite in the comments below and as always, May the Fourth be with you!