recommendations

Star Wars Rec List | Wyrd & Wonder

Credits: Flaming phoenix by Sujono Sujono | Decorative phoenix by Tanantachai Sirival

Click on any cover to visit the book’s Goodreads page.

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.

Heir to the Empire cover.

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),

Outbound Flight cover

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.

Republic Commando: Hard Contact cover

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).

Darth Bane: Path of Destruction cover

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.

Thrawn cover

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!

6 thoughts on “Star Wars Rec List | Wyrd & Wonder”

  1. I really smiled when I saw the banner for this article – I love the Thrawn trilogy! I started reading it in the summer of *cough cough a long time ago cough cough* after graduating with a Masters in English Language and Literature…and it was such a RELEASE! No more having to trawl through Georgian works of literature of dubious worth looking for meaning – this WAS Star Wars! I’m saddened that this was never the basis for a new trilogy as it is so far ahead of what is churned out these days… Oh and I’m also (coincidentally) reading Thrawn at the moment. It’s great seeing the depth Timothy Zahn has put into him. We covered the Star Wars RPG in one of the recent episodes of our podcast, and it was actually the material that West End Games we’re producing that Timothy Zahn used as the basis of his world building.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting. I never knew some of Zahn’s worldbuilding came from the video game world. I also wish his trilogy would have been used for a movie trilogy. I don’t hate the new movies, but it’s frustrating that they’re not what they could have been and that they used some elements of the EU but messed it up. (Ben being basically Jacen rather than Luke’s son really annoyed me the first time I saw The Force Awakens.)

      I love Thrawn’s character and how well we get to know him. The third Thrawn trilogy that’s in the works seems like Zahn might be milking the success of Thrawn a little too much, but at the same time, I’m up for it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry, I should have said, but West End Games was an RPG company. They basically got the Star Wars license for a song in 1987 when interest was dying off, and created most of the EU background which was then given to other writers as the foundation stone to base their work upon. I think that’s why things like the first Thrawn trilogy simply “feels Star Wars” which the new ones definitely don’t. Like you, I don’t hate them, but I just feel that by writing off all the EU stuff as “legends” and only canonising newly created content you end up hobbling the franchise (totally agree with the Jacen / Ben thing).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh, okay. That’s really interesting and makes a lot of sense. I guess the old EU felt like a cohesive story (at least at first) because it was actually somewhat planned. Whereas the new trilogy seems to have been hacked together by directors and writers with entirely separate stories in mind.

          I’ll admit that when the whole “legends” thing happened is when I totally lost my interest in SW books aside from those from authors I already trusted. I’m willing to try some newer books now, but still very skeptical. A new canon just feels so cheap and disrespectful to all the creators and fans that have loved SW for so long.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I completely agree. The “legends” decision didn’t sit well with me, and it felt like a purge rather than an attempt to build on what went before. The new trilogy felt disjointed and – as you said – the product of several different minds rather than something consistent. Also, don’t get me started on the choosing to call the new rebels “the resistance”. Why does a standing government need a resistance? Gah.

            Liked by 1 person

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