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May the 4th be with you, and happy Star Wars day! The Wyrd & Wonder prompt for today is “Rebellions are built on hope.” I’ll take any excuse to enthuse about my favorite Star Wars books, so let’s get started.
I was introduced to Star Wars novels by a book I found at my local library, Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn, which takes place after Return of the Jedi. Soon I had finished the other two books in the Thrawn Trilogy and was eager for more. I read every Star Wars novel I could get my hands on, which turned out to be a lot.
The Thrawn Trilogy is still one of my favorites though, and one I’d recommend to just about anyone. These novels succeed through their significant expansion of the Star Wars universe and their masterful plot which is unlike anything we see in the movies. (Not that any movie can really be expected to stand up to the plot of three 400 page books.) Luke, Leia, and Han are still present and important, of course, but not quite the center of everything. Two of my favorite characters, Thrawn and Mara Jade, are introduced in this series. This is a great starting point for anyone looking to get into the Star Wars Extended Universe (now known as Legends, ugh),
As I already mentioned, I went on to read many more Star Wars books, several of which were also by Zahn. I’d recommend pretty much any of his books, but one that particularly sticks in my mind is Outbound Flight, a standalone novel. In it, we get to learn a little more of Thrawn’s background and also experience an exploration story. For as large of the Star Wars universe is, there’s rarely much exploration for exploration’s sake (that’s more of a Star Trek thing). The Outbound Flight is a massive exploration (and colonization) mission which is mentioned as a legend in some of Zahn’s other works. In this novel, we get to find out what really happened to it.
I’m at risk of this post turning into an all out fanfest for Timothy Zahn. Though this should be somewhat expected due to his overwhelming impact on the success of the Expanded Universe, there are several other authors that deserve a good deal of recognition too.
The only Star Wars series that made me cry is Republic Commando by Karen Traviss. There’s a FPS game of the same name which I also recommend, by the way, though I’m sure it doesn’t hold up to the standards of modern video games. Republic Commando consists of five books featuring the Omega Squad of four clone soldiers (Niner, Fi, Atin, and Darman), each of which is the sole survivor from his previous squad, as well as the Jedi Etain Tur-Mukan. If you ever despised the dehumanization of the clones in Star Wars or if you love The Clone Wars, this is the series for you. It’s military science fiction but also incredibly character driven (to a tear-jerking extent, at least for me).
If you’ve always been intrigued by the Sith or have a preference for darker stories, then my Star Wars recommendation for you is the Darth Bane trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn. This series takes place long before the prequels and describes how the Sith came to be, more or less. Darth Bane, as you might guess, is the protagonist and the one who rescues the Order of the Sith from complete eradication by imposing his Rule of Two: there should only ever be one Sith Master and one Apprentice. The series depicts just as much of the strife between the Sith as it does between the Sith and the Jedi and features an ending that was, to me, oddly satisfying.
The only Star Wars novel I’ve read recently is Thrawn by, you guessed it, Timothy Zahn. Zahn’s newest addition to the Star Wars universe is a trilogy published over the past three years. I’ve only read the first book but am looking forward to the others. This series gives us even more insight into Thrawn’s life and how he became a member of the Empire, so it will probably be most enjoyable for those who are already familiar with Thrawn. Its pace is a bit slower than that of your typical Star Wars novel with much more focus on the main characters (Thrawn, his apprentice Eli Vanto, and the ambitious Arihnda Pryce) and on the Empire’s politics, than on the action. If you plan to read this series, I’d highly recommend the audiobooks narrated by Marc Thompson. Also, if anyone is a fan of Zahn and Thrawn like I am, you’ll be happy to know that another Thrawn trilogy is in the works with the first book, Ascendency, slated to be published in October of this year.
Have you read any Star Wars books? If so, how do your top picks compare to mine? If not, would you be interested in doing so? As always, thanks for stopping by!