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.)
8. Tales of the Bounty Hunters. (Published 1996; short story anthology edited by Kevin J. Anderson.)
6. Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber. (Published 2009; set 1 year before ANH.)
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.
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.)
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.
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).
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.