Realcanon Favorites

Do you have a list of your favourite Star Wars books in order? Would be curious what your picks would be? — Chris

When Chris asked this, it occurred to me for the first time that I have never provided a book list of my favorites from the EU. I was frankly a little astonished to realize I’ve never done it before — I mean, I’ve mentioned some favorites every now and again, but never done a list. No joke! This shocks me because on my personal blog, it’s all book lists, all the time. Time to remedy it!

I don’t love every Star Wars book I read. If you’ve spent any time in my reviews, you know that. In fact, if you’ve spent any time in my reviews, you may wonder if I’m capable of love. I’m unusual among Star Wars fans in that I don’t like the same books they like and I don’t crave new book after new book. It’s why I started this site, why I’ve worked so hard on the concept of realcanon even before the Disney Death Star drove everyone into the discussion of canon. (PS, I am revamping the realcanon page. Soon. Soon!) But I think my favorites represent a certain cream of the expanded universe’s crop.

As it happens, I have 10 books (keeping trilogies as “one book,” because it’s not fair to separate them) that I’ve rated 4 and 5 stars! I’ll elaborate on the top 5. As usual, here’s my complete bibliography (aka the books I’m choosing these favorites from).

10. Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves. (Published 2001; set 37 years before ANH.)

9. The Jedi Academy Trilogy (Jedi Search, Dark Apprentice, Champions of the Force). (Published 1994; set 7 years after ROTJ.) My first favorite.

8. Tales of the Bounty Hunters. (Published 1996; short story anthology edited by Kevin J. Anderson.)

7. The Thrawn Trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command) by Timothy Zahn. (Published 1991; set 5 years after ROTJ.)

6. Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber. (Published 2009; set 1 year before ANH.)

First and best.

First and best.

5. The Corellian Trilogy (Attack on Corellia, Assault at Selonia, Showdown at Centerpoint) by Roger MacBride Allen. Published in 1995 and set 14 years after the Battle of Endor, book 2 of this trilogy was the first Star Wars book I ever read. It was December 1997, ten months after I saw Star Wars for the first time, and my mind exploded with all the new information: Han and Leia were married and had three kids? Han had an evil cousin? Leia was running the New Republic? There was a New Republic?! A shocking place to dive in — but it’s not just nostalgia that makes me give it a spot in my Top 5. This book really holds up. Every time I go back and re-read it, I’m thrilled by the sense of history, the fearful mystery of the archaeological expeditions, the quick wonder of the Solo children, the gripping determination of Han Solo, family man. MacBride Allen is an underrated contribution to the EU.

Gambling on awesome

Gambling on awesome

4. X-Wing Series, specifically the “Taking Coruscant Trilogy” by Michael A. Stackpole (Wedge’s Gamble, The Krytos Trap, The Bacta War). Published in 1997 and set three years after the Battle of Endor — it’s hard to pick a pinnacle, but I’m thinking Wedge’s Gamble might reach top this time. I’ve enthused about these all recently, but to be honest, I was surprised to find myself ranking them so highly. Unlike the Corellian Trilogy, for years I just thought these were “those flight sim books” that were “kinda okay.” When I re-read them last year, though, I was knocked flat by how good they are. Solid win. (Specific review here.)

Book 2 is best

Book 2 is best

3. The Han Solo Trilogy (The Paradise Snare, The Hutt Gambit, Rebel Dawn), by A.C. Crispen. Published in 1997 and set 12-0 years before the Battle of Yavin. It was February 1998, almost one year to the day after I first saw Star Wars. I was returning Paradise Snare to the library, saw they already had Hutt Gambit in, but was not allowed to check it out because Mom felt I was “too in to” Star Wars and shouldn’t get two books in a row. I read as much as I could while sitting there, and reached page 57 before being made to leave. That night I wrote in my diary, “I don’t think I’ll forget that page number if I live to be 100 years old!” And to this day, Hutt Gambit is linked with the number 57 in my mind. These books quickly became some of my first favorites, especially Hutt Gambit, which is also my preferred gateway book to introduce people to the EU. The trilogy starts with a young Han Solo, shows how he got his start as an orphan pickpocket on up to a cast out of the Imperial military academy. How does he know Wookiee? How is he with Chewbacca? Why does Boba Fett have a grudge against him? The man with the mystery past need be a mystery no more.

Book 1 is best

Book 1 is best

2. The Bounty Hunter Wars Trilogy, by K.W. Jeter; published in 1998 and set both immediately after ROTJ and during ANH, these books are unique in a variety of ways. First of all, they lack the “Big Three.” Second of all, the antagonists are the protagonists. In these landmark books, we learn that Boba Fett survived the Sarlacc, and also get to find out more about the bounty hunter crew we saw briefly in Empire Strikes Back. The whole gang is here — Boba Fett, Bossk, Dengar, IG-88, Zuckuss, 4-LOM. Plus Prince Xizor and my all-time favorite, Kuat of Kuat. Jeter has a fantastic sense of place, boldly painting the lines of bounty hunter culture and building a mystery that takes place during a most tumultuous time in galactic history, a mystery that makes the rise and fall of regimes seem almost insignificant. I love this trilogy — in fact, the one post I have done on “favorite EU book” was dedicated to it. Read more (here).

The greatest

The greatest

1. I, Jedi, by Michael A. Stackpole. Published in 1998 and set 7 years after ROTJ, concurrent with the Jedi Academy Trilogy — perhaps why I love it so much, because how often does a writer you love get to touch up a story you love written by a lackluster author? Anyway, you knew it would end up here. Simply put, this is my favorite Star Wars book and one of four Star Wars books to end up on my List of 100 Favorite Books Ever. I talk about this book so much, there simply isn’t more to say. I’ve already said it here. And here.

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13 Responses to “Realcanon Favorites”

  1. OH man, Tales of the Bounty Hunters! I should reread that. I remember loving it. Good choices, even though I haven’t read them all. But I did love I, Jedi so happy that’s on there and at #1!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This also reminds me of how I was about a year maybe 1.5 years into blogging here at WP and realized I had never done a post on the order of my favorite Star Wars movies. I was like….whaaaat? Travesty!

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    • Gasp! I really should do a blog post on movie-watching order. I’ve made it a goal to watch the movies in every conceivable configuration — but I’ve never done the flashback version, which is 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, and 6. I’m beginning to think that will be my favorite version, so I should set aside a weekend to livetweet that and write a post :D Thanks for the inspiration!!

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      • Lol. Love it. My post “Once Upon a Time” is in reference to that. I think the flashback version is called the “Machete Version”…or that’s what I’ve heard

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        • I was aghast when I finally looked up machete version and saw what it was: machete order axes Episode I on the grounds of “it’s irrelevant and stupid.” :( The original order is called Ernst Ritser order (had to look that up) and preserves Ep. 1.

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          • Are you sure you looked at the original original machete order? Because the first guy that coined it had your order and over time people decided to cut out TPM. I will have to look up the Ernst Ritser

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          • http://www.nomachetejuggling.com/2011/11/11/the-star-wars-saga-suggested-viewing-order/

            Yes, that’s where people who referred to Machete Order directed me. So “machete order” actually machetes E1 and Ernst Rider was the original source.

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          • Hmmm let me look tomorrow cuz the Web address doesn’t look familiar.

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          • Hmm okay, you’re right. I looked back in my posts and texted my friend who introduced me to the Machete Theory and he said that it never included TPM. So I must have made that up in my head and thought it did. I agree with you (and Ernst Rider) then – there should be TPM in the order! I like TPM WAYYY better than AOTC anyway.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Oh, definitely! I spent a decade thinking that AOTC was considered the worst Star Wars movie, and it’s only been in the last year that I’ve been discovering most of the internet despises E1 far more! I find this boggling. I remember reading a book around 2006 where the author quipped that his life with Star Wars was like a marriage and AOTC was what nearly caused them to divorce. Cinematically, E1 is the stronger of the two films, and honestly, I fast-forward so much in AOTC…

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          • One of my goals this year is to watch AOTC and challenge myself to find ten things that I like or love about it. 10 is going to be tough but I want myself to try to love the little ugly stepchild of Star Wars. And I agree – I think TPM is much stronger and I honestly don’t even think about Jar Jar that much. People always want to point to him to explain why they hate TPM but I never think about him when I think about TPM.

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          • :-P As well you shouldn’t. I have a project to make a concordance of all six films, and Episode I happens to be the one I’ve completed (the others are in various stages) — I did the math and Jar Jar has about 9% of the total dialogue. I call him a scapegoat. I think nostalgia was going to force people to hate Episode I no matter what, they’d just anticipated it too long. I only found out it existed at all six months before it came out, so I had no expectations to disappoint.

            My watching Episode II tends to fluctuate. Almost like clockwork, every other time I watch it, “This movie’s awesome!” And every other time, “This movie’s awful!” I livetweeted it a couple of weeks ago (the tweets are all still up https://twitter.com/search?f=realtime&q=%23E2LiveTweet&src=hash) and at the beginning was all “awesome” and at the end was all “blah!” I love the Coruscant chase scene; I love the views of the Temple; I love Dex’s diner; I love Obi-Wan imprisoned by Dooku. It’s like I have a bipolar relationship with that one.

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  3. […] mentioned this book a couple of times [1] [2] but never properly reviewed it! How’s that? This is a very fetting fitting time to review […]

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