7 Star Wars Books You Should Read Before They Don’t Matter

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Posted September 9, 2014 by John Newby in Nerdy Bits

I have a question for you: What should your reaction be when a company you like purchases another company you like and promises new video games, movies, and TV shows? I should be excited, right? Well, I’m not excited, at least not as much as I should be. The reason being the fact that the Disney decided to throw away the entire previously established canon—outside of a few specific properties. This includes the expanded universe of games, comics, and most importantly, books.

The expanded universe books used to be a fantastic way to learn about beloved characters, various locations, and new villains. Hell, even Boba Fett had a series of books written about him that were fantastic. Unfortunately, none of these books matter anymore in the new Star Wars universe. I’m terrible at letting go, so I decided to hypothetically pour one out for the series by discussing the books that are still worth reading.

I, Jedi

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Rogue Wing pilot Corran Horn must use all of his talents, including untapped Force abilities, to find his kidnapped wife before it is too late.

Why should you care about I, Jedi? Basically, Corran Horn is a great character. He spent his younger years as a spy in Corellian Security before joining the Rebellion to work as part of Rogue Squadron. Throw in ties to Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles, and Mara Jade, and you have a hell of a character. More importantly, Corran Horn is one of the few people to call Luke on his BS during his brief time at the Jedi Academy on Yavin 4.

That’s all-important, but why does the book matter? I, Jedi does a fantastic job of mixing humor, tense spy situations, and Force-sensitive characters in a way that is entertaining. Plus, Horn infiltrates and destroys a vicious pirate group and roams the galaxy doing actual detective work. The best part of I, Jedi is when Horn infiltrates an enemy base and murders everyone in his way just to find his wife. He didn’t even cry after he was done, like that little douche Anakin.

Shadows of the Empire

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As Leia races to rescue Han Solo from his Carbonite prison, a deadly figure emerges to battle Darth Vader for Emperor Palpatine’s favor.

Shadows of the Empire was a very popular piece of Star Wars history, with it being a graphic novel, a video game, and an actual novel. The novel was truly the best of the three properties—the graphics were definitely better than the N64 game—because it gave a unique insight into Princess Leia’s mind and her struggle to keep from falling apart after Han was taken to Jabba the Hutt. Shadows also introduced Prince Xizor, the head of Black Sun, who only wanted to destroy Darth Vader, nail Princess Leia, and curry favor with Palpatine. Pretty standard bad guy stuff.

Shadows of the Empire is worth reading mainly because it seamlessly switches between characters giving the different viewpoints while remaining entertaining. Shadows also includes a pretty great end battle in which Luke, Lando, and a smuggler named Dash Rendar infiltrate Xizor’s palace and somehow manage to blow it up. This battle leads into the upper atmosphere where Rogue Squadron and a droid-piloted Millennium Falcon fight a squadron of Tie Fighters while destroying part of Coruscant.

Outbound Flight

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A deranged Jedi Master convinces the Republic to send a test flight to unknown space in search of new life. Meanwhile, a mysterious tactician waits for the flight with nefarious plans.

Outbound flight is a wild card in this list, but it is deserves to be mentioned for one reason: you get to meet Thrawn. The brilliant tactician (later met in the Thrawn Trilogy) is a Chiss warlord who hears about Outbound Flight and decides to destroy it. This book also introduces Jorus C’baoth, the borderline insane Jedi who also appears in the Thrawn Trilogy.

Why does Outbound Flight actually matter? The main reason is the introduction of Thrawn, but another reason is the Outbound Flight Project. This gargantuan ship housed over 50,000 people on a flight to unknown space in search of new civilizations. Thrawn was only interested in the project because Darth Sidious asked him to destroy Outbound Flight before it reached space occupied by a dangerous Alien race that no one had ever seen before. So the connection to Darth Sidious is actually pretty forced, but it does make some very important references to multiple books in the expanded universe. Outbound Flight isn’t an amazing book, but it’s definitely worth reading.

Thrawn Trilogy

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As a deadly enemy begins attacking the New Republic, a mysterious Jedi sets out on a quest to make Luke, Leia, and Leia’s children his new apprentices.

This entry is actually a trilogy of books detailing Grand Admiral Thrawn’s campaign against the New Republic. As one of Emperor Palpatine’s warlords, Thrawn is tasked with continuing the fight against the fledgling Republic, at all costs. During this campaign, he attempts to kidnap Leia, gain control of the mysterious Katana Fleet, and take over Emperor Palpatine’s old cloning facility on Wayland. This trilogy also details the initial meeting between Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade, Emperor Palpatine’s secret assassin.

Why does the Thrawn Trilogy matter? The Thrawn Trilogy is the most popular and beloved entry in the former expanded universe, and for good reason. Many important characters, like Mara Jade and Talon Karrde, are introduced that play major roles in other novels. More importantly, Leia gives birth to Jacen and Jaina Solo during these novels, which affects the entire future of the expanded universe. All three books are filled with important details about the past and future of the galaxy. Additionally, the books cover how how Grand Admiral Thrawn was a tactical genius and one of the best villains since the OG Empire.

Survivor’s Quest

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Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker travel to Nirauan to find the remains of Outbound Flight, only to encounter a secret enemy so dangerous that they must band together to fight for their very survival.

Survivor’s Quest chronicles Luke and Mara Jade’s journey to a dangerous region of space after receiving a message from the Chiss (Grand Admiral Thrawn’s race) saying that they had discovered the remains of Outbound Flight and wished to return it to the Republic. On this journey, they are accompanied by the remnants of the 501st, a fake Republic ambassador with ties to Outbound Flight, and a peace-loving race of aliens known as the Geroons. Unfortunately, this seemingly peaceful journey is soon filled with instances of sabotage and theft that cause distrust between the different groups. Only later is it revealed that one of the groups is secretly determined to find Outbound Flight, kill all of the survivors, and destroy the Chiss Ascendancy.

Why does Survivor’s Quest matter? This book ties up all of the loose ends from Outbound Flight and the Thrawn Trilogy while also telling a new story. In addition, Survivor’s Quest details Luke and Mara’s marriage and forces them to deal with the old “no relationships” rule that the cranky, old Jedi Council enforced. To be honest, the main draw of Survivor’s Quest is finding out how the Outbound Flight story ends. Plus, the Chiss make another appearance, as does the 501st, Darth Vader’s personal group of Stormtroopers.

Republic Commando Series

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What started as a group of clone soldiers soon became a close-knit and deadly family. These elite operatives from Delta and Omega Squads followed Mandalorian teachings and fought for their right to live as humans, instead of as clones.

The Republic Commando series, much like Shadows of the Empire, is based on a video game for the PC and original Xbox. Author Karen Traviss took characters from the game and paired them with another elite clone unit in Omega Squad to form an all-new and very interesting story. This series of books — consisting of Hard Contact, Triple Zero, True Colors, Order 66, and Imperial Commando: 501st— follows Omega and Delta squads through their training and many difficult missions, while also introducing the Mandalorian way of life.

Why does this series matter? The Republic Commando books are some of the few that focus on something more than just a stuck up douche with a lightsaber. These books focus on the soldiers and their daily struggles. In fact, the members of Delta and Omega Squads are probably the most developed characters in the expanded universe. Additionally, this series of books describes the time leading up to the Jedi slaughter, and it follows the soldiers in the following time. I personally enjoy this series because some moments end up being pretty emotional.

Han Solo Trilogy

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Learn about the Galaxy’s favorite smuggler and his illustrious past. Find out how Han Solo obtained his precious Millennium Falcon, met Chewbacca, and unknowingly helped found the Rebellion. The Han Solo Trilogy consists of The Paradise Snare, The Hutt Gambit, and Rebel Dawn.

Look, Han Solo is the most charming, handsome sumbitch in the galaxy. Why wouldn’t you want to read a series of books about him? This trilogy tracks Han’s early life, his run-ins with bounty hunters, and his brief time as an Imperial officer. The Han Solo Trilogy has some cheesy moments, but a ton of fan-references are included throughout the series to make it more fun|.

Why does this series matter? The Han Solo trilogy is important for many reasons—the main one being an explanation of how Han Solo meets Chewbacca. They are the greatest duo around, and it is fantastic to find out how their partnership is set in motion. Additionally, the Han Solo Trilogy also introduces Lando and explains how Han won the Millennium Falcon. Rebel Dawn, the third book in the trilogy, is by far the best because it includes the birth of the Rebel Alliance and Han’s first meeting with Luke and Obi-Wan. Possibly the best part of the series is the in-depth explanation of the famous Kessel Run and Han’s conflict with Jabba over the dumped cargo.

What’s Your Hokey Religion?

So, there you have it. These books may not be canon anymore, but they still matter. These authors put an inordinate amount of effort into writing these stories, and they included a Hutt-sized pile of fan references into each book. I believe that you should still read all of these books just to get pumped up for the new movies.

Do you have any favorite books from the Expanded Universe? Let me know what they are, and we will pour one out together while reading them.

 


About the Author

John Newby

A random dude obsessed with coffee, blue heelers, and most nerdy things. Big fan of Star Wars, Borderlands, Arrow/Flash, and a whole lotta video games. The Saboteur is underrated, and Silverado is the best movie ever made.